BTS: August 2012

Between the Sheets: News from Sail Chicago for August
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 Sail Chicago is a not-for-profit community sailing program that has for over
fifty years been offering affordable sailing and water safety instruction,
and recreational sailing opportunities to people in the Chicago area.
Issue #8August, 2012 
Steve VanderVoort

By Steve VanderVoort, BTS Editor


While the July heat seemed oppressive to many in the Chicago area, students and members of the Sail Chicago community often had a much different experience out on Lake Michigan.  The air seemed to be 10-15 F cooler once a boat got out of the harbor, and  available wind  seemed far greater this year than during July last year.  In spite of a few outsized thunderstorms which occasionally swept through the city, and, fortunately, in which no Sail Chicago boats were involved, July proved to be a great sailing month.


And our many sailing programs have become increasingly popular.  Our Basic Sailing Instruction course continues to lead the way in our instruction program curriculum, far exceeding our expectations.  Both Tiller Times and Member Cruise outings continue to be popular among our members and guests, their popularity being limited only by the number of skippers who are available.  And as more people discover that racing really can be "fun," our Sunday morning Fun Racing program is gaining steadily in popularity.   Utilization of our cruising boat, Priorities, is up considerably this year over last year.  Our outreach to Lawrence Hall Social Services for endangered youth  continues apace.


In order to relieve the pressure on our Colgates, by far the most popular boats in our fleet, we just purchased another Colgate (see article below).  As soon as it can be prepared for sailing, it will be in the water on a mooring, most likely in Monroe Harbor.


But there's still a lot of work to do.  Sail Chicago is initiating a new an exciting boat management program that promises to keep our fleet in tip-top shape all year long.  For more information and to sign up, please see the article below. 


The Board's Strategic Planning Committee will also be meeting soon to formulate plans for the next year and years following regarding how we, as a not-for-profit community sailing program, can continue to grow and better serve the people in the greater Chicago area.  Being an all-volunteer organization, our plans and dreams are limited only by the energy and enthusiasm of our members.  Fortunately, thus far our member volunteers have stepped up nicely to help make this a very successful summer for Sail Chicago. 



BooksA vital part of Sail Chicago's mission is to educate people in the greater Chicago community regarding sailing skills and boating safety.  To help fulfill that mission, Sail Chicago is planning a series of educational seminars this fall and winter on a variety of topics related to sailing.  We are already planning seminars on "Weather for Sailors" and "Coastal Navigation."


If you have a sailing topic on which you would like more information, or if you are aware of someone who has a particular expertise in a subject related to sailing or boating safety, please let us know.  It will help us in our planning efforts.   

Sailing Education Seminars Planned
Public Charity Status Helps Sail Chicago
New Boat Management Program Initiated
Another Colgate Added to Our Fleet
Safe Boating Reminders from SMP
Lessons Learned on Port-to-Port
Instruction Enters Home Stretch
Fun Racing Continues Sunday Mornings
2012 Olympics Brings Sailing to You
The Soul of an Instructor
Sail Chicago Reminders

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Maintenance Hotline

312-409-9000 or


Chairman - Joe Kucharski
Announcements - Ann Weaver
Bookkeeper - Mark Fechner
BTS Editor  - Steve VanderVoort
Cruising Program - Ilya Letuchy
Fun Racing -Dolores Baron
Human Resources - Frank Loftus
Lead Instructor - John Lemon
Maintenance (Summer) - Alfred Chan & Iwona Awlasewicz
Maintenance (Winter) - Joe Kucharski
Marketing - Mike Parapetti
Member Cruise Outings - Emily Case
Pre-Sail Orientation - Dan Flavin
Safety - Ed Schroeder
Social - Pat Webster
Tiller Time -Chris Garvey
Treasurer - Jay Owens
Website - Ben Farmer

IRS Logo  Now that the Internal Revenue Service has granted Sail Chicago "Public Charity" status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, many new advantages open up for us as a community sailing program.  Several of our vendors offer significant discounts to public charities, thereby saving us considerable amounts of money.  We are also in the process of applying to State of Illinois for a state sales tax exemption.


One of the most attractive advantages is that members and others who contribute money or other assets to Sail Chicago may now take a tax deduction for their contributions,  AND... many employers will match the contributions made by their employees, thereby virtually doubling the amount contributed.


One of our members recently discovered that his employer will contribute an amount based upon the number of hours that the employee contributes to a public charity.  He applied to his employer for a contribution based upon the time he has donated to Sail Chicago, and his employer is sending us a check for over $500.  PLEASE contact your employers to see if they offer matching gift programs for public charities in which their employees are active!  If your employer tells you they need the Sail Chicago tax identification number (TIN), please contact our Treasurer, Jay Owens, for that information.


