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Friday, June 26, 2015

The Sailing Club; a ship of fools

I was quite amused after reading Tom Falco’s Grapevine post yesterday morning. I guess really find the antics of the Sailing Club over the past 40  years not only amusing, but in some cases, quite sad. This latest move is just more in bad taste.

Starting now and moving back to past, it seems that this latest faux pas just show how weird (for lack of a better word) can be. The post Tom refers to really had nothing to do with anyone except the people who had boats in the mooring field, but was the notice was sent to  the club’s full email list.

When you read the first email, it sounded like the city was forcing the club to move all boats to the city’s mooring field outside of the spoil islands, ostensibly for added city revenue. Anyone who has any dealings with city would consider that very plausible.

Actually the planned move is for a very short time, just enough for the club to remove the old moorings anchors and replace them with environmentally sound ones. The state of Florida has been on the club to replace them for years and now they are doing it.

The old anchors gigantic hunks of concrete and old train wheels that weigh 2,000 pounds each. I will be quite surprised if the contractor can actually get the stuff out of the mud.
Tom wonders why this is a private club on public land. Well, it’s not. Over the years the city has considered it a public club on public land with some additional features that you have to pay for. Sort of like a boat rental operation. Based on what the club wanted to do and what the city wanted (or didn’t want) it has not always worked like that,

One interesting post on this thread is Marc, who I believe is a past commodore. He states that the club’s liquor license does not allow them to serve non-members and social members. I’m not sure how they get away serving a guest of a member. Not serving them would be pretty tacky. The real story is that the club buys a license that costs $400 a year with restrictions rather than one for $1750 a year that will allow them to serve everybody. Are they really trying to be that elitist?

Another post states that the club had a social membership and dozens of Grovites joined. Their membership, and their food and drink revenues saved the club from a huge financial mess. Once the club was in good financial shape, they did away with the social membership, and then went down to the $400 liquor license to make their argument about social and non-members.

Here are a few of the many stories that I have lived through or have been told. I’ll keep the sexy ones out of this post.

In the late 1970s, the city, aggravated by the club’s antics, told them they had to build a new clubhouse. The old one, a Navy storage hut, was literally falling down and looked pretty bad right on South Bayshore Drive.  The members at the time were paying $25 a year in dues, and now they were facing huge increases in dues and a $500 payment for each member for the new building. Half the members quit. The building got built, thanks no small part to a local bank helping them out.

A side story here: The water company hooked up water for the construction and told the club to call when it was finished. Five years later the water company found out that there was no meter and the club had not paid anything. A meter was immediately installed. No word about the bill.

In the 1980s the club was paying quite a bit in rent to the city. They had signed an onerous agreement with the city and were looking to renegotiate. No way said the city, we need all the money we can get. So, someone in the club got creative and slowly changed the percentage they were paying. Within six months the rent payment was cut in half and stayed that way for a number of years. No one in the city noticed and it wasn’t until the city hired an outside auditor and the jig was up. The club did repay the money over several years.

Not too many years ago there was this very nice lady working the club office. No one ever realized that she used to have an ever so slight cocaine problem. She fell off the wagon and teamed up with another cokehead women working in the dock office. Pretty soon there was no petty cash and no cash payments. She began to wear the number off the club ATM card. She bought thousands of dollars worth of Home Depot gift cards. After a few years, she resigned to take a similar position at Biscayne Bay Yacht Club, just up the street.

She didn’t last long there. They caught her right away and she was fired. When the commodore of BBYC called the commodore of CGSC he advised him of the situation. No one at CGSC had any idea what happened. More than $100,000 had disappeared. She pled guilty and was sent to rehab. When the bank found out about it, they advised the club that they had fraud insurance. The commodore and the board refused. My guess is that they were too embarrassed because it would have gone public and everyone would have known.

In the interest of full disclosure I was a member of the Coconut Grove Sailing Club from 1984 to 1999.

Jack King
Coconut Grove, FL

For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So what? "Ship of Fools" Sounds to me like they're fairly clever & creative. I lost my wallet two weeks ago and through a chain of events and 4 separate honest individuals my wallet found its way back. My neighbor moved about 2 years ago and the next day a lady who owns 9 cats (I have two of my own) told folks in the street (other neighbors) that he had stomped a stray cat to death solely because a dead cat was found on his property. Blogs have the ability to attract absurd comments.

June 26, 2015 11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great history lesson Jack. Appreciate that insight. The club is awesome. I grew up in a small town south of Pittsbugh PA. We had no public bars. All clubs. Sokal club(Slovak) which I am proud to be a life long member of, sons of Italy club, fish & game club, VFW club, etc... All these clubs brought the community together. When I moved to the grove 15 years ago I was shocked to find a club type atmosphere in the CGSC. I have since been a member and speak highly of the great things the club offers. I'm saddened by all the negative comments about the place. I feel bad for all these people who's cup of life is always half empty.

June 27, 2015 7:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can we take a moment and celebrate Jack King, a South Florida treasure and one of its unsung documentarians? When I returned to Miami as the '80s became the '90s after being away for college (and moved to the Grove), I eagerly awaited the columns in his newspaper and read them faithfully week after week, month after month, year after year Great writing style, great voice, singular eye on the community. The tempo and tone of his writing always reminded me of black and white film noir movies. And he was such an interesting combination of fearless truth teller and buttoned down hell raiser. You could always sense that beneath the calm exterior, the endless, bottomless incompetence and duplicity of City of Miami staff was making him vibrate with rage, desperation, and despair. But does he ever love this place and its people. Jack, we miss you. We need you. I wish you would write more often. The Biscayne Times is a wonderful venue for you but not enough for us, at least not for me.

June 27, 2015 11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@7:25am - which town

June 29, 2015 10:48 AM  

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