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Silver anniversary for single sailors

The Shoreline Sailing Club enters its 25th year as a social outlet for singles along the Connecticut shoreline

The Shoreline Sailing Club enters its 25th year as a social outlet for singles along the Connecticut shoreline

For nearly 25 years the Shoreline Sailing Club has been uniting single people age 35 and older who live near the Connecticut shore and have at least one important interest in common: sailing.

“In my opinion, the Shoreline Sailing Club is the best-kept secret on the shoreline,” says member Linda Chapman, who is also in charge of club membership. “No one knows we exist, and if they do they have no idea what we do or how we began.”

The Shoreline Sailing Club was formed in Connecticut in 1981 by two single women, Nancy Lawrence and Nancy Peterson, who owned boats but needed crew. They recruited some of their single friends, and realized that sailing and socializing can be a lot of fun.

Today the club has grown to include about 250 members, coming from New Haven, Conn., to as far north as Springfield, Mass. By the beginning of next season, Chapman says, the club expects membership to jump to about 275.

“There’s one main reason to join this club and that’s to have fun,” Chapman says. “We all share the common interests of sailing and meeting new people. If you meet someone special while you’re here, well, then that’s great.”

Of the current members, Chapman says, there are also 21 married couples.

“That’s bending our rules a little bit, since we are a singles club,” Chapman says with a laugh. “The exception is that these people met here, at the club, as members. We won’t ask them to leave. They’re an integral part of the group.”

In addition to meeting twice a month on Thursdays in Old Saybrook, Conn., club members get together throughout the boating season for various social and sailing events. There are about 40 members who own sailboats and invite other members aboard for day, sunset and weekend cruises to places like Hamburg Cove in Old Lyme, Conn.; Narragansett Bay, R.I.; and Sag Harbor, N.Y.

“I joined the club about 10 years ago because the people seemed like a bunch of old sailors who like to have fun,” says Peter Tripoli, a club member and skipper. Tripoli, who wouldn’t give his age, owns a 31-foot Bombay Clipper. “It’s nice to go out for a sail with a crew you like. The camaraderie is great.”

On land, members organize dockside house parties, holiday dances, and often get together to kayak, ski, golf and scuba dive. Members have also gone on extended cruises to more far-off locations like Australia, the British Virgin Islands and the West Indies.

“This club is all about good weather, good winds and good friends,” says club commodore Barbara Kleefeld. “The people make this club what it is. They’re all great people, and very active.

“I had one new member — who had joined our club after leaving a similar club — tell me that the major difference between the two was that the other club’s members was a group of seekers and that we are a group of sharers,” Kleefeld continues. “I think that says a lot about us. We all give a lot, care a lot about each other and enjoy helping each other with our boats.”

Club member George Krug, who owned a 29-foot C&C until he sold it about a year and a half ago, says the opportunity to meet new people and spend time with others who love sailing is the reason he joined.

“We’re all a bunch of wandering souls who enjoy the water and enjoy each other,” says Krug, who is 71. “Now that I don’t have a boat, I like crewing other peoples’ instead. I think I’ve gotten to know people better that way.”

With the season over, Kleefeld says she is looking forward to celebrating the club’s 25th season next year.

“Looking back, people come and they go,” she says. “Some people only participate in our social functions, which is fine. The people who have come and stayed for many years, though, are the ones that enjoy meeting people, enjoy sailing and love to be on the water. We’ve all made some lasting friendships here.”