By Joe Kucharski, Chairman
Joe Kucharski


Sail Chicago is initiating a new boat management and maintenance program.  This system will integrate our current Boat Managers into a comprehensive boat management system and provide continuity of service through a team approach.  Each boat will have an assigned team team deal with all aspects of boat maintenance and boat repairs.  Members of each team will work together to ensure that the boat is in top shape not just during the sailing season, but throughout the year.

Under this new system Boat Managers are the true keepers of each vessel, and they provide leadership in the long term care of the vessel they manage. Boat Managers will have an Assistant Manager who even as a second in command, as well as being a potential successor to the current Boat Manager. The Assistant Manager is appointed by the Boat Manager.  These positions need to maintain a close working relationship.  Members of Sail Chicago will be able to sign up to be part of the team on a specific boat for a 12 month period.

Members need to sign up for a specific position such as sails, rigging, miscellaneous gear etc.  Prior knowledge for the position is not required but preference given to those who possess skills in these areas.  Since this is based on a team approach, all Members are expected to help with a variety of maintenance issues with their assigned boat.  Thus, even if you sign up for the rigging position, you may be called upon to assist in a sail issue or general maintenance of the boat.  The bottom line is the team will act as the owners of the boat.

Boats in each class will be maintained to the same standard so that supplies can be standardized, with cross training and shared knowledge within each class.  From time to time, the team from one boat may be able to assist the team of another boat accomplish a specific task where more effort may be required or a specialized skill is needed.

The commissioning and de-commissioning of boats will be conducted by each team for each boat.  Each team will be required to have an active part in these functions and be responsible for their boat. Securing the boats for the winter will also be the function of the team as well as all initial checks at launch.

This approach provides greater opportunities to learn additional skills and better support since the team is familiar with the boat and can take ownership in keeping their boat in top condition.  Another benefit for the team will be that the Boat Manager will direct maintenance sails, and participation in these sails will rotate through the team.


Watch for a sign up announcement in the next two weeks and be the first to sign up for the job and boat you wish to be part of. We are starting this program with our Colgates.  Signing up now will allow you to fulfill your service requirement for the following sailing season.  Again, this is a 12 month commitment and will complete your service time and summer maintenance requirement. 


If you have questions about this program please direct them to



In accordance with a resolution passed by the Board at its June meeting, another Colgate 26 has been added to the Sail Chicago fleet.  This brings to four, the total number of Colgates added in the past two years and is consistent with our long term  strategic plan for fleet renewal.  Our Colgates have quickly become by far the most popular boat in our fleet.

No Name Colgate
"No Name"


The reason for this latest purchase is that, since all Basic Sailing classes are being taught on Colgates, and those classes have proven to be extremely popular this year, there was little time available on the Colgates for other program activities.  This purchase will allow us more flexibility to satisfy our alternative programming needs.


Our current addition comes with no name attached, so that's what we'll call it for time being.  "No Name" was purchased from a private owner in Cape May, NJ, who used it primarily for racing.  Its overall operation and handling are consistent with our other Colgates.  Watch for future announcement about where the boat will be moored and how to access it.



By Alfred Chan, Summer Maintenance Coordinator


Here are some reminders that will help you to have a fun and safe boating experience during the remainder of our sailing season: 

  • Report major maintenance issues to the Summer Maintenance Program (SMP) and the relevant Boat Manager.  We make it easy:  via email at (send along a few photos of the issue if you have a smart phone handy), boat status page, or maintenance hotline at 312-409-9000 ext 2.  If the issue isn't noted on the boat status page, we may not know about it.
  • If you report a minor maintenance issue via the checkout sheets, be sure to clearly print your name so we can determine who to contact for clarification/follow-up of any issues you find.
  • If you use any spare parts, bandages, or batteries, note it in the checkout sheet so we know what to replace.
  • Be careful not to twist/rotate the boom.  This puts strain on the gooseneck.  We've had to replace several of them on different boats.  The gooseneck only pivots up and down and sideways, but doesn't twist/rotate.
  • Never approach a mooring going downwind.  You can't stop the boat, and this puts unnecessary strain on crew, railings, cleats, chafing gear, mast buoys, etc.
  • On boats with jib furlers, keep just a little bit of tension on the jib sheets as you furl to prevent loose wraps from fouling the drum.
  • On the Colgates, the gauge on the external gas tank gets stuck and is thus inaccurate.


By Michael Swisher
Michael Swisher
Mike Swisher


We recently completed our first Port-to-Port cruise of the season.  We lived to tell about it, and we're even still talking to each other.  In fact, after a very long day it appeared that everyone had a great time.  Six people confined on a boat for almost 14 hours is no easy feat, but our crew and passengers came through it with flying colors.


