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From the Pilothouse: the SWYC Newsletter

September Newsletter

SWYC Heading

Commodore's Message

It is late summer and all around us we see signs foretelling the coming of Autumn.  Fall flowers are starting to show signs of blooming in our garden. 

Sunrises are later and sunsets are earlier each day. The Pelican fleet has concluded their racing season and the Laser fleet has only a few more races left on their calendar.  The last scheduled cruise of 2023 will point into the waters of the south Puget Sound beginning on Labor Day. 

So, as we savor the remaining days of summer and enjoy the spectacular sunsets (the only positive thing I can say about wildfire smoke) I would like to extend a hearty thank you to all of our membership who made 2023 such a wonderful experience for Barb and I and hopefully for all of you. 

Even though on-water activities are slowing, fall activities are ramping up beginning with our next general meeting at the Progressive Club on Wednesday, September 20th.  And don’t forget about the capstone event of the year, the Commodores Ball, to be held at the Useless Bay Golf and Country Club on Saturday evening, November 11th.    Take off your boat shoes and lace up your dancing shoes for a fun evening celebrating the year just past and the one to come.  The Commodores Ball is also where we usher in your new leadership for 2024 as well as announce the Founders Award recipient and the  McArthur Award for 2023.  Look for elections and Founders Award nomination information in October.

Be seeing you at our upcoming fall meetings and events, and on the dance floor in November.

Calm seas, fair winds and smooth sailing to you,

Pete Grimlund
South Whidbey Yacht Club

Vice Commodore's Message
Notes from the Flying Bridge

We still need all members to consider supporting your board in at least a small role. We need a Secretary and a Rear Commodore. These positions are perfect for new members. They expose you to the membership and give you insight into how the board manages the Yacht Club. If you are interested in helping us, please give me a call to discuss how you can support your board and club.

Welcome New Members!!

Please welcome this month’s newest members to the yacht club. We look forward to meeting them at our upcoming events.


Thomas VanSweringen

Tom is new to Whidbey Island, having moved her just this summer from Camus, WA after his retirement.  He’s building a home in the Freeland area.  Tom is interested in kayaking and learning about other watercraft, and getting to know other SWYC members.    Tom served in the Air Force for a couple of decades followed by a career in hospital/medical group administration.

Jonny McConnell

Jonny McConnell

Jonny grew up sailing out of Everett and Bellingham on a San Juan 28 and a Beneteau 350 with his family who could be found in the San Juans & Gulf Islands, Desolation Sound and even out to Barkley Sound.  He lived in Seattle for about a dozen years, received a sailing certification from the Center for Wooden Boats and then turned his attention to racing smaller boats on the lakes and racing a J97 out of Shilshole.  Jonny doesn’t currently own a vessel and is still deciding what the right one will be.  He’d love to sail in the Laser fleet, having watched the Laser races being held in Freeland.  He’d also enjoy crewing on larger vessels if anyone needs a hand.  


Welcome Back - Kathy Parks

Kathy is a returning member. She has much experience on the water, including sailing a Morgan Out Island 41 and a SF Pelican. Kathy keeps very busy operating the Cultus Bay Distillery.  She’s also an accomplished artist and has recently donated a print of her artwork – Pelican Racing on Lone Lake – to our club as a raffle to support the recent purchase of our new safety boat.  Thank you Kathy.  Glad to have you back!

September Membership Meeting

Wednesday, September 20
Greenbank Progressive Club and Zoom

3090 S Firehouse Rd.
Greenbank, WA 98253

  • 6:30 Socializing/Sips & Dips to Share/ Zoom Opens
  • 7:00 Announcements
  • 7:15  Program

Guest Speaker — Terry Ney

Remember to bring your own plates, silverware and glassware as part of SWYC’s goal to reduce waste in the environment.



