BTS: August, 2018

Sail Chicago Newsletter for August
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By Steve VanderVoort, BTS Editor

At Sail Chicago the safety of our members, students, guests, and boats is of primary importance.  Last year several of our boats hit the seawall.  While there were no personal injuries, these incidents caused several boats in our fleet to be placed out of commission, sometimes for weeks at a time.  This wreaked havoc with our instruction and racing programs and limited the number of boats in our fleet available for private use.

This year we were assigned new moorings close to the fairway.  It was hoped that this would make it easier to depart and return to our moorings without creating an incident.  But in some respects, it has been made more difficult.  Last year there were several empty moorings around our boats. That's not true this year.  The effect is that the boats seem more tightly packed together and therefore easier to hit when departing or returning to the mooring.  In fact, several of our boats have hit other boats this summer.

There seems to be a myth in Sail Chicago that you will only be considered a good skipper if you can sail on or off a mooring without the help of a motor. I think this is a holdover from the days when our fleet consisted only of smaller boats, not our 26' Colgates, and when our boats had no motors.  While it's important that our skippers know how to sail on and off a mooring when a motor is inoperable, your Sail Chicago Board is now recommending that skippers use a motor assist whenever available (see Board Notes and article below).  It reserves the right to impose penalties on skippers who damage other boats (see Sail Chicago
Rules and Regulations
Remember, the truly great skippers are the ones who put the safety of their crew, students, guests, and boats first!

Our 2018 Friends & Family Picnic will be 12:00-3:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 11, at Columbia Yacht Club!  We are excited to bring the Sail Chicago community together with friends and family for food, fun, and sailing!  The event will take place on the lower level of Columbia Yacht Club right as you walk inside.
Read more about the event and  Driving?  Parking instructions are here.
Sail Chicago members at last summer's picnic
Skippers and first mates will be taking Sail Chicago members and friends and family out on short sails.  We are also thrilled to be designing our own burgee and are looking to our members to draw up their ideas for the burgee at the event.  (Don't worry, we will be sending out info on how to submit online!)
Sail Chicago members and guests are welcome to attend.  This year, we want to keep costs low for members and students.  We are asking for a suggested donation of $5 per person but it is not required for entry.  You can donate in cash upon arrival.  Please remember this is a Sail Chicago event that is special for members and students, and we ask that you are respectful of the number of guests.
We are still looking for skippers and first mates to take Sail Chicago members and guests out on short sails during the event!  Please email me
if you can help.  
By Loan Le

Originally scheduled for August 2, our August Happy Hour will now be on Thursday, August 23, at Weather Mark Tavern located at 1503 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, beginning at 6:30 p.m.  There is free street parking on State Street south of Roosevelt after 6:30 p.m., and Weather Mark Tavern is a short walk from the Roosevelt "L" station.  Please join us and your fellow sailors--we will have appetizers and a free drink for the first 10 arriving sailors!  Questions? Contact Loan Le.
By David Shayne, Share-a-Sail Coordinator

Hunter 34
If you need crew or you want to crew, our Share-a-Sail Program is just what you need.  On your computer, go to Google Groups and search for Share-a-Sail. Register your name, first and last, and your email address. Then you'll be able send and receive emails to and from other participants who are eager to sail with you.  Replies go only to the sender, so you will not be plagued with responses to other senders.  There is no "reply to all."  To post an email in Share-a-Sail specify the date and time you plan to sail and your name.  It's that easy!  Questions? 
Reminders to those using Share-a-Sail: email to  All 300 plus subscribers will get your post.  Only you will get the responses.  Please give your full name and the date and time of your prospective sail.  Use Share-A-Sail only for personal boat use. No MCOs, Tiller Times or Maintenance sails.  And, no non-Sail Chicago boats.
Get out on the lake before the season is over!
By Alan Summers, Certification Coordinator 
The September basic keelboat boat certification exam is being offered on September 8 at 8:30 AM at Peet's coffee on 686 E. Ogden Ave., Naperville.   Please notify me if you plan to take the exam.
By Cait Larson, Racing Coordinator

The summer has been flying and we have a month of racing left!  Interested members can still sign up and get in a few races before the end of the season.
Coming up August 25-26 is the annual Chicago Inshore Verve!  It's a great two days of racing and meeting other racers from different organizations.  Skippers and crew are currently organizing, so if you want to participate, contact me to be placed on our Verve team's spreadsheet, so we can find you a boat!

Sail Chicago member Ed Schroeder recently sent us this article from Practical Sailor Magazine.  It offers great advice on how to get a line from you to another boat or to shore.
By Matt Stuczynski

Just a reminder that our new Sail Chicago Wind Guidelines strongly recommend that the boat's motor be running and ready to be immediately engaged, if needed, while departing and returning to the mooring.  Although we expect that all sailors should be able to sail on and off the can when needed (e.g. if the motor fails), the boat's motor should be used anytime the skipper believes conditions do not warrant sailing on and off the can as well as to avoid collisions anywhere within the inner harbor. 

These Guidelines have been approved by the Sail Chicago Board.
  • Up to 15 knots, acceptable conditions for all boats.
  • 15 - 20 knots, proceed with caution for more experienced skippers.
  • Greater than 20 knots, don't go out or return to harbor once that wind level is reached.
  • Motors on the Colgates and Rhodes should be running anytime the boat is between the mooring can and the inner-harbor mouth.  A trained member of the crew should be at the engine and be ready to engage it immediately if needed.
  • The ultimate decision to sail or not to sail is the skipper's. Should a skipper not observe the above guidelines and an accident occurs, existing rules and regulations provide for possible Board responses.  Every skipper should review Sail Chicago Rules and Regulations, Section 5, paragraph 5, section 2 for possible consequences.
By John Lemon, Safety Coordinator

Reefing  A few people have asked about the use of the second reef point on the Colgates.  At what wind speed should you consider going to the second reef?  Are there general guidelines?

While there is no general policy regarding the use of multiple reef points, here is a good rule of thumb:  If you think you need two reefs at the beginning of your sail, you probably should not sail.  The wind will likely exceed our guidelines (up to 15 knots; up to 20 knots for experienced sailors).  However, if you are sailing and the wind increases, it's certainly appropriate to reef down to the second reef to return to the harbor safely.

Colgate control panel for navigation lights.
Navigation lights  The proper use of navigation lights is as follows:  You can see from the photo that there are four switches: Nav, Cabin, Mast Fore, and Mast Aft.The Nav lights are for sailing between sunset and sunrise or in limited visibility (such as fog).  No mast light should be on if you are under sail power only. 

If you are motoring, even with a sail raised, switch on the Mast Fore light.  That is the equivalent of what is technically a masthead light (sometimes referred to as a "steaming light"), and it tells other boaters you're motoring. 

The only time you should display Mast Fore and Mast Aft together is if you are at anchor, aground, or showing the tender driver your location for pickup at night. 

Displaying incorrect navigation lights could lead to a collision.  For example, if you are under sail only but displaying your Mast Fore (masthead light), an approaching power boat would assume you are motoring and would follow rules for crossing power boats.
By Ed Schroeder

A fatal accident on the Chicago-Mackinac race prompts me to update this advisory from 2015 regarding the care and use of personal flotation devices (PFDs).
The following account of the accident comes from Nick Berberian, Rear Commodore at the Chicago Yacht Club:  "At approximately 2:45 p.m. on Saturday Jon Santarelli, age 52, aboard  Imedi, was moving toward the stern to make a routine sail adjustment, unfortunately at that precise time, a large wave hit the boat, causing him to slip into the water...Jon was wearing a personal flotation device that is designed to automatically inflate when it comes into contact with the water.  The crew members have reported that the device did not inflate."
Although they can fail, personal flotation devices remain an essential tool for survival at sea.  There is wide-spread agreement that boaters need to wear the appropriate type of PFD while sailing in any boat on any water.  A properly maintained auto-inflating PFD has proven itself to be a versatile and effective device for offshore sailing where great mobility and an abundance of flotation is required.  However, it is important to recognize that auto-inflate vests are not our only option.  Small boat and inshore sailors are often better served by a conventional, inherently buoyant PFD.  It is important to weigh the pros and cons of each device when choosing the right one for a particular activity:
  • Whatever your choice in a PFD, always ensure that it is properly fitted and secured.
  • If you're using your own auto-inflating PFD, inspect it every time you put it on and conduct an air test annually.
  • Know how to manually inflate your PFD.  Finding the pull cord is not always easy.
  • Finally,  consider upgrading your whistle (the whistles that come with auto-inflatable PFDs are often inadequate).  The Fox whistle is best.
By Bob Lapin, Board Secretary

The Sail Chicago Board met at the Morningstar Building on July 12.
Adam Wisneski presented a proposal to bring in a consultant to help us better organize, lead, and communicate with our volunteers.  The proposal was accepted. Adam will put together a committee to work with the consultant who will assess through interviews, recommend corrective action and guide the implementation plans to improve our volunteer efforts.

A 50% reduction of rental fees for all boats and all times was discussed and approved.  The goal is to increase use of our boats and provide more value to our members.  The reduced fees will begin on July 16 and last for 30 days.
Joe Cannon will purchase two new Yamaha engines to improve reliability.  A Tohatsu engine will be taken to the dealer to see if its performance can be improved.
The new mooring arrangements in Monroe harbor make it difficult to get on and off the can without difficulty as demonstrated by the six Incidents this season where Sail Chicago boats struck other moored boats.  The Board is encouraging skippers to motor on and off the can if there is any question about safely doing so.
The next meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. on August 9 and will be conducted at a site to be determined.

Who to Contact
Need information on an area in Sail Chicago, but don't know who to contact?  Find that person in the Sail Chicago Organization Chart.
Help our Community Outreach Programs
Please consider volunteering to skipper or crew on a weekday afternoon sail with one of our three groups that take underprivileged children sailing. Skippering five or more times will fulfill your service requirement for the following year. For more information on the Lawrence Hall Youth Services, Urban Youth, and Schuler Scholars, go to the Sail Chicago Website.
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.
Sail Chicago Gear
Purchase gear with the Sail Chicago logo on it.  Caps, shirts, pants and other gear are available. To shop now, click here.

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Read the Sail Chicago Blog
Keep up to date on the events and activities of Sail Chicago and the Chicago sailing community. Read the sail Chicago blog on a regular basis. You can find it on the Sail Chicago website under "News."
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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. Look under "News/Newsletter."

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