"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, 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 .....

Friday, September 27, 2019

More Flying 60's

I just can't get enough of this stuff!! I wonder how the rigs hold up if they bury the bow at speed. Would think that there would be a lot of rapid deceleration trauma.

Monday, September 23, 2019

60 FT Singlehanded Boat Learns to Fly

This is absolutely amazing!! (Hit the bottom right button after clicking on "play" to see the video in full screen)


Monday, August 19, 2019

An interview with Mike Kenny about the 2019 Lake Michigan Singlehanded Society's Q Race

Below is an article from, the world's largest sailing network, about the Q Race that I just finished (2nd place in the solo class). The original article can be found at:

Original article written by:
by David Schmidt 14 Aug 08:00 PDT 
The usual suspect—Lake Michigan Singlehanded Society's Q Race © Image courtesy of Lake Michigan Singlehanded Society/Phil Bush (The picture above is actually from the 2017 LMSS Doublehanded race held in June. Matthew, my son, is 2nd row far right, I'm standing next to him. We finished 4th in class and 4th overall)
Ever since 1981, the Q Race, held (roughly) every other year on the waters of Lake Michigan, has been run as a single- or shorthanded freshwater distance race whose primary goal is to use one’s own self-reliance and sailing skills, rather than cutthroat competition, to safety complete the course. That’s not to say that the Q Race, which starts on Friday, August 16, and which is organized by the Lake Michigan Singlehanded Society, is a casual affair—it’s not. But rather, its primary goal is to help develop and encourage sailors, not over-escalated war-chest rivalries.
The Q Race starts off of Racine, Wisconsin, and takes racers some 70 nautical miles down Lake Michigan to NOAA’s south mid-lake buoy, which serves as the course’s turning point. From there, sailors spin their bows back towards the finishing line off of Racine.
I checked in with Mike Kenny, president of the Lake Michigan Singlehanded Society (LMSS), via email, to learn more about the 2019 edition of the Q Race.

Can you tell us a bit about the regatta’s origins? Also, how has the regatta grown and evolved over the years?
The LMSS Q Race is run on the odd years. It was originally designed to be a qualifier event for first-time racing solo sailors.
The course is about 65 nautical miles extending over 30 nautical miles offshore around a fixed weather buoy in the middle of Lake Michigan and back to the starting point on the West Shore. Satisfactorily completing the Q Race Solo will qualify you for the longer Solo Challenge that we run on the even years. The Q Race has become more popular since we started offering a Double Handed section several years ago.
Many [sailors] prefer the Q Race as it only takes one day to complete. This LMSS Race is graciously sponsored by the Racine Yacht Club. Race is run on a Friday with Awards on Saturday.

How many boats are you guys expecting this year? Also, how do these entry numbers stack up to recent comparable years?
We are expecting [that] 25 to 40 boats will enter the Q race in 2019. This is up slightly from the average. Weather and attrition has been a significant factor in the last couple years. But in the long term we are seeing a slight uptick in sail racing on the Great lakes.
I attribute this [uptick] to efforts by many organizations and yacht clubs that have beefed up efforts to promote sail racing to non-Racers and beginning sailors. Much has been done to simplify entry into the sport.

Can you describe the levels of competition that sailors can expect to find, once the starting guns begin sounding?
You will find no shortage of competition here. Everyone is in it to win it. Don't be fooled by what may appear as a cruising boat alongside that J/boat, we have some of the best sailing talent on the Great Lakes.

Conditions-wise, what’s typical for this regatta? Also, what are the best-case and worst-case scenarios?
Being a mid-August event in the Midwest the temperature is usually ideal. Personally, I like to see 15 - 20 knots from the north or south (Course is roughly W > E > W) but it often starts out very light from the WNW and clocks toward the North.
Worst is the stormy years when waves can quickly exceed eight feet and/or water spouts form nearby. As an offshore race, those are the times that can really test your skills.

Do you have any advice or insider tips that you’d like to share with first-time racers? What about returning racecourse veterans?
The LMSS Q Race is a wonderful event for anyone interested in solo and short-handed sailing. We are a very friendly group of sailors with a primary focus on everyone's safety and a secondary focus on fun.
My best advice is stop thinking about it, signup now and see for yourself.

Looking at the entry list, do you have any pre-race favorites? What about any intriguing dark horses?
It's still too early to speculate. For sure there will be plenty of competition. However, I like to keep the sections small so there are more winners. There is nothing like the thrill of bringing home your brag flag

Can you tell us about any steps that you and the other event organizers have taken in the last couple years to help green-up the regatta or otherwise lower its environmental wake?
Our biggest efforts have been working towards zero plastic on the water. Sailing offshore on the Great Lakes offers an endless supply of freshwater that’s easily and safely filtered on board at a very low cost. This completely eliminates to need to carry any plastic water bottles.

Anything else that you’d like to add, for the record?
Please visit our Website at Sign-up on-line and see for yourself.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Miracle Rescue: Man Overboard During Storm Survives

This is an incredible story of survival. We went through this same system while racing in The HOOK Race which starts on the same day as The Chicago to Mackinac Island Race.

