BTS: August 2014

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 Sail Chicago is a not-for-profit community sailing program. 
Its mission is to offer quality instruction in sailing and boating safety, and to provide affordable sailing opportunities to its members and others in the Chicago area.
Issue #8
August, 2014

By Steve VanderVoort


Steve VanderVoort

Last month we learned that Sail Chicago has been accredited by US Sailing, the premier sail boating and racing association in the United States, as one of its official sailing schools.  While we still have a few hoops to jump through before this accreditation is complete, this event does mark another significant milestone for Sail Chicago that began in 2003 when it became independent from American Youth Hostels, its former supporting organization.


From 2003 to 2012 Sail Chicago was recognized as a not-for-profit sailing club by the Internal Revenue Service, similar to the Chicago Yacht Club or the Columbia Yacht Club.  The only difference was that we didn't have a physical location, only a fleet of Rhodes 19s and one or two cruising boats.  


In 2009 we developed our first five-year plan.  This plan emphasized two areas of prime importance:  fleet renewal and broader sailing instruction opportunities for people in the Chicago area.  The outcomes included a new (to us) fleet of Colgate 26s, boats designed specifically for instruction purposes, and the Sail-Into-Summer program, whereby non-Sail Chicago members could sign up for sailing instruction.  


With this renewed emphasis on instruction, we decided to apply to once again to the IRS, this time as a Section 501(c)(3) public charity.  In 2013 we were granted this status, and became a "community sailing program" rather than a private club.  This has allowed us to  apply to US Sailing as an accredited sailing school.


 In 2014 we developed a second five-year plan.  This plan emphasizes membership and volunteerism, communications, the location and maintenance of our fleet, and of course, instruction.


We are also expanding our programs with other not-for profit institutions around the Chicago area.  While we have for years worked with Lawrence Hall Youth Services and Association House, this year we have begun to provide sailing opportunities for youth involved with the Schuler Scholar program.


Recently we have entered into preliminary discussions with some other not-for-profit sailing organizations in the Chicago area about forming a consortium that would greatly benefit all the organizations involved.  While this is an undertaking that will take several years to complete, it will be another step in the long term evolution of Sail Chicago, as we find additional ways to provide sailing opportunities for people in the Chicago area.  Yes, you can be proud of your membership in this organization!



Are you an online shopper?  Try Amazon Smile.  For every dollar you spend, Amazon will contribute .5% of your eligible purchases to Sail Chicago, and you still have access to everything in your Amazon account.  That makes it easy and simple to both give and receive.  To get started, click here.



From the editor...
Shop Amazon Smile and Donate to Sail Chicago
Dates to Note
Who to Contact
Useful Information
Sail Chicago Board
Sail Chicago Reminders
Credits - Use Them or Lose Them
The Prudent Mariner
To Tow or not to Tow
Calling MCO Ckruisers and Skippers
Rainy, but Successful Picnic
The Wreck of the Silver Spray
Navigating the Sail Chicago Website
Thinking About Chartering a Cruising Boat?
July Board Notes
August 14 - Sail Chicago Board Meeting
September 11 - Sail Chicago Board Meeting
November 22 - End of Season Party
Announcements - Gary Thrane
Bookkeeper - Jay Owens
BTS Editor  - Steve VanderVoort
Chairman - Chris Schuler
Colgate 26 Racing - Bob Cohen 
Instruction  - Michael Swisher
Lead Instructor - Matt Stuczynski
Marketing - Sean Francis
Member Cruise Outings - Mehmet Tasci
Membership - Faith Hillis
Purchasing Agent - Dana Smith
Reservations - Peter Dudak
Safety Director - John Lemon
Share-a-Sail - David Shayne
Social - Pat Webster
Tender & Parking Passes - Bill Prindible
Tiller Time - Anke Heinrich
Treasurer - Steve VanderVoort
Webmaster - Alfred Chan

Maintenance Hotline and 

Accident Reporting

Chris Schuler 
Steve VanderVoort
Vice Chairman
 Rob Wakerly
Fiona Ray 

Alfred Chan

Dan Flavin

Chris Garvey

Bob Lapin

Shawn Lord
Matt Stuczynski
Michael Swisher
Pat Webster


Renew Your Sail Chicago Membership Now  

To renew your Sail Chicago membership online using a credit card, click here.  If you'd prefer to mail in your renewal and pay by check click here to print a paper form.


