BTS: June 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 #6
June, 2014

By Steve VanderVoort


Steve VanderVoort

Sailing season is in full swing! Most classes in our Instruction program are filled, our Wednesday night Colgate Racing program is about at capacity, Tiller Times and Member Cruise Outings are being scheduled, our first Friends and Family Picnic and Sail is scheduled for June 22 (see article below), and our sailing opportunities programs with various youth organizations like Lawrence hall Youth Services, Association House, and Schuler Scholars are under way. Of course, when our boats are not being used for these and other Sail Chicago programs, our members who are skippers have reserved boats for private use.


If you look at an average boat in any of the Chicago harbors, it will spend 90 - 95% of its time in a slip or bobbing at a mooring.  That's obviously not true of our Sail Chicago boats. Our boats get four to five times the use of the average boat in the harbor.  While this high usage is good in many ways, it does create additional wear-and-tear on our boats, and that means occasional maintenance problems.


We are committed to keeping our boats in the safest possible condition.  If we receive a report of a major problem with a boat, we will put it out of service until the problem is fixed.  While this may on occasion be inconvenient, we believe that the safety of our students, skippers, and crew is of paramount importance.  Our member-volunteer maintenance staff has done a fantastic job of keeping our boats in good working order, and they are to be congratulated on the countless hours they put in, not only in servicing our boats during the winter months, but for the emergency repairs that become necessary during the regular sailing season.


We also depend upon our skippers, instructors, and crew to do minor repairs and to leave the boats in better condition than they found them.  Of course we need them to report any problems that they encounter on a boat to the Boat Manager for that particular boat.  If you find a serious problem where you believe that the boat is unsafe to sail, please call our Sail Chicago Hotline at 312-409-9000 and report your name and the specific nature of the problem.  The boat will be taken out of service.  




Have you ever wanted to go sailing (especially on a weekend), but found that your access to the lakefront was blocked because of an event, concert, race, etc. that was taking place?  Chicago Harbors has just made your life a little easier.  Lakefront events are now posted on the Chicago Harbors website.  Be sure to check it out before your sail or class. 




If you're an experienced Sail Chicago skipper who's

qualified to sail a Colgate 26, please consider signing up as a Tiller Time skipper. It's a great way to meet new

Colgate Sailing
A Colgate under sail

 people and to pass along your sailing skills to students who really want to learn to sail. In addition, if you skipper five or more Tiller Times, your annual service requirement will be met. Tiller Time skippers have the added benefit of receiving a $50 credit to their sailing accounts once they've completed five Tiller Times. The Tiller Time Program Coordinator may determine skipper qualifications. If interested, please sign up at the Sail Chicago Jobs website.


Brig for Tall Ships
Lake Michigan sailing

From the editor...
Lakefront Events Affect Access
Colgate Skippers, Tiller Time Needs You
Dates to Note
Who to Contact
Sail Chicago Board
Sail Chicago Reminders
Family and Friends Picnics
Students Are Eligible for Tiller Time
Sail Chicago to the Rescue!
Pre-Sail Orientations
Season's First Social Event
A Great Start to the Racing Season
Colgate Skippers, Expand to the Rhodes 19
Rhodes 19 Spinnaker Classes
Sail Chicago Board Adopts 5-Year Plan
What's Knot to Like?
Know Your Board Members: Mike Swisher
Using Hand-Held Flares
June 12 - Sail Chicago Board Meeting
June 22 - Friends and Family Picnic
July 10 - Sail Chicago Board Meeting
August 3 - Friends and Family Picnic
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

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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


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.

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.

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.


Pat Webster

By Pat Webster - Social Coordinator


Join us for an afternoon of picnicking and sailing on Sunday, June 22nd at the north end of Belmont Harbor from 1-5 PM. We'll barbecue by the lake and go out on brief sails throughout the afternoon on our Colgates and on our 34' Hunter. This is a great opportunity to introduce friends and family to sailing and to Sail Chicago. All sailors and their friends and family are welcome.


The cost for the event is $5 for Sail Chicago members and their guests; $7 for students/non-members and their guests; $3 for all children under 12. Burgers, veggie burgers, brats, salads, desserts, water and soft drinks will be served. Be sure to bring something to sit on, as there are no picnic tables.  To register, click here.


Registering and pre-paying by June 18th are necessary in order to ensure that we have food for all. If you have questions, or if you'd like to help, please contact Pat Webster.


Also, if your calendar is already booked on the 22nd, save the afternoon of Sunday August 3rd, when we'll do it all again.



Here at Sail Chicago, we firmly believe that the best way you can learn to become a good sailor is to do a lot of sailing. Therefore, as an adjunct to our formal Instruction programs, we offer free "Tiller Times" to Sail Chicago members who are also students in one of our Instruction programs. Tiller Times offer you an opportunity to get out on the water with a qualified Sail Chicago skipper and practice on an informal basis what you learned in your formal class instruction. It's a great way to improve your overall sailing skills, and it's free. To sign up for a Tiller time, from your landing page on the website, click on Reservation/Seat Availability, and sign up for a Tiller Time that's not yet full.


