MARCO ISLAND — "Steady as she goes" could be the sailing directions for the Marco Island Yacht Club.
After a turbulent period in the club's history, coinciding with the national economic downturn, the MIYC installed a new bridge, or slate of commanding officers, in a ceremony Saturday evening. The installation, which took place in conjunction with the annual Commodore's Ball, was held upstairs in the club's dining room, overlooking the yacht basin, the Marco River, and the "other Marco bridge," the Jolley Bridge spanning the river.
The outgoing commodore, Capt. Stuart Curtis, turned over a club which is newly revitalized, with a substantial boost in membership, to incoming Commodore Jim Marr. Marr, who like Curtis is a U.S. Coast Guard-certified captain, works in the boating industry as a yacht broker.
"Our membership is building," said Marr. "It's due to making our club more simple, more accessible." In addition to the full club memberships, MIYC inaugurated a new class of membership. "We've added dining membership, which is like a social membership. That basically allows those folks to come and eat here."
"We have 370 new social members since September," said MIYC membership director and controller Lisa Luft. "We haven't had this many members in four years."
Full club membership includes access to all MIYC programs, including the reciprocals at area country clubs, giving members the possibility of a form of "surf and turf," combining yachting and golf, land and sea-based activities. It also opens up the possibility of becoming an officer, a member of the yacht club's bridge. This is certainly a very real possibility, as the yacht club seems to require a large of contingent of officers to steer it.
Marr is assisted by the 2013 slate of MIYC officers, including Vice Commodore Bob DeFeo, Rear Commodore Dick Irwin, Sailing Fleet Captain Lois Dixon, Day Cruise Capt. Jim Ferry, Extended Cruise Capt. Lee Harkness, as well as Chairman of the Board Gary Riss.
Commodore Marr is also assisted by his first mate, First Lady of the Fleet Linda Marr. She fulfilled the first duty of her office before the official Change of Watch ceremony actually took place, bestowing a congratulatory kiss on the commodore's cheek. She is also a graphic artist and the editor of "Anchor Lines," the club's newsletter. The two, said Jim Marr, have been sweethearts since they met at age 15.
Veterans of both power and sailboats, the Marr's current craft is a Grady-White 36 express cruiser, "RSM Bluewater." Previously, they had a 50-ft. Morgan ketch on which they lived aboard for five years, sailing throughout the Caribbean as far as Grenada.
In addition to the new bridge, the club has a new manager, Tom Leonard, and a new chef, Bob Aylwin, whose food offerings have been winning rave reviews, said Luft. And you have to admit, the yacht club members definitely have the sharpest looking uniforms.