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Written by Andy   

I grew up in Oakland County.

I lived in Commerce Township and from my house, I could skip a stone to a handful of lakes, none of which were more than 15 minutes away. The summer dress code never swayed too far from swim trunks, T-shirts and sandals.

We swam. We fished. We went water skiing.

We got spoiled.

John Mathers was spoiled, too.

"I'm 47 years old, and I've been a member for 46 years," said Mathers, laughing. "My dad joined the Pontiac Yacht Club when I was one, so I basically grew up there."

The Pontiac Yacht Club has been around since 1934. It's a family club situated on Cass Lake. There are more than 100 members and many of them are involved in sailing whether it's for racing or pleasure.

 

The club's Lightning Class fleet of sailboats, No. 54, is advertised as the largest in the world with more than 60 registered Lightnings. There is also a competitive open-class single hander series which mostly consists of Lasers, Sunfish and Windsurfs.

"The Pontiac Yacht Club is a wonderful family place. I took sailing lessons here. I taught in the youth sailing program for a few years when I was in college. I'm the vice commodore this year, and I'll be the commodore next year.

"My dad and I sail together all of the time and dad is 76. We have a great time and it's a real joy to be able to sail with dad," said Mathers.

He is married and has four children ranging in age from 13 to 22. He often brings one of the kids along to sail.

"I love the challenge of sailboat racing. All of the boats are identical. Everyone starts at the exact same time and whoever finishes first wins. You can be battling all the way around the course for the entire race and beat someone by two inches and I find that very thrilling," said Mathers.

Mathers grew up in Livonia. He resides in Clarkston with his family and owns his own insurance agency.

"Also, now that I'm middle aged, my wife and I enjoy going out and just relaxing on the sail

boat. We'll just go for a ride with another couple or whatever," he continued.

The club offers a complete junior sailing program whose stated purpose is to teach youths how to sail so they feel comfortable and confident in a sailboat.

A Memorial Day pot luck lunch will be held on Monday, May 31, at 1 p.m. All fun-loving sailors and members are asked to bring a main dish to serve 10-12 people and a salad or dessert. Don't forget a picnic basket with plates, cups and utensils.

The club is located on Cass Lake in Keego Harbor. The address is 3270 Wards Point Drive, West Bloomfield.

Membership is "amazingly affordable," said Mathers.

For more information, visit www.pyc54.org or call (248) 682-8020.

Be safe

May is Water Safety Month in Michigan and nationally — an effort to remind people to follow some simple swimming safety tips, such as: participate in swim lessons and water-safety classes; never leave children unattended; and always keep basic lifesaving equipment nearby.

This week, May 22-28, is also National Safe Boating Week, organized by the National Safe Boating Council, www.safeboatingcouncil.org

When it comes to boating, using lifesaving equipment - namely, always wearing a life jacket on the water - is critically important as well and could save hundreds of lives each year. The DNRE is getting that message out to boaters again this year through its "Wear It Michigan!" campaign.

"There's no question that life jackets save lives. We want to make people aware of how important it is to be safe on the water, not just this one month, but throughout the year," said Lt. Andrew Turner, boating law administrator for the DNRE's Law Enforcement Division.

"The changes to life-jacket designs, styles and comfort make wearing — not just carrying — life jackets easier than ever. In a boating emergency, you don't want to have to search for a life jacket."

More than 90 percent of the water fatalities recorded in Michigan could have been prevented if the victims had been wearing a life jacket, according to Turner.

A special team of DNRE conservation officers will be out on the water in various locations this summer, asking boaters to take the "Wear It!" pledge. Everyone who signs a pledge card will be entered in a weekly drawing to win a manual inflatable (Type III) life jacket with a "Wear It!" logo.

The "Wear It Michigan!" campaign schedule includes stops at Red Bull Air Races in Detroit June 5-6, Detroit River Days June 18-21, the Gold Cup Hydroplane Race in Detroit June 25-27, the Bayview Mackinaw Race in Port Huron July 16-17 and Quake on the Lake in Waterford July 17-18.

For more information, visit www.wearitmichigan.com.

To learn more about Water Safety Month, visit www.watersafetymonth.org.

 

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