March 27,2016
Rend Lake 

 Autumn Ozark Sailing
September 2015

One of the biggest problems with living on the Southern Coast of Illinois is the lack of good sailing weather during the summer months. We have some beautiful lakes but thanks to hot temperatures, high humidity and wind shadows the breeze is not always kind to tiny boat sailors like me.

(Wind shadows you ask? This is that phenomenon lake sailors must deal with. It occurs when the rise and fall of the surrounding land actually interrupts the airflow usually killing that great beam reach breeze causing your peaceful sail to just plain stop.There is nothing worse than sitting in a tiny boat as it bobs up and down on the waves of those monster powerboats while you pray for even the tiniest breeze.)

Whoa! Did that just come out of MY brain??

Consequently, we have not done much sailing this summer. But with the onset of autumn and subsequent cooler temps and friendlier breezes, a 25 foot rented Catalina and a couple of friends,we took off for a weekend on Lake of the Ozarks. 
Rob doing an equipment check.

Lake of the Ozarks is the center of the country's answer to The Great Lakes. It is huge, scenic and – in the summer – loaded with power boats and jet skis. The population falls off only slightly after the beginning of the school year. Just enough to make us feel confident that we wouldn't be taken out by a 'party barge'.

We rented the Catalina from the OzarkYacht Club. This is our second interaction with the club and once again they were delightful. You can read about our first experience here:

We chose not to stay on the boat this go-round as we shanghaied two new pirates. And thanks to Biker Weekend the cabins at the Yacht Club were all booked. Yes, Biker Weekend is exactly as it sounds – hundreds and hundreds of Harleys. Nice folks, beautiful bikes.

Instead, we booked rooms at the OzarkCountry Club.

(I feel I must clarify here – while I keep throwing around names like 'Yacht Club' and 'Country Club' these are not snooty, white shoes and monogram jacket sorts of places.)

The Country Club is a grand old place.
What an entrance.
The outdoor pool area complete with poolside snack bar.

Some of the larger balconies.
Our view. We were on the second floor. Up another floor or two and you would have a fantastic view of the lake. As it was, we still got a fantastic fireworks show on Saturday night, courtesy of that resort in the distance!

It is obvious that at one time is was magnificent. But sadly, it is a little tired these days. Our rooms were huge, clean but a little dated. Upon checkout we were pleased to hear the hotel was recently purchased and the new owner has plans to renovate. I can't wait. The Country Club is the perfect location to most everything at the Bagnell Dam end of the lake without the sometimes bumper to bumper traffic of the strip.

Our weekend started early with a stop at the outlet mall in search of a new leather jacket – success. We closed up Friday at Shawnee Bluff Winery. About a five minute drive from the hotel. The winery offers a small menu of appetizers, sandwiches and wood-fire pizzas. Rob tried a glass of their Vignoles and then the Flappers and Philosophers – both light and crisp and quite good. I stuck to the house Cabernet – also delicious. And this is coming from someone who typically does not care for Missouri reds. We shared a pepperoni pizza which was crisp and spicy and just the right size for two. 
Shawnee Bluffs also has cabins for rent. They are currently being updated. But the pool area, in the middle of the winery patio is perfect.
Happy place? Yes, please. 

 Our view was exquisite.
no words!
 And the entertainment? Amazing! The musical duo of Jim and Me performed.
This is me and Jim of Jim and Me, Me - who is Frank - is not pictured here.
 These are two retired gentlemen who play guitar versions or all those songs we grew up with. It was just a perfect evening.

Saturday dawned slightly overcast but the sun broke through as we finished up breakfast at the Yacht Club Lakeside Cafe. Our boat was ready and the four of us set sail with hopes of making it to mile marker 7 and lunch at H. Toads. (Formerly known as Horney Toads. The name change is a mystery. Our theory is losing the 'horney' allows for better internet search results when searched on workplace computers.) We had a steady 8-10 knot breeze which gave everyone an opportunity to give steering a try.
So lovely.

Beautiful blue water, clear skies. 

Pirate number One takes the Helm.
My favorite spot on the boat. #FindAdventure
 It took us about two and a half hours to finally locate mile marker 7 – you would think they would make those signs a teensy bit bigger. I mean, we are an aging population. Our eyesight is not the best.

