Posts Tagged 'shorty wetsuit'

pier jumping with the boys

during our family vacation to Camp Arcadia this summer, my brother-in-law and I took our boys down to the south pier for the traditional jumping off the pier into the waters of Lake Michigan.  a few of the boys had jumped before, but this was the first time for some of the younger ones.

it was later in the evening, and the water temperature this year in Lake Michigan was just a tad on the cold side.  I wore my shorty wetsuit, and was the 1st to jump in.  I had them throw me a life jacket, and then I just floated the rest of the time down there with my GoPro Hero video camera to capture the action as each boy took turns jumping off the pier.

I thought it’d be a quick process, but it turned out that I had to help each boy get up and onto the ladder, as the water level in the lake is low enough that the 1st ladder run is probably 12 to 18 inches above the water level, and none of the boys had the upper body strength to pull themselves out of the water and start climbing the ladder.  I would swim away from the pier, one of the boys would jump into the water, and then I’d swim back in with them and help them climb out of the water, and then repeat as required!  I’m glad I put the wetsuit on, though, as I ended up floating down there in the cold water for maybe 15 minutes.

if you recall, this is the same pier that Dave and I jumped off a few weeks later, but with disastrous results – as the waves were way too big for us to have jumped, and the current was way too strong to swim against.  Dave wrote his thoughts about that near-death experience he and I both faced in this blog post: underestimating the power of the waves.


et ego in Arcadia – Sunday

here’s the first day from our week vacation up at Camp Arcadia.  most of the post will be about Sunday’s activities, but technically the family week vacations up at Camp Arcadia are usually Saturday afternoon to the following Saturday afternoon.  the first day thus usually involves some frantic last-minute packing to get on the road ASAP, then a roughly 4-hour drive to get up to camp. here’s my Sunfish rigged up for the road, with a couple of the boys’ bikes riding along with my Sunfish PVC dolly.

after the long drive to Camp, the rest of Saturday is spent settling into the cottage, eating our first dinner at camp, and then watching the Talent Show by the Camp staff – mostly introductions, a few legitimate talent exhibits like singing or playing an instrument, and a mix of silly skits.

Sunday starts with a buffet breakfast, and then a short walk out of Camp and into the small town of Arcadia to Trinity Lutheran Church, a great historic church at 130+ years old.  it’s been a family tradition while driving into Arcadia on Saturday afternoon to see who can be the first to spot the steeple poking above the trees.

after the church service, we walked back to our cottage, and I started getting my Sunfish ready to take to the beach.  I used my Sunfish PVC dolly to roll it down some sidewalks and then the sand to the beach, and lugged all the extra gear down on a 2nd trip, and then headed to the dining room to have some of the buffet lunch before heading out to sail.  my youngest son (4 yrs old) was pretty geeked as usual to sail – he had his little sailing outfit on and everything, and was hanging around trying to help get it ready to sail.

it was a cooler day, and the water temperature was pretty cold, so I had a few layers on to make sure I stayed warm if I was to fall out or tip over.  on a day like this, I like to wear my Ronstan long sleeve rashguard underneath my shorty wetsuit.  and this year my new piece of gear is some NRS wetsocks from REI.  I really like all 3 of these pieces of gear – the wetsocks are a nice addition, as I have to wade in the water a bit to get the final rigging done, and then get the Sunfish started sailing.  the only disadvantage is that I can often get pretty warm if it is sunny and I’m not getting splashed with water (or falling out of the boat!).

the wind was fairly calm out of the south/southwest that afternoon, and the water was pretty flat, so it was a nice and easy sail across the Lake Michigan water.  on my first tack back towards shore, I could see my 11-yr old son T2 wading out in the water towards me, so I swung close and picked him up (and then gave him my life jacket because he didn’t bring one with him!).

while sailing with him, I sat to one side, and gave him both the tiller extension and the mainsheet – so he was in full control of the sailboat.  it was neat to see him learning how little adjustments to one or the other would affect the course we were sailing.  he also LOVED to hook his feet under the hiking strap, and lean so far back that his head touched the water!

after sailing with him for a little bit, I then gave rides on the Sunfish to both of my other sons, as well as several of my nephews, and a little girl who had been watching from the beach.  my oldest son T2 had switched over to the stand-up paddleboard that the camp owns – he spent a TON of time out on that, and was able to stand and paddle way out into Lake Michigan, often with one of his cousins riding along.  I only have this picture of him kneeling on it, but most of the time he was standing up.

while we were sailing, other members of my family took out the ocean kayaks, the rowboat, and the stand-up paddleboard – both adults and kids taking turns on each of them.  all in all, a great afternoon of messing about on the waters of Lake Michigan.  a couple of the kids took turning burying themselves in the warm sand on the beach.

then, they all joined together to bury their newest uncle and decorate him with beach toys.