Deputy Chief, South Whidbey Fire/EMS
Emergency Service on the Water

Terry Ney is Deputy Chief of Operations and Community Risk Reduction for South Whidbey Fire/EMS.  In this role, he is in charge of the marine rescue program at SWFE.  He is a 44 year veteran of the fire service, with 40 years in Oregon where he was most recently Fire Chief of Lane Fire Authority in the Eugene area where they had rescue boats on Fern Ridge Reservoir.  He is also a USCG Master 25 Tons, and an ASA sailing instructor for San Juan Sailing in Bellingham.  Terry and his wife moved to Whidbey Island in January of 2020 after retiring out of Oregon, fulfilling a desire to be near the Salish Sea.  They keep their 42 foot Tayana Vancouver sailboat in Oak Harbor Marina, and enjoy sailing in the San Juan and Gulf Islands.  Terry’s roots in the Salish Sea go back to 1926, when his maternal grandfather brought the family from Germany and first settled on Lummi Island.  Terry was incident commander for the seaplane crash incident in Mutiny Bay in September of 2022.
Terry’s presentation today will focus on the challenges faced by a marine rescue program on Whidbey Island, the relationships between the marine fire rescue programs, the USCG, private boat rescue services such as BoatUS, and boaters who assist other boaters in need.

Greenbank Progressive Club

or Join Zoom Meeting:

Bilge Rat is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: September Membership Meeting
Time: Sep 20, 2023, 6:30 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

or go to, ‘Join Meeting’ and enter:
Meeting ID: 894 5928 7429
Passcode: 645973

Our October meeting will feature SWYC member Glen Quinton, who will be speaking about the Youth Sailing Association.  

For future programs and dates, see the event calendar on the SWYC website.

New Member Social/Orientation

The next New Member Social/Orientation will be  Sunday, October 8 at 4:00 pm at  Pete and Barb Grimlund’s home.    Any new member who has not yet attended a New Member Social/Orientation  is invited to come meet other newbies and a few of us longer time members, ask questions, learn more about the different groups and activities within the club and how you can connect easily to people of mutual interest. Watch for your invitation in your email.  

Email if you will be joining us.

New Member Orientation and Social
New members visiting with current members to learn more about SWYC

August Social


A fun time was had by all who attended the August Social at Penn Cove Taproom.  Relaxed socializing, a few beverages and lots of summer stories were shared by all.  Thank you Dan Mooney for planning the event.

20th Annual Commodore's Ball


20TH Annual Commodore’s Ball

Dinner, Awards and Dancing

November 11 at 5:30 p.m.

Useless Bay Golf & Country Club


Look for invitations at the

beginning of October



Sum, sum, summertime is almost coming to a close. But the waters around Whidbey and beyond beckon. So, let’s paddle until the days are too short or the weather too challenging!

August was a good month to paddle with the SWYC. On Tuesday, August 15, 9 kayakers met at Possession Point Park and paddled to the kelp beds. Led by Gayle Austin and Bob Kuehn, we meandered in the direction of Skagit Head to experience the abundance of bull kelp that grows in the waters there. Gayle, with her experience with Sound Waters Stewards, shared her knowledge of the characteristics of the kelp and the spider-like crabs that live, clinging to the kelp, helping to promote a healthy ecosystem. Sun shone bright, gentle seas, a relaxing paddle. So much so, it was hard to come ashore! We ended the paddle with a meal together at the Taproom in Bayview.

Our second paddle of the month was Friday, August 25. 10 of us, led by Patty Linehan and Pat Matthews, put in at the Saratoga Community Launch and paddled around Baby Island and beyond to Fox Spit. Although we put in with a calmer sea, the winds picked up and it became a bit choppy. As we neared Baby Island, the seals slid into the water and popped their heads up surrounding us as we paddled. Sleeping soundly on the shore of Baby Island was an Elephant seal. Looked like a boulder. As we paddle towards Fox Spit, protected by the land, the seas calmed to glass-like stillness. A bit overcast, some smoke in the air but an enjoyable paddle. And again, hard to say goodbye to being on the water. We shared a picnic together and got to know each other even better!

Two more paddles are planned for our 2023 season:

Friday, September 15, 8:00 PM – 10:00 PM. Bioluminescent paddle.

NEW!!  Saturday, September 16, 4:00 PM – 7:30 PM  Oak Harbor Paddle + OHYC BBQ

Baker Lake Camping Trip –  2024 – SAVE THE DATE

For those of you planning ahead for 2024, we have again reserved the two group sites at Swift Creek Campground on Baker Lake for two nights – Sunday, June 16  and Monday, June 17, checking out on Tuesday.  It’s a week earlier than this year, but the later dates were already taken.  We’ll keep checking in case of a cancellation as the later dates might be more  favorable for some. 