Six hearty souls, Alena Gordinskaya, Iwona Awlasewicz, Dan Flavin, Robert Wakerly, Chris Schuler and myself left Belmont Harbor aboard Priorities, our Hunter 34 at 7:30 am, with enough food and drinks (non-alcoholic) to satisfy 15.  We had a Westerly 10 knot wind that propelled us to Waukegan in 6 hours 21 minutes with relatively little engine use (avg speed 4.73 knots).  Conversations on the boat included all things sailing, navigation toys and methods, and lots of other fun topics.  We got to know each other pretty well.

2012 Port-to-Port
Port-to-Port Crew


Activities at Waukegan Harbor are sparse at best.  For eats there's a hot dog stand, deli and ice cream parlor, all with only outside seating.  We were yearning for some AC, but that wasn't in the cards.  There is a park for cooking out and games, but when you've been sitting in 90 degrees plus for a long time, outside activities aren't desirable.  We still spent a relaxed two hours there eating and talking. 


The sail back to Belmont was a little longer, just over 7 hours, due to a pretty strong headwind.  We were under wind power for about half the trip, but tacking on the final leg would have added at least 1.5 hours to an already seven hour trip.  We decided to drop sails and steam the last 16 or so miles, making the total trip from Waukegan just over 34 nm (tacking would have made it 45 nm). We were a little more sedate on the trip home, arriving about 10:30 pm.  Tidying up the boat got us out of the harbor on time around 11:00 pm.

Many thanks go to the crew for a great sail.  Next time I'd like to plan an all-nighter across the lake, making each day (or more) a lot easier, with more sailing too.  Next stop for me (when you're reading this) is nighttime sailing in the Virgin Islands.  I'll be thinking of you.


For more photos of the Port-to-Port cruise, click here.



By John Lemon, Lead Instructor 

John Lemon


We are heading into the final month of our sailing instruction season.  It has been a record-breaking summer for Sail Chicago with well more than double the number of new sailors compared to the 2011 season.  Experienced sailors continue to become members even this late in the season, due to our excellent educational program and the many options we offer for both organized group sails and individual usage.  We have signed up more new members than 2011 while at the same time enrolling over 90 new sailors in our Sail into Summer program.
Our volunteer instructors have been hard at work training more advanced sailors as well.  As of the end of July, we have almost twenty new Rhodes/Ideal skippers, twenty new Colgate skippers, and almost twenty-five new skippers on our cruising boat, Priorities.  You have likely seen some of them taking the helm on their first sail as skipper.  Congratulations to all of you.  And a hearty thanks to our dedicated volunteer instructors who do this purely for the joy of teaching others to sail.


Dolores Baron
Dolores Baron
By Dolores Baron, Fun Racing Coordinator

More and more members of Sail Chicago have taken advantage of the new Fun Racing program.  We continue to sail out of Monroe Harbor every Sunday morning in August. With several small races, everyone had a chance to skipper at least once. 

Fun Racing
Rounding the mark at Fun Racing


Remember, Fun Racing is a free activity included in your Sail Chicago member benefits.  It helps newer members refine their sailing skills and gives experienced skippers a chance to have fun and impart their knowledge to newer sailors.  It's a great way to meet other members as well. 

Each Sunday before the race, we'll have a brief review of racing rules (room at the mark, timed start, right of way, etc).  Then we'll rig the boats, set the marks, and start racing!  An experienced skipper will be assigned to each boat, and the crew will be varied. We meet at Monroe Harbor  8:00-8:15 at the tender dock on Monroe Street and finish around noon.  We need to leave the boats not later than 12:30 pm.  To register, sign up on-line at the Sail Chicago website.  Sign on with your password, click on "Reserve Program Seats," choose "Fun Racing," click on "Find Seats," pick a date, pick a boat, reserve a seat.   For more information please e-mail me.  



Olympics Logo 2012 Although the Olympic sailing competition began July 29, there's still a lot of action left for you to watch on television.  If you do, you'll be witnessing some of the best competitive sailing in the world.  Sailing events continue through mid-August, and NBC will be broadcasting them live.  To find out when, you can go to the NBC Olympics website.  For the latest news and other stories on how the competition is going, visit the Official Olympics website.  And for other information and stories on theU.S. Sailing Team, you can also visit their website.  We're hoping for a U.S. victory at the 2012 London Olympics!



Michael Swisher has been an active member of Sail Chicago since 1995.  He's contributed immensely to Sail Chicago's success over the years, often in unnoticed but important ways.  Here he reflects on his sailing history, Sail Chicago, his current role as instructor, and life in general.


Instruction (1)
Michael Swisher (rear) instructing on a Colgate

I was first taken sailing in 1980 on a Hobie Cat in the Florida intercostals and immediately fell in love with the sport.  I found I could make boats go, but didn't really understand why.  Marty (my wife) and I moved to Chicago, were I was introduced to Sail Chicago by friends Bruce and Ruth Woll.  I found that Sail Chicago was a perfect vehicle for my sailing bug.  I got my Skipper card in 1997.   Until last year I spent most of my time repairing the Rhodes and the other pocket cruisers (Melody, Little Isis, ER), heading the fiberglass team for a number of years.  This was rewarding but frustrating, as I seemed to spend more time in the shop than on the water.

