BTS: April 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 #4
April, 2014

By Steve VanderVoort


Steve VanderVoort

Sail Chicago is an not-for-profit all-volunteer community sailing organization. Specifically, what does this mean?


Not-for-Profit: Sail Chicago is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a Section 501(c)(3) organization.  As such, the money that we take in from our members and students is used entirely for their benefit, to maintain our fleet and to enhance their experience of sailing.  It also means that any contributions made to Sail Chicago, either in the form of money or materials, is tax-deductible by the contributor.


All-Volunteer: Sail Chicago depends almost entirely upon our member-volunteers to do the heavy-lifting to help us maintain our fleet, staff our instruction programs, and provide the numerous administrative services that help the organization to run smoothly.  All of our member-volunteers are expected to put in some "service time" in order to participate in on-the-water activities.  This not only helps us to keep costs down, it also is a significant aid in building a real sense of community among everyone involved.  See a list of volunteer activates in which you can participate.  This brings us to the third point.


Community Sailing Program: The emphasis here is on "community." Almost everything that we do in Sail Chicago helps to build a real sense of community among the people involved in the program.  We are not just about taking boats out for a sail, but we work together to build a real enthusiasm for sailing not only among our members, but throughout the entire Chicago community. We also try to "give back" to the community through our work with other charitable organizations like Urban Youth and Lawrence Hall Youth Services


If you're reading this newsletter for the first time, you'll probably notice that our volunteer members start to get really active at this time of year.  We all want to make this the best sailing season ever, and we're committed  to helping everyone in the Chicago area experience the fun and enjoyment of sailing.  


We hope you will join us in many of our activities.  Check out our instruction program offerings on our Sail Chicago website.  Just click on "Learn" to see how you can become involved.  If you're interested in taking a class, please register soon.  Classes are filling up quickly. Last year classes sold out.




US Sailing Logo (new) As the national governing body for the sport of sailing, US Sailing works to achieve its mission through a wide range of programs and services geared towards promoting participation in sailing. Although much of what US Sailing does is behind the scenes, US Sailing provides invaluable support to Sail Chicago volunteers through resources and education.


Your membership in US Sailing has several individual benefits as well. You'll receive a free copy of Racing Rules of Sailing, gain access to Gowrie Insurance programs, and may be eligible to enroll in group health insurance. In addition, you'll have access to discounts and coupons for a variety of products and services (e.g., Sperry Topsider, Hilton, West Marine, and Brooks Brothers, just to name a few!) 


Your membership in US Sailing helps support Sail Chicago and sailing programs and volunteers across the country.  Please join or renew your membership in US Sailing through the Sail Chicago/US Sailing Member Value Partnership,   


HMS Bounty
From the editor...
Get $10 Discount on US Sailing Membrship
Dates to Note
Who to Contact
Sail Chicago Board
"Kick off the Season" Event May 17
Sail Chicago's New Website
Instruction Update
The Prudent Mariiner
Join Share-a-Sail
Weather Seminar
The Prudent Sailor
New Colgate Ready to Sail
Sail Chicago Board Notes
Know Your Board Members: Bob Lapin
In Memorium - Hobie Alter
Sail Chicago Reminders
April 10 - Sail Chicago Board Meeting
April 26 - Move Rhodes and Ideals to Montrose Harbor
May 3 - Move Colgates, Rhodes, and Ideals to Monroe Harbor.  Move cruising boat to Belmont Harbor.
May 8 - Sail Chicago Board Meeting
May 17 - "Kick off the Season" Event
Announcements - Gary Thrane
Bookkeeper - Jay Owens
BTS Editor  - Steve VanderVoort
Chairman - Chris Schuler
Colgate 26 Racing - Bob Cohen 
Cruising Program - Nick Petrovits
Instruction  - Michael Swisher
Lead Instructor - Matt Stuczynski
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 Prindle
Tiller Time - Anke Heinrich
Treasurer - Steve VanderVoort
Webmaster - Alfred Chan

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Maintenance Hotline and 

Accident Reporting




Chris Schuler 
Steve VanderVoort
Vice Chairman
 Rob Wakerly
Fiona Ray 

Alfred Chan

Dan Flavin

Chris Garvey

Bob Lapin

Matt Stuczynski
Michael Swisher
Pat Webster
By Pat Webster, Social Director
Pat Webster


Join us at the Weather Mark Tavern* for our FIRST social event of the season on Saturday, May 17th at 7:00 PM.  The Weather Mark is a nautical themed bar and restaurant and just an all-around great atmosphere to connect with old friends and make new ones. Sail Chicago will provide one drink and limited appetizers for members and students currently registered for a class. Guests are welcome to join us at $7/person, pay at the door.