I did end up missing the wine tasting that afternoon that was presented by Left Foot Charley, a local winery that is run by a previous staff member from Camp Arcadia.  after the awesome afternoon on the beach, it was time for dinner on the patio – amazing pulled pork sandwiches.

sailing log: 2010-06-26

I was pretty frustrated that my 1st sail of the year wasn’t until late June, but I tend to be pretty good at making excuses (trying to wrap up things with the kids at school, need to finalize some repairs like the foam block reset, etc.) as to why it took me that long.  either way, we had scheduled a camping trip for Tawas Bay, Michigan (I just blogged about the camping trip), and one of my main goals on the trip was to get the Sunfish out on the water for a sail.  I said this about launching the Sunfish in the camping trip post:

since the water was so shallow so far out at the campground beach, I had to drive out of the campground, and noticed a marina right away with a public launch ($5 or so), but it was much more suited to much larger sailboats or powerboats.  I continued just a short way down the road and found a free public launch and used that.  the ramp was not really developed at all, and parking was quite limited.  it was really just a bit of sand where you could back your trailer up to (or in the case of one local I saw – just drive your big ol’ pickup truck and trailer right out in the water to drop off yer jet-ski).  …  the water was quite shallow still – I had to walk the boat out maybe a few hundred feet before I could drop the daggerboard and hop on to start sailing.

this was my first live (at the water) test of my Sunfish PVC dolly, so I was excited to see how well it would do.  (remember: it was on the drive up to Tawas Bay, though, that I almost lost the dolly wheels – and decided to update the dolly to have cotter pins to keep the wheels on.) the hard-packed sand “ramp” or access point worked really well with the PVC dolly, though – I was able to easily slide the Sunfish off the trailer onto the dolly, and then roll it down to the water and drop the Sunfish off there while I went back to get the rest of the sailing gear.

over the early spring, I had purchased a few new upgrades, and I was pretty excited to try them out for the 1st time.  I had sprung for the replica FRP daggerboard (the non-class-legal, but much cheaper version) and a new hiking strap – both from Intensity Sails, a complete new set of Sunfish rigging lines from APS (the recreational package, SF110), my new mainsheet block setup (I’m using just the Harken 2135 carbo ratchet block, with a Harken 150 cam cleat mounted on the cockpit lip if I need to cleat off – the block hooks to the eyestrap shown in the picture below), a new tiller extension with the universal joint, and some new sailing gloves.

as I was fiddling with getting my new mainsheet and halyard lines rigged correctly on the Sunfish, another gentleman was rigging up his older AMF Force 5 at the same launch, and he set off sailing just before I did.  I was (finally) ready to get going, so I pulled on my shorty wetsuit, and waded out a couple hundred feet with the Sunfish to get out of the shallow water.

as I don’t have a wind-meter, I can’t really say for sure what the wind speed was at the time – but it was fairly strong.  there was almost nothing along the shoreline for me to use as a gauge for the wind speed and direction – just 1 flag at the nearby marina, and it was flapping pretty steadily.  I set off on a beam reach to start out, sailed for a short while, and decided to make my 1st turn.

now, I can’t remember exactly what I did – but I ended up dumping the Sunfish over, and on my very 1st attempt at a tack for 2010!  not only did it dump over, but it turtled the full 180 degrees, mast pointing straight down.  luckily, the water felt great, and I was able to quickly right the boat.

with my new mainsheet setup, my goal was to use the ratchet block the entire time, trying to avoid having to use the cleat, and just constantly playing the mainsheet to adjust the sails (this was a new method for me, as my old setup was more prone to cleating off and leaving the mainsheet alone).  even with the sailing gloves, though, my hands were quickly getting sore – party due to the lack of practice, but I think I also could stand to get a slightly larger diameter mainsheet line for days like that with heavier winds.  with the new mainsheet setup, combined with the new universal joint on the tiller extension – I will admit I might have overloaded my brain.  I was having a hard time keeping the tiller straight – I think party due to just how floppy with universal joint makes that whole setup.  it was a whole new feel to steering, as before with the wooden tiller extension, it was very controlled.

