AS I walked the plank toward slip No. 2411, I hollered "ahoy" to Vice Commodore Chuck Cady and offered the WWII veteran a friendly salute. Despite any appearances to the contrary, however, I hadn't been drafted into the Naval Reserve or otherwise shanghaied. I just thought it fitting to pay a little nautical honorific to the California Sailing Cooperative.
A nonprofit sailing club-cum-school, CSC is a rare and tribute-worthy beast -- an example of smart, efficient (and nonaggressive) communism flourishing among the Thurston Howells of the Marina City Club. There was no manifesto, Bolshevik coup or bust of Lenin involved in the group's founding, though, just Cady -- a longtime sailor, who, finding his retirement budget insufficient for the upkeep of his yacht, opened the 36-foot sailboat up to collective ownership and set a schedule whereby all member-owners would get two weekend days per month to sail her.
Now 14 years in and on its second ship, the Mystic, CSC has five skippers and six mates, all qualified to helm her, and another dozen or so members learning the ropes. With a cap of 30 members but a steady attrition, there's almost always room for new recruits to join the co-op and earn their American Sailing Assn. certificates in Basic Keelboat and Coastal Cruising. Serious candidates can even request a test sail to see if they have the mustard to make it as a sailor, which is where I came in, or rather aboard.