Friday, July 06, 2012
Get your group on
SML's on-water clubs provide education, support, a chance to volunteer and lots of camaraderie.
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The SML Powerboating Association includes among its membership owners of bass boats, pontoons, houseboats and personal watercraft in addition to fast boats.
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SML Chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society's fall boat show draws visitors from all over the east coast.
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Every year, Blackwater Yacht Association sponsors two regattas, one in the spring and another in fall.
Smith Mountain Lake is a mecca for people with a little, or a lot, of extra time on their hands. The area is home to more than 100 clubs, civic groups and nonprofits, ensuring there's something f=or just about everyone's interests.
Among those many groups, there are few that can be classified as on-water clubs. These organizations, of course, do things on dry land, but the bulk of their activity and interest is out on the lake.
Smith Mountain Striper Club
The Smith Mountain Striper Club is almost exactly what you'd expect.
"We're about fishing striped bass," said Bob Rowe, club president. "We're a group of individuals or fishermen that share sort of a passion for this species of fish and type of fishing."
Vice President Mike Bendzus said the club is family oriented and is open to anyone who likes fishing for, or wants to fish for, striped bass. Club members also can learn a recipe or two as the club often hosts fish frys after its tournaments.
But it's not just about dropping lines in the lake. The club is a 501(c)3 established in the 1980s. Club members assist the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to preserve the striped bass. The striper club helps stock the fish every year and members monitor the fishery by keeping diaries, participating in gill netting, and saving ear bones and heads that can be sent to DGIF for evaluation.
"I think a lot of folks think we're like a B.A.S.S. club, that we're in it for the fishing and the tournaments, but it's evolved over time into so much more than that," said Rowe. "Our main focus is really the preservation, the health and availability of the fishing in Smith Mountain and Leesville lakes."
The club also focuses on passing on the fishing bug to youth in the public schools, county recreation programs, Boy Scouts and 4-H.
"We're trying to get young people into fishing," said Bendzus. "It's almost like a dying sport."
The club meets first Fridays at 7 p.m. at Moneta Community Center on Rucker Road in Moneta. Meetings often include guest speakers on topics related to striped bass. The club's memberships is about 125 families. Membership, which includes spouses and children, are $30 per year.
For more information about the Smith Mountain Striper Club, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
SML Powerboating Association
Don't let the name of this club fool you. You don't have to own a fast boat or even an engine-powered boat to join the SML Powerboating Association.
"There's people with bass boats, pontoon boats, cruisers, houseboats, jet skis, we've got 'em all," said Lori Dillon, club president. "We've got people that come that don't even have boats."
She said the club is family-friendly and kid-friendly. Dillon said anyone who loves to socialize, meet new people and go out on the water would be a welcome addition to the club.
Dillon said members meets to socialize and plan events such as the annual PWC Poker Run and an annual car, truck, bike and boat show held each fall. The club's events are fundraisers for lake-area nonprofits such as Scruggs Dive Team, to which the club has donated thousands of dollars over the years.
"It's socializing and doing good for the community at the same time," said Dillon.
The club also advocates boating education and safe boating practices, said Dillon. She said members are encouraged to be models for good behavior while on the water.
As of this year, club memberships are free, as the annual dues have been eliminated. Dillon said the club now operates solely on corporate sponsorships. She said the Powerboating Association gets about eight to 10 $500 sponsors per season. The money goes toward putting on fundraising events.
The club meets third Saturdays from 5 to 7 p.m. at Waller's Waterfront at Crystal Shores Marina in Moneta.
SML Boating Association
Since 1997, the SML Boating Association has been working to promote safe boating on Smith Mountain Lake, said Marshall Prillaman.
"[It] was originally formed by Tom Maynard and others to educate the public on boating safety to prevent legislation stating that you have to do things," said Prillaman, club president. "We were formed to educate people on the lake on how to boat safely and responsibly."
The club has taken its concerns to the General Assembly, telling legislators whether the membership supports proposed laws and why. Prillaman said the diversity of boat owners - they have engine powered-boats, sailboats, personal watercraft or no boat - allows the club to provide a well-rounded view to legislators.
In addition to supporting education legislation, the club donates money to nonprofits such as the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Sail and Power Squadron whose mission includes boating safety for their education classes.
