Monday, March 30, 2020

Building a Community

Burgees with the group's logo, the outline of the Castillo that is a symbol of the town and has never been taken in battle.

In late January 2012, a small group of cruisers who before this had only known each other on line met in a pub in town to match faces to screen names. We tried to develop a strategy to help people make real life connections and create a sailing community.  Different than a yacht club, we wanted to focus on cruisers who would be passing through, staying a day or a month or a season, and then in this nomadic lifestyle, moving on to explore new places.

With physical gatherings, virtual gatherings, happy hours and educational lectures and a morning VHF net (like a conference call that covers weather, winds, tides, welcomes newcomers and provides information about local services, general assistance, and fun events), the group now has a robust membership of over 2,000 people. What makes it feel totally different to me than any other sailing group I'm in, is that this one doesn't just include boaters although there are plenty of those. Marina managers, local marine trades and shop owners, even the local SeaTow operators and local law enforcement, marine sheriff and fire department, are all members. The community isn't just the people who play and live on boats, it's the entire breadth of maritime support people and industries coming together with the common interest in making the town a good place for boating.

I wish I understood how we made this happen, because I'd love to replicate it in other places as we travel. But even though I was there from the beginning, I have no idea how we got so lucky as to make this community coalesce. Must be some ancient St Aug city magic, I guess.

That first meeting in 2012 had only nine people -- plus an idea!

And look at us now, 8 years later! (photo from Mark & Suzanne Einstein)

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