Weather Mark Tavern

The Weather Mark also serves a nice dinner, with some discounted food and drink specials, so plan to stay to

 continue talking sailing, after you've enjoyed an appetizer or two.


If you plan to come, please register by May 15th so that we can be sure to provide enough food.  Also, if you're interested in helping out at the event, please contact Pat Webster. Your help is welcome, and it's a great way to meet people and get involved.


*The Weather Mark is located at 1503 S. Michigan Ave, Chicago. Street (Pay at the Box) parking is available. There are also pay lots nearby.



Changes continue to be made on our new Sail Chicago website. In addition to improved functionality, the site is much easier to navigate.  Current members can now access their individual member pages directly from the public website by clicking on located on the lower left side of the Sail Chicago screen.  


From there, you can log in. Under "Membership," you can find the current member directory, a calendar of activities, files, and a list of available volunteer jobs and activities.  Soon you'll be able to add funds directly to your member account, and qualified skippers will be able to sign up for private boat use.  Keep checking back to the website to see the many new features.

Michael Swisher
Michael Swisher

By Michael Swisher, Instruction Coordinator


We opened registration for the instruction program March 4 and have had a very strong response.  In just one month, we have sold out 19 courses, and almost half of all the seats we are offering.  Most popular are Intermediate and Skipper courses, and we're working to add more of both.  Session I begins May 10th, and then we're full speed ahead.


If you're a Colgate Skipper, we are offering free Rhodes and Ideal orientation check-outs so that you can sail our other exciting types of boats.  The Rhodes 19 has been a Sail Chicago staple for years, and is still the preferred boat by many members.  The Ideal 18 is perfect for two or three and is great in light air.  One orientation sail should get you checked out on the boat of your choice. If one try isn't enough, then try again, no cost.  There will be more in the next Between the Sheets about how to sign up.


If you've wondered about flying a spinnaker, we're offering two spinnaker courses on the Rhodes, one in mid-June and the other in mid-July.  They include three on-the-water classes for $100. There are only three students per course, so hurry to get your spot.  Prerequisite: completed an Intermediate course or more.


We're also offering Single-Handing courses on the Ideals.  Learn to sail on your own in two classes for just $100, limited to three students per course.  You must be an Ideal Skipper for this one.

Finally we have Cruising courses on our Hunter 34 in Belmont Harbor. Dream of far-off destinations? Take the first step to making that dream a reality.


Courses are filling up quickly, and we expect another sold-out season.  Tell your friends not to wait, the time for sailing plans is now.  To register for a class, click on "Learn" at the Sail Chicago web site.


John Lemon

By John Lemon, Safety Director


As we prepare for another season on the sometimes busy nearshore waters of Lake Michigan, it's a good time to review what boaters call the "rules of the road".  We usually reduce them to a handful of rules that govern crossing and overtaking situations we frequently encounter.  However, those rules are a small part of a comprehensive set of US Coast Guard regulations that were first formalized in the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972, and are commonly called 72 COLREGS.  You will also see them referred to as "Navigation Rules, International - Inland".  The inland rules apply to the Great Lakes and major rivers in the US.


The Rules are available online here.  All skippers are responsible for knowing, in general, the Rules as they apply to your situation.  Each section contains alternate paragraphs of the international and inland rules, so be sure you are checking the applicable inland rule.  We encourage all sailors to review the Rules . It's a good pre-season exercise.


