Sunday, March 27, 2016

Spiders and Lake

At last. A sunny, warm-ish weekend here on the Coast of Illinois.

What do you do on a sunny, warmish weekend?

Yard work?



Sailing, of course.

For the second year in a row, we have harnessed up the sailboat and driven 90 minutes through miles and miles of farmland to Rend Lake for our first sail of the new year. 
I grew up surrounded by cornfields. 
These are my people.
And more ghostly ball players though...

At this time of year there are limited access points open.
We were at the Dam West access area - great ramp, nice pavilion, clean bathrooms
Nearly empty parking lot means plenty of room for set up.

I guess the rangers figure very few people are willing to risk a dunk in the 53.1 degree water.

I am not willing either. Hence the life vest.*
T-shirt, jeans, sweater WITH hood, sweatshirt, hat and Life Vest.This is not the Keys.

However, the nearly perfect silence is just too enticing. 

So quiet you can actually hear the quiet
Too bad the BASSBOATS can't enjoy it. Apparently cruising the lake just fast enough to make the motor whine while dragging your fishing lines is the perfect way to catch fish.

I did not see many fish flying into any of those boats.

But, anyway...

We actually had sun for the better part of the day with winds between 5 and 10 miles and hour. We opted out of reefing under the pretense that we need to practice reefing under sail. The reality is this – we like going fast. And the winds weren't really reef quality. We set out on a nice tack across the lake and noticed an interesting phenomenon.


We have noticed that once out on the lake, we acquire in odd assortment of tiny critters. A ladybug here and there, a tiny crawly bug once in a while and always, a couple of tiny spiders. Yesterday we counted about 6 spiders.

No, 7.

Okay. 10.

At number ten we began to notice the webs. They were everywhere, stuck to every stay and line that was relatively stationary.

And then we saw them floating in the air. Hundreds of them.

You know that scene in Charlotte's Web when all the baby spiders float off in the breeze? Well, they all floated to Southern Illinois and onto or around our boat.Tiny glittering threads wisping on the breeze until they wrapped around the fore-stay. Or the mast. Or my hat. 
These are just two of the HUNDREDS of webs.

Once under way, Rob gave me the tiller.

It takes me awhile to re-orient myself to the tiller. It is the opposite of a steering wheel. You want to go right? You push the tiller left. You want to go left? You push the tiller right. Or just keep pushing it left until you complete a circle.

I also get a lot of grief for having issues with going straight.

In my defense, there is no true 'straight' in sailing. Hence all that tacking back and forth. Sort of like that annoying Family Circus kid who leaves a dotted line around the neighborhood to get to the house next door.

And here is where we experienced the next natural phenomenon.

I believe the technical term is Lake Effect. 
I prefer the term Ghost Wind. 

Suddenly our nice port tack gently drifted into an unstoppable starboard tack. It was a gentle shift. I figured it was my tremulous tiller work so I frantically moved left. No, right. Wait! Left!

The boom very slowly moved to the center of the boat as the jib began to shift.

"We are accidentally coming about.." I warned Rob. But the action was so slow there was no worry of anyone being whapped with the boom, we just did a little shift and continued on with sails full and a starboard tack, which we attributed to my problems with going 'straight'.

Until it happened again with Rob at the helm.

Ghost wind...
If you look closely at the picture in a darkened basement you will see the Ghost Wind...

What we were actually experiencing is one of the wonders of Lake sailing. (or possibly an enormous catfish named Whiskers who was grabbing the rudder.) But Rob insists it was the wind.

Wind is an interesting force. It is easily influenced by so many factors. And our wind was being influenced by the cold water temps meeting the slightly warmer air temps which were all being shoved about by the even warmer land temps.

There's a physics formula for that whole thing.

But it's the weekend.

I don't do math on the weekends.
Boat lunch. The best place for a picnic as there are no ants. Probably because of the spiders.
Later, there was an interesting slide.

Up wind.

Which of course, happened with me at the helm.

And isn't suppose to happen

I was afraid to mention it. The dagger board was dropped all the way. (A dagger board takes the place of a 'keel' on bigger boats. This part of the boat prevents the boat from sliding sideways downwind when winds are strong. Physics. Pfftt.)
I have no idea why we slid upwind.
It probably had something to do with the spiders. 
We always save our rum for home.

Check out the Sailing page for a quick video of  'quiet'.

*For safety, you should ALWAYS wear a life vest when in a boat. Especially a sailboat. When the water temp is 53.1 degrees. Plus, the life vest offers a nice amount of warmth.


  1. My sister-in-law has a beautiful view of Chicago's Belmont Harbor. This weekend the first boats returned from hibernation and an intrepid group of students had their first lesson of the season. Spring is here!

  2. It was such a wonderful way to welcome in the new season. Happy Spring to you, Mo.

  3. I could do without spiders (snakes, too, for that matter!) But a day at the lake sounds like heaven!

    Twitter: @KnottyMarie
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    1. There is nothing better than a day on the boat. Unless it is a week!!


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