Friday, June 30, 2006

Newlyweds Sail Through 25 Years

06/29/06 - Published live onsite from beautiful downtown Big Lake.

Jay and Melissa toast twenty five years

Late breaking news flash – late Thursday this roving reporter team learned of Jay and Melissa’s 25th anniversary. Jody organized an impromptu lakeside surprise party. We all toasted with champagne and munched on chocolate cake and shared tales of meeting and marrying.


Loons Monitor Night Training at Big Lake

The Loon security team reported helicopter search and rescue training at 2110 on 6/29/06.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Getting the Clubsite ready for the 4th!

Kathy puts the finishing touches to the new Unitairian revival tent at the club.
Here is the new BBQ pit Tom requested.

The Launch Pod is on the water!! Bring out your swimsuits

Check out the Beautiful lawn on the shoreline

Lots of lawn in front of the clubhouse too. Thanks to TL and Teri for doing all the mowing and lawn work this weekend. Elayne and Cheryl have started the task of repainting the club house. They are looking for donations of purple paint for the trim. The club looks fantastic. We are ready for the 4th of July.

The theme for the potlucks will be All American food. We will have two potlucks one on Saturday and another on Sunday. Bring lots of goodies and be ready for some serious racing and eating.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

300 Miles to Valdez

Valdez, Alaska

The Sheet’s roving reporter team reporting from Alaska’s Little Switzerland.

Valdez Harbormaster

The weather on the drive over was wet and rainy on Thursday, but gradually improved as we neared Valdez. And it’s been a little better each day, providing spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers.

Small boat harbor

We walked around the little town of 4,100, explored the local scene and checked out the Last Frontier Theatre Conference.

Shark Rodeo

The small boat harbor is filled mostly with fishing boats and power pleasure craft, but there are at least a dozen very nice sailboats, even a 50 ft luxury catamaran. Kayaking or sailing Prince William Sound from here would a great adventure.

New ASC rescue boat

Today it’s back to Anchorage and on to Big Lake!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Get Ready for the 4th of July

The flow is going now. We’re a blogging concern! You may find some familiar faces in the K32 Adventures blog.

Race Committee News:

Summer 2006 Racing Schedule

Ice Breaker Regatta - June 3rd and 4th
Firecracker Regatta - July 1st and 2nd
Governors Cup Regatta - September 2nd, 3rd, and 4th

We may also stage other races as interest allows. There is usually a fun race in August sometime. We'll work those dates and get them out.

Remember – As someone else said "Specialization is for insects"!

Alaska Sailing Club

The Alaska Sailing club, such a beautiful place. Currently we have an "L" floating dock. Our former "C" floating dock system washed away in the storm of "99". Maybe someday it will return.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Alaska Sailing Club on TV

Brett Shepard advises that KTVA Channel 11 will again run the story they did last year about sailing at Big Lake.

It will be aired Wednesday, June 14th at 6 PM and again Thursday June 15th at 6 AM.

Monday, June 12, 2006

More of the Sailing Class

Almost ready to hit the high seas
The class goes out for the first sail as a group on Big Lake
If you concentrate hard enough all things become clear?
True happiness is learning to sail together!
Geoff "The Rock" shows us how basketball was played in his hometown
Another happy sailor

Dave supervises the rigging of the Lido

Birgett and Sharon try to keep a straight face while trying to explain to me how a pulley works!

Sailing Class and Open House

The Alaska Sailing Club 2006 sailing class.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Open House and Sailing Class

The Sheet
Big Lake, Alaska

Open House

Our annual Open House is this Saturday, June 10 from 1-4 pm. Stop by and learn about sailing on Big Lake!

Sailing Class

Our annual sailing class is this Saturday and Sunday. The class is full, but you can always sign up for next year's session. Club members come on out and lend a hand.

Elayne Hunter Wins the 2006 Icebreaker Regatta

Pre start action
The Sheet
Big Lake, Alaska

The Ice Breaker Regatta was a wet and wild ride! I've never seen such tremendous winds and beautiful weather linked up like they were for this years' Ice Breaker.

