Sailing co-op hosts open house

The Van Isle Sailing Co-op is holding an open house this Saturday (June 17)

Sailing Nanaimo’s seas is more accessible than some people might realize and the Van Isle Sailing Co-op is spreading the word.

The co-op is holding an open house this Saturday (June 17) to try to get information out and attract newcomers and demonstrate “how easy it is to join the co-op and to learn to sail if you’re a novice,” said Les Barclay, the group’s vice-president and treasurer.

The group aims to offer affordable sailing opportunities through boat sharing. The co-op has four 27-foot Catalina sailboats that it keeps docked at Stones Marina. The sailboats are considered cruisers as opposed to racers and meant to be comfortable. They’re fully outfitted and appropriate for overnight excursions.

“We get a mixture of people [in the co-op],” Barclay said. “We get people who’ve had a boat and they’ve found it too much and they want to continue sailing, but they don’t want to own a boat on their own.”

The co-op has been around for 12 years and had 101 members at its peak, said Tim Silbernagel, one of the members.

“When we first started out, a lot of the members had no sailing experience and they were looking for an avenue to get on the water and experience the beautiful coastline and islands and areas that we have here without buying a boat and having to learn how to maintain a boat and park it and all the costs associated with it,” he said.

Cost to join is $400 plus an annual rate, which is $495 for a single member or $595 for a family membership.

The open house is Saturday at Stones Marina from 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. People can stop by and sign up for a free one-hour sail. For more information about the co-op, please visit www.visail.ca.