It's impossible to summarize the Rules in this short article.  There are a few key rules that create the framework for all vessel interactions.  Rule 1 states that the Rules apply to every vessel, always, everywhere the rules are in effect.  Rule 2 holds every skipper responsible for following the rules--no exceptions.  Rule 5 requires every vessel to maintain a look-out at all times. Rule 6 requires you to proceed at a safe speed such that you can avoid collision and stop in an appropriate distance.  Rule 7 says that if you think there is a risk of collision, then there is a risk, and you have to act accordingly. Rule 8 requires you to act in ample time to avoid collision in a way that is apparent to other vessels and is safe.


The Rules do not quantify these concepts--what is a safe speed, when to act to avoid collision, etc.  It is up to the individual mariner to determine a safe speed, given the vessel, visibility, traffic, and crew, for example.  And Rule 2 means there are no excuses, period.  Understanding and applying the Rules are an essential part of developing good seamanship.


David Shayne
By David Shayne, Share-a-Sail Coordinator

Think Spring!  You want to sail and SailChicago has boats, but you lack crew or a skipper. It's not too early to join our Share-a-Sail program and you'll be set.  Once the boats are launched, you'll be able to broadcast your availability and other members can respond, eager to share the fun and the cost.  Just go to Google Groups and search for Share-a-Sail.  Leave your full name (so we can check that you are eligible) and email address. You will be accepted and can then post and receive emails from other Share-a-Sail members who would like to sail with you.  Current members of SailChicago and Sail-into-Summer students can participate.  Questions?  Email David Shayne.



Wednesday evening, March 19 saw approximately 35 Sail Chicago members and friends gathered in the REI Lincoln Park community room to hear sailing instructor John Lemon discuss how we, as sailors, can better prepare ourselves for changing weather conditions on Lake Michigan.  A self-proclaimed "weather geek," John did an outstanding job at sharing his knowledge with us and helping us understand how to "read the weather."

John Lemon instructs at Weather Seminar

Beginning with an introduction to meteorological concepts and terminology, he briefly discussed global weather patterns, showing us how to read weather maps.  Of most interest to those present was the discussion of general Chicago weather patterns, and more specifically, how we can do a better job at predicting the local weather for a sail.  He stressed the importance of checking weather advisories prior to sailing, and monitoring the weather during sailing, watching especially for any sudden changes in wind speed or direction, cloud formation, lightning or thunder.  A weather radio or VHF is also an excellent monitoring device. If caught out on the lake in deteriorating weather conditions, John advised that it may be safer to ride out the storm or head to a harbor away from the storm rather than attempt to return to your mooring.

As a final tool for helping us to monitor weather information, John passed out a list of sites on the Internet that he has found to be very helpful.  To view the list, click here.


An excellent book on weather information you can carry in your sail bag is Captain's Quick Guide: On-Board Weather Forecasting, available through Amazon or West Marine.  Two other valuable books, available for a free download, are Mariner's Weather Handbook and Surviving the Storm, by Steve & Linda Dashew


By John Lemon, Safety Director

John Lemon


On a recent cruise in the South Pacific, my sailing friend Baxter Smith posted a great dispatch.  As we noted during the discussion at the recent Coastal Navigation seminar, islanders have been navigating the South Seas for centuries using the stars and local knowledge which they used to construct the nautical chart you see in the accompanying photo.

Pacific Island Chart
Pacific island chart
Baxter writes, "This one is from Melanesia's Marshall Islands and is in the Jean-Marie Tjibaou cultural center on New Caledonia.  For hundreds of years before European arrival, Melanesians and Polynesians used charts like this to navigate the Pacific's vastness.  The shells indicate islands and the direction of the sticks indicate the predominant direction of ocean swells.  Ancient Pacific islanders relied on the direction of the ocean swells, the sun, stars, and pelagic birds and fish as navigation tools."

Baxter recommends reading The Last Navigator by Stephen Thomas, which documents the efforts of tribal elders such as Mau Piailug to pass along these navigation skills to young islanders.  Piailug navigated a Polynesian vessel from Hawaii to Tahiti without compass or charts, as documented by a PBS film of the voyage.