Fulfill your Annual Service Requirement - Volunteer Opportunities Available

All Sail Chicago members must fulfill an annual service requirement before they can participate in on-the-water activities.  To check out the many volunteer opportunities in Sail Chicago,  click here.

Tiller Time for Member Students
If you're a Sail Chicago member and a current small keelboat student, you may sign up for Tiller Times on any of our small keelboats (Colgates, Rhodes, or Ideals). Watch for Tiller Time openings on the Reservations page of the Sail Chicago website. &nbnbsp;

Join the Share-a-Sail Program 
If you need crew or you want to volunteer as crew, our Share-a-Sail program is for you.  Just go to Google Groups and search for Share-a-Sail and leave your name and email address there. You'll be able to post and receive emails from other Sail Chicago members who would like to get together and go sailing.  Both members and Sail-into-Summer students can participate.

Join or Renew Your US Sailing Membership at a Discount Through MVP
Sail Chicago members can join or renew their US Sailing membership at a $10 discount through the US Sailing Member Value Partner program.

Shop Amazon Smile and Donate to Sail Chicago
When you shop online at Amazon Smile, Sail Chicago will receive a donation of .5% of your eligible purchases.  It's a great way to both give and receive.  To get started, click here.

Missing Previous Issues of Between the Sheets?
You can always find the current issue and an archive of previous issues of Between the Sheets
at the first (and open to the public) page of the Sail Chicago website.



Skippers can accumulate sailing credits for a variety of reasons.  The most common one is cancelling a boat reservation within 48 hours of the reservation period (see the Sail Chicago Handbook for specific rules on member accounts and credits).  While credits function like money in member accounts during the sailing season, there's one big difference:  at the end of the season, all credit balances are WIPED OUT.

Skippers, in order to make sure that all your credits are used by the end of the sailing season, check your member account NOW!  Remember, credits are used before the money in your account, so if you've got credits, reserve a boat and get our on the water sailing before the end of the season.

By John Lemon, Safety Coordinator  


John Lemon 

The Prudent Mariner thinks everyone should be jumping at any opportunity to go sailing, as we enter the last month of meteorological summer.   Enjoy the sunshine and fresh air on the lake while you can. There is plenty of good sailing yet in August and September, as the temperatures ease and the winds begin to pick up.  Study the weather, make sure everyone on your crew understands what their role is and what to expect on your sail, and check your boat thoroughly to document anything that needs attention.


Due to the cold, snowy winter and plentiful rainfall this year, the lake level has rebounded significantly from its historic low levels. The water level has risen two and a half feet since January 2013. This is good news for boaters in general. However, the high water level has submerged a number of previously visible boulders on the breakwater along the outer channel of Monroe Harbor. So be sure to leave at least a good boat length or more between your boat and the visible portion of the breakwater as you head out to the lake. We have already suffered a couple of 'soft' groundings/collisions with submerged rocks along the breakwater, which requires that we remove boats from active service so we can inspect them. There is plenty of room in the channel to sail in and out and carry out necessary tacks and jibes to make a safe passage. 


As you may have seen in the media, one of our boats was knocked down and swamped in a small, very localized storm on July 29.  No one was injured, and the Chicago Police Department Marine Unit was on the scene very quickly to rescue the sailors and right the boat.   This storm was not associated with any cold front or storm system and was thus difficult to anticipate.  In fact, while the CPD reported 40 knot gusts, the Harrison-Dever crib off North Avenue recorded no gust above about 15 knots.  There were generally light winds that day.  Tom Skilling explained the atmospheric setup very well in his blog.    Other Sail Chicago boats on the lake at the same time weathered the storm well.  It's a reminder that despite our best preparation and training, weather events can sometimes get the best of us. You can read the online Chicago Tribune story here.


