sailing log: 2009-08-26

while on vacation at Camp Arcadia, right on the shores of Lake Michigan, I was able to get one good day of sailing in.  when planning for the week up north, I had intended to trailer my Sunfish and my brother-in-law was going to bring along his Sandpiper 8 sailboat, and we were going to try sailing them together on one of the lakes nearby (Bear Lake or Crystal Lake).  part of our decision was based on the last time we sailed my Sunfish together out on Lake Michigan, and it was a very frustrating time – we tipped a couple times (new experience to both of us!), and just in general had a hard time getting it to sail.  probably largely due to our inexperience, but also due to probably being stronger winds and larger waves than we should have sailed in.

since the weather was forecast to be cooler that week, we took advantage of the 1st warm day (Monday) to actually go tubing with the whole family down the Platte River, up near Sleeping Bear Dunes.  that was an incredible time!  even my 15-month old son enjoyed the trip.  we then planned to sail Tuesday after lunch, but as we were eating, the skies darkened quickly out over the lake.  rain was forecast, so we decided to postpone.  Wednesday shaped up to be a great day, though.  since the kids were going to be doing the beach carnival in the afternoon, we decided to skip driving to one of the nearby lakes, and just try our luck out on Lake Michigan again.  I had a couple people help lift/carry my Sunfish over the small sand dune and started getting it rigged on the beach.  my brother-in-law was already out sailing his Sandpiper 8.  I had a pretty hard time getting the sail raised, but I think it was because I didn’t let the sail blow in line with the wind.  as such, when I first started sailing, the sail was a bit low, very close to the deck, and I had the usual trouble seeing underneath it (as I don’t have a window).

winds were pretty strong, mostly from the north, maybe slightly northwest – so basically running about parallel with the beach.  waves were decently sized, and some of the bigger ones were probably about 24″ high (peak to trough).  I started out sailing straight out from the beach on a beam reach.  I was flying, and before I knew it was several hundred yards off the shoreline.  I tacked back 180 degrees, and headed back towards the beach again on a beam reach.  I noticed that my brother-in-law was slowly moving farther south down along the beach.  as I got closer to the shoreline, I did another turn, and headed back out again on the same beam reach.  when I got out pretty far again, I turned south, and started on a run. for some reason, I always seem to get frustrated when running – I think I just expect to “feel” the power of the sailboat running, but since I don’t have to hike out, maybe it’s harder to “feel” it?  anyway, I gave up after only a few minutes, turned around, and starting beating back into the wind.

this is me - photo taken by my 8-yr old (hence the unusual cropping!)

this is me - photo taken by my 8-yr old (hence the unusual cropping!)

part of the reason I gave up on running with the wind was that I noticed my brother-in-law was even further south down the beach at this point, and I had noticed he had tipped once or twice as well.  as I was beating back into the wind, I realized that I was having trouble making much headway back north into the wind – I think the waves were maybe a bit too strong, and I didn’t bring the sail in to a close haul position (more than anything to avoid tipping it).  I decided then and there that since the beam reach was working so well, I was going to stick with it, especially if I was going to start giving rides to younger passengers.  I headed back into towards shore, yelled at my other brother-in-law still on the beach to check on my brother-in-law that was sailing so far to the south (they ended up sending a guy with a jet-ski to tow him back!).

while waiting to pick up my 1st crew member, I adjusted the halyard, and raised the sail up a bit – making it much easier to see underneath the sail for the rest of the afternoon.  my 1st passenger was my 7-yr old nephew E.  he was really excited to join me (in fact, he offered to buy my Super Porpoise sailboat for $60 when he turns 8 and gets some more birthday money!)

7-yr old nephew Elijah

7-yr old nephew E.

after a couple trips back and forth sailing the beam reach, I dropped off E and picked up my 8-yr old son, T2, and did the same couple trips with him as well.  coming into the beach worked quite well – I would have my young crew members slowly pull up the daggerboard as we got to the shallow water, and then I’d turn quickly to my left, pointing the bow straight up into the wind, then jumped off the boat and grabbed the bow handle, and would easily hold the boat, letting the wind blow the sail straight back along the boat while my crew member jumped off, and the next rider came out to join me.

8-yr old son Thad 2

8-yr old son T2

I also gave rides to another nephew, as well as my brother-in-law and another guy staying with us and his daughter.  overall, it was probably a good 2 hours of great sailing. the only frustration was the difficulty my brother-in-law had sailing.  we were both hoping to have sailed together to compare our 2 boats, but I think my Sunfish is just a tad faster. 🙂

t2 & me sailing in towards shore

t2 & me sailing in towards shore


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