guess it had to happen sooner or later...
Everyone knows I have
been messing about sailing my canoes. Last year Nibi
Mocs and I paddled/sailed 100 miles along the Pukaskwa
Coast of Lake Superior. It was a great adventure (see
Article). Today on a local lake
I got a big surprise. I finally sailed her over! My
only unintentional capsize (so far) in 5 years of
sailing the skinny boats. What makes it more humbling
is the wind wasn't even that bad.
Sailing on the
Pukaskwa Coast of Lake Suuperior last year.
Eagle Creek Lake runs north and south is about 4
miles long and almost a half mile wide. It is divided
into two pools by the 56th St bridge and causeway.
I started at the north end from the Park Marina and
sailed south towards the bridge. Wind was out of the
WSW to W 8-10 mph giving me a close to beam reach
most of the way down. I sailed under 56th St heading
south for the dam. Nearing the S boat ramp the wind
freshened and got gusty, 10-20 mph. I luffed up, reefed
and decided to put my PFD on. The Indy Fire Department
dive team was practicing on the ramp, including sinking
an old Chevy van for rescue!
I continued on down to the dam and tacked back and
forth a few times before turning back. Approaching
the boat ramp in 15 mph wind we powered right up to
the bank and luffed up at the last minute. The firefighters
were impressed. I stepped out and tied her off. One
fireman came over to inspect my homebuilt sailing
canoe. He asked a few questions about stitch and glue
building and wanted to know where he could buy plans.
I was interested to watch the divers attach cables
to the submerged van. After watching a tow truck pull
the van out of the water (which drifted while underwater
and had to be pulled up over the bank instead of the
concrete ramp) I got back in the boat and headed north
towards 56th. The wind was gusting 15-20 mph and made
the sailing a little rough, but nothing I hadn't done
before, luff through the puffs.
I coasted under the bridge and headed for a cove
on the west side about 1/4 mile N of the bridge. Being
in the lee of the wind, the cove was quiet, so I just
drifted around luffing up into the wind as an occasional
puff would dictate.
I had just decided to head back out to the main lake
when a gust caught me unaware. I was leaning hard
to weather and trying to point up into the wind but
since we were going so slow she wouldn't respond to
the tiller. For some reason, I didn't let go of the
sheet. Next thing I knew she had sailed right over,
filled with water and turned turtle. It's a good thing
I was wearing the PFD and the water was warm!.
The wind was trying to push us out into the lake
so I found the bow painter and swam 50-60 yards towards
the nearest bank, pulling the waterlogged boat behind
me. It probably took 10 minutes but felt like an hour.
When I could finally stand I swam back to the canoe
and righted it by pulling down on the leeboard. Everything
was intact and nothing was broken, but the boat was
completely full of water. I took the mast and sail
down, placing them on shore, and started bailing.
It took at least an hour to bail her out, combined
with pulling the canoe up on shore a bit at a time
so that water would exit the 3/8" rear drain
hole. (Probably should make that hole bigger?)
After all this a light rain started and the lake
became calm. I decided to stow the mast and sail in
the canoe and paddle back to the Marina. I would have
had to take everything back down in 5 minutes or so
- ALWAYS wear the PFD. (I didn't have it on until
the wind started gusting.)
- Release the sheet in a puff instead of trying
to head up into the wind, it's quicker and fool
- No matter what the wind conditions, ALWAYS BE
READY. A capsize could be just a puff away.
All in all it was a good day on the water.
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