A Farewell Sail
by Jeff Blunck   jeff@goldencoast.com 

August 18th, 2001 marks the last sail on our home built sailboat. She's a Jim Michalak design called Frolic2. In a few weeks we will be giving her to a new home and a new family to enjoy. We couldn't have picked a better weekend all summer to sail at Lake McConaughy in western Nebraska. It's our favorite spot to cruise if you will. This time of year the water is low due to irrigation and the beaches are spectacular. 

Lake McConaughy

Nearly everything about Lake McConaughy is big! Its 35,700 surface acres make it Nebraska's largest reservoir with over 100 miles of shoreline. At full storage, McConaughy is 20 miles long, four miles wide and 142 feet deep at the dam.  The dam is among the largest of its type in the world, and the fish grow to trophy proportions, accounting for several state records. Even its nickname, "Big Mac" reflects its giant stature.

Being in the "Sand Hills" of Nebraska, it's 100 miles of sand beaches!

Big Mac is a large man made lake created for irrigation and a cooling water supply for a large power plant about 30 miles down the North Platte river. It is a reasonably quiet lake considering the explosion of personal watercraft. (Someday the inventor of those things will have to answer a few questions from higher power and then we'll all know why something so obnoxious was created.) I digress, anyway the lake only has a couple small marinas and very few places to moor or dock so for the most part, it's peaceful. Except for areas close to boat ramps or the few campgrounds, you can cruise down the lake for hours without getting thrown about by powerboat wakes. 

Sailing is very popular here with a local Yacht club sponsoring races throughout the year including the final of the season, "Governors Cup".

We had perfect wind at 5 to 10 MPH all day without a cloud in the sky. I had always wanted to sail the boat up on to the beach and sail back off without the need for oars or the old iron sail to help out. After sailing downwind for an hour we found the perfect inlet with a nice wide beach to land on, so proceeded to tack into the inlet and managed to sail right onto the beach. The rudder and leeboard worked just as design by pivoting up gently as we landed. I had always wanted a picture of the boat beached with the sail up. As luck would have it, the wind calmed to nothing and we got our chance. 

You can see the far shore in the shot on the left. It's hard to believe that it's over three miles away, and look at the white sand beaches! At well over 20 miles long with many such inlets as this one, it's a perfect place to spend weekends. Unfortunately, the wind can be very unpredictable and with a boat like the Frolic2, you can find yourself miles from your boat ramp and no way to get back. With the natural lay of the lake being NW to SE, a 15 to 20 MPH wind can generate waves in excess of 3 feet high. Entirely too much for a boat such as our Frolic2. Besides, my wife and I are now in our mid 40's (don't mention I said that to her) and we just aren't into tent camping anymore and want a nice comfy bed with a hot shower in the morning. 

My wife is of the shy type and didn't want in any of the photos but I talked her into posing for a couple, making me promise to keep them off the web (ya right). She's a love and a good sport though. Two of my favorite photo subjects here, just don't ask a boat builder which is #1. (Just kidding Love, really!) Also, in this picture you can see that the boat is well beached and we could step off dry. The aft part of the boat is floating in about 6 inches of water. 
Okay, so my photo is from a distance, but you can still see that I've spent most of the summer boat building not tanning and I managed a nice burn that day. 

After hamming it up on the beach with the camera and taking a nice walk on the sand and surf, the wind finally returned. My plan worked great, we entered the inlet tacking upwind and on to the beach, to leave we simply pushed off, pulled the sail around and we sailed off the beach like pros. I wished someone could have witnessed it so I could have bragging rights. We managed on our last trip the perfect beach stop, sometimes things just work out as planned. 

The Frolic2 fulfilled all the needs I wanted in a boat very well. It's easy to tow, takes lake chop with ease, a spirited sailer with few vices, if you use common sense. The only thing that it would not do well is point high enough to get anywhere when the wind was very light, she'd just drift off to a broad reach. I usually used the motor at those times since it was faster anyway. This little problem would disappear as the wind strengthened. Certainly a better way to be than the opposite. Maybe the new owner can get it balanced better, I never could. (Personally, I think it's the flat aluminum rudder stalling out.) 

Our boat holds a lot of memories for us, as it was the center of our dating and social fun for several years. When my wife and I met, my homebuilt boat intrigued her. Our first time together was a nice quiet sail on Big Mac on a warm early November day. We sailed on and off during that unusually warm November and started up again the next spring as soon as possible. Through that winter we joined the Ogallala Yacht Club at the lake and enjoyed the social aspects. In May of 2000 we ventured 700 miles down to lake Texoma to attend a messabout with other boat builders. After that trip, we knew we where compatible and decided to get married. We were so fanatical about being on the water, we moved our wedding date up so that it was still warm enough to have the ceremony on the boat. In August of 2000, we sailed out to the middle of Carter Lake, which is located in the Colorado mountains, dropped the sail and while slowly drifting around, we where married. We wanted a small ceremony so what better way than getting married aboard a small sailboat. It keeps the crowds down for sure and it was fun! Afterwards we sailed back to the dock, dropped off our passenger and proceeded back out with a bottle of bubbly to celebrate. You can see how our Frolic2 is very much a part of our lives. 

We are currently building a Coral Coaster 29 by Ross Turner. We plan to take a long sabbatical from work to cruise the Great Circle Route. We don't have the room or want the expense of maintenance on two boats, so we are giving our Frolic2 away. It maybe hard for others to understand why we want to just give the boat away rather than sell it. We've heard the groans about how much work it was and the expense but to us, what really counts is finding a good home for the boat. This is going to sound real corny but knowing that the boat will be "loved" and "cared" for was more important than the minimal financial pay back we could have gotten. We have found a home for our Frolic2 with a young family. They wanted to build a Frolic2 for their own as a way to get a boat but were a bit unsure of the process. The thought of our Frolic2 being used to teach youngsters the art of sailing and as vessel for camping is all the payment we need. After all, she's a source of great memories now, and has potential for a great many more in the future. 

I would never had guessed my building a sailboat would have ultimately led to finding and marrying the love of my life, nor guessed that it would open up more dreams than can be written about in this small article. If our CC29 provides good memories and experiences as our Frolic2 has, we will indeed be happy. 

Fellow boat builders can only know the joy and satisfaction of building your own boat. If you thought you'd like to try it, as the old saying goes:

"Just Do It".

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