Lake sailing

by Chuck June 19, 2004

We decided to go somewhere different for our first sail of the year, since we splurged on a new trailer over the winter expressly so we could go to different places. For this trip, we decided to sail in Lake Washington, launching at Sandpoint in Magnusen Park.

The new trailer towed like a dream, occasionally I would look into my rear-view mirror and be surprised that I had a boat tagging along behind me. Having a trailer that tows so nice turned out to be a good thing, since I got a little lost heading to the park and ended up pulling the boat through the narrow streets of a Lake City neighborhood.

Once I found park I took the time to walk from the prep area to the launch to make sure there were no low hanging wires or tree limbs that would interfere with the mast while we moved. Once I was sure there was anything between us and the water, Dana and I made pretty short work of rigging the boat for launch.

Once we got the boat in, we headed out into the lake to hunt up some wind. There wasn't much to be found, so we decided to head across the lake to Kirkland so the kids could get out of the boat and swim. The crossing was OK, but quite rough considering there was very little wind to pick up the waves.

We found an opening at the end of the Kirkland public dock and did a touch and go, stopping long enough to drop off the Dana and the kids. I took Odyssey and headed off the dock a quarter of a mile or so, then waited for Dana to call me when the kids were done swimming.

While I was heading out, I noticed that I'd lost one of my fenders over the side. I turned around and went back in, where I saw the fender floating in the lake with a couple of boats circling around. One boat, a bow rider with three kids in the front picked up the float, and then the dad threw it over to me. He threw it like a football, and made a perfect toss to Odyssey's cockpit.

I spent an uncomfortable hour bobbing about in Odyssey while the kids swam. The lake was rough, and other boaters seemed oblivious to their wakes as they sped past, sometimes only yards away. I was only too happy to head in and pick up Dana and the kids and get away from the Kirkland waterfront.

The wind finally came up after the family was back on board, and we spent an enjoyable couple of hours chasing the fluky breezes around. At one point we sat with our sails slatting while 50 yards away a Catalina 22 rolled past with her sails full. Later, we managed to find a breeze and sailed past a J-24 on the opposite tack with no wind in her sails.

A thundercloud forming in the late afternoon chased us, and apparently everybody else, off the lake. We circled for half an hour or so waiting for our chance to get to the launch and get out. Once we had our chance, the dock assistant and the other people waiting to launch hurried us to get onto the trailer and out of the way.

That's when I made my big mistake and allowed the pressure of getting out of the way to overcome my good sense. I pulled the boat out of the water with the rudder still down, and broke the rudder into three pieces when it dragged on the ground.

Dana and I quickly picked up the pieces and got out of Dodge so the people pointing and laughing weren't pointing and laughing at us anymore. We took the rig down and headed for home, where I started looking for a replacement for the rudder.



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