Sheepshead Bay Sailing Club rings in new season
As Brooklyn in the new century rediscovers and develops its waterfront from Newtown Creek in Greenpoint through Brooklyn Bridge Park and Gowanus to Coney Island, a dedicated group of Brooklynites in Sheepshead Bay have cherished a connection to the water since 1932.
Miramar Yacht Club sits across from Kingsborough Community College in Sheepshead Bay, showcasing roughly 60 sailboats for the inhabitants of Southern Brooklyn to see. The sailing club that was founded in 1932 rang in the sailing season on Sunday, foreshadowing summer days of sailing and community events open to members and non-members of the club.
“Think of it as a grown-up tree house,” said Wendy Shomer, one of the longest standing members of the club said. “I think the club means camaraderie. I think the club means a place where you always have friends and can always depend on someone helping you.”
Shomer, 69, sails every day in the summer. She was introduced to sailing by her father and was associated with the club as young as 10 years old. For her, sailing was and continues to be a bonding experience. “Sailing is a timeless mix of aesthetics and purposeful skills, dependence on wind and tides and the beauty of a sailboat’s motion when she is trimmed just right,” she said in a statement. “I had a passion for it. I was absolutely completely engaged and still am.”
The 81-member club began at 3128 Emmons Ave. by a group of young men that brought common hobbies together to form the Miramar Boat and Canoe Club. Miramar was reorganized as a cooperative yacht club in 1944 and made “substantial contribution” to the war effort when used by the U.S. Coast Guard.
With 39 commodores coming before him, Commodore Michael Friedman addressed a full room of members to discuss business before they kicked off the season.
“The one thing we all agree on is our love of boating,” he said in a statement. “Our refuge from tumult and stress is Miramar and our boats. We all enjoy the beauty and serenity of being out on the water and a majestic sunset from our grounds.”
When Hurricane Sandy ravished the shores of New York, it left Miramar and much of the surrounding coast looking like a war zone and carried away the club’s ceremonial cannon that traditionally brought the seasons in with a bang. On Sunday, a bell chased the triangular red, blue and white club flag up the flagpole.
Age does not stop members like one of the oldest sailors in Brooklyn, Gilbert Cigal, in his 90s, who still sails and owns a boat. Cigal stays on the water and stays connected to his community by using electric controls to steer his sails.
“I think the club also … it extends to social network and the interdependency that all people look for in clubs,” Shomer said. “The way Facebook keeps you glued to your screen, well, we used to be glued to each other.”
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