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Scared to go to a bigger lake

SAsunfishlover

New Member
We recently bought a little sunfish clone (a starfish). I sailed a sunfish as a kid but can't remember much. We took it out on a small lake and every thing went well. Read the llittle alcort pamplet about sailing a sunfish and it really helped. I'm a little scared to take it out on a bigger lake. Any suggestions?
 

Fun Fish

Member
I suggest taking the plunge (purposely capsizing and righting the boat til you are comfortable with this) and then taking the plunge and heading to that bigger lake. You may have variable wind conditions and more wave action to deal with on a bigger patch of water, but once you've got a handle on getting yourself out of a sticky situation, they don't seem so sticky anymore. Enjoy!
 

67stang

Member
Well if you are nervous, then just stay with the small lakes until you feel comfortable. I measure conditions before I measure the size of the lake. You might find some pretty hairy conditions on your small lake and the opposite on a large lake. Just sail in soft winds and stronger winds until you feel the time is right. Stay close to shore, always wear a life vest, and be watchful of your surroundings and conditions.

You'll move on up in no time!
 

Webfoot

New Member
Where on the big lake and when you go is important. There was a family in the news this summer who decided to take their sailboat out on Lake Michigan figuring the big lake should be like a small lake. As soon as they got past the breakwater they got Maytagged and ended up getting pulled out by the Cost Guard after the fourth capsize. Where did they go wrong?

1. Not knowing the wave conditions or limits of their boat.
2. Not sailing off a beach which can provide a escape route. Rip Rap and Concrete make for the hardest rescue and quickest demise.
3. Asking them that know better before you attempt something untried.

If you are having second thoughts before you do something, listen to you second thoughts. They are usually trying to kick the door down on a subconscious level and save you a lot of grief.
 

Wayne

Member Emeritus
Well if you are nervous, then just stay with the small lakes until you feel comfortable.
'Sail off a beach' ...
... which provides an immediate look at the water conditions rather than masking them behind the calm of a harbor.

Know the water, Know the weather, Know your abilities.

As your abilities grow the size of the lake will shrink. :)
 

Webfoot

New Member
Or you could buy a Coast Guard Self Righting Rescue Boat . . .
Man, this one does it all! Check out the features list.


http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/US-Coast-Guard-MLB44-self-righting-rescue-boat-historic_W0QQitemZ190332010992QQcmdZViewItemQQptZPower_Motorboats?hash=item2c50ac01f0&_trksid=p4506.c0.m245#v4-34

Seriously, I think the difficulty level increases in this order, Inland Lakes, then Bays and Harbors, Inland Waterways, and then the Great Lakes. There as a article in tonight paper about someone who capsized a cat in Lake Michigan. He was in 47 degree water, fortunately with a wetsuit and life jacket, for three hours. Always good to have that old song playing in your head "Someone to Watch Over Me."
 

SAsunfishlover

New Member
I thank everyone for their suggestions. I will be sailing on Canyon Lake near San Antonio, Texas. The water is warm right now, but the lake level is lower than normal. I guess if I stay close to shore, go on a day when the winds are calm and (we always) wear life vests, we should be ok. My nine year old son had a great time on the small lake, but I don't want to endanger him; although he is a good swimmer. We did practice alot of the things in the alcort pamphlet. Would never ever try to sail on Lake Michigan! Canyon Lake is a drop in a bucket compared to that.
 

Porpoise2

New Member
Until you've got a handle on your skills, just don't go out when there are whitecaps. If whitecaps develop, head home. (But you'll have your hands full!) :eek:
 

Zeppo

Member
Not every beginning sailor has ready access to a small lake, many learn to sail on the ocean. The size of the body of water really isn't relevant, as said before it is the weather thats important. 5 knots of wind on Lake Superior is going to be more enjoyable for a beginner than 20 knots on the local duck pond.
 

davavd

OldNSlow
I don't know what Canyon Lake is like, but from sailing on Lake Travis near Austin when I was in college, I can offer one piece of advice. "Close to shore" in that kind of lake is "crazy wind". The shore terrain can really play havoc with the wind. It is puffy, and the direction changes constantly - hard to sail in. If you capsize, being close to shore won't help unless you can stand up. I'd recommend getting out far enough that the wind is steady.
 

Webfoot

New Member
Not every beginning sailor has ready access to a small lake, many learn to sail on the ocean. The size of the body of water really isn't relevant, as said before it is the weather thats important. 5 knots of wind on Lake Superior is going to be more enjoyable for a beginner than 20 knots on the local duck pond.
My contention is that, sailing off a beach, three out of four cardinal directions on the Great Lakes contain a whole lot of nothing. For a raw beginner who can't quite make the boat go where he wants it to go, having 360 degrees of shoreline to return to is an advantage.
 

Porpoise2

New Member
"..."Close to shore" in that kind of lake is "crazy wind". The shore terrain can really play havoc with the wind. It is puffy, and the direction changes constantly - hard to sail in..."
Florida lakes are better for a steady breeze, but weather can change it quickly. I've had two thunderheads build above my head and was not sure which one was going to hit me with unmanageable winds. (While sitting becalmed!) :eek:

I'm resigned to the fact that northern inland lakes—like my New Hampshire lake—are going to have flukey winds: it's not the ocean. I've devised a great wind-direction device this year so I can launch the Sunfish even when the presence of wind can't be determined. (Meaning, when looking across a flat calm).

It consists of a foot-long thread from a worn tarp: To the end of the thread, I've put a small breast feather attached by spider web. It's attached to the tack of the sail, and hangs very reliably with a paper clip attached about 4" down from the boom—leaving 8 inches to indicate wind direction.

(Don't step on it when raising the sail!) :(

Yes, I also have two tell-tales, but this device points (even predicts) direction without a glance upwards.

There really is a wind out there, and a small sailboat can make incredible use of it. I don't understand how anyone can sail on a lake without one of these! (Or anywhere else, for that matter). :)
 
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