Spring Lake Sailing - Archived

Sunday, April 14

What a day it was on the lake. After months of cancellations because of too little water, too much rain, flooding, too hot, too cold, not enough wind, or too few participants…we had 5 boats show up ready to get in the water and have some races! The wind looked to me like it would be enough, I was wishing it would be a little stronger, though. Well, as it often happens on Spring Lake, things didn’t go as planned.

We had Wallace in his Vagabond, Bob & Shannon in their CL 14, Joe in his Lonestar 13, David in his Banshee, and me in my Omega 14. All of us got rigged up and into the water and began to get ready for some races. Bob also also had a couple kayaks in the water for some other family members to use. These would prove useful later in the day.

As I was sailing around along with the others, waiting for the start of the race, I noticed that Joe had capsized downwind almost in middle of the the lake. Did I say that the wind indeed had gotten stronger and more gusty? (combined with the usual instant 180 degree wind direction shifts). We headed over to see if we could help Joe. His boat was floating low in the water, mostly upright, but trying to re-capsize itself in the gusts. David tried towing the boat towards the dock. After a couple attempts, it just wasn’t going to work. Then David had a capsize of his own. He quickly righted his boat though. I tried towing the boat with Joe in the water hanging on to the transom, but after a few minutes, I had to let go. Joe reassured us he was still ok in the water.

So where was the ranger and the rescue boat? We never saw them. But when I looked back towards the dock, I saw two kayaks headed our way. Bob and his son, Matthew paddled up to Joe and his boat and after roping the kayaks to each other, attached the towline to the sunken Lonestar and sunken Joe and paddled hard back upwind towards the dock. The towing was slow but successful. Although they didn’t go all the way back to the dock, they were able to get it to shore and several helpers were able to lift the boat up and drain enough water out so that Joe could climb back in, set the jib and limp back to the dock. I found his hat floating away and was able to return it. Sort of a happy ending? Not quite yet…

Wallace and I had by now both dropped our jibs so that we could stay upright in the strong (and gusty winds). Bob and Shannon piled grandkids into their boat and were sailing back and forth nicely across the lake. David was now speeding around in the Banshee, as they are prone to do. So we decided, why not try a race anyway? Joe joined Wallace in the Vagabond and I was still solo sailing the Omega. We only had an upwind mark set and by then it was about 4 o’clock, time enough for a short race or two. Bob and family (wisely, I think) decided to just keep sailing back and forth. We started our race and everything was fun and exciting, all of us tacking towards the weather mark, then all of a sudden I realized that I too, was going to capsize!

Gusty wind shifts, a tangled mainsheet and not paying enough attention combined to cause my boat to slowly lay over in the water just a few feet from shore. I have never capsized this boat before and wondered if I could right it by myself. I swam around and reached up and grabbed the centerboard and hung all my 160 lbs on the end. It didn’t move. I swam back and made sure the mainsheet was free and then went back to the centerboard grabbed it and pulled. Then I stuck my feet under the gunwales and pushed. Slowly, the Omega lifted back upright. I managed to climb aboard over the transom after 3 tries, gather the lines and get underway. (I am glad I left my cellphone in the truck this time). I decided to abandon the race and made it back to the dock.

The others eventually returned to the dock, too. I think Joe said he lost a shoe. I lost a sponge but Wallace found it, and some sticky lake mud was added to the top of my mast  and mainsail.

I will venture to say that even still, a good time was had by all (or most).

–Mark Alarie

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