Happy Memorial Day! While paying respects to veterans, folks also are taking time out to enjoy the freedoms which these veterans gained for us. Boaters, while raising the flag and showing proper respect for the waters and nature, kicked off the boating season and had fun in the ceremony's wake.
It all started Friday night at Bay View Yacht Club, which was packed with Associated Yacht Clubs members for a family picnic, complete with DJ Bill Lenz, a BVYC past commodore. Joe Glorioso, rear commodore of BVYC and the host, said the party was at full sail until midnight. He said this year his club set the fee at only $5 per person so everyone could have fun.
Saturday morning AYC members went to Toledo Yacht Club for a breakfast buffet before the big Opening of the Port Ceremonies. Some 200 commodores - mostly men, but a few women in dress whites - were introduced by emcee Bob McCarthy of Maumee River Yacht Club as they lined up around the flagpole. Those in gold epaulets are current fleet commodores; the ones wearing silver shoulder stripes are past commodores. Either way, Mr. McCarthy joked, "that's a lot of white."
While waiting in line to be introduced, Carl Butler of BVYC told me about the pins he wore: He acquired them by trading with different yacht clubs.
Everyone, including all spectators and club members, stood as Lady Jolene Wagner of BVYC, in a bright blue jacket and white slacks, sang the "Star Spangled Banner," followed by the Canadian anthem as the commodores of the four host clubs, Rick Wagner of BVYC, Dave Kiel of Toledo Yacht Club, Al Crum of Maumee River Yacht Club, and Tim Wisniewski of Toledo Sailing Club, raised Old Glory.
The invocation was by Rev. Tom Smith, member of TYC, who thanked God for those who have sacrificed for our freedom. The Blessing of the Fleet followed. The four commodores took red, white, and blue flowers to the docks and gently put them in the water between the boats, the symbol of blessing the fleet, as the crowd cheered.
Commodores and fellow members boarded boats and paraded to Maumee River Yacht Club, where the opening ceremony had been for the last several years. It was about a two-hour trip, and the weather was beautiful.
Then it was time to launch the fun by connecting with boating friends, many just returned from warm-weather vacations, and sipping a few favorite beverages and enjoying a "grill-your-own" steak dinner.
Many of the ladies wore boating attire from red, white, and blue to tropical prints with visors, sandals, and jewelry to match. Some wore ensembles from Connie's Boateak of BVYC, owned by Connie Gingrich. She tools around in her van loaded with nautical and cruise attire and accessories, such as beach bags and sunglasses. She was not there for the festivitie; she was in Detroit selling her "wears."
Gas prices were the hot topic. Carol Crum of MRYC said, "I think we will have a lot of dockside cottages and parties at the club. Then Mr. Crum said of sailboaters: "The wind is free." Comm. Tim Wisniewski of TSC, who was there with his Lady Michelle, said only three sailboats are at TSC, but there is a new conversion kit that uses masts on power boats. But members at North Cape Yacht Club in Michigan won't have to worry, as more than half of its members are sailors."When it gets to $5 or $6 a gallon we'll be canoeing," said Commodore Wagner of BVYC.
He said Put-in-Bay is about 90 miles round trip and for a 30 or 40-foot boat, they get about one mile per gallon, then joked, "And that doesn't include dockage or beer." Maybe some water lovers will drive and take the ferries or Jet Express to the islands.
Commodore Wagner, like many boaters, figures that people will be taking multiple short trips rather than long trips. He sees Maumee Bay State Park, only about a 10-15 minute boat ride away, as a popular destination this season.
Of course, people will still go to the local islands, Kelly's and Put-in-Bay, but some will remain in the Toledo area at their yacht clubs or cruising to The Docks downtown or going to Webber's and River Cafe in Point Place.
Commodore Wagner said the city has a real opportunity to cash in on boaters by by hosting events downtown on the river. It could not only draw local boaters but also boaters from Detroit and other areas.
