Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Cup Half Full

There's a small, narrow lake across the road from my house with a boat launching ramp about 100 yards from the house. It's not a great lake for sailing as it's surrounded by houses and trees and a large hill to the west. When the wind's from the northwest it's unstable and gusty. When the wind's from the west it swirls around each side of the hill in turn and comes in from alternate ends of the lake at random intervals. When the wind's from the east it's weak and damp. On the rare occasions when the wind blows from the south it's sorta kinda OK for sailing.

A Sunfish fleet races on the lake in the summer. I used to race with them, as did my sons before they left for college. At the time it was so convenient it was too good an opportunity to miss. Roll out of bed on Sunday morning, grab some breakfast, wheel a boat down to the lake and you could be sailing in less than 30 minutes after leaving your bed. But it was frustrating. If the wind blew down the length of the lake you would have a beat; but you had to tack repeatedly to avoid going aground at each shore. If the wind blew across the lake then you had reaches all day. We raced around 3 fixed buoys which were cleverly positioned in sheltered corners of the lake where there was no wind so that the first boat to attain each buoy had to wait becalmed while the rest of the fleet caught up and we could all drift round the buoy in a giant pinwheel.

Local knowledge was key. I never mastered it. The lake produced some excellent light wind sailors. I wasn't one of them. After the boys left for college I started racing at other clubs.

But if I could sail on that lake today, I would. But I can't. As you can see from the picture it's still half frozen.

But that means the cup is half full. I live in hope.


EVK4 said...

attach lightweight runners to the hull of the sunfish...you can ice-sail until the edge then you'll do a really cool X-Games jump into the water at the edge and sail over to the other side. You'll need the forward edge of the runner flush with the hull and then you'll scoot right up back on the ice.

Hell, it can be called the bi-athlisail...makes more sense than cross country skiing and target shooting.

Anonymous said...

That actually sounds both cool and workable... the only worry you have is if the ice isn't thick enough to support the boat...then you just break through and get stuck, which is not so cool.

Tillerman said...

Thanks for the suggestion Edward. I'll take it under advisement.

Some years I have broken the ice at the edge to launch the Sunfish into open water.

EVK4 said...

You sound scared....maybe this particular body of half-frozen water isn't our ideal testing ground, but this idea has legs. If I didn't have enough boat projects, and if bodies of water actually froze in sunny California, I'd be tooling the parts right now.

Come on, your son went to MIT, you're telling me he doesn't have access to some precision tools to develop a space age hybrid ice boat?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Tillerson #2 (the one that went to CMU) could build a cool iceboat/sunfish. I am no longer in possession of any functional engineering skills as a result of my brain being filled with torts, contracts, property and other law school related information.

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