Lots of lessons to be learned.

To read more about the rescue and the circumstances that led up to Mark going overboard go to:

Monday, April 29, 2019

Text a Great Lakes buoy, and it’ll text you back with the latest water conditions

The original, and complete article, can be found at:

Want to know what the water — or weather — is like on a Great Lake? Text a buoy, and it’ll immediately text you back with:

Want to know Lake Erie conditions? Text a buoy at 734-418-7299!
  • Wind speed
  • Water temperature
  • Air temperature
  • Wave height
  • And more
You can find a list of every buoy in the Great Lakes here. Text the buoy number of your choice to 866-218-9973 for the latest observations. Though you can’t text every buoy and get a response; only buoys with all-numeric names.

UPDATE: This story generated so many texts that it crashed the phone number. Also try texting the buoy number to734-201-0750.

Lake Erie has 20 such buoys, some privately funded, some public. Limnotech, a science innovation company based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, owns and maintains three buoys off the coast of Cleveland with funding from the city, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Great Lakes Observing System and LEEDCo., which is developing wind turbines for the lake.

In July, Limnotech scientists Ed Verhamme and Greg Cutrell took me out in a boat to check on the Cleveland Division of Water buoy near the Cleveland Crib water intake pipe.
“It measures the pulse of the lake, what’s happening,” Verhamme said.

Each buoy costs about $50,000, about $20,000 of that in underwater sensors manufactured in Yellow Springs, Ohio. One sensor tracks waves using the same kind of technology in a fitness tracker that measures steps.

The buoy just detected the beginnings of a dead zone, where warmer water stratifies from the colder water below and the oxygen gets used up by decaying organisms, Verhamme said. That means water can absorb manganese, which the Cleveland Division of Water would treat for.

Hypoxic water is just one metric the buoy measures.

A buoy about 10 miles north of Cleveland tracks fish movement and records sounds underwater for LEEDCo. Together, the 20 buoys in Lake Erie help experts consider the lake as a whole, said Bryan Stubbs, executive director of the Cleveland Water Alliance.

The nonprofit Alliance works with Northeast Ohio corporations, universities and government agencies to promote the value of clean water in the region and drive economic development through water innovation. The Alliance sponsors a competition called Erie Hack to award thousands of dollars in prizes for inventions that make it easier to detect and treat contamination in Lake Erie.

“Every city out there wants to be a smart and connected city,” Stubbs said. “We think through our efforts in Cleveland we can create the first smart and connected lake in Lake Erie… to tell the whole story of the current status of the lake.”

Friday, April 19, 2019

Bootlegger in Race Promotional Video

This a well produced promotional video of a race, The Skyway Yacht Works COLORS Regatta, that I did last year, 2018. I raced single-handed in the distance race and finished in 2nd place. Bootlegger, and her red hull, can be found around the 49 sec mark. I was in pre-start sequence so I hadn't popped a chute or unfurled my headsail yet.

Monday, March 4, 2019

The Great Lakes

A look at the Great Lakes profile. I'm not really sure how they came up with the "distance along the floor path" since all of the mileages are shorter, using nautical or statute miles, than the actual distances.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Surfs Up!!!!

Today's, Sunday, February 24,2019, NOAA weather on southern Lake Michigan. Monday looks positively tropical compared to tonight.

.TONIGHT...West storm force winds of 50 to 55 kt becoming
northwest gales to 40 kt. Areas of heavy freezing spray. Chance
of snow. Waves 18 to 23 ft occasionally to 30 ft subsiding to 12
to 16 ft occasionally to 21 ft.
.MONDAY...Northwest winds to 30 kt diminishing to 10 to 20 kt.
Heavy freezing spray in the morning, then freezing spray in the
afternoon. Slight chance of snow. Waves 8 to 12 ft occasionally
to 16 ft subsiding to 4 to 6 ft occasionally to 8 ft.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Another Icy Picture of Chicago

....and NOAA stills claims that there is no ice off of Chicago.

How to Prepare for the Sailing Season

This list of exercises offers some 'tips' on how to prepare yourself for the sailing 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.

Friday, February 1, 2019


I think that based on all of the pictures that I posted yesterday it may be time for NOAA to change the way that they determine ice coverage. Yesterday's pictures clearly show a LOT of ice from ports all over Lake Michigan, while NOAA claims that there is no ice in those same locations. Maybe next year for Christmas I'll give NOAA the links to the live web cams, some of which are NOAA cameras, that I use to study the ice coverage.

This sure backs up my belief that a window is more usefull than a computer when it comes to weather forecasting.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Damn It's Cold

All of the pictures below were taken on 31 January 2019 of various ports on Lake Michigan.

 Charlevoix, MI
 Chicago, IL (taken from a crib)
 Death's Door, WI (Door County WI)
 Mackinac Bridge, MI
Menominee, MI
 Michigan City, IN
Michigan City Inlet, IN

Monday, January 14, 2019

Lake Michigan Waves Topple Manitowoc, WI Lighthouse

This happened on January 7, 2019 while the lake was under gale warnings.

And here's a before picture: