New Sailor - Chicago Suburbs

Thread starter #1
Hello,

I'm the new owner of a MOD 1 Capri 14.2. I'm new to sailing and new to boat ownership. I'm eager to learn and would like to own a bigger sailboat someday.

The Capri seemed like a good choice to learn how to sail a sloop and to learn with/teach my wife and kids on.

I've been looking around for lakes that are good to sail on around me in the Chicago Suburbs. Lake Michigan is the most obvious one but that's a little intimidating right now. We got the boat in the water the day after we bought it for a couple hours on a little 20 acre lake nearest to our house. All the parts are there and it sailed. And none of us got wet-- eventhough my youngest kept trying to jump out of the boat. It's going to take some time to get comfortable with the trailer, and the docking, and the sailing, but we're learning as we go.

Here's a few questions that I haven't come up with answers to so far:

Do people usually sail off the trailer, or just walk or paddle the boat to a dock to finish rigging it? We stepped the mast on the trailer but then paddled to the dock to do the rest of the rigging.

When tying off at a dock, do you just tie at the bow on the leeward side of the dock? We tied up broadside to the dock but had a lot of trouble keeping fenders in place since there's not really anything to tie them to near the beam of the boat. We had one fender hanging from a shroud and my daughter holding the rope of another fender near the beam -- there must be a smarter way.

Does anyone have any recommendations for places to sail near Chicago? I'm looking into Lake Shabbona, Busse Lake, and Blackwell Forest Preserve. Under what conditions would it be safe to sail in Lake Michigan?

Thanks.
 

Ghost Rider

Planing into eternity...
#2
Whew, what a day... but I'm back like a bad rash and I saw your post, so I'll chime in with some advice. You should learn basic sailing skills through a course of instruction, or by studiously reading books & web material on the subject. With kids aboard, marine safety should be your greatest priority. You should know the forecast before you ever leave your home, the NOAA Weather website is pretty reliable, and the site even has marine forecasts for sailors. Tide chart consultation is also recommended on the coast, but you won't have to worry about that in Chicago... you move to either coast, get a tide chart (booklet) every year and keep it handy. For now, make sure you get the forecast prior to leaving shore, especially on Lake Michigan. :confused:

How you rig your boat and sail from the ramp or dock depends entirely upon the layout of each ramp and dock. Some docks are better than others, some are poorly situated in relation to prevailing winds and the ramp itself, some are missing cleats and bumpers, the list goes on... I had friends who were catamaran sailors and they hated the poorly-designed layout of the boat ramp in Coronado, they would always rig their boats on trailers and one would sail directly from the ramp while the other parked the truck & trailer. Once the hand parking the rig was ready, a quick pass or brief docking sufficed to get that hand on board. We also had a small bayside beach nearby, so that was another option which was frequently chosen if the ramp & small dock were crowded. :D

That same ramp and dock were clearly NOT designed by a sailor, an all-too-common occurrence in the nautical world, so be prepared for that reality. You could partially rig your boat on its trailer prior to launching, or simply paddle to the leeward side of the dock if necessary... one of those collapsible paddles with a telescopic handle is fine for that task. You can add hardware to your boat to accommodate fenders, but it may not be necessary: might be better to scout out various launching areas and see if you can find one that suits you and your young family, and I refer particularly to launching points on Lake Michigan. THAT is where I would focus upon sailing, since it is a proven venue with all a sailor could want in terms of breeze. :rolleyes:

They don't call Chi-Town "The Windy City" for nothing: I've been down on that lakeshore in all types of weather, and it can get serious out there on the water when the breeze picks up, not to mention the heller surface chop. A friend of mine named Bill Bennett used to race on Lake Michigan, and he was a damned good sailor, he and the guys he raced with were highly experienced and they all knew the dangers of sudden squalls and inbound storms. However, as a novice you can lessen the risk by knowing the forecast and sailing relatively close inshore, and by that I mean along the shore rather than miles out toward the center of the lake. You don't want to be too close, but if you keep within a safe distance you can always head for shelter and safety if a storm brews, aye? :eek:

In your situation, with family aboard the boat, I think a compass would be a good idea in case of sudden fog, even a small handheld compass purchased from a surplus store. Keep it away from metal (including the rig) when taking a bearing, there's such a thing as deviation, as well as variation for your local area. But any compass would be better than no compass in a fog, I reckon. At least it'll get you back in the ballpark relative to your launching area. I won't dwell on other safety issues here, that's all part of your nautical edumacation. Make a bailer out of a plastic jug or bottle, it'll come in handy at some point. Don't forget food, water, protection from solar abuse to include clothing, cover (hats), good polarized sunglasses on goon cords, sailing gloves and nautical footgear, etc., etc. You'll pick up knowledge as you go along, just learn the "Rules of the Road" and keep marine safety your top priority. ;)

