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White sails on the water

Thousands have learned to sail with Deep Cove Yacht Club

Our wet summer may have most of us growing gills and webbed feet, but some youngsters are just taking straight to the water.

Those would be the 135 or more kids who have signed up for sailing lessons in July and August with the Deep Cove Yacht Club.

The club, a familiar fixture in the Cove next to Panorama Park, began life as the Deep Cove Sport Association on July 31, 1936 and later became the Deep Cove Yacht & Sports Club, known to most as the Deep Cove Yacht Club. Club members cleared land rented from the District of North Vancouver at the foot of Gallant Avenue and built a small clubhouse that survived 49 years until replaced by the present building in the mid1980s - financed solely by club members.

The club continues to upgrade the wharves it uses and in the last 20 years three new concrete floats, electricity, water, extra lighting, security measures and new fingers have been installed.

The club has also acquired an "outstation" at Iron Bay in Indian Arm.

Chris Hall, DCYC's Learn to Sail spokesman, says that the club has turned out thousands of North Shore graduates from Canadian Yachting Association and BC Sailing approved courses in 25 years of summer classes. "We have certified instructors at every level and specialize in Wet Feet and Opti-level courses," says Hall.

"Wet Feet is the beginner level course for kids four to seven years old, who start off with a week-long course to get accustomed to the water under safe, supervised conditions. The three-hour-a-day courses are available starting at 9 a.m. or 1 p.m."

Last year, the club added four new Oppi dinghy sailboats - unsinkable, stable boats for teaching at this entry level. The club's fleet for the older kids includes Optimist Dinghy, Pirate, Laser I and II and 420 sailing dinghies.

At the more senior level, sailing experience can qualify for up to four high school credits under a provincial education program. Kids who advance that far - and some sailing school attendees have been coming for eight to 10 years - often learn to become sailing instructors themselves, says Hall, earning a steady income as well as new skills in the summer.

"We also train volunteers as they are our future sailing instructors," he said.

The fees range from $173 for the Wet Feet class to $460 for the Bronze Sail Level 4 and 5 courses for kids 11-17 that run for two weeks. Fees qualify for the Children's Fitness tax credit.

The club has raised money to create a new program this year to help support those who may not otherwise be able to afford the sailing school tuition.

The bursary fund pays up to 75 per cent of the fees for people who can demonstrate they need some help. Forms are available on the DCYC website at www.deepcoveyc. com or by phoning the DCYC office at 604-929-1009.

Registration for the DCYC's Summer Kids Programs is through the North Vancouver Recreation Commission at www.northvanrec.com.

The yacht club is hosting an open house Monday, Aug. 1 from noon to 4 p.m. with free hot dogs and sailboat rides for one child, four to 15 years old, alone or accompanied by a parent.

mmillerchip@nsnews.com