Pancake Dreams and Sailing Wishes

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Last Saturday morning bright and early we rode our bikes over the bridge to Balboa Island for a treat I consider to be somewhat of a kick-off to summer; the first Pancake Breakfast of the season, put on by the Balboa Island Improvement Association at the newly remodeled Carroll Beek Center.

But as we coasted our way down the South Bayfront alley towards our destination, I could tell something was amiss.

My nose was the first to sense something was awry. That lovely, incomparable smell of sizzling sausages, scrambled eggs, flapjacks and coffee was not wafting through the air. Nor did I detect any friendly banter or laughter in the distance. As we rounded the corner, there were no brightly colored, tablecloth-covered park benches set up neatly on the basketball court, and the doors to the center were sealed tight. Only a friendly dog walker and her charge took notice as we stopped long enough for an iphone calendar check.

Yup, obviously we had the wrong date.

As we turned our bikes back for home, I realized how much I have come to look forward to this simple, cheerful get-together. Before we left, we took a moment to admire the spruced up community center with its neat rooftop lettering and cheery red light fixtures.

All things happen for a reason, and when we arrived back at home a few minutes later, I grabbed a copy of The Island Bridge newsletter which indeed confirmed the correct date of the Pancake Breakfast, which is July 9th from 8 to 10 a.m. Not sure how we managed to get it wrong, but our little sojourn got me curious as to what else is going on at the Carroll Beek Center since its renovation.

I found that in addition to its beautification, a whole slew of new programs have been added to the center’s calendar. You can start the day with yoga, learn to speak Italian or Spanish, fine tune your painting skills in oil or watercolor, take an acting class, or become a proficient flower arranger, there’s something for everyone. Even beginning Zumba!

Learn more about all the offerings at the Carroll Beek Center by logging on to, then selecting “Recreation Classes,” or call 949-644-3151.

Later in the morning, after a quick bagel that in no way made up for my earlier visions of a maple syrup-laden pancake breakfast, I was back on the Island for a little exercise. Walking briskly down the boardwalk across from the Balboa Pavilion, a gathering of adults and children were busily erecting the Balboa Island Yacht Club’s boat racks which hold a fleet of sabots for its annual summer season. These sabots will be used by youth from all over who come to learn boating and seamanship skills, and I am guessing a whole lot of life lessons never to be forgotten by any of the participants.

BIYC is a maritime tradition that goes back to the summer of 1922. And here I would like the early history to be told as authored by Joseph Allan Beek, found in excerpts from “Balboa Island Yarns” 1950, reprinted in 1976.

“On a pleasant morning in the summer of 1922, the Port Captain of the Newport Harbor Yacht Club (Mr. Beek) was working on the cruising sloop Carrollie, when he noticed that the group of three or four youngsters who were usually around had swelled to a dozen; the reason being that he had let drop the remark that he would probably make a short run to sea that day to try out a new propeller.

The dock at which the Carrollie was moored was situated at a spot on the Balboa Island where children were wont to foregather.


Volunteers join together to construct the Balboa Island Yacht Club’s temporary sabot racks which will hold the sail boats for another summer of fun on the water for its young members.

By the time the trial trip was to begin, there were thirty-five young sailors ready to go to sea… with all this interest in yachting on the part of the young, it seems that it should be coordinated, so there was formed the Balboa Island Yacht Club, for yachtsmen six to sixteen years of age…

The juniors soon took matters into their own hands, levied dues of twenty-five cents a year and adopted a money raising device which makes the finance committees of senior yacht clubs look like pikers. They hold a club picnic every other Tuesday, charge everybody fifty cents for the feed, put the proceeds in the trophy fund and let the mothers provide the food. It is no wonder that their trophy display frequently out shines that of the senior yacht clubs.

The classifications employed for many years for rowing, swimming and diving contests were “little,” “middle-sized” and “big”.

While the personnel has changed, certain characteristics of the members have remained the same. The freshness, the enthusiasm, the enterprise of the members of 1922 seems to be equally typical of the members of 1949, so it is sometimes difficult for an aging ex-Port Captain to remember which group he is addressing.”

As I passed by the BIYC site under construction, it was special to see that same freshness, enthusiasm and enterprise still in place in 2011. Thank you to the Beek family who tirelessly keep this much loved, annual tradition going to this day. When you see the kids in their sabots on the harbor over the summer, I dare anyone not to smile at the sight.

For more information about BIYC, call 949-675-8418.

Lynn can be reached at [email protected]


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