"Any damn fool can navigate the world sober. It takes a really good sailor to do it drunk." - Sir Francis Chichester when asked why he carried so much alcohol on his solo sail around the world.

Monday, June 15, 2020 Article on 2020 LMSS Doublehanded Championship

Here's an article about one of my favorite races to participate in. The original article can be found at:
I had to drop out of this year's event due to a death in my family.

Mike Kenny on the 2020 Lake Michigan Doublehanded Championship

by David Schmidt 9 Jun 08:00 PDT June 11, 2020
Mike Bush on the helm. A rough day on the water beats any day at the office © Image courtesy of Phil Bush
Given the torrent of press in the sailing world detailing the widespread cancelation of regattas and sailing events due to the global scourge known as the novel coronavirus, it’s highly encouraging when an event moves forward with racing in a safe and properly socially distanced manner. One great example of this is the 2020 Lake Michigan Doublehanded Championship, which is set unfurl on Thursday, June 11.
In Great Lakes racing circles, this annual event is known as the “Double” or the “Doublehander”, and it gives participating sailors, racing aboard boats that measure 26 to 45 feet, LOA, with an opportunity for adventure and great shorthanded racing.
While there’s plenty of interesting details surrounding the Doublehander, one of the regatta’s unique attributes is its use of two starting lines. Sailors who are racing in the East-Shore Division will start on a line off of Muskegon, Michigan, and they will sail a 65-plus nautical-mile course of their choosing to a shared finishing line, which will be located off of Port Washington, Wisconsin. Sailors competing in the West-Shore Division will start at a line that will be situated off of Winthrop Harbor, Illinois and they will sail a 54-plus nautical-mile route of their choosing to Port Washington.
Granted, doublehanded racing represents an easier format for sailing in the dark shadow of COVID-19, as there’s far more opportunity for sailors to safely socially distance themselves from their teammate than aboard fully crewed racing yachts, but the event organizers’ precautions and commitment to keeping sailors safe amidst this pandemic didn’t stop with simple headcounts.
I checked in with Mike Kenny, chairman of the 2020 Lake Michigan Doublehanded Championship, via email, to learn more about this exciting event.

What’s been the hardest challenge about organizing a great-sounding regatta series during a major pandemic lockdown?
In a word, uncertainty. Almost every day the landscape is changing and timelines get extended. Also, since our event has starts in Michigan and Illinois, with both finishing in Wisconsin, we must abide by the requirements and recommendations of three different states.

Have you and the other organizers had to change any aspects of this year’s Doublehander due to COVID-19?
Yes, we have made significant changes. This includes eliminating all group gatherings. We are distributing race materials electronically and providing curd-side pickup. We are holding conference-call-based skippers meetings, and [we] will use VHF broadcasts for last-minute updates. We are foregoing our luncheon and awards banquet.
This year’s race is going to come together at the start line.

Where do you expect that most of the 35 registered boat will hail from?
Word is getting out, [and] registered boats are now approaching fifty. We have a good distribution of entries from Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Missouri.

What kinds of onshore social-distancing practices will the event employ? Also, how do you plan to enforce these policies?
This is the unfortunate aspect of the changes we have had to make this year. All of our onshore activities have been canceled or modified to eliminate bringing our entrants together.
Even so, we have received nothing but thanks for going forward. Everyone is clamoring to participate in a safe event on the water.

What kinds of safe-play tactics are you expecting from the racers on the water? Are we talking about standard-issue things like face masks and hand sanitizer, or are you also expecting that sailors employ more distanced/cordial tactics at mark roundings so as not to create crowded or temporarily densely crowded on-the-water situations? Also, do you expect that sailors will arrive with their usual levels of competitiveness, or is the spirit of this year’s race more about getting out on the water for some friendly racing than about winning?
Our shorthanded doubles port-to-port format is very conducive to safe-play. We have two separate starts that are over 100 nautical miles apart, and the course is about 65 nautical miles. Plenty of room for "social distance".
This event has always been very friendly and many teams are family members. But don't be fooled by the pleasantries, this is a competitive bunch.