TIME FOR ANOTHER SHOT OF STRAWBERRY MOONSHINE FOLLOWED BY A BEER CHASER, Y'ALL BE SAFE, AND CHEERS!!! :cool:

P.S. To this day, Royce's SAILING ILLUSTRATED makes for a great reference and instructional book, though there are many other books on basic sailing with helpful diagrams... Royce's contains some material you won't really need when starting out, but you can skip those parts and stick to what serves you best. In my youth, we called Royce's the "Sailor's Bible" and it's a damned good book to have if you're serious about learning how to sail. You might even find it in your local library, good luck to you in your nautical endeavors, and keep those kids safe!!! :)
 
#5
Hello,

I'm the new owner of a MOD 1 Capri 14.2. I'm new to sailing and new to boat ownership. I'm eager to learn and would like to own a bigger sailboat someday.

The Capri seemed like a good choice to learn how to sail a sloop and to learn with/teach my wife and kids on.

I've been looking around for lakes that are good to sail on around me in the Chicago Suburbs. Lake Michigan is the most obvious one but that's a little intimidating right now. We got the boat in the water the day after we bought it for a couple hours on a little 20 acre lake nearest to our house. All the parts are there and it sailed. And none of us got wet-- eventhough my youngest kept trying to jump out of the boat. It's going to take some time to get comfortable with the trailer, and the docking, and the sailing, but we're learning as we go.

Here's a few questions that I haven't come up with answers to so far:

Do people usually sail off the trailer, or just walk or paddle the boat to a dock to finish rigging it? We stepped the mast on the trailer but then paddled to the dock to do the rest of the rigging.

When tying off at a dock, do you just tie at the bow on the leeward side of the dock? We tied up broadside to the dock but had a lot of trouble keeping fenders in place since there's not really anything to tie them to near the beam of the boat. We had one fender hanging from a shroud and my daughter holding the rope of another fender near the beam -- there must be a smarter way.

Does anyone have any recommendations for places to sail near Chicago? I'm looking into Lake Shabbona, Busse Lake, and Blackwell Forest Preserve. Under what conditions would it be safe to sail in Lake Michigan?

Thanks.
By far your best choice would be Lake Opeka in Des Plaines, check it out on the web. That's my home port! Operated by their Park District, you get a small safe lake for newbies, great launch facility. Clubhouse with all the amenities, lots of fellow sailors with 14 - 16' sized boats, year round storage for reasonable cost. I would be happy to share my years of sailing experiance, plus how I did all the improvements I have made on my Capri, which you would be able to see. Their # is 847-391-5730 if you want to contact them. And if you wanted to meet me there sometime for a few hours of tutoring on my boat it would be very beneficial.
Now I would stay away from Lake Michigan until you have at least one good season under your belt. The launch ramps can be quite intimidating (you are dancing with some really big boats) and could possibly damage your boat or you hands when trying to fend off. The water can get quite turbulent. Not to mention that lake is a place where big suprises can happen! I sailed a Catalina 22 for 5 years out there so I know.
A better upgrade to a larger body than Opeka would be Diamond Lake in Mundelien. I also have a launch pass there ($65 annual!) And it's a safe, well patrolled lake. After that you could jump up the next size to Lake Geneva (Wisconsin, just over the border).
Once again, I would discourage you from doing Michigan. Just take a look at all the drownings that have happened there this year already. If you run into trouble on any of the other places I mentioned help is on the way plus the water is a lot warmer! BTW, I have a season and a half under my belt with Capri and not capsized yet.
Let me know if you want to hook up at Opeka sometime..............
L
 
#6
By far your best choice would be Lake Opeka in Des Plaines, check it out on the web. That's my home port! Operated by their Park District, you get a small safe lake for newbies, great launch facility. Clubhouse with all the amenities, lots of fellow sailors with 14 - 16' sized boats, year round storage for reasonable cost. I would be happy to share my years of sailing experiance, plus how I did all the improvements I have made on my Capri, which you would be able to see. Their # is 847-391-5730 if you want to contact them. And if you wanted to meet me there sometime for a few hours of tutoring on my boat it would be very beneficial.
Now I would stay away from Lake Michigan until you have at least one good season under your belt. The launch ramps can be quite intimidating (you are dancing with some really big boats) and could possibly damage your boat or you hands when trying to fend off. The water can get quite turbulent. Not to mention that lake is a place where big suprises can happen! I sailed a Catalina 22 for 5 years out there so I know.
A better upgrade to a larger body than Opeka would be Diamond Lake in Mundelien. I also have a launch pass there ($65 annual!) And it's a safe, well patrolled lake. After that you could jump up the next size to Lake Geneva (Wisconsin, just over the border).
Once again, I would discourage you from doing Michigan. Just take a look at all the drownings that have happened there this year already. If you run into trouble on any of the other places I mentioned help is on the way plus the water is a lot warmer! BTW, I have a season and a half under my belt with Capri and not capsized yet.
Let me know if you want to hook up at Opeka sometime..............
L
PS just look at the next thread and you will see a nice shot of my boat with Opeka in the background!
 