I spent most of the time sailing on beam/broad/close reaches, or doing my best to sail close-hauled.  the wind was tricky to read (for me at least!), and I think I really need to put some wind indicators on my boat to better gauge the wind direction, for I found out that without more flags on the shoreline for reference, I was having trouble with some wind directions.  sailing on the close reach or close-hauled, I really had to hike out a LOT to get the boat to sail flat, and unfortunately, I had only tied a quick simple knot on my new hiking strap, and it came undone in the 1st few minutes, so I was back to hooking my toes under the cockpit lip. I ended up turtling the boat one more time that afternoon (I needed to cool off, right?!), and in general I was a tad frustrated with not reading the wind well, but when I got in the groove, the Sunfish was flying, and the hiking out was great fun.

the other sailor with the AMF Force 5 was pulling up to the boat launch right when I was, and we both put our boats away for the day and headed home.  he might have had more practice this summer – and might not have been quite as beat up as I felt, but I know for sure that my future sailing packing list will now always include some Icy-Hot.  my body was bruised and battered – my hands were quite sore from gripping the mainsheet, my arms were a bit sore from trying to use the new tiller extension and holding the mainsheet, my legs and knees were bruised from banging the edge of the cockpit while sliding around, and my body was just plain sore.  who said sailing was this much work?!  I was pretty whipped, but it had been a great time, and a great way to start my 2010 sailing season.

shorty wetsuit review

while on vacation, I got several opportunities to test out my new shorty wetsuit from Costco (see post about it here). since the weather was cooler that week, I wore it down to the beach on Sunday and spent quite a bit of time out in the water.  I initially tried to sail my brother-in-law’s Sandpiper 8 sailboat (see results here), but then just spent a bunch of time swimming in the water and trying to stand up as long as I could on the camp’s surf-style board (not sure what exactly is what supposed to be for).


tuesday was much cooler and after lunch the skies looked pretty grim, so we postponed any sailing plans, but the waves were gigantic that day, so I wore the wetsuit down to the beach, and did my best to play in the waves.  along with giant waves that day, though, was some incredible undertow.  the waves were coming in mostly from the west, but the undertow was pulling the water straight north up the beach.  I had trouble making it more than probably 50 or 60 feet from the shore, and it took quite a bit of effort just to stay in one position.  the younger kids were pulled up the shore pretty quickly as well, so we called it quits after a short time to avoid any accidents with the kids.

wednesday was my good day of sailing my Sunfish (see results here), and I wore the wetsuit for that as well.   I noticed that most of my younger passengers were shivering most of the ride, so I’m sure the cooler temperatures, along with the strong winds and spray coming up on the boat caused them to cool off quickly.

I found the wetsuit kept me quite warm the entire time sailing, as well as the other days while just swimming in the water.  in fact, any time when I was out of the water, and the sun was shining, I found I would get quite warm!  I had used the sizing chart provided by Costco, and found that the wetsuit fits just about perfect – not too incredibly tight, but snug at the legs and arms, and it’s adjustable with velcro at the neck.  the glideseal gaskets at the arms and legs are very comfortable as well.

I went back up to Camp Arcadia the weekend after Labor Day for a men’s retreat with my father, brother, and 2 brothers-in-law.  I used the wetsuit again for my 1st attempt at windsurfing.  that was intense, and extremely difficult!  I think my lower legs are still bruised from trying to climb up onto the board out in the deeper water.  again, the wetsuit did a great job of keeping me warm the entire time, though.

overall, I was very impressed, and would highly recommend it to anyone considering buying a shorty wetsuit – it certainly seems like a great shorty wetsuit and at a great price as well.  throw in Costco’s generous 100% satisfaction return policy and you can hardly go wrong!

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

i’m on vacation!

hello, just wanted to let you know that I will be on vacation starting tomorrow morning, saturday, august 22, thru late friday, august 28.  I’m heading off for a week-long vacation, back where it all beganCamp Arcadia.  my 2 older boys are ridiculously excited to be there, and have been talking about it for months – excited to spend time at the camp, as well as with their Opa & Oma (grandparents) and a whole slew of cousins!

hopefully I will get a few sailing adventures in while on vacation, and will post about them when I return.  the weather is supposed to be a bit on the cooler side though (low 70’s max temps), so maybe I’ll get a chance to test-drive my new shorty wetsuit.

as my last time on Lake Michigan with the Sunfish was a bit crazy (I’ve yet to post about that sailing trip – let me just say it was my introduction to “turtling” a sailboat, and my sailing partner Clint thought I almost drowned), I have been thinking I would opt for one of the nearby inland lakes to sail – there are (2) nice ones, both within maybe 30 minutes max drive that should work great, and not have quite as large of waves.

please note: as my comments are moderated (at least for 1st time commenters), please don’t be offended if I can’t approve them until I return, as I will have limited (if any) internet access for the entire week.  happy sailing, my2fish.

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