Will the RC physically be on the water in a boat together, or will they be running things from ashore? If not, how will they practice social distancing?
[The] RC will be on the water for the starts and finish. They will be small teams of folks that are familiar with each other and have been safely intermingling.

How will any potential protests be handled? Will all competitors be “in the room”, or will any red flags be handled via video conference?
Protests are extremely rare for our events. The customary damage must be a hole large enough to kick a cat through from 25 yards and must be submitted on the proper 4”x4” bar napkin.
Regardless, protest time limits are extended. We will accept protests via email and will handle via video conference.

In your mind, what are the best aspects and challenges of this race?
The best aspects are without a doubt our participants. [It’s] a phenomenal group of accomplished sailors. Normally our biggest challenge is scheduling. This year it's clearly the logistics of organizing this event with our different, diverse and incredible host marinas and yacht clubs, [namely] Port Washington Marina, Port Washington Yacht Club, North Point Marina, Winthrop Harbor Yacht Club, Muskegon Yacht Club and Racine Yacht Club.

Any advice for other organizers who are interested in trying successfully and safely administer sailboat races in the COVID-19 era?
While socializing is a huge aspect of our sport, I believe most prefer to be actively racing. Keep participants separate by eliminating all gatherings. Host a video post-race if you must party. Offer shorthanded race versions. Use electronic communications. Stay within—and reinforce—Covid-19 guidelines.
[The] utmost priority is to ensure your participants stay safe.

Anything else that you’d like to add, for the record?
If you are in or planning to be in the Illinios, Michigan, Wisconsin area, please join us.
Details and Entry available at

Original article can be found at:

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Monday, March 2, 2020

Lake Michigan will break February record

Below is an article from ( )

Lake Michigan will break February record

Rising Waters
holland channel big red lighthouse
The Big Red Lighthouse can be seen across the Holland channel, filled with ice, on Feb. 16, 2020.

DETROIT (WOOD) — Lake Michigan will break the all-time high water mark for the month of February.
The record won’t be official until next week, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ weekly report released Friday showed the lake remains 4 inches above the February record.
All month, Lake Michigan has been 4 to 6 inches above the record from 1986. Monthly records are set by taking the average water level for the entire month.
The good news for lakeshore homeowners is the lake has actually dropped 2 inches over the past month. However, it remains 15 inches higher than a year ago and is forecast to rise 2 inches by the end of March.
All of the Great Lakes remain near or above monthly records. Lake Erie is 5 inches above the February record. Lake Ontario is 4 inches above the February record. Lake Superior even with the February record. Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are treated as one lake by the Army Corps.

The original article can be found at:

Thursday, February 13, 2020

How To Train For the Upcoming Racing Season

1. Buy a case of beer, sit with it in a very warm place for a few hours, then drink it.
2. Apply sunscreen to your face in streaks and sit in front of a sun lamp for 2 hours.
3. Sit on a bench with large metal fixtures cutting into your legs, stare straight up into the sun for two hours – for a more robust workout: invite 4 friends to come over and yell at you the whole time.
4. Go out and get very drunk, sleep 4 hours, then stand on a rocking chair for 6 hours.
5. Go to bank and withdraw $1,000 – then light it on fire.
6. Sit in front of a commercial fan and have someone throw large buckets of salt water on you.
7. Repeat number 6 in jeans and a sweatshirt and /or repeat number 6 with head turned sideways to ensure water lodging fully into ear drum.
8. Cut limb off nearby tree, tie ropes to it, stand on rocking chair with tree limb and ropes – hold them over your head for 3 hours… at 5 minute intervals drop on your head – more robust version: have friends yell at you in 6 minute intervals.
9. Set your wrist watch to 5-minute repeating counts … let it go off all day long.
10. Pour cold water in your lap and give yourself a wedgie, now alternate between sitting and running around bent over.
11. Tie ropes between 2 trees – push your body against them as hard as you can for 6 consecutive hours – don’t stop for pain or bruising.
12. Place sandpaper on your stairs, crawl up and down on your knees for several hours.
13. Make 12 sandwiches on white bread with bad meat and cram them into a bread bag – eat one a day for 12 consecutive days… make sure the last one is peanut butter and jelly if preparing for Race Week.
14. Tie ropes to rear bumper of friend’s car, hold on tightly, but allow rope to slip through fingers as car drives away – TIP: works best with nylon fiber ropes, lengths in excess of 50′.
15. Upon completion of previous 14 drills – sit down and drink 14 Mount Gay Rum drinks, any flavor.

