The East Coast Sailing Association
By: Joe Cloidt
The waters of east central Florida offer some of the finest sailing along the south east coast. Many know the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) for its protected waters and wonderful wildlife they experience while cruising along the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). But the IRL also offers great local sailing and cruising to the many spoil islands that dot the ICW; along with year round sailing and access to the ocean at nearby Port Canaveral, it’s no wonder that a group of forward looking sailors came together in the mid-1960’s to form one of the first sailing clubs in the area.
The East Coast Cruising Association (ECCA) was formed in June of 1966 by eight like-minded sailors with the idea that “The ECCA shall organize and coordinate sailing activities of its members for their mutual benefit.”. Like many small clubs, the organization struggled in those early years to gain membership but the club prevailed and incorporated in 1975. The ECCA soon became the focal point for the local racing scene.
In the early 1990’s, the club embarked on its “Come Sail With Us “program in an effort to make sailing more accessible to those interested in sailing but weren’t sure where to start. This helped to increase membership which led to the club offering more racing and cruising opportunities. The club also changed its name to the East Coast Sailing Association (ESCA) to be more inclusive of the various types of sailing that club members were now doing. The club continued to thrive but in 2012 a decision was made to hand off racing events and coordination to nearby Melbourne Yacht Club (MYC). The club started to focus more on the cruising side of sailing with many members also enjoying the racing offered by MYC.
The ECSA celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016 with a gala presentation at its Annual Awards Banquet that highlighted the club’s history along with the addition of a new logo, “Fifty Years Under Sail”. Commodore Pat Fletcher recently remarked that “Reaching the 50-year mark was a real milestone for the club and we look forward to sailing into the next 50 years.”. While the club has changed through the years, one thing has remained constant, it still provides a venue for sailors to get together and go sailing!
The club runs monthly cruises to many local destinations for overnight stays either at anchor or at a dock if the trip is to one of the areas waterfront restaurants. Longer cruises are also on the calendar several times a year and generally are sailed on holiday weekends so members can take advantage of the 3-day weekend. While club members all have their favorite spots to drop anchor, the club is always looking for new places to sail to. In fact, a group of members have planned a canal boat cruise on the Erie Canal in New York state this summer. While some may question a sailing club going “motor boating”, ECSA has always welcomed power boaters as some members switch from sail to power as their nautical horizons change.
ECSA also holds a monthly meeting that is also open to non-members who may be interested in sailing or joining the club. After conducting club business, the floor is opened to members to discuss sailing plans, events and keeping other members up on local sailing news. One of the highlights of the meetings is the monthly presentations. Guests speakers have included everyone from local marine technicians to long distance solo sailors, world cruisers, and authors. Pot Luck Dinners, an Ice Cream Social and a Marine Flea Market help round out the calendar. But perhaps the best benefit of being an ECSA member is being part of a friendly and helpful sailing community. Mention a problem with your boat and within minutes you’ll have several members suggesting solutions or offering to come help you. To learn more about the ECSA, please visit the club’s website: http://ecsasail.com.
There you will find everything from the clubs’ history, copies of the monthly Foot, Tack & Clew newsletter to a Photos section of past cruises. There is also a membership page that offers online registration or a downloadable form that can printed and mailed in. The club normally holds its meeting at 7:00pm on the second Wednesday of the month at the Satellite Beach Civic Center located at 565 Cassia Blvd. Satellite Beach, Fl. 32937. However, The Civic Center is due to be closed for renovations through the first half of 2020 so the club will be meeting at the David R. Schechter Community Center, 1089 S. Patrick Dr, Satellite Beach, FL 32937 until the work is completed.
ECSA welcomes all to its’ meeting and “Come Sail With Us!”