FERRYSBURG — Sailing enthusiasts love to catch the wind in their sails. Unfortunately, a sailing member of the Spring Lake Yacht Club recently caught something else – COVID-19.

As of Wednesday, all sailing classes were canceled and the clubhouse is locked for at least two weeks.

The club member is a man in his 20s who recently learned that one of his best friends had tested positive for coronavirus. He took the effort to get tested himself, because of being in close proximity, and his test returned positive.

“This individual was at the club on Friday and Saturday,” said SLYC Commodore Cindy Parker. “On Saturday, he was notified that a close contact of his had tested positive. He did not come back to the club on Sunday and did not sail at all. He went in and got tested first thing Monday morning and came back positive.”

Parker and other club leaders immediately made the decision to shut down operations.

“We’re trying to take the high road and do everything we possibly can to protect everyone,” she said.

Parker said the clubhouse had a couple of previous rental commitments – one is a memorial service for a club member’s father.

“We are hiring a professional cleaning crew to do a deep clean,” she said. “We gave (the family) the option of getting their money back, but they can use the facility. We’ll unlock it for them, then do another deep clean.”

Thursday night family nights are canceled, as well as all sailing classes. Parker said the club hopes to make up the sailing lessons in late July, but the plans could shift.

“It depends on what happens,” she said. “If we have positives (COVID-19) within our membership, we will not reopen. We’re going to be socially responsible.”

Even before the member tested positive, the yacht club’s staff wiped down and cleaned all contact surfaces, including in the clubhouse, on the boats and on outdoor picnic tables.

Parker said all of the club’s 150-plus members received an email about the member testing positive. The document included links to CDC guidelines and what symptoms to watch for.

“We’re trying to educate them the best we can and keep everyone safe, happy and healthy,” she said.

Lara Harper, director of the SLYC Junior Sailing Association, said although the yacht club and association are two separate entities, the association follows suit when the club closes.

During sailing classes, Harper and her crew members have been checking temperatures of every student before lessons. Instructors and sailors are also required to wear face masks.

“I’m really proud of my guys,” Harper said. “We’ve been doing an excellent job, following all the guidelines and making sure the kids are safe.”

Harper said the sailing member who tested positive has not had contact with the sailing class kids.

“I know other members are being tested,” she said. “One of them was for sure on the same boat. I know one of the guys sails with him all the time.”

Harper said she appreciates that the yacht club team is taking this seriously.

“It’s the smart thing to do,” she said of the closure. “We want to keep everyone safe – our instructors and our students. When we get the OK from the Spring Lake Yacht Club, we’re going to open back up.”

Contact Marie Havenga at mhavenga@grandhaventribune.com.

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