BTS: September 2012

Between the Sheets: News from Sail Chicago for September
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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 #9September, 2012 
Steve VanderVoort

By Steve VanderVoort, BTS Editor


There are signs in the air that our sailing season is beginning to approach its end.  After a fantastic summer, our instruction program is starting to slow down a bit (watch for announcements regarding upcoming classes in September).  Fun Racing is over for the season.  The days are growing shorter, and those who sail in the afternoon are aware that they're returning to shore when it's dusk.


And yet, we've still got at least eight good weeks to enjoy one another's company aboard one of the many boats in our fleet.  While the days will be shorter, the temperature on Lake Michigan should be mercifully cooler, and the steady breezes that come early in the fall should provide some excellent sailing experiences.  Sail Chicago is also working hard  to make sure that this end-of-season time is a great one for all our sailors.  We've just launched our fourth Colgate (the most popular boat in our fleet) in Monroe Harbor.  Come out and take it for a sail!


This issue of "Between the Sheets"  might become known as our "safety issue."  The majority of articles here deal with boating safety issues.  Toward the end of the season, many of us can become a little sloppy in our boat-handling.  These articles offer sound advice and tips on how we can all have a safer boating experience.  Sail Chicago is committed not only to teaching boat-handling skills, but it wants to emphasize the many aspect of boating safety as well.


In this issue our Chairman, Joe Kucharski, announces that he's leaving us for a new home in Indianapolis.  We are extremely grateful for his many years of selfless service to Sail Chicago, and we wish him happy sailing on some of Indiana's smaller inland lakes.  Please come back and visit us anytime, Joe.

(This occasional series highlights Sail Chicago policies that all members and their guests should be aware of.  These policies may be found in the Sail Chicago Handbook or in the Rules and Regulations, which are an integral part of the Handbook.  The Handbook itself is located on the me Member Page of the Sail Chicago website).
Section III (B) of the Sail Chicago Rules and Regulations states in points 5 & 6:
5. No illegal drugs or alcohol are allowed on board at any time.

6. Do not operate any boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

No AlcoholUsing alcohol or illegal drugs while on board a Sail Chicago boat can represent a real threat to other boats, to say nothing of the safety of passengers and crew.  As an organization we pride ourselves on teaching boating safety, and this policy is consistent with that objective.

The Sail Chicago Board of Directors reserves the right to take appropriate action if alcohol or illegal drug use is discovered aboard any Sail Chicago vessel.
From the Editor
Alcohol & Illegal Drugs
Who to Contact
Celebrate Our Sailing Season!
Monroe Harbor Fleet Moves
A Letter From Our Chairman
Tiller Time = Fun Time
Navigating Around Moored Boats
August Friends & Family
Racing Tragedy Could Have Been Prevented
What is an "Incident?"
Sail Chicago Reminders

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Maintenance Hotline

312-409-9000 or


Chairman - Frank Loftus
Announcements - Ann Johnston
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
By Pat Webster, Social Director
Renewing Friendships
2011 Post-Season Party


All Sail Chicago members and their guests are invited to our end of the season celebration which will be held at the Columbia Yacht Club* on Saturday evening, November 3rd.  We look forward to an evening of dining and relaxing conversation with friends in this nautical setting.  The evening will begin at 6:30 pm with a cash bar, followed by dinner at 7:00 pm.  A delicious menu has been planned by the club's chef including Salad, Dinner Rolls, Amish Breast of Chicken with Sage jus, Fresh Vegetables, Roasted Redskin Potatoes, Seasonal Ravioli, Assorted Gourmet Cookies and Coffee. 

After dinner the Board of Directors will recognize those who have excelled in the organization, either through their achievement or through their volunteerism.  Board members and program chairs will also be on hand to talk about accomplishments of the season and to roll out plans for the next year.

Look for an email announcement in October with a link to register and pay for this event.  Space is limited, so early registration is encouraged.  The cost is $35/person.  Free parking will be available in Columbia's parking lot.  Questions:  contact Pat Webster.

*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 evening. 