The results:

Small Boats
1st - Elayne Hunter
2nd - Dave Johnson
3rd - Paul Willing

Big Boats
1st - TL Stanbro
2nd - Ben & Birgitt Robar
3rd - Chris Remick

RL and crew leaves the harbor- Ben, Birgitt & SharonCongratulations to the winners and all the participants.

I wasn't able to see all the action on Saturday, but there was some very tight groupings on the results - competitive racing. I was able to get out and race on Sunday - what a blast! The winds were cooking at about 20kts which made for a very fast ride, major heeling, and water in the cockpit. Elayne leaving the harbor aboard her Laser

And, yes, there were a couple boats that tipped, and a few folks that went swimming. And I'm here to tell you that the water has some warming up to do! Luckily I had some good crew and we got the boat underway without further incident. We even made a respectable finish!

Please plan to make the next races series, the Firecracker Regatta, on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd of July.

PS - if you are looking for a boat to buy, I might have a line on a couple nice ones that would add wonderfully to our fleet. Tom dons the start flag

Special thanks to Race Committee officials Jody Willing and Tom Gould for their excellent job onshore.

Posted by Paul Willing on behalf of
Timothy Gould - Vice Commodore, Race Committee Chairman

Race details available at The Alaska Sailing Club web site - 2006 Issues of The Sheet

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Ahoy All,

Sue and I took an ASA certified sailing class hosted by Sailing Inc. this weekend in Seward, and we bumped into fellow Big Lake student sailors Jeremy & Cindy. We will be in Seward again next weekend to finish the class. We are sorry to have missed the Ice Breaker Regatta, but I have to say it was not so bad rotating as helsman and crew on a 30' Catalina in 25 knots. We will be gone again next weekend to complete the class but look foward to seeing everyone again soon after that on Big Lake. By the way, what slip is the boat in that Jay and Chris bought? I'd love to check it out next weekend.

Bottoms Not Up (this time),

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Memorial Day Weekend

The Sheet
Big Lake, Alaska

Memorial Day Weekend

May 26th
This holiday marks the traditional start of summer for many Alaskans. There was the usual holiday frenzy around Anchorage as people hurried about on errands preparing for their own long weekend.

But a sailor’s thoughts turn to water, sun, wind and friends and there’s no better place than the Alaska Sailing Club for all of these things. The green leaves are out and a high pressure area parked over south central Alaska promised sunny skies and warm temperatures. During the drive out from Anchorage, the afternoon of 5/26/06, we noted 82°F in the Big Lake area.

For us, the late afternoon was dedicated to “setting camp” duties to prepare for the summer. Members trickled in and we began to form plans to complete the site setup. The main task was launching and securing the remaining six docks still on shore after spring work party maintenance and floatation barrel fitting. But, the previous loss of the float for the dock mooring at the east end of “B” dock was a major roadblock. We’d have to find the mooring or set a new one.

We located the old “finder cable” that linked back to the shore from the mooring, but it was corroded in half only a few feet from shore. After some effort trying to find the free end of the cable, Harbormaster Chris took command and donned two (yes two) wetsuits and his high tech scuba goggles in preparation for the quest. Clear water and the right lighting conditions helped the search but Chris’s dogged efforts were the key. Finally – success. Chris had spotted the mooring and submerged float, but how would he get it out of 16 feet of ice cold water? Two wet suits help when the water is that cold, but it’s still flippin’ cold! Options were discussed and a small folding grapnel anchor became the tool of choice.

The shore crew triangulated the position while Tom and TL took TL’s boat out to try and snag it. After multiple tries with the anchor they had it. The crowd went wild! Pulling the mooring chain up made Tom and TL wish they had brought work gloves, different clothes and a bucket to put the chain in. The clothes may never be the same and TL’s boat was slimed with rotten lake bottom gunk. Another float was attached and we were set for launching docks on Saturday.

May 26th
Early Saturday morning had a light haze that soon burned off to reveal more blue skies and a blazing sun. It was going to be a hot one! The first two docks went in easily since they were positioned closest to the hoist pick spot. The others required a 10 to 30 foot carry. We count warm bodies – seven won’t do. We’ve never actually weighed a dock section, but 700 – 1,000 lbs is a good estimate.

We waited for others to awaken and arrive. With a dozen members the remaining dock sections are easily launched and secured into position.

