The following conversation is transcribed from a conversation between me (HS) and my friend/informant (DS).
HS: So for opening day, your yacht club fires off a blank cannon shot?
HS: And is this tradition particular to your club?
DS: Not really. A vast majority of clubs do it. It’s basically signaling that the club is open for the year. What is interesting, though, is that, because we’re in southern California where there’s good weather, our club is open all year. So our opening and closing day kind of happen at the same time if that makes sense. It’s nothing like that on the east coast. There, water freezes over and they have to bring their boats in and all of that. So for clubs on the east coast, the tradition makes a lot more sense. Because we don’t have to do any of that in southern California, opening and closing days are just symbolic and give everyone an opportunity to be together and have a good time.
My informant is a friend that I went to high school and now college with. His family is part of a yacht club and he has been sailing since he was young. He is involved with his club and has been a sailing instructor there before.
We were out with a few other people on a Duffy when we docked at my informant’s yacht club so that some people could use the restroom. While we were waiting, I asked some questions about the club out of curiosity.
I am not a member of a yacht club, so it was cool to learn and be exposed to some traditions that I had not experienced before. I find it interesting that opening and closing day at most clubs in southern California are symbolic. It made me realize how lucky I am to live in a place where there’s good weather and there’s no need to prepare for the winter in any way. The fact that a blank cannon round is used to signal opening day leads me to think that the tradition is hundreds of years old, harking back to a time were ships were fitted with cannons as they crossed the treacherous Atlantic from Europe. It’s crazy to think that no matter how much we progress as a society in terms of technology, we still find comfort in the unique traditions of our ancestors.