When most people think about boating clubs, they think about on-the-water and social activities, but several clubs on Lake Lanier spend much of their time going beyond the call.
The UYC Maritime Foundation, University Yacht Club and America’s Boating Club Atlanta, formerly the Atlanta Sail and Power Squadron, quietly work behind the scenes all year. From preparing and serving meals at Atlanta’s Ronald McDonald House to supporting the new Marine Technology program at Lanier Technical College, members of these groups dig in to give back.
UYC Maritime Foundation
Created nearly 20 years ago, the UYC Maritime Foundation depends on donations from the community for its programs, many of which are related to connecting boating to learning life skills and instilling leadership for boaters.
“From our inception, a big part of the mission is supporting maritime education and safety,” said Wayne Flanagan, chair of the UYC Maritime Foundation, created more than 15 years ago. “Over the years, we have provided scholarships for high school students, supported the University Yacht Club Junior Sailing Program and offered opportunities for leadership training through our activities. As members of the Lake Lanier community, we strive to help make boating relevant off the water as well as on.”
Although it’s based at University Yacht Club, its work goes beyond the club’s campus off Gaines Ferry Road in Flowery Branch. As an independent 501 (c) 3, it is a non-profit group and donations to it are tax-deductible. Participation in its programs is not limited to members of the University Yacht Club.
Before the foundation was created, University Yacht Club organized and hosted the Lake Lanier Christmas Boat Parade, open to the community. To be able to raise money for charities, the foundation took over the organization of the event around 2005. Other University Yacht Club programs soon became the responsibility of the foundation. February’s Hot Ruddered Bum sailboat race officially begins the lake’s sailing season. November’s Lanier Cup Regatta pits each sailing club’s top boats against each other to crown the champion boat and crew for the season.
One of its major initiatives, the two-week-long Junior Sailing program teaches youngsters ages 6 to 16 how to sail, team-building, leadership development and sportsmanship. The foundation has funded the program’s equipment, including several BIC O’Pen sailing dinghies. It is building its fleet and recently received donations of a Catalina 22 and a Rhodes 19.
The foundation works in partnership with members of University Yacht Club each summer to host staff and participants in organizations that help people with developmental disabilities. “Some of them have never even been to the lake before, much less ridden on a boat; others look forward to this event all year long,” Flanagan said. “They come out for boat rides and a cookout, spending an afternoon with us. It’s one of our biggest activities and we always have a great turnout.”
Education drives the foundation’s work. From awarding scholarships to graduates of Flowery Branch and West Hall High School to consulting with and providing funding to the new Marine Engine Technology training at Lanier Tech, it is furthering advanced and technical instruction.
“This year, we interviewed 15 applicants and awarded five scholarships to graduating seniors,” said Liz Rogers, who spearheads the initiative. “For us to give back to the community in this way and help deserving students with their education is rewarding, especially when we see the caliber of the students out there.” Since 2011, the foundation has awarded more than 50 scholarships.
The Lanier Tech Marine Technology program opened earlier this year. Members of the UYC Maritime Foundation were tapped during planning stages to consult and provide support. The foundation also provides financial assistance to students. This fall, 16 students are enrolled in classes.
“The goal is to train much-needed marine mechanics and fill the pipeline, not only in Georgia but eventually across the Southeast,” said David Erickson, foundation board member. “Until now, there’s not been an accessible training program, and there’s a serious shortage of marine mechanics. By working with Lanier Tech, we hope that more mechanics will be trained to reduce this shortage and help keep all of us on the water.”
University Yacht Club
This 250-member club actively supports Eagle Ranch, a residential program in Flowery Branch that helps boys and girls stay connected with their families while working to improve their relationships.
“With the important work Eagle Ranch is doing, right here in our own back yard, we are long been committed to championing their mission,” said Lisa Herndon Wilson, commodore of University Yacht Club. “Our members help provide financial support, particularly since it receives no government funding. It relies on community support, which we are happy to supplement. And Eagle Ranch founder Eddie Staub frequently makes presentations to our members, updating them on the work of this amazing organization.”
The club’s Bulloch Chapel offers worship services every Sunday from May through the first weekend in October at 10:30 a.m. The outdoor chapel, nestled beneath tall hardwoods and pines, has been the site of weddings and memorial services as well. A monthly service through the winter begins at 11 a.m. in the club’s Carswell Pavilion.
“Anyone is welcome to come worship with us,” said Betsy Wolf, co-chair of the chapel committee. “We also support Eagle Ranch through our weekly offerings. Our volunteer chaplains can provide spiritual counseling as well.”
America’s Boating Club Atlanta
From giving of their time at the Ronald McDonald House in Atlanta to helping out with the Calvary Children’s Home on Peachtree-Dunwoody, members of America’s Boating Club Atlanta have found that their volunteer work builds strong bonds.
“You can really get to know other people when you work side-by-side with them as volunteers,” said Tim Tyson, a long-time member of ABCA, who chairs the group’s community service. “It’s been amazing to see how just a couple of hours helping prepare meals for RMH can make a difference, not just for the families who stay there while a child is receiving medical treatment, but for us as we give of our time.”
Members volunteer at Calvary Children’s Home take youngsters on boat rides each summer in a planned event. Club members send hand-made birthday cards to the residents and provide them with a bit of spending money to celebrate.
ABCA members volunteer for Shore Sweep and other waterway clean-ups with Georgia Rivers Alive and the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper. They teach safety classes for other boating groups and have built relationships with marinas and boat dealers around the lake.
“America’s Boating Club Atlanta’s chief missions are education and boating safety,” said Dave Fuller, commander of the 225-member organization. “But any of our members will tell you that beyond education and boating we are committed to giving back, whether we’re on the water or volunteering. Many of our members have business backgrounds. We all know that it’s important to share resources and pay it forward, no matter what brings your group together.”