Thread starter #7
By far your best choice would be Lake Opeka in Des Plaines, check it out on the web. That's my home port! Operated by their Park District, you get a small safe lake for newbies, great launch facility. Clubhouse with all the amenities, lots of fellow sailors with 14 - 16' sized boats, year round storage for reasonable cost. I would be happy to share my years of sailing experiance, plus how I did all the improvements I have made on my Capri, which you would be able to see. Their # is 847-391-5730 if you want to contact them. And if you wanted to meet me there sometime for a few hours of tutoring on my boat it would be very beneficial.
Now I would stay away from Lake Michigan until you have at least one good season under your belt. The launch ramps can be quite intimidating (you are dancing with some really big boats) and could possibly damage your boat or you hands when trying to fend off. The water can get quite turbulent. Not to mention that lake is a place where big suprises can happen! I sailed a Catalina 22 for 5 years out there so I know.
A better upgrade to a larger body than Opeka would be Diamond Lake in Mundelien. I also have a launch pass there ($65 annual!) And it's a safe, well patrolled lake. After that you could jump up the next size to Lake Geneva (Wisconsin, just over the border).
Once again, I would discourage you from doing Michigan. Just take a look at all the drownings that have happened there this year already. If you run into trouble on any of the other places I mentioned help is on the way plus the water is a lot warmer! BTW, I have a season and a half under my belt with Capri and not capsized yet.
Let me know if you want to hook up at Opeka sometime..............
L
Thanks. I'll look into those and maybe see you there.
 
#8
Something incredible happened to me yesterday at the mid sized lake I sail at. So finished my outing by noon (started super early to beat the heat). By noon the winds had picked up to the 10-15 mph range with gusts up to 20. Pulled the boat out and had a box lunch in my van. Afterwards felt the need to take a little cat nap, and why not? Soon thereafter I heard a loud crash and looked up to see my boat laying on it's side in the parking lot! It was still tethered to the winch which prevented it from being a lot worse.

Contributing factors:
1. Boat was not centered on the trailer pads. Usually I do that after retrieval by hand. But I saw no harm in eating first and doing this later.
2. Still had the Baby Bob on the top. Boom with sail furled to it, tight sheeted to keep it secured. Lots of windage.
3. Parked perpendicular to the force of the wind, and directly next to the shore.
4. Wind gusts were increasing, but I too busy eating and napping to notice.

Lucky for me for two reasons:
1. A group of guys were standing nearby, they helped me get it back on the trailer. A short while later they all would have been gone!
2. Very lucky there was no damage to persons or property.

What damage was sustained? The widest part of the hull smacked down on the pavement and buckled in concave. About 2' long x 1' tall. It looked horrible. And as I contemplated an expensive repair bill and losing most of the rest of the season, something incredible took place. The caved in area just popped out all on it's own! I pushed on it and it there was no deflection, just like nothing happened. Now I did suffer crack in the gelcoat about 5" long with some scratches on the hull but nothing more!

So this is one of the advantages of having a "flexy" boat like the Mod 1. I heard the newer mods are a bit stiffer. When I go fast and smack into a wave you can feel the hull shuddering a bit. If this was a stringer reinforced hull I bet the damage would have been a lot worse. I will contact Catalina Tech Support tomorrow to see what there thoughts are, but it appears my boat suffered no permanent damage. Lucky again!

Lesson learned here. This is a lightweight boat and care should be taken to assure it's properly secured to the trailer!!
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
#10
Wow, what a story; I once had my Laser blown off its trailer by a very strong puff. This happened when I was launching the boat and the sail was up (one can't raise the sail on a Laser). Your scenario was clearly different but had a reasonably happy ending.
 
#11
I'm the new owner of a MOD 1 Capri 14.2. I'm new to sailing and new to boat ownership. I'm eager to learn and would like to own a bigger sailboat someday.

The Capri seemed like a good choice to learn how to sail a sloop and to learn with/teach my wife and kids on.
Hi! I'm in nearly the same situation, and in Chicago suburbs too! I picked up a Capri 13 for a really good price...less rigging, smaller size and weight. My wife grew up sailing Sunfish in Northern Michigan, and the engineer in me wants to play with the wind. My teenage son and I took a couple of lessons on Sunfish on Lake Opeka. But I think most of the sailing will be my wife and I. (The dream is maybe having a boat moored on Lake Michigan, and being able to randomly spend a day sailing when visiting foreign cities.)