At long last the reconfiguration of the moorings at Monroe Harbor is complete, and the Sail Chicago Fleet has been moved to its permanent location at the south end of the harbor.  High seas when winds blew from the east made it difficult to board our boats in their temporary location and may have caused damage to some of them.  The water at the south end of the harbor is generally much calmer. 

Locations for each boat are:

SN-01 : Albatross
SN-02 : Meridian
SO-01 : Equinox
SM-01 : Eclipse
SP-02 : Two Fish
SQ-01 : Atticus
SQ-02 : Troll
SP-02 : Solstice
Please confirm the new locations on the Boat Statuses page of the Sail Chicago website prior to taking out any boat in the Monroe fleet.


Remember, when sailing out of Monroe Harbor from our new locations, DO NOT use the southern-most
harbor entrance.  It's too narrow, and in the wrong wind you could end up on the rocks by the Shedd Aquarium.  Also, while it may be tempting to sail a diagonal course through the moored boats, our Sail Chicago Rules and Regulations prohibit this.  You MUST sail by the most direct route possible to the east or west channels and then north to the main fairway leading out of the harbor.  You chance of coming into contact with another boat or creating an "incident" is significantly less if you follow this procedure.
Joe Kucharski
Joe Kucharski, our current Chairman, recently resigned.  Here is the letter he sent to the Sail Chicago membership announcing his resignation: 

I wish to share some pertinent information with you. Sail Chicago is a  very critical point that needs the support of every board member. Over the last few weeks two important events have occurred in my life that have forced me to resign as chairman and as a member of the board effective with the close of the August board meeting. The first and most immediate event is a hip replacement that I am facing within the next several weeks. The second event is a decision that my wife and I have made to relocate outside the Chicago area to the Indianapolis area. For these reasons I did not feel it was appropriate for me to participate in decisions that I will not be present to follow through on.
I appreciate the help and support that I received though my 20 year association with Sail Chicago and will continue to contribute as much as I can to make this transition as smooth and flawless as possible.


Thanks again for the privilege to work and sail with each of you.

Frank Loftus, Vice-Chair, has agreed to take over Joe's responsibilities for the remainder of his term.  We appreciate Frank's willingness to step into this role on such short notice.

As for Joe, Sail Chicago will forever be indebted to him for his service to our organization, not only as Chairman, but for the countless hours he spent as Maintenance Director for several years, making sure that our Sail Chicago fleet was ready to sail each spring.  Joe has also been instrumental in reconfiguring our maintenance program to make it more workable and to share maintenance responsibilities among a greater number of people.  

We are grateful for Joe's many years of service, and we wish him well.  May he soon find a lake on which to sail in the Indianapolis area!
By Alena Gordinskaya
Alena Gordinskaya
Hi fellow sailors!  My name is Alena Gordinskaya, and I am brand new with Sail Chicago!  I joined just this summer and I've sailed a lot during my first season, both in classes and most importantly - during Tiller Times.  Here's my story!
I found out about Tiller Time from  the May issue of "Between the Sheets."  I signed up for my first Tiller Time after my second class. I've now sailed with different skippers a total of 6 times.  My best experiences were when other students cancelled and I had one-on-one Tiller times with Rich Wagner and Joe Kucharski.
Tiller Times are different from formal instruction.  They are pure practice, and I was lucky to sail with skippers who allowed me the maximum independence of decision-making. For me, Tiller Times have allowed me to practice my skipper skills in a very safe environment; I was not told to do anything, yet I knew there was always a very experienced person on board to help me 'just in case'.
Colgate 26
Sailing on a Colgate