At the same time, my interest in sailing was growing.  I made a couple trips to the Caribbean and the Virgin Islands to learn to sail cruising catamarans, and I acquired a number of certifications.  Suddenly, I was interested in becoming an instructor.  As we upgraded our fleet with the Ideals and Colgates, less maintenance was required, giving me the perfect opportunity to begin teaching with Sail Chicago. 


What a wonderful experience it is to teach someone else to how to do what you truly love.  There is (almost) nothing better than being on the water, cruising along just letting the wind push you.  I don't even feel the need to be on the tiller; just being there with others who have the same joy is plenty for me.  You won't find better people than those in Sail Chicago.

Teaching on a Colgate enhances my experience as an instructor.  Colgates are perfectly set up for beginners to learn, and they're very stable even in high winds.  They have an outboard motor, which makes it easy to get on and off the mooring in light or heavy winds.   Thus, we can spend more time sailing.  They also have a large cockpit, comfortable for up to six people.  Once students have

experienced the Colgate, they can move on to the smaller Rhodes and Ideals to learn the finer points of sailing and boat handling.

I strongly encourage everyone who's a skipper to sign up for tiller times and to become a Sail Chicago instructor.  Take your friends out when you get the chance. Teach them what you're doing.  There's no better way to learn than to explain it to someone else.  I learn something in every class.  And I'm just so happy to be able to go along for the ride! 




Check Your Boat Status and Report Problems

Before your sail, be sure to check the Boat Statuses page of the Sail Chicago website to learn whether your boat might have been taken out of service.  Also, if you find a problem with your boat, please report it immediately after your sail to Summer Maintenance.  If you have a camera or smart phone, please snap a couple of pictures of the problem and send them along.  


Register Now for Summer Maintenance

If you haven't registered for your week of SMP, DO IT NOW!  SMP is required of all current Sail Chicago members prior to participation in any on-the-water activities.  For more information, see the article on SMP in the May issue of "Between the Sheets."


Fun Racing Continues Sunday Mornings

Build your sailing skills with a little fun competition on Sunday mornings at Monroe Harbor.  For more information, see the article on Fun Racing in the May issue of "Between the Sheets."  If it's your first time at Fun Racing, please e-mail the Fun Racing Coordinator when you sign up.  


Use the Tender Service at Monroe Harbor

Sail Chicago provides enough tender passes for the capacity of every boat in the Monroe Harbor fleet.  Skippers sailing a specific boat should request the packet of tender passes by boat name at the Tender Service Office.  Prior to departure, check the "Boat Statuses" page of the Sail Chicago website for any irregularities.  To report irregularities, contact theMPP CoordinatorFor more information on the use of the Tender Service, see the article in the May issue of "Between the Sheets." 


Millenium Park and DuSable Harbor Parking Passes Available

Parking Passes are available for the Millenium Park Garage and the DuSable Harbor parking lot.  For more information see the May issue of "Between the Sheets." 


Sign up for Tiller Times and Member Cruise Outings

Tiller Times and MCOs are a great ways for Sail Chicago members and friends to practice their sailing skills or just have a fun sail.  They're also free to members.  To find out more, see the May issue of "Between the Sheets."


Find Sailing Buddies on Facebook or Twitter

Looking for crew or just want to go sailing sith someone from Sail Chicago.  No problem!  just post a comment on the Sail Chicago page of Facebook or Tweet your request.


Sail Chicago Handbook Available

The 2012 Sail Chicago Handbook is available on the member page of the Sail Chicago website.  It contains the most complete description of our programs and activities available, together with many practical "how to's."  It also contains the Sail Chicago Rules and Regulations, and Policies.


Renew Your Membership  

There are now two ways to renew your membership.  You may either do it online, or you may print a paper membership form and mail it to Sail Chicago, Attn:  Lois Lawson, 2019 W Thomas, Chicago, IL  60622.


Bonus Credits

If you add at least $100 to your reserve account by check (no credit cards) with Sail Chicago, you will receive an additional 5% in sailing credits.  Mail your check, together with a note to add the funds to your account, to Sail Chicago, Attn:  Lois Lawson, 2019 W Thomas, Chicago, IL  60622.


Get Credit for a New Member

For every new member who joins Sail Chicago at the invitation of a current member, the current member will receive a $50 credit to their reserve account.  If someone participates in the "Sail into Summer" program, current members will receive a $25 credit.  In order for the referring member to get a credit, the new member needs to make reference to the referring member on the Sail Chicago Membership Application.


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