We had such a great time this year camping at Baker Lake.  This camping trip is open to all  club members with ample opportunity to kayak, sail, swim,  hike or just sit in a camp chair enjoying the fresh air and camaraderie of  group  dinners and campfires.  If interested in being part of the group campsite, let know.  You can also secure your own individual campsite and/or extend your camping trip before or after these dates.   Mark your calendars and let Barb G know so that we can be sure  you’re on the event communications list.  Link to the event is here:  2024 Baker Lake Camping

West Beach Resort Kayaking and All Club Trip - THIS MONTH!

The all club/kayaking trip to Orcas Island is fast approaching. The trip is September 21 -24. Twenty one SWYC members have signed up to participate in this trip which is not only for kayakers but for the whole club membership as well. Along with kayaking the waters of Orcas, we will gather for sips and dips, a potluck and even a ‘night on the town’ at a favorite restaurant in East Sound. Remember to schedule the ferry reservations to Orcas Island. Contact Katy Shaner or Barb Grimlund,, for more information and confirm that you are participating in this trip.   




SWYC’s laser fleet is coming to the end of a successful second season this Tuesday, Sept 5. Races start at 4:30.   Come out and see the lasers race, or come at ~6:45 pm for our one-beer tailgate party in the park after racing. We have basically doubled our participation since last year, and doubled the amount of races we sailed! We hope to see this continue into the 2024 sailing season.  The Laser Fleet end of the year award dinner/ potluck will be Saturday, Sept 16 at 5:30 pm @ Brad’s greenhouse. Everyone is welcome.  Bring an old t-shirt, and join us for a little impromptu t-shirt making party too!

We are still looking for volunteers for the Race Committee/ Safety boat, contact Zak or Carol if you are interested in the last race, or starting to train for next season. Also, we will be hosting clinics again in April 2024, and let us know if you wanted to sail with us this year, but are ready to commit for next season! One goal for the 2024 season is to encourage more women and youth to join the fleet.

Race results are posted on the SWYC website. Race Result


Pelican Races have wrapped up for the season.  Congratulations to all who participated making Summer 2023 a fun and successful racing year for our Pelican Fleet.  Many thanks to all who participated and supported the Pelicans. 

 Results can be viewed at Race Results



There’s still plenty of opportunity for early fall cruising, especially the September Cruise to Central Puget Sound.  If you are planning your own short cruise, download the GroupMe app and link to our cruising group, SWYC Cruising Group,  to let all the cruisers know where you are going, report current conditions, and post pictures.  We all enjoy virtually cruising along with you.  

Upcoming Cruises:
If you are joining any of these cruises, contact the  cruise director directly to get the marina information for slip reservations and to let them know you are coming.  


It’s not too late to tag onto the  September Cruise to the Central Sound. It starts tomorrow (Monday).  Just make your arrangements and let Bill and Jill  Brown, our Cruise  Captains,  know where you’ll be joining the group.  Boating or maybe just driving to the destination and joining the group for happy hour, dinner or activities works great!

Their Itinerary:

  • Monday, September 4th    KINGSTON
  • Tuesday and Wednesday, September 5th and 6th   WINSLOW MARINA, BAINBRIDGE  ISLAND
  • Thursday, September 7    GIG HARBOR
  • Friday, September 8th    POULSBO
  • Saturday, September 9  HOME

Think about doing the whole  cruise or maybe planning your own itinerary and joining the group along the way.   

                                   Poulsbo                                                                               Bainbridge                                                                                   Gig Harbor        


And don’t forget this combination Club event: 

Dates: Thursday, September 21 – Sunday, September 24

Destination: West Beach Resort on Orcas Island, or OIYC (West Sound) or other Orcas Island marinas or islands beyond Orcas

Leader:  Katy Shaner – This event is planned and coordinated through our kayaking group who will be kayaking around West Beach Resort and other Orcas locations.  The trip  is open to all SWYC members whether you are kayaking with the group  or not.  There is a mooring dock (if it hasn’t been pulled in yet  due to weather conditions) and also mooring buoys available at West Beach.  Because many of the kayakers will be driving to the island, there may be cars available to share to attend our club group activities (shared happy hours, dinner in East Sound and a group pot luck dinner one night. )  All club members are invited to participate in whatever way they enjoy.  ** A reminder that to kayak on the planned paddles of this outing, you  must meet the safety requirements of paddling a sea kayak, and have taken the safety requirements of the SWYC kayaking group.  Skills listed on this page

Windward Women

The SWYC Windward Women enjoyed their second annual Ebey’s Landing walk followed by a lunch at Ciao in Coupeville earlier in August.  Thank you Patty L.  and Pat M.for planning and leading this outing!

