The Lake Pleasant Sailing Club

The Lake Pleasant Sailing Club will celebrate Halloween with a Full Moon Cruise.

Sailing and the desert usually don’t go hand in hand. But Doug Payne, commodore of the Lake Pleasant Sailing Club, thinks otherwise.

“There’s an often-cited statistic that there are more boats per capita in Arizona than any other state,” Payne said. “There’s a lot of boating here. It’s just challenging to get the word out.”

The Lake Pleasant Sailing Club is one of three significant sailing clubs in Arizona, the Scottsdale resident said. His, however, is the largest cruising club in the state. 

“We were founded in 1977 and the club has had continuous existence,” Payne said. “We go sailing and we socialize. If you ask the members what’s the most important part of the club, it’s the sailing friendships that we make with each other. We’re very social. A lot of the club activities on and off the water are socially oriented.”

The club also hosts new member events that educate them on how to anchor, how to raft up and how to navigate the lake. 

“Once a year, we have a sweethearts cruise, where the ladies take the helm and run the boats,” said Payne, who has been a member with his wife, Deedy, since 2002. 

“The men are the crew. We also have ‘raft ups.’ A ‘raft up’ is where we’ll get three to four boats and we’ll go into beautiful coves where we’re surrounded by hills or mountains, burros and other wildlife. It’s pristine and tranquil back in those coves. 

“We bring the boats together, side by side, and anchor as a group. We can move from boat to boat and socialize. We have a few cocktails and hors d’oeuvres and sometimes have a potluck dinner. We socialize until everyone goes to bed. It’s like boat camping.”

Members also partake in public service events like Adopt-a-Highway cleanups along Cave Creek Road. 

Other off-the-water events include a winter wine and cheese party, a “beat the heat” camping trip up north in July, a fall Oktoberfest picnic and a holiday party with awards. 

They also introduce children ages 8 to 14, and their sponsors, to sailing. Prospective adult members can ride along on a guest sail, which is hosted three to four times a year. When COVID-19 restrictions end, the public can sign up on the Lake Pleasant Sailing Club’s website at

The club charges $50 a year to be a member plus a small one-time initiation fee. 

“It’s a great place to come and be with other sailors and to make sailing friends,” Payne said. “If you’re an accomplished sailor you can share knowledge with others. If you’re a newbie, it’s a great place to get your start. 

“Many sailors started on Lake Pleasant with a small boat and then upsized and have gone cruising all over the western hemisphere. My wife and I were in Houston for about five or six years. We had a 46-foot world class Blue Water cruising boat. We went all over the Gulf of Mexico.”

Upcoming Events

Pirate Cruise and Raft Up,

Saturday, October 24

Full Moon Cruise,

Saturday, October 31

Surf and Turf Picnic,

Saturday, November 7

Highway cleanup,

Saturday, November 7

See the Lake Pleasant Sailing Club’s website, for more information.