Monday, December 30, 2019

How I Change Headsails When Not Using a Roller Furler

My method assumes that your boat is equipped with a two-groove headsail foil; like a harken, forespar, etc. I'll explain how to change head-sails with hanks in another article. My explanation also assumes that your headsail is up on the starboard halyard. In order to not cross or foul halyards, it is very important that before you change sails that you put the boat on the same tack as to whatever halyard your new headsail will go up on: new head-sail going up on the port halyard put the boat on port tack or the new head-sail is going up on starboard halyard put the boat on starboard tack.

  1. Let's assume that you're sailing on a port tack, the wind is coming over or from the port side of your boat, so your sail is trimmed on the starboard side of the boat.
  2. Put your new sail on the foredeck and attach the tack.
  3. Pull the head through the pre-feeder and prefeed a few feet of the luff into the port foil groove.
  4. Attach the port spinnaker halyard to the head, and snug the halyard in order to take any slack out of the halyard.
  5. Untie the port (or lazy) sheet from the head-sail that you have up and tie it to the clew of the new headsail
  6. Raise the new headsail using the port halyard.
  7. Tack the boat onto starboard tack.
  8. Trim the sheets on both headsails during the tack as if they were both attached to just one sail. Go loose on the old sail's sheet and trim in on the new sail's sheet.
  9. The new headsail is now on the outside of the old sail so you can release the old sail's halyard and pull it down. Since the old sail is on the inside of the new sail, when you pull it down, the new sail will keep it on the deck.
  10. Untie the sheet from the old sail and tie it to the clew of the new sail.
  11. Use sail ties to tie the old sail to the foredeck or put the sail down below.
  12. Tack back onto your original heading or tack, if necessary.

What is great about this method is that you pull your new sail up on the inside of the old sail and you pull the old sail down on the inside of the new sail. By raising and lowering sails on the inside, the outside sail keeps them on the deck.

Note: If you only have one spinnaker halyard, let's assume that it's on the port side. You'll raise the new sail while on port tack and lower while on starboard tack. If your spinnaker halyard is on the starboard side, you'll raise the new sail while on starboard tack and lower the old sail while on port tack.

**I'll make, and post, a video the summer of 2020 on this technique

Monday, November 25, 2019

This Is Not Good News...

The docks that I keep Bootlegger at have already had to be raised once, and may have to be raised again if the Great Lake water levels continue to go up.

This story was originally posted/published by the Detroit Free Press. You can find the original story here:

Record-breaking Great Lakes water levels could be even higher in 2020

Keith Matheny, Detroit Free Press Published 6:00 a.m. ET Oct. 11, 2019 | Updated 2:34 p.m. ET Oct. 11, 2019

It appears 2020 won't bring relief from high Great Lakes water levels — and they could be even higher than this past record-shattering spring and summer.

Following a generally rainy September, measurements by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers show every Great Lake, and Lake St. Clair, well above long-term monthly average water levels for October — almost 3 feet higher on connected lakes Michigan and Huron (35 inches) and on Lake St. Clair (33 inches). Lake Erie is 29 inches above long-term October averages, Lake Ontario 20 inches above and Lake Superior 15 inches above.

Forecasters now predict Lakes Michigan and Huron will start 2020 at 11 inches higher than water levels in January 2019, said Keith Kompoltowicz, chief of watershed hydrology at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Detroit.

"The latest forecast extends into March, and for the most part, levels are going to be on-par with or above where they were at the same time last year," he said.

Whether records go even higher next summer will be determined by factors such as snowpack and whether heavier-than-usual rains occur for a fourth straight spring, Kompoltowicz said.

