The world's largest yacht club is located in the Arizona desert

Just off the border of California, in the Sonoran Desert, is the tiny town of Quartzsite, and while you might not peg a desert for a sailor's...

Just off the border of California, in the Sonoran Desert, is the tiny town of Quartzsite, and while you might not peg a desert for a sailor's paradise, its home to a yacht club that boasts the largest membership in the world, even though it's located hundreds of miles from a body of water.

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Quartzsite is something of a mecca for rock, gem, mineral enthusiasts (I promise, they do exist), where every January and February, precious rock collectors gather for a two-month-long gem show and swap meet that happens in town. But while that might be the biggest draw to Quartzsite, it's definitely not the weirdest. That distinction would have to go to the Quartzsite Yacht Club.


So how does a yacht club wind up in the middle of the desert? A great sense of humor, basically. Back in the 70s, a man by the name of Al Madden bought Quartzsite's old beer bar "The JIGSAW", and jokingly renamed it to The Yacht Club, even coming up a rather snappy motto: "long time so sea". Before long, the business had taken off, and Madden was selling memberships to the Yacht Club at $10 a piece. It was a hit.

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Today, membership at the Quartzside Yacht Club only costs $25 a person, but members will tell you it's worth it. Any visitors to the club have the option of joining, and with their membership they recieve their a t-shirt, a flag, signed certificates for framing, and official membership cards. There is one particular perk, though, that ends up being the best of the bunch: reciprocity.

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You see, a good majority of Yacht Clubs around the country, from the  Hermosa Beach Yacht Club to the Miami Beach Intracoastal Yacht Club offer reciprocal memberships, which means that those belonging to another club can present their card and gain access without a fee. Hilariously enough, members of the Quartzsite Yacht Club began to notice that their joke membership was being taken seriously at other clubs around the country, their one-time fee of $25 allowing them to enter much swankier, actually-real yacht clubs. Not a bad deal.

Want to join the weirdest Yacht Club in America? Just head to Quartzsite, and remember to bring your precious gems.


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This was originally written for Roadtrippers, a great resource for anyone interested in travel.
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