South Whidbey Yacht Club

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Russ and I have been members of the Yacht Club for almost 13 years, and one of the things that has impressed us are the connections and friendships that develop.  I know that new members sometimes feel that it’s hard to make friends, but the reality is that the club provides the perfect opportunity to meet like-minded people and develop new friendships – friends like Leonard and Linda Good and Gordon and Karen Labuhn, who have been a big part of the SWYC community over the years.   Friendships like these have been the most rewarding part of being members of SWYC and the opportunity to meet a group of pretty fantastic people. One of the best ways to get to know other members is to volunteer to work with Club projects and social events.
I know that it is sometimes daunting for new members to feel as if they are a part of the group at General Membership meetings and other functions.  Kathy Rodgers and the rest of the SWYC Board continue to work on making all members feel welcomed and included.   I encourage anyone to let me know if you have suggestions on how we can help everyone feel welcomed and a part of this wonderful community called The South Whidbey Yacht Club.
Debra Richardson, Commodore SWYC

Come to the March 20 Membership meeting!

We’ll hear Irene Skyriver talk about her experience kayaking Solo from Alaska to the San Juans: “Paddling with the spirits: a solo kayak journey.”

Inspired partly by her own spirit of adventure and partly by the stories of her native coastal ancestors (Tlingit and Makah), Irene Skyriver celebrated her fortieth year of life with a solo kayak voyage, paddling from Alaska to her home in Washington’s San Juan Islands. Paddling with Spirits: A Solo Kayak Journey interweaves the true account of her journey with generational stories handed down and vividly re-imagined.  Beginning with her great-grandmother’s seduction of an Indian fighter turned trader and following her ancestors on both sides through oil booms, orphanages, wartime romances, dance halls and cattle ranches,  Paddling with Spirits dips like a paddle itself between the stories of those who inspired her and Irene’s own journey down a lonely coast.  As she encounters harsh weather, wolves, bears, whales, and the wild beauty of the coastal waters, she reflects on her own life and on the lives of the many people she meets along the way, before her final triumphant return home. Paddling with Spirits is a wild, brave, and thrillingly original adventure.

A Washington native, Irene Skyriver was born in Port Townsend and raised in the country. She moved with her children and horses to Lopez Island in the San Juan Islands thirty-eight years ago, where she lived off-the-grid and as a single parent, spent most of her early years growing a garden, and letting the outdoors and beaches be her family’s sanctuary, inspiration, and teacher. Skyriver organized parades for Earth Days, International Women’s Days, and was one of the early founders and shapers of the Summer and Winter Solstice Celebrations, as well as Passage Rites ceremonies for youth. A poet, dancer, and a singer of traditional Earth Circle Songs, writing came later for her, mostly because one has to sit down to do it! Irene received a full fellowship to Fishtrap Writers Conference, based on a submission from Paddling with Spirits. This was followed by a grant to finish the work. She now has a lifetime of materials and experiences she is applying to a variety of writing projects. In between involvement in community, her market garden, and milking goats, she plans to sit down and accomplish these new writing endeavors and is at work on her second book, a novel.

Memorial Service for Gordon Labuhn
– James Rogers, Rear Commodore

As many of you know, our member Gordon Labuhn passed away last month. Kathy and I feel blessed to have gotten to know him since we joined the Yacht Club less than two years ago.  Gordon was a man of many talents and interests, one of which was writing. After moving to Whidbey Island, he wrote two memoirs and two murder mystery novels in addition to other essays.  Gordon was in chronic kidney failure and on dialysis treatments three times a week and knew firsthand how chronic illness impacts an individual and their loved ones. Despite his medical issues, he continued to have a great joy of life which he beautifully expressed in his essay “A Boomerang” for which he won 1st place in the 16th Annual Essay Contest of the National Renal Support Network in 2018.  You can access and read this most inspirational work at, and it is well worth reading.

Because of his interest in sailing, the SWYC Board voted to make a donation from the club to the Youth Sailing Association in Gordon’s memory.  A memorial service will be held at Trinity Lutheran Church in Freeland on Saturday, March 23 at 1:00 P.M.

Leonard and Linda Good’s Science Lab Fire
– James Rogers, Rear Commodore

In February, a fire ripped through the science teaching and storage space at Linda and Leonard Good’s home. Firefighters were able to save the structure, but among the items destroyed were:

If these were simply hobbies, the losses would be sad enough, but the space was full of the materials Leonard uses to make his living, teaching and inspiring kids and (adults) to love science.

His motto, “Loud Noises and Bad Smells Forever!” has been a siren call for generations of Whidbey Island students, calling them to experience and share in his infectious enthusiasm for experimentation and discovery.

Many who took Leonard’s classes still harbor a fascination with science thanks to his brilliant and eccentric approach and some of us even went on to careers in science (or science-adjacent fields) or teaching. You can help him continue that important and much-appreciated work by contributing to a fund to help repair, clean or replace the items the fire affected (the losses were not covered by insurance).
In addition to the teaching materials mentioned above (and more!), the space itself will need extensive cleaning and repairs, including repainting of the walls and floor, replacement or resurfacing of the roof, replacement of a large shattered window, and full electrical rewiring, before it can be used as a classroom again.  is accepting contributions to help Linda and Leonard rebuild the lab.

Please pass this fundraiser on to others — together, we can help Leonard get his teaching space back up to all its noisy, stinky glory.

South Whidbey Record: “Science learning lab damaged in fire”

Whidbey Life Magazine: “Creating a ‘Good’ Story”

SWYC Spring Cruise 

Bill and Jill Brown will lead a Spring Cruise leaving on May 27 (Memorial Day), returning May 30, providing at least three other boats sign up to participate. For those with boats at Lagoon Point, there are daytime high tides on those days, but at Port Townsend they are 4.8′ on the 27th and 6′ on the 30th. A tentative itinerary is Fisherman Bay, Deer Harbor and Spencer Spit but that is flexible based on participant preferences. Contact Bill or Jill  for more info or to sign up.