By far your best choice would be Lake Opeka in Des Plaines, check it out on the web. That's my home port! Operated by their Park District, you get a small safe lake for newbies, great launch facility. Clubhouse with all the amenities, lots of fellow sailors with 14 - 16' sized boats, year round storage for reasonable cost. I would be happy to share my years of sailing experiance, plus how I did all the improvements I have made on my Capri, which you would be able to see. Their # is 847-391-5730 if you want to contact them. And if you wanted to meet me there sometime for a few hours of tutoring on my boat it would be very beneficial.
Hello too! I would appreciate meeting up with you sometime there, if you're willing. Des Plaines is quite convenient for me, somewhat in between my home and work, so strongly considering that as a home port, but the daily launch fee for non-resident seems high for what the lake is, but maybe I'm naive about that. I saw you mention Diamond Lake too. What other lakes in Chicagoland or southern Wisconsin are friendly for non-resident launches, and notable for sailboats? In general, when one has a boat on a trailer, I'm trying to figure out why someone sails on a certain lake, what makes it good or bad. Thanks for any advice you can share.
 
Thread starter #12
Hi! I'm in nearly the same situation, and in Chicago suburbs too! I picked up a Capri 13 for a really good price...less rigging, smaller size and weight. My wife grew up sailing Sunfish in Northern Michigan, and the engineer in me wants to play with the wind. My teenage son and I took a couple of lessons on Sunfish on Lake Opeka. But I think most of the sailing will be my wife and I. (The dream is maybe having a boat moored on Lake Michigan, and being able to randomly spend a day sailing when visiting foreign cities.)



Hello too! I would appreciate meeting up with you sometime there, if you're willing. Des Plaines is quite convenient for me, somewhat in between my home and work, so strongly considering that as a home port, but the daily launch fee for non-resident seems high for what the lake is, but maybe I'm naive about that. I saw you mention Diamond Lake too. What other lakes in Chicagoland or southern Wisconsin are friendly for non-resident launches, and notable for sailboats? In general, when one has a boat on a trailer, I'm trying to figure out why someone sails on a certain lake, what makes it good or bad. Thanks for any advice you can share.
Silver Lake at Blackwell Forest Preserve (near Wheaton) was recommended to me and I scoped it out. It's got a nice ramp and parking area and has either a $45 per year OR $9 per day for non residents and less for Dupage Co residents. I haven't sailed there yet but probably will.

I have been to Lake Shabbona (south of I-88 just off Rt 30.) and was pleased. It's an IL state park. They have three boat launches but only one has overhead clearance to launch a sailboat (don't bother with the north launch, there are trees overhanging the ramp). It's free to sail there, it's a 300 acre lake and has a couple shops and a restaurant.

I'm just learning, but I'm finding that some launches have easier parking, better ramps, better docks, or more amenities. My first outing was at Lake Jericho (fox valley park district) and it leaves something to be desired-- the ramp is right next to a whole bunch of rocks so walking a boat from a trailer to tie off isn't straightforward; there are no cleats on the dock at all (I've since taught myself to tie a highwayman's hitch to handle this if I go back there); and there is no way to turn around a trailer at the ramp, you either have to drive out onto the grass or back down a long winding path. I wouldn't recommend Lake Jericho.

I can see myself going back to Lake Jericho if I'm on a tight schedule since it's only 5 minutes from my house, but Lake Shabbona is a lot nicer at 40 minutes away. I'd probably have to be meeting someone or be seeking even bigger/nicer lake to be convinced to drive farther.

Are there other considerations experienced people would have?
 

Ghost Rider

Planing into eternity...
#13
I'm just learning, but I'm finding that some launches have easier parking, better ramps, better docks, or more amenities.
That's just it, you've hit the proverbial nail on the head... find the ramps and launching areas that suit you best, you'll enjoy your outings more, aye? Some ramps & launching areas were NOT designed with small sailing craft in mind... go with the ones which are hassle-free. :confused:
 
#14
At my local lake I have two non-resident choices -- $5 per launch at the handful of public ramps, or $20 for a day pass at a private marina. I typically choose the $20 option, especially when I will be picking up guests. Much less boat traffic, steeper ramp, a small sandy area to beach my boat while I park the trailer, and a fully lit, well-maintained dock for loading.
 
#15
I generally go to Opeka (Des Plaines) Sunday PM's but could do Saturdays also. If anybody would like to hook up let's figure out a time. In a few hours I could share a wealth of knowledge to a newbie Capri owner!
 
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