(Update: I have closed down the MeetUp groups mentioned in this post. If you live in the Northeast or in Florida and are interested in sailing with me, leave a note with your contact information in the comments section)
When I got my Grumman canoe in the mid-70’s I also bought a sail rig for it. With a rudder, dagger boards and 65 square feet of sail I can get some serious speed and fun out of it and there have been years that I have put more miles on it under sail than with a paddle. For a number of years in Florida I took it out almost every week. Then it went nearly unused for a decade or more.
Fast forward to last year. Two things happened. First, I realized the power of the Meetup.com operation for finding like-minded people. Through it I have met and paddled with lots of folks in lots of interesting places in a five-state area. And second, I attended a canoe sailing workshop in October put on by the New Hampshire Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club. I took my sailing rig to it and had a blast.
The sailing bug had bitten once more and I now knew of a way to actually look for fellow sailors.
So in November I formed a Meetup Group based in Florida called Small Boat Sailing. I found a handful of folks with small sailing craft, canoes and kayaks, and had a couple of reasonably successful ‘regattas.’
(I also attracted a number of people who paddled only or who didn’t even own a boat. This despite liberal use on the site of variations on the word ‘sail,’ and a photo of an actual canoe with a sail. Go figure! Not complaining though, as it makes the membership look very robust.)
As a Meetup Group ‘organizer,’ I pay a monthly fee (membership is free) and I can run up to three groups. So when I got up to the Northeast this spring I formed another Small Boat Sailing group, this one based in Connecticut. I’ve so far attracted a half dozen folks with sailing craft, and the usual contingent of just paddlers or boatless people, so the membership’s nearing 40.
If all I end up with out of all this after a year or so is a handful of folks here and in Florida who I can call up or email and go sailing with once in a while it’ll be a resounding success.
And here’s what’s made it worthwhile already: At the first meeting in Connecticut this year some other crazy person showed up with a rig just like mine. And his name is Ron!