The next Windward Women event is planned for Thursday, Oct 5.  Watch our calendar and your email for details, yet to come.  

All women in the SWYC are members of the Windward Women’s group and are welcome to join in all of our social and exploring gatherings. We usually meet every other month on the first Thursday of that month, but that can vary depending on the planned activity.

Watch for our upcoming events on our SWYC website calendar or reach out to Patty Maxfield to ensure you’re on the email distribution list.

Social Events


Be sure these dates are on you calendar.  Please let Mark Conover,,  know if you will volunteer to help with any of these events.  It’s a great way to meet other members – and you get to plan the party!

Commodore’s Ball – Saturday, November 11 

SWYC Holiday Party Wednesday, December 13 

Keep track of all the club events and updates at:

Safety Matters!

Alert Situational Awareness
Alert Situational Awareness

SAFETY MATTERS #5: "Sierra Alpha"

By Clay Canfield, Safety Officer

Question: What is your “Sierra Alpha” while boating?

In some circles the term “Sierra Alpha” is code for Situational Awareness. In some of my otherwise personal activities I have an expression “Situational Awareness is Life”. Put simply, situational awareness amounts to us understanding what is going on right now such that we are able to predict with relative accuracy what is going to happen in the near future. For a fighter pilot “near future” is probably on the order of several seconds. For us on the water, it might be as much as several minutes. Situational awareness also refers to the degree of accuracy by which one’s perception of his/her current environment reflects reality. Typically we need to be constantly aware of things like the wind speed and direction, current, other traffic, submerged hazards,  current weather, weather in the near future, our fuel state, and a number of other factors that can affect our activity, whether that be sailing, kayaking, paddle boarding, or any other activity on the water. Of particular importance is our perception of reality versus our expectations, as expectations can easily override our perceptions.

Of critical importance in situational awareness are factors that tend to affect our perceptions. Things that affect our perception of reality include inadequate communication, fatigue, stress, task overload, task underload, group mindset ”press on regardless” philosophy, degraded operating conditions, etc., etc. It can be said that “Situational Awareness is Life, Piloting Skill is Life Insurance, and Proper Equipment is Premium Life Insurance.”

Here’s a link to a quick video to review boating situational awareness: Situational Awareness

Your Sierra Alpha is key to your survival and enjoyment on the water.

How many screens are vying for your attention?
How many screens are vying for your attention?

Members’ Tech Tips and Training



Your Bilgerat is preparing to transition the Bilgerat communications role to another SWYC member in November.  As part of the transition planning, electronic photo archive folders have  been created to store our digital photos of our many events and activities so that they are readily available to the next Bilgerat, officer or interest group leader.  During the club’s first few years, scrapbooks were created.  It’s been a treat to be able to go back and look through these memories of our earliest years.  Then came digital cameras and of course, we all kept our own individual cache of digital photos on our own devices or up in the cloud somewhere.  We’ve lost the ability to maintain a history of SWYC’s many activities through these latter years.  By creating SWYC digital files, we now have a way to maintain our history.  

NEEDED FROM YOU If any of you have photos – digital or film –  from the last 10 years of any of our activities or events, please send them to  Or if you’d just like to talk through ‘what’s the easiest way to do this?’,  reach out to bilgerat.  We can talk it through.  Racing, lessons, social events, paddles, trips or just hanging out.  We’d love to have them.  Please consider looking through your personal photo files to help us out.   

Questions? email  That’s me, Barb.

*** If you know of any club member who is not receiving these newsletters or other club communications, please email  We’ll help them get connected.

Getting outfitted for the fall boating season?  Looking for SWYC clothing, hats or gifts?  

Click here: Land’s End Store


Savage Screen Printing & Embroidery in Clinton now has our burgee logo on file  (Only the burgee.  Not our other logos).  SWYC members can stop in to Savage and have the logo applied to their own personal item, or select a hat from Savage’s selection.  Stop by next time you’re in Clinton to better understand this alternative to Land’s End.  

Land’s End still offers the greater variety of merchandise, more logo configurations and the ease of shopping from your  home, but it’s nice to have a local alternative as well.  

Visors from Savage Screen Printing and Embroidery

These are examples of some of the products that Savage Screen Printing and Embroidery, in Clinton, is able to create for you locally.

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South Whidbey Yacht Club

PO Box 316

Greenbank, WA 98253