Joe Kucharsky was probably my best tiller-time skipper.  We sailed one-on-one one Friday evening on 'Troll', one of Sail Chicago's  Rhodes 19s.  The weather was windy and wavy, with gusts up to 25 knots and waves up to 6 feet.  But it was great fun!  The other 2 students who signed up for this Tiller time cancelled.  Once we reached the boat, he said "I'm a passenger here," so I did most of the preparation for sailing with my own two hands, sailed the boat off the mooring and out past the breakwater.  And here the greatest fun began!  Stable 20-knot wind, waves, and sun!  I practiced points of sail and swift tacking in the strong wind. I did not risk jibing in this gusty weather. We got all soaked, tip to toes. I was lucky, I had clothes to change to.  Joe did not, but he still enjoyed it (at least that's what he said).
Tiller times are a great opportunity to sail with different skippers and different students. And there is always a good chance to learn something new.  I've learned a few different ways to fold the sails, to coil halyards when sailing, and some important advice on tacking in the strong winds. I've had invaluable practice in sailing more independently.  Having combined the Intermediate Sailing course on a Rhodes 19 with Tiller times and a couple of Fun Races, I felt ready to check out on this boat just a month after my course was over!   Additionally, with tiller times on Colgates, I got to know this boat as well, and I was able to check out as a skipper on this boat as well.
I will definitely sign up for more classes and Tiller Times, even though it's almost the end of the season.  I would have signed up for more earlier, but I had classes on Hunter 34 and several trips on it too, including Port-to-Port, Mac race start, and Member Cruise Outings. It's been a busy sailing summer for me.
In summary, I believe Tiller Time is a great way get to know more Sail Chicago skippers and students, learn new skills or practice old ones, have interesting sailing and non-sailing related chats, and have fun overall.
Dan Stein
Dan Stein
By Dan Stein


One of the most common situations we encounter while sailing in and out of the harbors is how to navigate around a moored boat.  We normally have two choices: head up and take the moored boat's bow or fall off and take the stern. Let's consider both are approximately equal; in other words you are headed towards about the middle of the moored boat and you have clear water in both directions, but you've got to make a quick choice or you'll T-bone the other boat.  In this case Sail Chicago has long advocated heading up and taking the bow.  Here's why:

  • A boat naturally wants to head up  This is known as "weather helm," and is due to the sail plan and where the sails exert effort in relationship to the keel.  When you head up you will turn into the wind and the boat will slow down. You can then safely take the bow or tack if necessary.
  • Even if you fail to do either of these, at worst you will wind up in "irons". The boom will be in over the middle of the boat where it will not catch the moored boats rigging. You will be close to stopped and any fending off will be side to side and less severe.  An "in irons" recovery could then take place.

On the other hand, if you decide to fall off and take the stern, here is what you may encounter:

  • Weather helm will be against you reducing the rudders ability to turn the boat.  Easing the main is essential to reduce this force and should be done before or simultaneously with tiller movement. However, if you get hit by a gust or do not make it for any other reason you will find yourself in a very precarious situation. You may be headed bow first for the moored boat with the wind behind you! Any contact in this position may be very hard and dangerous to fend off and most likely result in damage to one or both boats.  
  • You may find yourself too close to the moored boat to change your mind and head up. You may try harder to fall off resulting in a jibe where your boom could fly out on the other side.  Even if you manage to miss the other boat your boom could catch it's rigging or lifelines.

 "A Wise Man Learns by the Mistakes of Others, A Fool by his Own".  Latin Proverb  

note:  Easing the main when falling off should be practiced at all times as a matter of good habit and efficient sailing!

Wishing you the best for the remainder of the season! 



By Pat Webster, Social Director

2012 Friends & Family
Friends & Family Picnic


 The day was predicted to be hot and stormy, yet 54 people  gathered to picnic and sail at Belmont Harbor on Saturday August 4th.  Old friends connected with each other over the picnic lunch while those new to Sail Chicago had a chance to meet others in the organization.  Skippers took 24 guests out on Priorities and Recess during the afternoon before the storm warnings and concerns for safety caused us to bring the boats in. 


It was unfortunate that (like Lollapalooza) we had send everyone home early.  However, this did not seem to diminish the enjoyment of those who attended.  Many thanks to those whose help made this event possible:  Sarah Griffith Adducci, Rich Covello, Chris Garvey, Cindy Hopkins, Maureen Huston, Joe Kucharski, Lois Lawson, John Lemon, Shawn Lord, Mike McCarthy, Jay Owens, Arleen Prairie, John Russell, Ed Schroeder, Dan Stein, Matt Stuczynski, Ken Tentler, Sam Veilleux and Jake Worley-Hood.


