Posts Tagged 'lake michigan'

et ego in Arcadia: Sunfish sailing

it was a traditional family vacation at Camp Arcadia, filled with good food, plenty of relaxing & some book reading, and wonderful time spent with family and friends (some old and some new). a lot of time spent down on the beach, playing in the sun and sand, doing some swimming, jumping waves on the wavey days and playing with kayaks and stand-up paddleboards on the calmer days.

there ended up being 2 good sailing days (for me anyway, my oldest son sailed on a 3rd day, but it was pretty light winds and he mainly just drifted around in circles for a while).

day 1: Sunday afternoon

after walking to the local Lutheran church in the little town of Arcadia, we headed back to Camp and ate the buffet lunch.  the weather seemed promising and Sunday afternoon’s schedule at Camp was fairly light, so most of us headed down to the beach, and T2 and I both got the boats ready for sailing (with some help dragging them up and over the small sand dunes and beach grass).  after setting up T2 with the Minifish, he was off and sailing.

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I rigged the sail and misc parts on the Sunfish and my 3rd son, Luke, joined me for the 1st sail. he begged to take the mainsheet and tiller as soon as he could!  north bluffs are off in the distance behind him.

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after a while of sailing with Luke, I headed back into shore – dropping off Luke and picking up his cousin, Sam.

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later on, I gave a ride on the Sunfish to my sister-in-law, but didn’t get any pictures.

afterwards, I got to solo sail on the Sunfish for a while, so I’d chase T2 on the Minifish for a while, or just spend some time tacking and working on getting as much speed going as I could.  the winds were pretty excellent, with wind speeds in the low teens, maybe 12-15 miles per hour, with gusts into the high teens.  not strong enough to tip me over, but good enough to catch a good puff and get the Sunfish up on a plane, every once in a while perfectly timed to catch the crest of a wave and “surf” the Sunfish for a short while.

in my excitement to get down to the water and out sailing, I forgot to bring my GoPro camera, but did have my iPhone in a dry bag – so I was able to snap the pictures above and a few real quick videos, but that’s all.  I did turn on my Runkeeper app on the phone to track my route for one of the times out that afternoon.

sunday sail

the next couple days were dead flat calm water – perfect for playing with other water toys (kayaks, SUP’s, etc.) but not good for Sunfish sailing.  Wednesday is “day out of camp” day – we went on a canoe trip… and that is a whole different story for another day.

day 2: Thursday evening sail

so the wind finally picked up some on Thursday and the waves were perfect for playing in the water, so the usual afternoon crowds at the beach were even larger.  due to the lack of beach area (Lake Michigan is up approximately 4 feet!), I didn’t want to try to launch and return to the beach with that many kids swimming and jumping in the waves. fearing that the week of vacation was coming to an end with no more sailing, I decided to go for an evening sail, when far fewer people would be swimming and lounging at the beach.  as luck would have it, this time I remembered the GoPro, but left my iPhone up in our room.  here’s a screen cap: me on the Sunfish and T2 way off in the distance on the Minifish.

sunfish gopro snapit was a beautiful evening for sailing – the sun was slowly setting amidst the clouds out on the horizon and T2 and I had all of Lake Michigan to ourselves – not another boat in sight.  my sister-in-law snapped this amazing photo of us and the sunset from her vantage point up on the Camp patio.

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Friday ended up being a decent day for wind, but straight out of the west pushing big waves up onto the beach.  on an empty beach, launching could be done setting off immediately on a 45-degree angle to the wind, but with again so many kids playing in the big waves that day, we didn’t try to sail.

still 2 great days on the water was better than none, and it was a blast!

upgrades for a Minifish

the recent addition of a Minifish to our fleet required some minor upgrades to make it a little bit easier for my boys to sail. typically with an older Sunfish style boat, it is almost always a good idea to get rid of the old style of mainsheet control, a snub-nosed hook on the wall of the cockpit.

a few recommended upgrades to consider (in no specific order):

  1. a mainsheet ratchet block
  2. a cleat for the mainsheet
  3. a mast cleat
  4. a hiking strap
  5. a tiller extension

our Minifish already had a decent hiking strap, but the other upgrades should be simple enough.

the mast cleat is a horn cleat, screwed onto the mast a couple feet above the deck.  I typically use stainless steel screws, with small pilot holes drilled into the mast.  a small dab of 3m 4200 or caulk helps seal everything up.  the mast cleat allows the majority of the tension on the halyard (the line holding up the sail) to be resisted by the strong aluminum mast, and more importantly – it doesn’t put that very large tension force on the fiberglass deck of the boat.  important note: you should still run the tail of the halyard down through the fairlead on the deck and cleat off the line.  this will prevent the entire sail/mast/booms from falling away from the boat if you do end up tipping over and turtling the boat.

minifish mast cleat_2

the mainsheet controls (a ratchet block and a cam cleat) are a little bit trickier to install on a Minifish, as the cockpit is a bit different style of construction than a Sunfish – there is not a cockpit lip that gives easy access to the underside of the fiberglass at that location.  so you will have to install an inspection port somewhere in close proximity to where you’ll be placing your mainsheet controls. I chose to cut mine in on the deck, off to the side of the daggerboard slot. depending on where you cut the deck, you may run into some of the flotation foam blocks that stiffen the deck – removing a small portion to give you access should not be a concern.

minifish port_2

for the mainsheet ratchet block, I bought a Holt Nautos 57mm block from Intensity Sails.  add a stand-up spring and an eyestrap, and screw it down through the deck – some larger fender washers below the deck are a good idea to help spread out the load.

minifish mainsheet block_2

on the front edge of the cockpit, I install a cam cleat, a Harken H150, in the same location where the old snub-nosed hook used to be.  I like this location for a cam cleat, as it is not really practical to cleat off the mainsheet while hiking out and sailing with decent winds.  but in a lighter breeze, it does give you the option to cleat the mainsheet and grab a drink or just float along one those calmer days.

minifish cleat

lastly, I replaced the old wooden tiller extension with a Ronstan Battlestick.  theses newer tiller extensions have a rubber universal joint – which allows for more degrees of freedom while holding the tiller extension.  the old wooden ones just fastened to the tiller with a single bolt, only really allowing left/right movement.

minifish tiller ext

all told, there are mostly easy and simple upgrades that will make a Minifish (or similarly for a Sunfish) a much nicer sailing experience!

and the end result? happy boys sailing the Minifish!

Noah minifish

 

 

 

America’s Cup World Series Chicago

the America’s Cup World Series is coming to the Great Lakes: June 10-12, 2016 at Navy Pier in Chicago.

might just have to schedule a trip to see my brother in Chicago for a couple days…

Newton’s 3rd law of motion

for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

I admit it, I’m an engineer by day – and should know better about the physics involved here, but I still somehow didn’t see it coming.  my brother-in-law thought it’d be fun to jump off the Sunfish as we were approaching the beach.  seemed like a reasonable and fun idea to me – until the boat rocked backwards and dumped me off into the water as well!

drifting in a Minifish

I was skimming through some of my GoPro videos from our vacation last summer at Camp Arcadia on Lake Michigan, and I took a quick screenshot of T2 drifting along in the Minifish on a very calm day out on Lake Michigan.

t2 drift minifish

it was an awesome day – sailing with my boys, but with them sailing solo in the Minifish while I was alone or with one of them in the Sunfish.  after a bit, the boys switched places, and Noah got his turn drifting along in the Minifish.

noah minifish

not the greatest amount of wind, but still a beautiful day to mess about on the Great Lakes.

scale

scalewooden jetty on Lake Michigan


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