I came across the following quotation in an online sailing forum I'd like to share. It pretty much sums up the essence of sailing, and life in general:  "Sailing involves the courage to cherish adventure and the wisdom to fear danger. Knowing where one ends, and the other begins, makes all the difference."


By Bob Lapin with input from John Lemon and Ed Schroeder


The Sail Chicago 2013 Handbook makes it clear that "As a general policy, it is NOT a good idea to tow. Towing any boat should be avoided except in an emergency."  Accepting a tow from another boater, no matter how well intentioned, puts us at the mercy of his/her seamanship or lack thereof. We can also be presented with damage claims that are difficult to defend.    


1. A Tow or a Salvage:  Make sure you are being towed and not salvaged. According to an article in Cruising World 3/20/2014, "Typically, a situation is considered a salvage if the boat is being rescued from a fire, collision or hard grounding." The disabled boat has the responsibility to make sure that a tow is being requested and not a request for salvage. If salvage is required, 10 - 20% of the boat's value is typically awarded to the Salvager.  


In an especially dangerous situation, first responders like the Chicago Fire Department, Chicago Police Department and the U. S. Coast Guard will tow the boat. For example, on July 29, our Rhodes 19, Blue Fish, capsized in a storm.  The three crew members were rescued, unharmed, by the Chicago Fire Department and the boat was towed to the Monroe Harbor sea wall by the Chicago Police Department, who were extremely helpful, even fishing a back pack out of the lake and returning it to the sailor.  These professionals will decide the best way to tow the boat. When a tow is being offered by a friendly mariner, make sure you are requesting a tow and rig the boat for towing appropriately.Remember, any time your boat is towed, you MUST report it to the Safety Director as an incident on a Sail Chicago Incident/Accident Report.


2. Keel-Stepped Masts:  For towing a boat where the mast is stepped to the keel like our Rhodes 19s and Ideal 18s, use a sturdy line tied securely around the mast with a bowline and led through a bow chock or cleat.  Keep crew off the foredeck because a breaking line can snap back with tremendous force. Before the tow begins, arrange a means of communication with the tow boat by radio or hand signals.


3. Deck-Stepped Masts:  For boats with masts stepped to the deck, like our Colgate 26s and Hunter 34, do not tow by the mast as the force of the pull could dislodge the mast.  Instead form a bridle beginning at a cabin top mounted winch, cleating it to a bow cleat, looping it outside the bow pulpit, continuing by cleating the bridle to the other bow cleat and finally attaching the line to the winch on the opposite side. Attach the tow line to this bridle with a bowline.  Again keep crew off the foredeck in case the line breaks and establish a means of communication before the tow begins.


4. Towing fees: Sail Chicago will pick up any charges for an emergency tow; fees incurred for a non-emergency tow are the responsibility of the skipper. A Boat US towing policy exists for our Hunter 34. Contact information for Boat US is in the navigation table in the cabin of the Hunter. Finally, remember that any tow is classified as an, "Incident". Complete the Incident Report and send it to Sail Chicago's Safety Officer, John Lemon.



By Mehmet Tasci, Member Cruise Outing Coordinator  


Colgage Sailing
An MCO Cruise

Member Cruise Outings (MCOs) are informal pleasure sails for all Sail Chicago members and their guests. It is an opportunity for you to get on the water without the responsibility for skippering a boat. It is free for Sail Chicago Members and $20 for each guest. To reserve a seat, check Reservations/Seat Availability on your website. 


