my 4th sail of this year was on the Friday before Labor Day, and I had the day off from work, my wife was working from home, and I had already dropped the kids off at daycare. I decided I’d quickly trailer the Sunfish back up to Kent Lake at Kensington Metropark (where I had such a blast the last time I was there!).
when I arrived, the American flag at the beach was just barely and randomly flapping… not a very encouraging sign! nevertheless, since I had already paid the park entrance fees and was there at the boat launch, I decided I’d put the Sunfish in the water and see if I could have any luck sailing it in (very) light winds.
my hopes of a decent day of sailing started to rise when I noticed a couple guys from the American Sailing Institute (the sailing school there) were getting an Interlake sailboat ready to sail. since I was alone, I launched the ‘Fish off my trailer, and dropped off the rest of my supplies on the grass nearby while I parked the truck and trailer. as I got back down to the launch and started to get the ‘Fish ready to sail, I struck up a conversation with a gentlemen (Louie) preparing to go fishing with his father (Lou). He told me about being a member of the sailing club at Michigan State University (Go Green!) when he was a student there, and how much he had enjoyed small boat sailing, and wanted to get his family more interested in it.
after I got the sail up and all my rigging set, I said goodbye to Lou and Louie, and started drifting away. that was about the fastest I ever got going, though! the wind, when it did decide to flutter a little here and there, was from the northeast, so I initially attempt to tack into the wind. as there wasn’t really any constant wind, though, I was having little success. so, instead, I made an about face, turned the boat with the wind, and just let out the mainsheet to open the sail all the way. I still didn’t get very far. I was slowly drifting with little tiny gusts here and there teasing me into thinking the wind just might pick up.
I eventually took off my life jacket, and dropped it down into the cockpit to use as a seat cushion – I then sat down in the cockpit, resting my feet up on the deck near the daggerboard, and resting my back against the back of the cockpit. initially, I used a bungee cord to keep the tiller set straight, so I would sail a straight course whenever the wind decided to show up. after a while of drifting like that, I unhooked the bungee, and just held the tiller extension over my shoulder – it worked well enough, and gave me a little more control over where I was drifting. after maybe 20 or 30 minutes of lazily drifting “with the wind”, I turned her around and decided I’d tack back into the wind towards the dock and boat launch. when I first turned around, it actually seemed like I got a small bit of wind, because I started slowly sailing a steady course. it was fairly short-lived, though, and the breeze that was there died off again. after drifting along for a while, I finally gave up, and grabbed my telescoping paddle, and paddled the rest of the way back in.
I originally thought I might just put on some more suncreen (I hadn’t expected to be sitting so calmly in the direct sun!) and try to sail her some more in the northern part of the lake, but I noticed the Interlake from ASI was also paddling in at the same time, so I just got my truck and trailer, and loaded the Sunfish up to go home.
it was a beautiful calm day – probably a great day to be kayaking or canoeing on the lake, but a dreadful day to try sailing. what a big difference from the last time I was at this lake, with the multiple tips, heavy wind and even stronger gusts. maybe I’ll have better luck next time.