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BOATING WITH BARB: Comox’s ‘Blue Jean Yacht Club’ is welcoming and unpretentious

Barb Thomson
This is the Comox Valley Yacht Club burgee, raised on a halyard to identify Club membership. Photo supplied

Barb Thomson

Special to the Record

Rolex. Hermes. Bentley. Prada. You get the idea. What do these luxury brands have to do with boating? Just say the words “yacht club” and images of wealth surface in the wake.

Consider the Forbes Magazine article, “The Top 50 Most Exclusive Yacht Clubs in the World Honored with Platinum Status.” Writer Jim Dobson describes what we already suspected: “These private clubs are legendary with outrageous initiation fees, strict dress codes, luxurious clubhouses, gourmet restaurants, and family activities” that shut out the average boater, “as waiting lists are many years long, or you need to be nominated and vetted by current members.”

I’m reminded of a Groucho Marx quote, “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.”

My first thought when I heard about the Comox Valley Yacht Club (CVYC) was no thanks, I’m not the clubby type. Visions of the above danced in my head. Still, my husband and I were curious about the CVYC website’s tag line, “The Blue Jean Yacht Club,” and so we attended one of their casual TGIF nights as guests. That was three years ago, and yes, dear reader, here comes the testimonial: I had it all wrong.

Jonathan Rothwell is the current CVYC Commodore and describes his membership experience like this: “For most of my life I have been involved in sailing, originally through a ‘Royal’ Yacht Club and more recently with a ‘Blue Jeans’ Yacht Club. The purpose of all clubs has been to bring together like-minded people, who share similar passions and goals. Our yacht club is oriented towards comradeship, social cruising and having lots of fun, safely, either on the water or whenever we get together.”

Rothwell describes a shift from “the domain of social elite who could afford to play,” to more relaxed and accessible yacht clubs. “Our membership spans the full spectrum of boaters, some with many years of boating experience, some with little to none, and some who don’t even have a boat. What we share is our common joy of ‘messing about in boats,’ and activities on and around the beautiful waters here in B.C.”

Since the onset of COVID-19, the Comox Valley Yacht Club membership has increased by 24 per cent. As if we needed to remember how being on a boat, any boat, alone or with friends, can feel like coming home.

For more information on the Comox Valley Yacht Club, visit:

Barb Thomson is a boating enthusiast who writes regular columns for the Comox Valley Record.