75 years of smooth sailing for local club


The sun is beginning to set on Indian Lake on a majestic summer evening. You’re sailing downwind at 10 knots (11.5 mph) near Orchard Island catching a warm breezy wind sailing due south. It’s scooting you along the glistening waters windwardly with ease and the Indian Head Roadhouse is in sight on the starboard side. You literally don’t have a care in the world as you soak it all in with a feeling of total bliss on the lake.

If you have never experienced sailing and being “one with the wind,” that right there, is what it’s all about!

But even better than that, if that’s possible, is being in a low-key, friendly club with other sailors who share that same passion.

If you want to “Sail Away” into paradise, look no further than close to home. Right here in our own backyard is a 75-year-old, historic first class institution just waiting to welcome you with open arms.

Now the term “Yacht Club” may conjure up intimidating images of pompous pipe-smoking sea barons flipping through the stock listings of yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, but nothing could be further from the truth. And even if there was a billionaire sea Barron Vanderbilt Royal lurking in the captain’s quarters of the clubhouse no one would never even know it, because this “sailing club” is one of the friendliest, down to earth, casual clubs one could ever image. “It truly is like one big family here,” said longtime club member Susan Holder.

The moment you take your first step into the club’s wonderful clubhouse, the nautical ambiance and warmth of friendliness will grab you like the wind and not let go.

Started as pile of mud

In 1942 the club was founded by a group of sailors with the name “Orchard Island Sailing Club.” According to current club member, Pam Fisher’s glance into the original dues log, a yearly membership was only $1.00.

That club’s lead founder was a local businessman, inventor and sailor named Lou Zerbee, whose grandson Pat Tynan is a current lifelong member of the club. Tynan, the son of a sailor, who has recently documented the history of the club, practically grew up at the club as his parents were members also.

By 1946 the club had moved to its current location, with an agreement with the state to lease the island for a mere $30 a year. It was known as “Willis Island,” at the time, according to longtime club member and past club commodore Lynn Holder.

Old rare photos show club members at the time literally flattening out and moving gigantic piles of mud with shovels and picks to create the island as it is today. “The club really just started from a big pile of muck that members flattened into an island, “added club historian and 30 year-plus member Bob Clover, of Lima.

The island was increased to twice its size in 1954 by having the state dredge-dump mud inside a new seawall that had been built.

In 1959 the Indian Lake Yacht Club bought the island for $6,000 from the state, and in 1970 bought adjacent land to expand its facility. In the 1980’s, the original modest clubhouse was demolished and a new clubhouse shelter pavilion was built.

From there it’s been pretty much smooth sailing with many improvements along the way creating a wonderful, beautifully-manicured and friendly club as it stands today, 75 years later.

75-year milestone celebrated

The club celebrated its 75th anniversary Aug. 5 with over 100 in attendance for a fun-filled day of sailing, boating and many on-shore activities such as cornhole, live music, and games.

Located on beautiful lakefront property in Russells Point, the club’s “mainland” and “island,” connected by a footbridge, are both easily accessible by either car or boat. By car, just drive to the end of Chase Avenue past the Harbourside Condominiums. Via boat on the lake, they are located at the southern end west of Orchard Island.

The clubhouse is situated on the water’s edge of beautifully-landscaped grounds with a fantastic panoramic view of the lake. The facility is fully equipped with 75 private docks, electric launching hoists and a dry sail parking area.

The club also has a sandy beach and play area for kids, shaded picnic area with grills, tables and chairs. A new hi-tech kayak launching pad and dock were recently installed, thanks to the diligent efforts of club member Robin Lee Rose. The facilities are available for use year round, from summer sailing to winter skating and ice-sailing.

More than sailing

The club promotes itself as “more than just sailing” and as a social club. It is a casual member-owed club offering many off-the-water activities including numerous social events, dinners, pot lucks, sea boils and holiday activities. The social season is brought to a close every year with the “Commodores Ball,” in November.