Morgan Shoal
Morgan Shoal


On April 14, 2012, during the Full Crew Farallones Race out of San Francisco, CA, the boat Low Speed Chase capsized in breaking waves when crossing a shoal around Maintop Island.  Five of the eight crewmembers drowned.  A US Sailing review panel concluded that the primary cause of the capsize was due to the course the boat sailed, which took it over the shoal.  The panel stated that other factors, such as improved safety gear, including life jackets and harnesses, may have helped the sailors' chance of survival.  To read the panel's complete report, click here.


Remember, there are also shoals in the Chicago area.  The Morgan and Hyde Park Shoals on the south side of the city are very dangerous, and many boats have been wrecked on them.   That's why Sail Chicago recommends that skippers remain at least half-a-mile offshore when sailing south of Soldier Field.



By Ed Schroeder, Safety Director

Ed Schroeder
Ed Schroeder


One of the more frequent questions I'm asked is, "What is an 'incident,' and do I have to report it?"  The answers can be found in the Rules and Regulations Section of the Sail Chicago Handbook, found on the Member Page of the Sail Chicago website.  The Handbook states:


An "incident" is defined as anything other than an accident that could affect safety.  This definition includes:

  1. "Collision" - defined as when a Sail Chicago boat strikes or impacts with another boat or object, regardless of whether damage occurs.
  2. "Contact"- defined as when a Sail Chicago boat touches another boat or object, except touching or rubbing your own mooring buoy or during normal docking.  Hitting another mooring buoy while sailing in the harbor may be grounds for not passing a checkout.
  3. "Minor injury" - defined as other than serious injury, but requiring treatment on the boat, dock, or shore.
  4. "Notification" - defined as a report of, suspicion of, an accident, incident, violation, or interaction, obtained from skippers, members, the complaint hotline, other boat owners, police, or other parties.
  5. "Occurrence" is defined as including the definitions of the words "accidents", "incidents", "violations" and "interactions"
  6. Capsize.
  7. Any sent distress signal, such as yelling, flags, flares, or radio 'mayday'.
  8. Towing or being towed; for emergency or non-emergency reasons.
  9. Any crew overboard.
  10. Any incident that could reasonably be understood to involve liability on the part of Sail Chicago, its instructors, volunteers, or members.

The skipper of any Sail Chicago boat MUST report an accident or incident in the following manner:


1. The Skipper(s) shall obtain the following information after any accident, collision, or contact wit another boat.

a. Boat name, registration number, and buoy number, if moored, of all vessels involved.
b. Other boat owner's name, address, phone number, and e-mail address.  If more than one Sail Chicago boat is involved, collect information from all Skippers involved.
c. When possible, collect the names, addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses of all people aboard each boat involved.
d. For each boat, describe the contact locations and extent of damage, if any.
2. The skipper(s) shall notify the Safety Director:
a. Accident:  The skipper of each Sail Chicago boat involved in an accident shall immediately notify the Safety Director and the Sail Chicago Board Chair, followed by a written report to both within 48 hours.
b. Incident:  The skipper of each boat involved in any incident, violation, or interaction shall notify the Safety Director within 24 hours.
3. If any damage was sustained by a Sail Chicago boat, or was caused by a Sail Chicago boat, the skipper shall immediately call the Safety Director, and the Maintenance Hotline or the appropriate Boat Manager.
4. All Sail Chicago members aboard shall discuss the circumstances of the accident/ incident, then the Skipper shall send a written report to the Safety Director.  The report shall be sent within three (3) days, and must include a complete, thorough description of the occurrence.
a. If one or more Sail Chicago members do not concur, then they shall send their own report to the Safety Director.
b.  If the Skipper at the helm is different from the Skipper of record, then both shall send a report.
5. If the Safety Director is involved in the accident, incident, violation, or interaction, then the Sail Chicago Chairperson will perform all duties of the Safety Director for that occurrence.


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.  


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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