Lake Superior, Lake St. Clair, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario set new record high water levels over the summer, with lakes Michigan and Huron an inch or less off their 100-year highs. In July, lakes Erie and Ontario broke their monthly records by more than 4 inches.

Across the region, that led to flooded campgrounds and streets along Great Lakes connected waterways, caused boating problems with submerged structures, and caused shoreline erosion that all but eradicated some Lake Michigan beaches.

Spooky-high water levels for October
A wet September across Michigan has the Great Lakes and Lake St. Clair well above their long-term average levels for October. It’s potentially helping set the stage for another record-breaking spring and summer of water levels next year.
Doris Fleming has lived on Harbor Island Street in Detroit's Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood for more than six decades. She has seen a lot of flooding off the nearby Detroit River in high-water years, and this past spring and summer was among the worst, she said.

"It’s been bad," she said. "The city has been pretty good about bringing sandbags in. But if there’s only one opening, it messes it all up."

Flood waters tend to move up the dead-end Harbor Island Street and into the city blocks to the north and east, she said. "They have more problems than we did right here" closer to the river, she said.
The news that water levels could be even higher next spring and summer worries Fleming.

"Even if it's 6 inches higher, it will cause problems," she said.

About 250 miles to the northwest, along Lake Michigan, the forecast is troublesome for Manistee city officials.

"Certainly, if it gets worse, it's a worry," City Manager Thad Taylor said.

The city had to raise docks in its marinas to accommodate the higher water, and suffered shoreline erosion along the river channel leading from Lake Michigan into Manistee Lake.

"We fear losing some retaining walls," he said.

While the city's boat launches were usable, the docks were under water, Taylor said.

The high-water problems don't go away as fall turns into winter. Last year, the city had ice pushed by winds come ashore and damage its river walk, Taylor said.

"It's a litany of things we've experienced," he said. "We've had to make some repairs, and fortunately, our municipal insurer has stood tall for us.

"We're still concerned if it goes up another 4, 5, 6 inches, we're going to experience additional problems."
This year's record-breaking water levels were fueled by heavy spring rains. According to the National Weather Service, metro Detroit received 5.82 inches of rain in April, almost 3 inches more than the long-term average for the month. 

"Looking across the whole Great Lakes region, that period of January to June this year was extremely wet," said Lauren Fry, technical lead for Great Lakes hydrology at the Army Corps' Detroit office, who's currently serving as a visiting scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor.

"We started to see less precipitation in July and August. But water levels really came up early because of that spring and June precipitation. The lakes take a little while to respond to changes."

The interconnected nature of the lake system also plays a role in region-wide rising water levels, Fry said.
"If the level of Lake Erie is high, that's going to influence the level of the Detroit River," she said. "And that's going to propagate into Lake St Clair, on up into the St. Clair River and eventually Lake Huron."

The impacts of climate change on Great Lakes water levels going forward isn't clear. Historical data shows temperatures in the Great Lakes region are rising faster than the rest of the continental U.S., and winter and spring precipitation, particularly via strong storms, is increasing. Those trends are expected to continue. But modeling also shows hotter summers and less ice cover on the Great Lakes in the winter, which will tend to increase evaporation.

Now it all comes down to winter and spring rain and snowfall.

"If we see another winter with a very healthy snowpack, coupled with the flooding rains that we saw last spring, then we would be dealing with even higher record-breaking water levels next year," Kompoltowicz said.

Even average precipitation levels would keep lake levels well above their historic averages, Fry said.
"It would take a fairly dry season, and even year, to bring things down," she said.

Friday, November 1, 2019


The mast is down and Bootlegger is finally put to rest for the winter. It took us three tries to get her out of the water: the first time was a no go because of high winds, the second time was a no go because of a death, and the third time was the charm. Always a sad time to know that Great Lake sailing is put on hold till next spring, but I think the time away makes me really appreciate the time when I am sailing. .

All that is left to do is to get the winter cover on her and then start thinking about next season. Hmmm....maybe another HOOK, a Super Mac and Back (1200 miles of solo non stop racing), Mike Kenny's Doublehanded Race and the 2X2/Solo Race, and .....