But if it is sailing that you are looking for then you’ve come to the right place for that also. The club offers competitive racing on Sunday afternoons ( May-Sept), invitational regattas, regional regattas, national regattas, cruising boats, sailing classes, Jr. Sailing camps , the Sea Scouts program, fun races and day sailing. Club member Barbara Dillon heads up the Adult Sailing Instruction program which runs for four Saturday’s from 9am-noon.

The club currently runs an active “One Design” racing program for 5 sailboat classes and fleets: Highlanders, Interlakes, Lightenings, I-20’s and Hunter 23’s.

The club is run by the “Commodore” and there have been 73 of them, with the first commodore in 1943, Carl Blackburn, to current Commodore Joe Ewing.

The club’s historians are retired area school teachers Bob and Sue Clover of Lima, who have been in the club for over 30 years. “We have made so many wonderful friends over years coming here. It’s such a relaxed, friendly environment. Every time I come here I learn something new from the other members,” adds Sue. Bob, was also the club’s Commodore back in 1993.

The club cares about its members and has celebrated and honored its past members in various “nautical ways.” “A wooded statue of past member Paul Datson was carved in his memory for all he did for the club and his fleet,” added Bob Clover.

Current member Bob Bennett built “75th Anniversary” nautical plaques for 40 members, said Don Fisher, a club member from Huber Heights.

Members are from all walks of life with skills ranging from novice sailor to championship skipper. Anyone interested in sailing may apply for membership.

So, if you’ve ever thought about sailing, love Indian Lake, like hanging around friendly people and eating good food, this may be the club for you.

Although memberships dues are no longer just a dollar a year as in 1943, the club keeps dues and fees at an “extremely” reasonable rate through their “do it yourself” philosophy. There are several different levels of membership available. Members receive unlimited use of all club facilities, keys to the clubhouse, a newsletter and the opportunity to rent a dock or dry sail space. This really is a hands-on, friends and family, down to earth type environment.

Additionally, the club offers a free ”Ticket to Ride” program. Anyone interested can visit any weekend in the summer for a free sailboat ride. You can even try your hand at the sails as a crew member or even as a skipper.

So, why not “Come Sail Away” and get started for free and if you like it you can join a Yacht Club without spending a pirate’s treasure. Once you get out on that water and add some wind to the recipe, you just might see things in a little different light as the great Jimmy Buffet wisely professed with his famous nautical song titled, “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes.”

For more information contact Indian Lake Yacht Club at 246 Chase Ave., Russells Point or IndianLakeYachtClub.com, 614-746-1981

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Club members span the footbridge that connects the mainland of Indian Lake Yacht Club to its island. Members celebrated the 75th anniversary of the club on Aug. 5.
http://www.weeklycurrents.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/13/2017/08/web1_IMG_8108-1.jpgClub members span the footbridge that connects the mainland of Indian Lake Yacht Club to its island. Members celebrated the 75th anniversary of the club on Aug. 5.

The Potluck group meets every Thursday at the clubhouse, which has a fully equipped kitchen. A prayer was said before dinner for fellow member Chuck Sifero, who had fallen ill. Right to left, counter clockwise are Robin Lee Rose, Anda Tudor, John Tudor, Lynn Holder, Susan Holder, Sue Clover, Bob Clover, Don Fisher and Pam Fisher.
http://www.weeklycurrents.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/13/2017/08/web1_IMG_7893-1.jpgThe Potluck group meets every Thursday at the clubhouse, which has a fully equipped kitchen. A prayer was said before dinner for fellow member Chuck Sifero, who had fallen ill. Right to left, counter clockwise are Robin Lee Rose, Anda Tudor, John Tudor, Lynn Holder, Susan Holder, Sue Clover, Bob Clover, Don Fisher and Pam Fisher.

Club member Robin Lee Rose demonstrates the new kayak launch and dock the club recently installed. Rose was instrumental in the implementation of this project.
http://www.weeklycurrents.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/13/2017/08/web1_IMG_7934-1.jpgClub member Robin Lee Rose demonstrates the new kayak launch and dock the club recently installed. Rose was instrumental in the implementation of this project.
Indian Lake Yacht Club celebrates milestone

By Ron Brohm

Contributing writer

Ron Brohm is a regular contributor to this newspaper.