Hodgins family brings passion for sailing to Oak Orchard Yacht Club

Provided photos from Hodgins family: Oak Orchard Yacht Club commodore Bob Hodgins and his wife Mary Lu share their love of sailing with their three children. They pose here on their boat on Lake Ontario when the children were young.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 22 April 2024 at 9:05 am

POINT BREEZE – As Becky Hodgins Almeter prepares to lead the youth sailing classes at Oak Orchard Yacht Club, her father Bob Hodgins will begin his third year as commodore when the Oak Orchard Yacht Club opens for the season on May 24. With a lifelong love of sailing, he is aptly suited for the position.

“My first sailing experience was when I was about 12 years old,” said Hodgins, a resident of Alexander in Genesee County. “My family was on vacation and there was a guy renting Sunfish sailboats. We rented one and had a blast. That led to a family Sunfish, then a Lightning sailboat on Silver Lake for a few years, and it just grew from there.”

Hodgins went on to own numerous boats, including a 26-foot sailboat when he met his wife Mary Lu in 1975, and she has been “onboard” ever since, Hodgins said.

“We have had some great adventures,” he added.

They bought a 41-foot sailboat on Cape Cod and sailed it home to Oak Orchard. They have traveled through the Trent-Severn Waterway in Ontario, Canada, up through Georgian Bay, the North Channel of Lake Huron, down through Lake Huron, the Detroit River to Lake Erie and Buffalo, through the Welland Canal and back to Lake Ontario.

Bob and Mary Lu Hodgins are on their boat in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

When their children were 5, 7 and 10 years old, they sailed for a year and home-schooled their children on the boat. They went from Lake Ontario, through the Erie Canal to the Hudson River, down the East Coast to Florida, spent the winter in the Bahamas and then sailed back home in the spring.

Their ocean experience started in 2008 when they left Lake Ontario, went down to the Chesapeake Bay, then spent 11 days sailing directly to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. After a full year cruising the Caribbean, they sailed back to South Carolina and sold that boat.

In 2010, they crossed the Atlantic Ocean from the Canary Islands to St. Lucia.

They bought an ocean boat in 2012 and cruised the Caribbean for seven years, then went through the Panama Canal and spent two years crossing the South Pacific. They left the boat in New Zealand and flew home when the pandemic started, then sold the boat there.

For now, Hodgins said they are content to spend their summers on Lake Ontario and winters somewhere warm, most likely on land.

He is committed to growing membership in the Yacht Club and welcomes potential new members to check them out.

Mary Lu Hodgins was asked to pin a medal on the chief of the island of Gaua, Vanautu, during their trip to the South Pacific. The chief had received the medal from the head of the country for his longevity in governing his island.