BTS: October 2014

New BTS Banner DRAFT

TopSail Chicago Logo 

 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 #10
October, 2014

By Steve VanderVoort

Steve VanderVoort


Sailing season is almost over.  Our fleet will be out of the water by the last week in October.  What lingers are the memories.  For me, my best times on the water this past summer were when I skippered Tiller Times.  They gave me an opportunity meet some of our newer members and to share my enthusiasm for sailing with others who are perhaps a bit newer with the joy of being "on the water."  If you've got some favorite memories or photos of this past sailing season that you'd like to share with other members of our community, please let me know.


One place where our members can share their summer sailing experiences will be at our annual End-of-Season Party on Saturday, November 22 (see article below).  It's a great opportunity to re-live our summer sailing adventures and to find new sailing buddies for the 2015 sailing season.  In past years, it's been a rollicking good time.


Even though our sailing season is coming to a close, many of our members are still hard at work.  Our Boat Teams are preparing for the annual sail-down and haul-out to our winter storage facilities at the Canal Street Marina.  Your Board is also hard a work planning for the next sailing season. Items such as updating our five year strategic plan, reviewing fleet locations for the coming year, reviewing and revising our annual Member Service Requirement, and evaluating the purchase of another boat are just a few items on the agenda.  And the Board Development Committee is beginning to plan for the election of new officers and directors at our annual meeting in the first part of new year.


Finally, 2014 may well go down as the most successful sailing season in Sail Chicago history.  Our membership has grown from approximately 220 members last year to almost 275 this year.  Our Sail-into-Summer program has again been fantastically successful in getting members of our Chicago community out on the water.  Our fleet renewal program has given us a new (to us) Colgate 26. The second year of our Wednesday Night Colgate Racing Program saw more participation, and our Instruction Program exceeded very ambitious goals, both in terms of revenue and number of students.  Our overall financial situation is excellent.  Thanks to all our member volunteers for making all this possible! 




If you've ever been at the helm and gotten yourself into irons (head to wind), then you know it's tough to get out. Click here for some tips from US Sailing on how to do so quickly and easily.


Colgate Sailing
From the editor...
Getting out of Irons
Dates to Note
Who to Contact
Useful Information
Sail Chicago Board
Sail Chicago Reminders
Haul Out Help for Colgates and Priorities
Rhodes and Ideal Decommisioning: Oct. 11 & 12
Happy Hour at the Weather Mark, Oct. 24
End-of-Year Awards Dinner
Strictly Sail Moves to New Venue & Time
The Prudent Mariner...Lessons Relearned
Change in Life Jacket Rules
September Board Meeting Notes
October 13 - Board Meeting
October 24 - Happy Hour at the Weather Mark

November 11 - 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
Surveys - Gary Thrane
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


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 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.


Getting a Colgate ready for winter

The Colgates will be sailed/motored to DuSable Harbor on October 17th and 18th.


On Saturday, October 18th, we will be de-masting the boats and securing the masts for the motor down to the Canal Street boatyard.   Lowering the masts will take place at Du Sable Harbor at 9 a.m. at B Dock (gate combo 253). Lowering the masts requires many people.  Come out and meet new members or renew old acquaintances.


Contact Shawn Lord and let him know what day you are available. Coffee, water, and pastries will be available in the morning, and Christy Lord is providing chile for lunch along with pop and water.


Priorities will be sailing down to DuSable Harbor on Tuesday, 10/14, and will be docked at E31 (E gate combo 324).  The following morning, 10/15, at 8:45 am, Priorities will be motoring down the river to the boatyard with mast up.  Please contact Simeon Stairs if you can help.   


Ideal 18 at Sunset
An Ideal under sail
By Minna Greene, Rhodes Coordinator


Hi, Maties! The end of the sailing season is fast approaching. On Saturday morning the Rhodes and the Ideals will leave from Monroe Harbor and Sail up to Montrose Harbor. Then on Sunday the Ideal 18 crew will meet at Montrose at 9:00 and the Rhodes 19 crew will meet at 10:30 to haul the boats out of the water. We'll need lots of help on both days. If you can join us, please call me at 773-769-6375 or email me at, or call Matilda McFarland at 773-266-1231, or email her at


Both Matilda and I need more help so I hope you can join us!  


The Weather Mark

By Pat Webster, Social Director


Meet and mingle with other Sail Chicagoans for a happy hour at the Weather Mark Tavern on Friday October 24th from 6-9 PM.  The Weather Mark* is a nautically- themed bar and restaurant in the south Loop, and is an all-around great place to connect with fellow sailors.  There will be drink specials ($3 for draft beers, Bud Light and Miller Light, $5 rum drinks), and fish and chips for $10.95.  We done this twice before, and everyone had a great time, eating, drinking, and catching up with old friends and making new ones.


Although this is a "pay as you go" no charge event, the Weather Mark would appreciate advance registration for a head count. Please click here to register.


Questions: contact Pat Webster.


*The Weather Mark is located at 1503 S Michigan.  Pay at the Box street parking is available.



 By Pat Webster, Social Director 


Sail Chicago will once again celebrate the season and honor our dedicated and hardworking member volunteers with a gourmet dinner at the Columbia Yacht Club on Saturday evening, November 22.