Becoming a MCO skipper is a great opportunity to meet other sailors. As a MCO skipper, you have the option to bring a first mate of your choice on board. You can fulfill your annual service requirement by becoming a MCO skipper 5 times in a season. If you have fulfilled your service requirement for this year, you can work towards meeting the requirement next year by becoming a MCO skipper this year. To find out more, please contact me

Damp but enthusiastic picnickers

By Pat Webster 


In spite of a prediction of isolated showers, seventy-six Sail Chicago members, students and guests came out to Belmont Harbor for an afternoon of picnicking and sailing on Sunday August 3rd.  Unfortunately, the showers seemed to be isolated right over Belmont for most of the afternoon and that limited sailing opportunities.  But food was plentiful and spirits remained high; picnic-goers lingered, hoping the weather would break.  Eric Le Pac and Ken Tentler continued to grill, and some of our die-hards, Maureen Huston and Jim Monk, continued to take people out on Naked Dance and Priorities.  For those who did sail, often coming back drenched, there were no complaints, but smiles all around. Many thanks to all of those who volunteered to skipper and crew, make food, transport grills, coolers, tables, etc., and set up and clean up. Sail Chicago is a volunteer-based organization and without those willing to volunteer their time, energy, and talents, events like this would not be possible.

By John Lemon, Safety Director 


If you've ever wondered about the story behind the big rusty chunk of metal along the shoreline near 48th Street, here it is:  it's the remains of the wreck of a passenger steamer, the Silver Spray, that ran aground in 1914.  The Silver Spray met its demise on Morgan Shoal, where many other boats have found the bottom by accident.  Here is a link to the full account. 


It reminds us that Chicago has a rich maritime history. It also reminds us as Sail Chicago members to stay well to the east of the Morgan Shoal when we're sailing south of McCormick Place.  The shoal is marked with a red buoy R"2". You can see the location of the wreck, shoal, and buoy on Page 10, lower left hand corner, of the NOAA Booklet Chart of the Chicago Shoreline, available free online. Skippers are responsible for being aware of the location of underwater hazards and must plan their sails accordingly.  Here is a link to the full account. 


Rhodes 19
The Rhodes was the Sail Chicago workhorse in 2003.
Are you nostalgic for the "good old days" in Sail Chicago, when a skipper could take out a boat for private use for $5 per period and sailing classes were $50.  Unfortunately, we can't teleport you back there, but we can give you a feel for what it was like.  Tom Ellett, a Sail Chicago member, has forwarded us an article from the May 16, 2003 Chicago Tribune that prominently features Sail Chicago as a great organization in which to learn to sail on Lake Michigan.  While costs today may be a little different than in 2003, we've still got the same high-quality instruction programs, and the same enthusiastic membership. Some things never change, thank goodness.

Are you interested in changing your password, updating your personal informatiobn, adding funds to your Sail Chicago account, or viewing your account activity?  Just click on your e-mail address located on the upper-right-hand side of your landing page.  It's that simple!

Are you thinking about chartering a cruising boat this winter to take you to exotic places in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, or the South Pacific?  If so, US Sailing has a list of "Dos and Don'ts" that you may find helpful in the planning process.  To find out what they are, click here.  



By Fiona Ray, Secretary 


Sail Chicago's Board of Directors held their monthly meeting on July 10th, 2014. The Board discussed the following:

  • Reviewed financial status through June 2014, noting that we are in a solid financial situation and that the membership goal has been exceeded (with approximately 260 current members) The board approved a motion to repay a $15,000 loan; and an additional $10,000 had been placed in an interest bearing savings account.   
  • The Board welcomed Shawn Lord as a Director. Shawn recently accepted his nomination to the open Board of Directors (2-year) position.
  • The Board is looking for a volunteer with web design and administrative experience to serve as a web master assistant to Alfred Chan. If interested, please contact any board member or refer to the job listings on the Sail Chicago member website.

A sub-committee of the Instruction Program has been formed to develop a recommendation on how Sail Chicago can offer US Sailing Basic Keelboat certification to students.  


Chicago Skyline
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