Wind Horse


On Saturday, March 15, Sail Chicago member Peter Dudak drove to Madison, Wisconsin, to transport our latest Colgate 26 acquisition to Chicago.  Luckily, it was a clear day, and most of the winter snow had melted, making the long haul back to Chicago much easier than it would have been a week earlier.  "The boat is in great condition," Peter said, "and it should be in the water with the rest of our fleet early in May by the time our on-the-water instruction programs begin."  He also points out an interesting note: On the sides of the boat near the stern are some Tibetan characters that spell in Tibetan "Lung Ta" which means "wind horse," a representation of the human soul in the shamanistic tradition of East and Central Asia.


We're grateful that Peter volunteered to take a day out of his busy schedule to transport Wind Horse to Chicago, where she will be corralled with she rest of our fleet in the Canal Street Boatyard until the spring launch.




Sail Chicago's Board of Directors held their monthly meeting on March 13th, 2014.   The Board discussed the following:

  • Welcomed new Board members Bob Lapin, Michael Swisher, and Matt Stuczyniski,
  • Held Officer elections, with the following directors nominated and re-elected to their current positions:       
    • Chair: Chris Schuler
    • Vice Chair:  Rob Wakerly
    • Treasurer:  Steve VanderVoort
    • Secretary: Fiona Ray
  • Discussed the on-going US Sail certification process for Sail Chicago.  US Sail is compiling data and will organize a site visit soon.  As an official US Sail member organization, Sail Chicago will enjoy increased exposure, discounts on insurance rates, and other benefits.   
  • Reviewed the long-term strategic planning vision prepared by the strategic planning committee. The organization's vision is to focus on the existing Sail Chicago mission and encourage membership involvement and participation.  Further planning is on-going to include the vision for the instructional program.    

Discussed 2014 Instruction registration to date, noting that 49 students have already signed up and paid for May and June courses.  




Sail Chicago has three new Board members, Bob Lapin, Matt Stuczynski, and Michael Swisher. Over

Bob Lapin

the next few months, we'd like to tell you a bit about each of them. Let's begin with Bob Lapin:


Tell us a little about your sailing experience, both in and out of Sail Chicago.


Sail Chicago (AYH) taught my wife and me to sail, and we bought and sailed a Catalina 22 from 1976-1980.  I left Chicago in 1980 and returned in 1996.  I joined Sail Chicago in the late 90's where I began to sail and race the Shields.  I started instructing in the early 2000's and became a U.S. Sailing Keelboat Instructor in June of 2005.  I've been an instructor ever since, and I love it.  I'm qualified on our cruising boat.  I also coached in the Colgate racing program during the summer of 2013.


Why did you decide to join the Board?


Sail Chicago is a wonderful organization that has been a significant part of my Chicago life.  I like the new directions that it's taking, and now that I am retired from full-time employment I would like to help the program that has been so important to me.


What's your vision for the future of Sail Chicago?


I am very impressed with Sail Chicago's revised direction, and I would like to see more of the same.  Let our members' interests drive future directions.  If they like the Colgate, get more Colgates.  If they like cruising, get a modern cruiser.  If programs are of limited interest to our members, try first to market them and if still unsuccessful (financially) jettison the program.  Instruction is the core of what we do and needs to remain so.


What do you do when you're not sailing?


My professional life began as a bench microbiologist; then, transitioned into quality control and quality management consulting where I focused on teamwork, process improvement and strategic planning.  In 2013, I retired after 9 years as a Chicago Public School science teacher.  I am currently teaching a Biology course at Wright College and a "Methods in Science Education" course at Valparaiso University. My hobbies include tennis in the winter and sailing in the summer.  I love to introduce Sail Chicago students to the joy of sailing.


Hobie Cat under sail

If you've ever sailed a Hobie Cat, you've probably experienced the thrill of a lifetime.  "Hobie" Alter, the inventor of this cross between a sailboat and a flying machine, passed away on March 29.  Those of us who've sailed this marvelous contraption are forever grateful to him.  Sail Chicago member John Lemon has passed along an article from Sail magazine detailing the life of this exceptional sailor.  To read it, click here.


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

All Sail Chicago members must fulfill an annual service requirement before they can participate in on-the-water activities.  to check out the many ways you can fulfill your requirement, click here.



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