The club also supports organizations that help protect boaters, such as the SML Marine Volunteer Fire/Rescue Company, or the waterway, such as SML Association, said Prillaman.
To raise funds, the club hosts events such as the annual Tom Maynard Memorial Poker Run held each May. Last year, the club donated $30,000 from the event to seven nonprofits.
The club, which has about 300 members, meets second Tuesdays at 6 p.m. at Epworth United Methodist Church in Moneta. Memberships are $15 per year or $50 for five years.
Virginia Inland Sailing Association Yacht Club
This collective of sailing enthusiasts has been around since before Smith Mountain Lake. The Virginia Inland Sailing Association (VISA) Yacht Club was chartered in 1964 at Claytor Lake, but moved soon after to SML.
Commodore Cathy Hurst said the club hosts about 20 races per year - although club members do not have to race - with rarely a month's break between events.
"It's is strictly a sailing club," said Hurst, adding that new members who don't own a sailboat have one year after joining to purchase one. "VISA is for people who love to sail, people who love, or even like, to race or to watch it happen."
In addition to racing, the club hosts various groups throughout the year to help promote sailing to community youth. VISA has partnered with Ferrum and Lynchburg colleges, public schools, scout troops and the U.S. Navy Sea Cadets, among others.
"We've really put an effort forth to get the younger generation into sailing," said Hurst.
In addition, the club offers a junior sailing camp for members' children and a family sailing camp for members.
VISA has a clubhouse adjacent to Bernard's Landing in Moneta. It includes camping facilities and a sand beach that can be used by members. Hurst said club members help maintain the clubhouse, which helps keep annual dues at a minimum.
In addition, members can keep their sailboats and boat-related equipment on the property, as it features dry and wet slips, for an additional annual fee.
The club has about 150 family memberships. Memberships are $260 per year or $520 per year (allows member to keep boats on the property).
For more information about Virginia Inland Sailing Association, contact Cathy Hurst at 989-0279. visayc.org
Blackwater Yacht Racing Association
Since 1985, members of the Blackwater Yacht Racing Association have been gathering to race their sailboats on Smith Mountain Lake. The club holds races from April through October with 12 to 25 boats typically participating in each race.
The club also hosts two annual regattas. The spring series was held last month; the fall regatta is scheduled for Oct. 20-21.
Although BYRA is a sailboat racing club, members do not have to own sailboats or participate in the races, said Commodore Pete Phillip.
He said the club's goal is to provide an opportunity for avid or even amateur sailors to gather and race for a low annual cost. Phillip said club members sometimes take on new crew members or teach new club members how to race.
"There is absolutely nothing more exciting than being in a sailboat race where there's a good wind and you've got good competition," said Phillip. "There's no way to experience that but to be on the boat."
He said sailing is a complex activity to start with because novices have to learn to read the wind and adjust their tactics accordingly. Racing a sailboat is an altogether different animal that requires more intense awareness as sailors not only work to navigate the course, but to do it faster than their competitors.
"This is not your father's sailboat ride," said Phillip. "It's pretty serious."
The club hosts one meeting per year. Annual club fees are $150 per year ($100 for the first year) and include entry into club races and participation in social activities.
SML chapter, Antique and Classic Boat Society
The 1981 film "On Golden Pond" had a major impact on many members of the SML chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society. The movie, which starred Katherine Hepburn, Henry Fonda and Jane Fonda, featured another star: a 1951 Chris-Craft.
The beauty of these and other antique wooden boats and the desire to preserve them and their legacy is what draws people to this club, said George Blosser, club president. Most members own antique boats, but ownership is not required, said Blosser.
The club hosts two boat shows per year during which members' restored antique boats are on display. The annual Antique and Classic Boat Show (to be held this year on Sept. 15 at Mariners Landing) features dozens of boats and related displays.
"People come from as far away as New York and South Florida because of the boats," said Blosser.
Proceeds from the annual show (boat registration is required, but the event is free to the public) are donated to Christian-oriented or water safety-oriented charities, said Blosser.
The club also hosts a miniature boat show with a dozen boats, but no other displays. This year's event will be June 23 at Parrot Cove in Moneta.
In addition to the shows, club members gather for monthly cruises or workshops. Blosser said members also assist each other with boat restorations.
The club meets second Wednesdays at 7 p.m. at the Moneta/SML Library in Moneta. Annual membership (per family) is $60.