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A visit to Marblehead’s sailing society

With more boats per capita than anywhere on the planet, Marblehead has long been known as “the sailing capital of the world.”

For those who wish to join the sailing set, Marblehead has a variety of clubs to choose from.

Two of the town’s clubs are found on Marblehead Neck, an exclusive community separated by the mainland by a long causeway that is perfect for jogging or biking.

Founded in 1885, the Corinthian Yacht Club on Nahant Street ( offers a beautiful clubhouse as well as swimming and tennis facilities.

“There’s many things yacht clubs can offer,” says Dave Titus, Corinthian’s clubhouse general manager, “but the view of the harbor we have here is spectacular!”

In addition to their frequent social events and tennis tournaments, Corinthian also hosts special yachting events, including the Trans-At Challenge in September, which brings a squadron of 60-foot boats from as far away as England.

“They’re quite a [thing] to view,” Titus says.

At present, Corinthian has 520 members.

“We have an extremely active membership, which is happy with what the club offers them,” says Titus. “It’s a very friendly community.”

According to membership committee member Jack Frankel, however, the club doesn’t take unsolicited applications.

“It’s a private club and new members are sponsored in a multiyear process,” he says.

Nearby on Foster Street is the Eastern Yacht Club ( with its six tennis courts and pool.

According to club lore, EYC was started in 1870 by “12 hardy men.” Its halls are packed with trophies, including one that was once carried on the flagship of famed British sailor Admiral Nelson! No wonder, then, that the Eastern has often been chosen to host Olympic sailing trials and many vanguard regattas.

“We consider ourselves a yacht club and try to encourage it at all levels,” says a member who wished to remain anonymous (the Eastern places a premium on privacy).

Across the harbor are the Boston, Dolphin, and Marblehead yacht clubs.

Organized in 1866, the Boston Yacht Club ( offers a dining room and bar, commodore’s lounge, and other facilities. And as it is located on Front Street, which runs along the harbor, the BYC also offers an amenity that the Neck clubs don’t.

“You can get dropped off here and walk around downtown Marblehead,” says general manager Mark McMahon, citing his club’s proximity to mainland shops and restaurants.

According to membership chair Martha Quigley, the BYC also requires sponsorship for new members. Even so, McMahon noted, around 20 slots tend to open at the end of each sailing season.

Though it may be difficult for people to gain immediate entrance to some clubs, there are other ways to get into the sailing scene. Among these are getting started early as a member of Marblehead’s youth yacht club, Pleon ( ), or taking memberships at clubs that do not require sponsorship, meeting others at multi-club events (such as Marblehead’s world-famous Race Week) and then having them sponsor you down the road.

Though the 55-year-old Dolphin Yacht Club on Allerton Place ( ) has no tennis courts or pool, the view of the harbor is beautiful, the kids’ room is a great place for younger sailors to hang out, and the food (provided by Sylvan Street Grill) is rather tasty. As for membership, it is inexpensive and does not require sponsorship.

“You don’t need to wait 10 years to get in,” says commodore/treasurer Patti Cohen of the club that, for many years, was the only place for Jewish sailors to congregate. And, as the club’s website states, “We are actively seeking new members!”

One caveat: If you want a full boating membership, you need to have a mooring in Marblehead Harbor. There are 1,400 of these and the waiting list is about 15 years. However, you can still be an out-of-harbor member for $350 or a social member for $225. The Dolphin also offers a kayaking membership for small-craft fans.

Lastly we come to the club that takes its name from its hometown. Built in 1878, the Marblehead Yacht Club on Cliff Street ( ) is the most down-home of all.

“This is by far the most inexpensive club,” says club manager Steve Karger, who has been a member for 25 years.

With food service Friday through Sunday (the MYC is BYOB), the club offers its 356 members three launches that cover 60 percent of the harbor and a fleet of rowboats you can take to your yacht.

“We’re the mirror image of the Corinthian,” Karger says, pointing across the harbor, “only in this way.”

In philosophy, the club mirrors the Dolphin more closely, as it was the first place Irish-Catholic sailors could join. In 1935, the MYC instituted a policy requiring that  “anybody joining be considered as an individual, not part of a group.”

These days, however, the only “group” that most members want to be counted among is Marblehead’s large group of sailors.

So whether you want cotillions and pool parties or just a way to get to your boat, join the club!