Push the boat out with Cumbernauld Sailing Club
If the idea of a sailing club conjures up images of swanky yachts and outrageously wealthy owners, it's time to discover one of the area's best kept secrets.
Cumbernauld Sailing Club is determined that the sport should be for everyone and it is inviting people to try it for themselves at four open days to be held this month.
You might be surprised at how accessible the sport is – joining Cumbernauld Sailing Club means there is no need to own a boat or buy expensive equipment.
Nor is there any need to pay for expensive lessons.
And if you are unfamiliar with Fannyside Loch, near Palacerigg Golf Course, you’re in for a nice surprise.
You might even find it familiar if you’re a fan of the television series Outlander, as some of the series’ location filming was done here.
“It really is a lovely spot,” said Joe Swierczek, the club’s sailing instructor.
“But people don’t have a clue we’re up here – it’s the best secret sailing location in Scotland.
“You’d never guess you were so close to Cumbernauld town centre when you’re here.”
Joe, a former PE teacher at St Maurice’s High School, is now retired and spends every Sunday at the clubhouse, giving his time to help train members.
While many of the club’s dedicated members do own their own boats, they pride themselves on giving new members a warm welcome.
“I have been a member for 30 years and I’ve never seen someone not going willingly to help someone else out,” said Joe.
A £10,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund allowed the club to buy two new Toppers to add to its fleet.
The club has also invested in secondhand boats which members rubbed down and spruced up to give them a good selection of sizes.
And, as well as dinghy sailing and racing, the club also has an active windsurfing section.
“We’ve now got a fair wee fleet of boats,” said Joe. “We want to make it as simple, easy and accessible as possible. It’s actually cheaper to be involved in sailing than it is in football!”
A one-off payment of £75 or £85 for a family will give you access to all the facilities. And the club’s dedication to being inclusive doesn’t just extend to welcoming people who come along to join, it also reaches out to children with special needs through a partnership with Glenryan School.
Members are happy to welcome other schools along – Joe still has a connection with St Maurice’s and is hoping to open it up to Whitelees pupils soon.
“We also had children from the PALS (Play and Learning Support) group last year,” said Joe.
“They put together a fabulous thank you CD to tell us how much fun they had.
“The thing is, kids and water do mix!”
The club has recently been working with the Royal Yachting Association Scotland to expand.
That partnership has seen membership soar from 35 to 80 in the last two years.
“It’s been so successful that we’ve recently had to apply for planning permission to extend our boathouse,” said Joe.
The four open days this month are part of the RYA’s national Push the Boat Out campaign, which it hopes will help membership continue to grow.
People who go along will be shown around and then enjoy two hours of sailing with club members to see if it is for them. Individuals and families are very welcome.
“They are welcome to come back several times if they want before they join,” added Joe.
“We just want people to get out on the water. It’s an amazing experience to see the land from the water rather than the other way round. It’s very relaxing.”
So the message is clear – if you fancy giving it a go, there is nothing stopping you!