To see if you're eligible for Tiller Time, review Tiller Time Policies by clicking here.  If after reviewing the policy, you believe you are eligible but are unable to sign up, please contact Anke Heinrich, our Tiller Time Coordinator, for help.

Hunter 34
An MCO cruise

By Mehment Taschi - MCO Coordinator


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. You can reserve your seat on the reservations page of the 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 already done so for this year, you can work towards next year duties by becoming a MCO skipper this year.  To find out more, please contact me.




During a recent Tiller Time, Sail Chicago Skipper Norris Larson and his crew were responsible for the U.S. Coast Guard rescue of two jet skiers whose craft had overturned, just east of the Adler Planetarium.  As Skipper Larson stated in his Sail Chicago Incident Report:


"A little before 15:00 one of our crew noticed something in the water about 300 yards off the port forequarter.  We all looked and while we could not make out what it was, we decided to investigate.  As we approached, we saw it was a two person water scooter with two people in the water hanging on to the scooter.  Up close we could see that both persons, a man and a woman, were in wet suits and wearing PFDs. We passed by and asked if they needed help.  They said they did.  I then took control of Eclipse and directed a crew member to start the engine and other crew to drop the sails so we could circle close by the scooter without constantly trimming.  Throughout the incident the crew responded ably to my direction.


"Since the couple was in wet suits, we decided there was no need to get them out of the cold water immediately.  After a very brief discussion about what to do, I directed one of the crew to call the Coast Guard.  He did so and described the situation.  He told the CG that there were two people in the water off the scooter, described our boat, gave our coordinates, and that we would stand by until a rescue unit arrived."


Once the rescue had been completed, the Coast Guard called back to thank everyone for their quick response to a potentially fatal situation.  Norris and his crew are to be commended for their timely actions and level-headed response to two boaters in distress.  Norris in particular set a great example in demonstrating calm leadership and correct decision-making.

By Greg Scannell - Assistant Safety Coordinator


The previous article illustrates the need to be ready to contact rescue authorities in the event of an emergency on the Lake.  Modern advances in technology have made off-shore and coastal sailing much safer than they used to be.   Some well known devices include the Electronic Position-Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB), Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), and Search and Rescue Transponders (SART). All of these devices are designed to notify emergency responders and locate vessels or individuals in distress. The differences include range, precision, who they alert, and battery life. Among these advanced devices, most of us have a very useful tool in our smart or satellite phones, and DSC-equipped SSB or VHF radio. These tools can be used to update assistance with needed information such as number of parties, weather conditions, and injuries to prepare for.  In addition, for an emergency but non life-threatening situation, such as flooding but not sinking, a satellite phone can be used to attract attention without calling a Mayday. 


A well-informed crew is a safe crew.   Whatever gear you choose to equip your vessel with, ensure that all on board know where it is and how to use it.   A key aspect to emergency technology is to know when it should and should not be used.  Sail Safely Chicago.


A Pre-Sail Orientation


Sail Chicago's annual Pre-Sail Orientations (PSOs) are well underway. Formerly known as "Dryland" (because it was offered in a classroom setting on dry land, not on the water), PSOs offer a theoretical introduction to sailing.  The two-hour class covers such topics as the points of sail, important parts of the boat, and how the sails work.  In addition, some very practical tips are offered on what to bring along when on the water (hat, sun glasses, sun screen, clothing in layers, sailing gloves, snack, water, etc.).  The class also offers advice to new members and Sail-Into-Summer students regarding how they can navigate their way around Sail Chicago, and our new website. Several classes have already taken place, and two more are scheduled in June and July.  All students new to Sail Chicago are required to take a PSO before they take an on-the-water class.


Our thanks to Sail Chicago member Mary Ann Wilkins for organizing this vital component of our Instruction program! 



By Pat Webster - Social Coordinator


Fifty sailing enthusiasts came out for drinks and appetizers at our first social event of the season, a mix and mingle, at the nautical-themed restaurant and bar, The Weather Mark, on Saturday May 17th. Members, new students, and guests enjoyed some appetizers and a drink, provided by Sail Chicago, but most important the conversation flowed. It was a great opportunity for all to mingle and make connections. Many stayed for dinner and several continued the conversation well into the evening.


There will be more opportunities to get to know fellow sailors at the Friends and Family Picnics, June 22nd and August 3rd. Also, look for another social event at the Weather Mark in the fall. 


Colgates practicing

 By Maya Teleki


We've had a great start to the racing season, with a couple of cold, pre-season practice nights and one brisk race night where we decided to stay in the outer harbor and focus on some intensive mark rounding practice. This past week's race was cancelled by the Columbia Yacht Club due to weather conditions, but we are hoping to get out with the big boats on Wednesday.


In addition to the Beer Can Racing series, some of our race coaches have been participating in workshops on Saturdays to learn more about racing techniques and tactics. We've spent two Saturdays roll tacking, flying spinnakers and rounding marks, and are looking forward to good wind this week for our final class.




