Sharing A Love For The Water


Sailing For Singles

By Ann Dermody
Published: June/July 2014

Got a boat but no crew? Consider joining a club to set you up. No, no, not like that!

Photo of Singles on Sailboats sailing club
Photo: John Parsons
Members of the Annapolis based "Singles on Sailboats" head out for a day sail.

It is a particularly warm and sunny Sunday in November. The Sheraton hotel in Annapolis, Maryland, is abuzz with chatter, the clinking of glasses, high-pitched laughter, and loud guffaws. If you didn't know better, you might think you'd walked into a wedding reception or a high-school reunion. The reality is neither of the above. It's a Singles on Sailboats (SOS) club rendezvous, one of their regular Sunday brunches, social hours, and speaker dates, and I've been invited in by Commodore Sandy Huberfeld, a petite dark-haired social whirlwind. As Sandy wheels me around various guests, offering introductions and telling me what so-and-so does in the club, it's clear this is a very active and engaged group.

Singles on Sailboats does exactly what it says on the can, and it's got nothing to do with single-handing on a sailboat. It's a club for singles — the great unmarried, if you like — who fancy sailing … and occasionally fancy each other, if the setting is right. There are a few rules. The loudest and clearest is that you can't be married. That said, the organization is adamant it's not a dating club. There are some married couples in the club. There are rules about that, too. If you're marrying someone already in the club, you can both remain members.

Pam & Barney Nanni
(Sailing Singles Club, Michigan)

Photo of Pam and Barney Nanni
Pam and Barney Nanni pictured at the bottom of their garden, showing the water's never far from their minds.

It wasn't exactly smooth sailing for Pam and Barney Nanni when they were introduced back in 2006. Barney's first wife had passed away a couple of years earlier, and he was encouraged to join Sailing Singles by a friend. At the club the same friend introduced him to Pam. They met again at another event soon afterward in downtown Mount Clemens, Michigan.

"We didn't date right away," recalls Pam. "I think he asked for my number and then he didn't call," she laughs. "We met again at another event, and he claimed he'd lost it and asked for it again. Then I had a Sailing Singles party at my home and he came to that." The pair never looked back and married in 2007. Sailing Singles has had something of a healthy track record for singles meeting future spouses.

"I think in one year we had five marriages," says Pam. She attributes that to the fact that those who like to get out on the water are adventurous sorts by nature. "Boating people are fun. And they don't like to stay on the couch."

When Pam and Barney met, she owned a 22-foot Larson that they've since sold. "I live right on the water and we talk every year about whether this will be the one when we get another boat." In the meantime they sail on friends' and other club members' boats.

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SOS and Sailing Singles are only two of the many singles-oriented boating clubs around the country. Tell us about your organization, or about your personal story. We might publish it! Email us at


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