End of season party 2
Last year's dinner

It is because of the collaborative efforts of all of our volunteers that Sail Chicago is a successful community sailing program.   We look forward to an evening of dining and relaxing with friends in this nautical setting.  The cash bar will be open at 6:30 followed by dinner at 7:00PM. A delicious menu has been planned by the yacht club's chef including salad, roasted Amish breast of chicken with field mushrooms, seasonal ravioli, fresh vegetables, roasted redskin potatoes, assorted gourmet cookies and coffee and tea.  After dinner the Board of Directors will recognize our many dedicated volunteers and those who have excelled in the organization.


Look for registration information in an upcoming email and in the November issue of Between the Sheets.  Space is limited, so be sure to register early.


*Columbia Yacht Club is located in the big ship at Randolph and Lake Shore Drive.  It is a members' only club, so we're fortunate to be able to open it up to Sail Chicago for this event. 



By Emma Lynch, Strictly Sail Show Coordinator


Ed Jacob, Mike Swiontek, Amber Kelly
Sail Chicago's booth at a previous Strictly Sail Show

The Strictly Sail Chicago Show, Chicago's premier sailing show, has moved to a new time and a new venue.  Traditionally held at Navy Pier the last weekend in January, it will now be held in conjunction with the Chicago Boat and RV Show in the South Hall of McCormick Place, January 14 - 18.  This combined show should attract more visitors  and will give them a better opportunity to discover all sides of boating in Chicago.


Sail Chicago has for many years been an active participant in the Strictly Sail Chicago Show. Many of our members were first introduced to Sail Chicago at the Show.  We will be participating again this year, and we will be asking our members to help us by volunteering their time to staff our booth.  This year will we need even more help, because the Show has been extended by a day and the hours that the show is open have been lengthened.  Watch for more information about how you can volunteer in future issues of Between the Sheets.  And to get a sneak preview of what the Show has to offer, click here.


By John Lemon, Safety Director

John Lemon

Several readers have suggested that we include in this column "lessons learned" from incidents in which things didn't go as planned and sailors found themselves in some sort of a jam.   Reviewing the incidents involving Sail Chicago sailors over the 2014 sailing season, I'm inclined to categorize most of them as "lessons relearned".   That is, we have gained no new insights into procedures or sailing tactics that we haven't already incorporated into our sailing classes and best practices.    I should add that it's rare that sailors run into trouble once they leave the harbor.   It's getting to and from the harbor entrance that can be challenging if you're not prepared.


In the March, 2014, edition of this column I reported on a seminar I attended at the Strictly Sail show.   Sailing educator John Rousmaniere emphasized the importance of conducting a crew checklist in much the same manner as we conduct an equipment checklist prior to heading out on a sail.  The skipper and crew must "organize, plan, think, and talk" so that everyone is on the same page, understands his or her tasks, and knows how to perform them.  This includes a thorough discussion of contingencies-what if the motor dies, what if we miss our first approach to the mooring can, how we will fend off if the need arises, etc.  Not having that discussion of tasks, roles, and responsibilities prior to departure means you lose crucial seconds and minutes as well as the ability to act decisively when things go south, instead of calmly shifting to "Plan B".


Our educational program has always emphasized the importance of learning to maneuver under sail in close quarters, which primarily involves sailing from the mooring buoy to the harbor mouth and returning to the mooring under sail at the end of the day.  Keeping the sailboat powered up is critical.   Loss of steerage, whether due to improper sail trim or incorrect steering, should be avoided.   Acting quickly to regain steerage, whether that means backwinding the jib to get out of the no-go zone, executing a quick tack, or resorting to using the outboard motor if it's working, is key to safely negotiating the mooring field.   Here again, a clearly discussed plan, including contingencies, and assigned roles for all crew is essential.


Approaching the mooring on a close reach ensures that the skipper can trim and ease the main sail as needed to approach the mooring under complete control.


Sailing in close quarters requires "all hands on deck" and the skipper and crew's full attention.   It's the key to having a great day on the water. We're already looking forward to the 2015 sailing season to continue to build our sailing skills.


According to a September 30 press release issued by BoatUS, the US Coast Guard is scheduled to drop the current life jacket code scheme beginning October 22.  The rule will only apply to new lifejackets manufactured after that date.  Current life jacket rules based on existing code types--Type I, II, III, IV and V--will continue in effect.


The goal is to allow innovation in life jacket design, leading to more wearable life jackets.  Costs should go down as well, as manufacturers will not need to make unique designs for the US adhering to the old USCG types.  Boating safety organizations are in the process of seeking new designs with the goal of creating life jackets that boaters will readily wear.  As we all know, wearing your life jacket is key to safety on the water.


Click here for the link to the BoatUS press release.



By Fiona Ray, Board Secretary


Sail Chicago's Board of Directors held their monthly meeting on September 11h, 2014.   The Board discussed the following:

  • Reviewed financial condition through August 2014, noting that we are in a solid financial situation and that the membership goal has been exceeded (with approximately 280 current members). Given our surplus cash on hand, the Board began discussion of the possibility of acquiring an additional vessel for 2015 season.  The Board will discuss the merits of an additional C26 purchase at the October 2014 Board Meeting.   
  • The Board discussed issues regarding overall lack of service-time volunteers, particularly for boat maintenance and repairs.  The Board discussed the need to revamp the current service time system to better track, encourage, and enforce service time requirements.  Ideas for better control and oversight will be discussed at the October Board meeting.  
  • Four Board Director terms will expire in early 2015.  The Board Development Committee will recommend candidates for any open positions. 
  • The Board is developing a post-season member survey to gain insight into member satisfaction and guidance for future planning.  
2015 Planning will begin soon.  Program directors will be asked to submit budget and program plans (including handbook updates) over the coming weeks. 


Chicago Skyline
facebook button twitter button