Reviving this thread.
I'll give my input on whether dues are worth it (yes) but also have another general yacht club question. This isn't quite on topic but neither are a lot of the responses on this thread. Anyways, this seems like the most appropriate forum for this question.
I am a member at a fairly small local club that seems similar to most a lot of the clubs mentioned previously (i.e. $400/year dues, 200 members, volunteer driven) and a significantly larger club ($200/mo dues, ~2000 members, fully staffed, etc.). Love to volunteer at both but obviously one is much more dependent on volunteers (more on that later). I would say the enthusiasm to volunteer at both is equal though. The sense of community, love of sailing, hospitality are equal and amazing at both. I consider myself very fortunate to belong to both.
I'll give some reasons why I think dues are worth it for me. It all depends on what you want and the value you attach to that, just like anything else. I sacrifice other things to make it work but wouldn't do it any other way if I had the chance.
Community, larger purpose, the people etc. (won't go too much into it because i'm echoing what has already been said)
Drinks (and maybe food) are generally cheaper
The money you spend at the yacht club bar is helping the operation of the club so you see an indirect benefit as a member as opposed to just benefiting a bar/restaurant owner
I never wait for a drink and its often not crowded so I prefer it to crowded bars surrounded. Very easy place to take your friends.
Bar tenders are usually very nice and recognize a familiar face.
Usually yacht clubs are on the water and always great to drink by the water.
World class race program where the club maintains keel boats to race and deal with members (such as myself) who constantly break things. Also, we host a ton of other regattas with those boat for visiting sailors.
Now my slightly unrelated question but would appreciate any insight:
Do other yacht clubs, similar to the smaller local club profile, have strict membership caps with waiting lists? It seems like we are always looking for more people to volunteer (written into the by laws that you need to volunteer in some way once per year) but we have a membership cap of 200 members and currently a few hands-full on the waiting list. I'm trying to think of ways to increase volunteerism but the only self evident answer is to increase membership size if there is demand for it.
Disclaimer: I don't know the reason for the membership cap and haven't had a chance to ask yet. Could be a town zoning issue or capacity (although this doesn't seem to be an issue from outside looking in) or some extenuating circumstance that i'm unaware of. Just wanted to see if anyone has any insights.