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In another sign things are progressing to a new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bellingham Yacht Club has reopened and is making plans for the upcoming sailing season. The club, which has a large event building in the Squalicum Harbor area, hosted its first wedding of 2021 in February and reopened to members on Friday, Feb. 26. The facility will operate at 25% capacity offering bar and food services 5-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday for now, said Jane Bright, one of the club’s board of trustees. The club is also gearing up for opening day, which is on Saturday, May 1. Events in the planning stages are the annual boat parade and the Blessing of the Fleet, which is open to the public. While it’s unclear where the community will be with the pandemic in May, Bright said they are planning to adjust the event to make sure it follows whatever restrictions are in place. It is also welcoming new members after being shut down for much of the pandemic. Bellingham Yacht Club is waiving the initiation fee through May 20, as well as prorating annual dues for the remainder of the year, Bright said in an email. The club had a decline in member renewals during the pandemic, but Bright said they are confident new and former members will take advantage of the membership drive and all that the club has to offer. The club reopened briefly late last summer but had to close again when the fall restrictions were enacted. What the club offers is a variety of boating and social events, including races, cruising and youth programs. “There is tremendous pent-up demand for boating activities, the use of our terrific facilities and the camaraderie of our members,” said Shaun Thompson, club commodore. “We are really pleased to be open, even on a limited basis. While planning for the season has continued remotely, being able to grab a drink at the bar and enjoy food surrounded by fellow boaters is a huge morale booster for all.” The Bellingham Yacht Club was formed in 1925 and has occupied various places along the waterfront, settling in at its current spot in Squalicum Harbor in 1960, according to its club history page on its website. The facility is also available for events, including weddings and meetings. In accordance with Washington’s Phase 2 regulations, masks, social distancing and applicable capacity limits are required. For information about joining, visit its website. New members are welcomed to join at any time and neither sponsorships nor boat ownership is required. For information about renting wedding and meeting space, visit its event center website.
Dave Gallagher has covered the Whatcom County business community since 1998. Retail, real estate, jobs and port redevelopment are among the topics he covers.
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