Dick Watkins of Perrysburg Boat Club, there with his wife, Irene, had something to say about gas prices too. He said many times marinas times charge 50 cents or more per gallon because they have only a short season. So he sees that a lot of trips will be shorter. Jeff Molnar of MRYC said he just returned from Florida, where gas costs $5 a gallon at the marinas.
Meanwhile, Henry Webber of Vermilion Boat Club, who is a retired common pleas judge, was there with his wife, Peggy. He is a past VBC commodore as well as a past Inter-Lake Yachting Association commodore. They've attended the Opening of the Port Ceremonies since 1986, and say they've enjoyed every one of them.
Yesterday, revelers gathered for brunch at TSC then enjoyed another day of gorgeous weather. Patti Schafer and her son David sat on the deck as did others.
Today is a family day with a patio cookout and games at TYC. Then it's full speed ahead, well, maybe slow speed ahead, to preserve on gas.
Associated Yacht Clubs: Rob Wolas and Lady Carol, Swan Boat Club.
All Ports Yacht Club, Mark Weller and Lady Deb.
Bay View Yacht Club, Rick Wagner and Lady Jolene.
Catawba West Harbour Yacht Club, Kathryn Schaefer and Gentleman Jon.
Cooley Canal Yacht Club, Don Tomanski and Lady Sue.
Detroit Beach Boat Club, Bruce Perham and Lady Nancy.
Elba Mar Boat Club, Debbie Tilney and Gentleman Jac.
Ford Yacht Club, Tom MacDonald and Lady Kathy.
Fremont Yacht Club, Jack Rhodes and Lady Patti.
Great Lakes Steel Boat Club, John Armatis and Lady Cherie.
Grosse Ile Yacht Club, Bill Malvesto and Lady Sue.
Harbor View Yacht Club, Ray Hennan and Lady Carole.
Indian Hill Boat Club, Maumee; Comm. Larry Inguagiato and Lady Mary Kay.
Jolly Roger Sailing Club, Point Place; Comm. Peter Clay and Lady Kathy.
Mariner s Boat Club, Harrison Township, Mich.; Comm. John Leslie and Lady Joyce.
Maumee River Yacht Club, Walbridge Park; Comm. Al Crum and Lady Carol.
Monroe Boat Club, Monroe, Mich.; Comm. Tom Konopka and Lady Jan.
North Cape Yacht Club, LaSalle, Mich.; Tom Grime and Lady Linda.
Nugent s Canal Yacht Club, Port Clinton; Comm. Gary Witt and Lady Sylvia.
tOttawa River Yacht Club, Point Place; Terry Trimmer and Lady Debbie.
Perrysburg Boat Club, Perrysburg; Jerry Abair and Lady Lue Ann.
Point Place Boat Club, Point Place; Comm. Chuck DuChene and Lady Sue.
Put-in-Bay Yacht Club, Put-in-Bay; Jennifer Kahler and Gentleman John.
River View Yacht Club, Point Place; John Hunt and Lady Karen.
Seaway Boat Club, Wyandotte, Mich.; Mike Brown and Lady Noella.
Sun Parlour Boat Club, Windsor, Ont.; Marty Zamparo and Lady Michelle.
SunSeekers Boating Club, Gibraltar, Mich.; Ed Rader and Lady Brenda.
Swan Boat Club, Newport. Mich.; Eric Hermann and Lady Sally.
Toledo Ice Yacht Club, Point Place; Bobby Foeller and Lady Amanda.
Toledo Sailing Club, Walbridge Park; Tim Wisnewski and Lady Michelle.
Toledo Yacht Club, Bay-View Park; Dave Kiel and Lady Jan.
West River Yacht & Cruising Club, Grosse Ile, Mich.; Cindy Mackey and Gentleman Dick Kott.
Wyandotte Yacht Club, Ecorse, Mich.; Gary Bonaventura and Lady Margie.
Toledo Sail and Power Squadron
Wayne Osborn, commander, and Lady Linda