BJ Blanchard: Mini Snarks to set sail again

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It’s hard to imagine anything more incongruous than a Yacht Club in landlocked Glen Ellen, but there you have it. The Jack London Yacht Club is an innovative group dedicated to supporting the Fire Department and Glen Ellen nonprofits. The Yacht Club, which usually meets in its clubhouse at the Jack London Saloon, kicked off its fundraising with a dinner-auction late last month. The auction was held at the Wild Oak Saddle Club in Oakmont where guests were able to bid on a miniature replica of Jack London’s ketch Snark and be entered in a classic model-boat race along Sonoma Creek this spring when the creeks are rushing high.

The concept for the race was born one night on a napkin by club members Jim Burch and Ana Dominguez when they were brainstorming how to support the local fire department. As Burch began to talk about the idea with fellow adventurers, the boat-race concept emerged and Jack London’s Snark became the inspiration. The creeks are full and fast in April, and selected volunteer firefighters will launch supporters’ miniature Snarks at the town bridge near the Jack London Saloon. The boats will race .7 miles down swift-moving Sonoma Creek to the finish line at Jack London Village. GPS installed in each boat will allow the boats’ progress to be monitored by cheering crowds at local venues. Cameras placed along the creek banks will allow spectators to watch the race on screens at local restaurants and wineries.

Competitive factions are revving their engines to race their miniature Snark down the high-flowing Sonoma Creek come Spring. Saturday, April 27, miniature boats will line up outside the Jack London Lodge, and sail down creek to the finish line at Jack London Village – hence its name: the “Jack-to-Jack” race.

Twenty 18-inch Snarks, built from singed Redwood from the 2017 wildfires, were auctioned at the Dinner-Auction Benefit. Each sailboat carries a custom mainsail with the owner’s logo or family name displayed. Sailboats can be purchased individually or by groups, like a neighborhood or club, for $1,000, and are available online through the first of March. During the off-season, when the creeks are low, the miniature yachts will be displayed at local businesses and wineries.

Yacht Club member benefits include a personalized membership card that earns perks at local wineries and businesses, including Two Amigos Winery, Jack London Lodge, Benziger Family Winery, Valley of the Moon Winery, and others. Membership dues are collected yearly in January.

Crews are now forming and everyone is invited to be deckhands. Dominguez needs a Race Day crew, grants committee, social media crew, and more. Volunteer at

Creeks are rising nicely. A little more rain and we should get a respectable creek flow to carry these miniature Snarks from Jack-to-Jack come April.

Check out their website at

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