By early afternoon the bulk of the work was done and a nice breeze that started in the morning has gradually filled in across the entire lake. Boats were quickly rigged and launched to take advantage of it. I too hurried to complete all those first sail of the season chores needed to launch and rig the trusty Hobie. But it seemed to be one thing after another going wrong (twisted halyard, fouled roller furling, etc.).

As Jody and I finally left the harbor around 4:00 pm, I thought sailing at Big Lake doesn’t get much better than this – sun, warmth and a nice 10 – 15 mph breeze from the northwest. As whitecaps began to form, we beat to weather to reach the north shore and then close reached all the way to the old Call of the Wild. Along the way there were some puffs with extreme extra pressure – never cleat that main sheet under these conditions. The wind continued to build during this time and by the time we reached the west end of the lake it was downright howling! I had to travel out the mainsail and ease the mainsheet a lot just to keep the boat upright and the leeward bow from submerging, all the while screaming along at top speed. It was a very wet and wild ride for sure.

Burying the leeward bow on a cat is BAD news – the boat can “trip” and flip over forward in a pitch pole movement. Due to the high rate of speed, this usually launches the skipper and crew forward some distance, after you’re strained through the standing rigging.

We tacked and headed back downwind on a broad reach. The boat reached top speed quickly as we began the downhill sled ride where cats really shine. It was exhilarating and truly incredible as we seemed to fly across the lake! We soon decided this was the fastest run ever for our boat. As we screamed past Bird Island we noted the wind had increased even more and both bows were riding very low on the puffs (dipping and bucking like a bull ride). I had eased the mainsail as far as possible and was now relying on only our ability to move about the boat to manage the gusts and waves. (Note – winds over 25 mph make most beach cats, like the Hobie 16, unmanageable without a reefed mainsail.) We gibed and headed back to the club. By running straight downwind we were able to slow the boat and catch our breath for what promised to be a hair-raising docking attempt.

After a few even stronger gusts, the wind direction swung to the northeast and I was able to stop and dock with a great deal of help from Elayne and Bob who rushed to our aid. Man, what a ride!

Waves in the harbor are now 2 feet high. Furl the jib, drop the main, more boat to dock protection. Waves quickly build to 3 ft. The Hobie is now hobby horsing 5 to 6 ft while parked at the dock. Time to pluck it out and set it on shore with the help of a Jeromy, Bob, Jay, TL and others I missed in the confusion and howling wind (thanks to all).

This picture doesn’t do the storm’s fury justice and it was taken after things had calmed down a bit. You can see the birch trees bowed and the yellow Skipjack’s bow in the air. During the worst of it you could not stand on the B dock while it bucked and twisted like a piece of rubber.

The fleet holds on

But wait, the fun is just beginning. Other boats need to be secured and the newly installed dock bolts begin to shear off, new barrel docks are being smashed against the shoreline rocks. Wow, this sailing club stuff is great fun! After more than an hour (who knows how long) of fighting mother-nature, club members are exhausted and we determine there is nothing more we can do to fight the effects of this storm. We watch as the waves batter the shore making the remaining boats fight their lines and the docks twist back and forth.

With the urgent items secured as best we could for the conditions, we did what all sailors do in desperate times – we prepared for the potluck and had a cocktail or two. Then there were shouts and people running for the shore… Andy was trying to moor his sloop with his family aboard, but had missed the mooring and was in danger of wrecking on the drill pipes and gabion baskets just east of the hoist. All hands pitched in and fended the boat off as we worked it toward the hoist. Suggestions were many: leave the harbor and ride out the storm in lee of an island, dock the boat in the large waves, make another mooring attempt, etc. After another failed mooring try, docking became the only option. We secured the boat and retreated to the clubhouse for good food and good company. Everyone was drained and glad to be inside.

Thus ended the most incredible first sailing day of the season this reporter can recall. What a day!

May 27th
Sunday was beautiful and much calmer weather wise. More club prep was accomplished with more decking boards installed, the garden planted and general cleanup from the storm’s mayhem. Amazingly, no one was seriously injured and no boats received significant damage.

Calm evening at Big Lake

May 28th
Monday, time for us to return home, rest up and go back to work. Next weekend, The Icebreaker Regatta race series!