The large H. Toad's sign was a welcome sight. As were the hamburgers and ice tea. And the bathrooms. (There was a tiny snafu with the head on our rental boat. But I'll keep that story to myself. Because. Eeewww.)

Our sail back was a little more typical of lake sailing. Breeze at 4-5 knots with intermittent non-existance. The powerboats were all up by 2pm and they seem to delight is zooming past us and leaving us to bob up and down. And up. And down.

Because we needed to have the boat back by 5pm and we had dinner rezzies for 7:30, we did opt to motor-sail the final couple miles.

But it was all good.

The boat was a delight. And once again I found myself completely amazed at how much I love the sound of wind in the sails. 
Dinner that night was at JB Hooks. Unbelievably delicious food, old school steakhouse atmosphere and a great view. However,  we were all so exhausted from our adventure we took turns kicking one another under the table to stay awake.

Here's hoping for a couple more autumn sails with Blue Skies.

And then a first time run at HobieCats in Jamaica!

If I live, I'll be sure to post pictures. They promise to be quite educational! Or hilarious. You be the judge. 
(And as always - this is not a PAID post. The opinions are strictly my own. Although I would not be averse to a free night, meal or boat rental...)

June 2015
Because Dad makes awesome videos!

I just love the sound of the wind in the sails and water splashing the bow.

November 2014
We were lucky enough to attend Rob Swain Sailing School in Tortola, BVI.  I am still overwhelmed by the scenery, the people, the food and those Painkiller drinks.
Not a map. Actually taken from our airplane window!
the view from our new home rental villa. you can see how I would be confused.
a 'tortola sloop' one of the native built boats. thankfully, we had a nice place to stay or I am quite sure Rob would have set up camp here.
our lesson boat, with Rob at the tiller.
there are no words. okay, one word. beautiful!
Come back in January for more pictures and my version of Tales from the Caribbean.

October 2014
 We took advantage of one of the last lovely October weekends and took Blue Skies to Creve Coeur Lake. It was Sail Racing day. We did not race. We did pretend to race. It was very tempting but I refrained (read that - was not allowed -  to grab all the buoys as we went around them and throw them into the boat while exclaiming 'We Won!'
 Here is my triumphant rounding of buoy number 2.

 As mentioned earlier, it was a beautiful day. Being near the confluence of two large rivers, we have the luxury of seeing eagles on a fairly regular basis. We saw three on Sunday. We were also treated to three WWII biplanes practicing formations.  Of course, I am using a new camera and managed to get NO pictures.
But, here is a close up of our 'rounding of  the buoy:
So close...
 And look at these guys:
This is called 'heeling' also known as 'tipping over'.

And here is the amazing sky:
Happy Place!

 I will leave you with a photo of all the racers. A lake full of sailboats. So peaceful.
Don't let the calm fool you. Let it wash over you.

 September 2014

Spent a lovely weekend in September at the yearly gathering of small boat enthusiasts known as the Small Boat Messabout. I enter into this weekend with much trepidation - it involves camping for two days. This was our third year at the gathering and with that came true delight at seeing familiar faces who feel more and more like friends. By being 'third-timers' I also feel comfortable saying we had some 'new faces' in attendance as well! I will leave you with a few of my favorite pictures from the weekend. And as Water Rat says in Wind in the Willows: There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. ~(Kenneth Grahame)
Sailing in formation!

Autumn always seems to come early in Indiana.

Morning sunlight on breezy Sunday.
If you are also a small boat enthusiast and live in the Midwest, or are just up for a roadtrip - check out the official website for the Lake Monroe Midwest Messabout: And hopefully, we will see you there next year!

 Welcome to the world of Land Locked Sailors!

I am not sure why I didn't think to video a trip out in the sailboat before now.  Probably fear of tipping the boat over or dropping the camera...
This was filmed at Rend Lake in Southern Illinois. The South Sandusky Recreation Area to be specific. We were really flying for a while there and let me tell you - there is no feeling like it on earth. The wind in the sail, the splash of the water on the bow...

Keep a weather eye on the Sailing Page for more video and pictures and possibly a story or two.


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  2. I will certainly check that site that you dropped here. I've been looking forward to meet you guys on your next sailboat trip! Been searching for small and fuel efficient yachts to explore the Philippines.

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