Rhodes 19(4)
Rhodes 19

If you're a Colgate 26 skipper and would like to try a different boat, you can participate in a Rhodes orientation.  After one or more on-the-water sessions you'll be qualified to sail our Rhodes 19s.  The Rhodes is fun to sail and play the waves, quicker to maneuver than a Colgate, and it has a slightly different "feel" at the tiller.  Becoming qualified to sail a Rhodes can give you more flexibility in scheduling private sails during busy times when many of our boats are in use.


To schedule an on-the-water Rhodes 19 orientation session, visit the Sail Chicago website and select Seat Availability from the Reservation menu. There should be some sessions listed under Orientation. To request that a session be scheduled for a different date/time, please contact Tim Rice.


Minna Greene

By Minna Greene


There is still one opening for the four Sunday afternoon spinnaker classes on the 

A Rhodes flying a spinnaker

Rhodes 19 on Sunday June 29th, July 13th, July 20th and July 27th. Learn how to rig, raise, fly, and douse the spinnaker. You will be taught the deck work of manning the spinnaker pole, the
cockpit work of raising and lowering the spinnaker, and the skipper's

responsibilities of keeping the spinnaker filled and how to jibe with the spinnaker.


Qualifications to take class: Completion of Intermediate Colgate class or Rhodes or Colgate skipper.  Anyone interested in signing up should contact Minna Greene.




At a recent meeting, the Sail Chicago Board adopted its second Five Year Plan. The first Plan, created in 2009, resulted in significant changes in Sail Chicago's organization, including adopting an ambitious fleet renewal program, an emphasis on Instruction as a key goal of the organization, and the re-positioning of our fleet in two Chicago harbors.


The new plan sets goals in six specific areas:

  1. Communications
  2. Membership Volunteerism
  3. Maintenance
  4. Determination of Fleet Description and Location
  5. Revenue
  6. Instruction

To get a clear view of where we're headed in each of these areas and to review the complete plan, click here. Our thanks to Christine Garvey and her committee who spent countless hours putting this plan together.




Still puzzled about how to tie a bowline? A sheepshank? A stopper knot? A figure 8? Well, puzzle no more. John Lemon, Sail Chicago's Safety Director tells us that Columbia has just come out with a new app for the iPhone that provides simple yet detailed instructions on how to tie over 70 knots in 6 categories, together with examples of the uses of each knot. To access the app, click here.




Sail Chicago has three new members on its Board.  In previous months we highlighted Bob Lapin, and Matt Stuczynski. This month, it's Michael Swisher.


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

I began sailing Hobi-cats in 1978 and would go out infrequently with friends on their boats in the 80's.

Michael Swisher
Michael Swisher.

I really caught the sailing bug in the early 90's, and was introduced to Sail Chicago by Bruce Woll. Since then I've checked out on all the boats in our fleet. I've taken sailing classes in the Virgin Islands on cruising catamarans in an effort to get my family on a sailing vacation - hasn't worked yet. I started teaching three years ago, and that's really increased my interest to sail and learn more.


Why did you decide to join the Board?

I thought I had a lot more to offer the Sail Chicago than just sailing boats and teaching. The experience getting my US Sailing Instructor's Certification really opened my eyes to what is needed in a top notch teaching organization, as well as making me a better teacher. I also have substantial knowledge in many areas that would benefit the organization, and being on the Board would put me in a better position to contribute more. 


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

I would like to see continued growth of the education program and our teaching fleet, but be mindful that we only have so many instructors. Down the road, I'd like to be able to offer Basic US Sailing certifications, maybe growing to Cruising Certifications. I'd like to have more on-the-water member outings, which might necessitate purchasing another cruising boat. I'd also like to improve community outreach programs. The ramp-up of activities would need support of the membership, and a sizeable group of members committed to such activities, with the understanding that many just want to sail with their families and friends.


What do you do when you're not sailing?

Professionally, I work in market research specializing in analytics in the consumer packaged goods industry. I formerly worked for Kraft Foods for 11 years, and before that for a number of very large suppliers including AC Nielsen. I started a consulting practice two years ago doing the same type of work. I sing frequently in stage productions, choirs, and private programs, most recently at the Lincoln Center in New York. I play sports, particularly golf. I also do a lot of "fix-it" projects for the church and friends, from basic building to technical/electronic setups.


Ed Schroeder
Edward Schroeder

By Edward Schroeder


All of our boats are equipped with handheld flares. In an emergency, pyrotechnic signals remain one of the best ways to attract attention. Recently, however, a burning flare caused more problems than it solved.


According to a recent article in Practical Sailor magazine, during a training course at the Annapolis School of Seamanship, a USCG-approved Orion handheld flare melted thru its handle and began dripping hot slag on the trainee who was, luckily, wearing leather gloves. The hot slag had burned all the way to the plastic end cap and then melted its way 

Using a hand-held flare

thru the cap itself.


Users need to recognize that they are literally holding fire in their hand and should be prepared to copewith a malfunctioning flare, including holding the burning flare at an angle, holding the flare over the water and wearing heavy leather gloves.


It would be good practice, while on a pleasant sail, to read the directions on one of the flares that might save your life.


Chicago Skyline
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