Wednesday, June 24, 2009
I spent Monday and Tuesday taking a sailing class with my husband. We sailed out of Burnham Harbor in Chicago aboard a 33 foot Hunter sailboat, the KnotACare.
We had to run the inboard motor to get out of the harbor, but once out on Lake Michigan we turned off the engine and got underway using sail power.
This is a view looking over the bow of the boat. That black triangle in the left corner is part of the entryway to go below decks.
The boat had two cabins, a galley (kitchen) and a head (bathroom). It also had air conditioning, which to my dismay I found out wouldn't work once we left the dock, since it operates off of ac supplied by a plug in to the electrical supply on the dock.
But once we got underway, we left the 100 degree heat of Chicago behind, for the pleasantly cool breezes on the lake, and the A/C wasn't needed anyway.
The round metal object (winch) in the foreground with the sheets (ropes) tied around it is used to position the sails, which is called 'trimming' the sails. There are a lot -- a whole lot -- of terms associated with sailing, it's almost like learning a foreign language, and I've got a long way to go yet.
I was a bit apprehensive about getting seasick. I went whale watching once off the coast of Cape Cod and spent most of the time deathly ill.
But the fates smiled on me during the sail, and I felt fine.
The boat in this picture is the Sea Witch and she has a lot more sails than The KnotACare. The KnotACare had two, the mainsail, which provides most of the propulsion, and a jib, which helps out on propelling the boat, and which also is adjusted when the boat is moved in different positions relative to the wind direction.
The mainsail is also adjusted, or 'trimmed' during the sail. This is done manually, by pulling on the ropes attached to the sails. After awhile, this gets a bit hard on your hands, not to mention your back and arms. I was surprised just how strenuous sailing is, and gained a whole new respect for the men who used to sail the tall ships during the days of shipping by schooner.
One surprise to me was the presence of flies out on the lake. At the harbor there were hardly any, but once off shore, they were a constant and annoying companion. Why they're out there I haven't a clue. The second day of the sailing lessons we brought bug spray, and solved the problem of the biting black flies.
It's so beautiful out on the lake. This is the view looking back to Chicago, that thin hazy layer was really there, it's not an artifact of photography.
The water was that lovely blue, and the sun sparkled off the surface.
There was Captain Jim, our instructor, my husband and myself, and another student on the sail. We learned to trim the sails, steer the boat, and how to care for the boat and what the rules of the road (they call them that, even though you're on the water) and some of the laws concerning boating. And also practiced rescuing a man overboard, which thankfully was just a seat cushion overboard.
At the end was the much dreaded test, which we had to pass to get our certification. We each had to go through various maneuver's with the boat, taking turns skippering and also trimming the sails, demonstrate some different knots, and then take a 100 question written test. I'm happy to report that all three of us passed!
I'm looking forward to going sailing again. We've got one more sail with an instructor, to learn to dock the boat on our own, and demonstrate one more time our newfound sailing skills, and then we'll be able to sail alone. It's going to be a lot of fun to go sailing with just my husband, enjoying the serenity of Lake Michigan.