Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Last Racing of the Year!

This is it the last racing of the year via the Extreme Sailing Series, don't miss the action by watching the racing at their youtube channel
Racing begins Thursday/Nov. 30 at 14:00 local time (UTC-7). Fans can follow the action via the live blog on race day one and two and can watch the live stream on Facebook and YouTube on Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 December from 14:00 – 17:00 local time.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Beach Sailing

A Three Part Adventure...

Begins with a casual motor from Spokane to Stevenson, WA, in the the heart of the Columbia Gorge, on the heels of the devastating Eagle Creek fire just across the river in Oregon.  Still smoldering as I pass thru, they're actively mopping up, visible from the recently opened freeway.  I spend the night with Frank, my regular crew aboard High Voltage, at his new vacation/retirement home he's built as a sailing accessory for his skiff/sailboard addiction.  We walk to the beach with the dog, and marvel at this magnificent wind machine that is the Gorge, and spend a pleasant evening on the deck appreciating where we are.

Post breakfast, I connect with Dave and Vicki from Bozeman, as they pass through town, and we caravan westward towards the coast.  Which takes us through Portland, where we make a brief detour to visit Phil and Vicky's beautiful Craftsman bungalow in a sweet old neighborhood.  We get the VIP tour of not only the house, but the famed shop that has produced a long string of unique all aluminum land yachts that he and his father  designed and constructed over the the last 30 plus years.  Phil doesn't quite make it home in time to join in the tour, and because the weather is spectacular and we're itching to get to the beach.  Another couple hours has us rolling into Fort Stevens State Park, which occupies the extreme northwestern tip of Oregon, at the mouth of the Columbia, where it dumps into the Pacific.  A huge jetty of giant boulders extends northward to define and protect the entrance,  with 30 miles of super smooth, exceptionally  flat, hard sand beach extending southward until interrupted by the great headlands and haystack rocks that characterize the OR coast.  And it's this beach that is the reason we're there!

We score a couple campsites and head off to explore the park, eyeing the beaches for sailing suitability and access.  At one marginal entrance point we chat up a ranger who points us to Sunset Beach six miles south.  It's perfect!  We can, and do, drive onto the beach with our rigs, and as the sun seeks the horizon, we assemble the boats.  No wind, and the tide is coming in, but the boats are ready for the morning.  We get back to camp, and there's Brooks, down from Port Townsend to check out this proposed new venue with us.  The bullshit flows til dark, and we retire giddy with the promise of impending glee.

So landsailing is a fickle sport to begin with.  You need a very flat,  hard and preferably smooth, surface.  Which in the USA is usually a desert dry lake bed.  Europeans sail the beaches almost exclusively, being a bit shy on such desert locales.  And then you need to survive on the edge of this playa until the wind arrives. To those essential criteria we now add tides.  We need the it to be out for the beach to be wide enough to get long enough tacks and jibes to keep the boat speed up.  So there's maybe and hour to an hour and a half on either side of low tide when the beach is sailable.  Now it's also preferable that this period be during daylight hours.  And when the wind is blowing.  And it would be really nice if it wasn't friggin' cold and blowing too hard.  And wasn't foggy.  All things Oregon beachs are (in)famous for.

But we, for reasons as yet to be revealed, are blessed with two days of sunny weather, temps in the eighties (yes, eighties on the Oregon coast!),  and a useful mean low tide at a reasonable hour, with wind.  Sails are rigged, and Dave is off instantly, with his superior light air skills and state of the art boat.  Brooks and I fuss about for a while with the gentle offshore breeze that's struggling to top the dunes and get down to beach level.  Eventually it builds enough to get hooked up, and the delicate dance begins, trying to keep the speed up enough to stay connected, not getting too close to the undulating water's edge, where the sand gets soft enough to slow one's momentum, nor on the other tack, get too close to the dunes that are creating a wind shadow that drops the pressure below what's needed to keep rolling.  Dave's fully powered up, and grinning maniacally, I'm having to get out occasionally for another push start, when my dancing skills fail me.  But when we're cruising it's heaven, following the edge of each receding waves, driving away as the next one breaks and pushes inland.  The beach is busy, with vehicles travelling north and south, and people wandering back and forth between surf and dry sand.  So vigilance is the order of the day, and it adds to the challenge of maintaining speed while negotiating moving obstacles.   But we're sailing the beach, a new experience for us all!

Our three hours quickly expire, and we're back exploring the park.  The mouth of the Columbia was considered a strategic site for many years, and many bunkers and old gun placements are still in evidence.  Enticing bike trail throughout the park beckon, but it never seems possible to bring all the correct toys on any particular adventure.  Brooks and I do break out the motorcycles to continue the exploration, and stay out til sunset, and join the many tourists and Oregonians who are also mesmerized by the ritual dousing of the star.

The next day again dawns bright, and we can hear significant breeze in the tops of the very tall trees of our campsites.  Oh, how I love coastal rain forests!  Particularly when it's not raining!  Back to the beach at the appropriate hour, and we're greeted with onshore breeze enough to induce giggles.  Sails go up and we're off!  The wind is more perpendicular to the beach today, with a small northerly component, making for long reaches on port tack.  The surface is so smooth, it's a Cadillac ride, top down, hair figuratively blowing in the wind (helmets required!),  Surf crashing just yards away, sunshine burnishing the sand and waves, it's an experience to be savored.

Eventually, the beach narrows as the tide returns, and it becomes more difficult to keep up enough speed.  We de rig, and pack up the boats, as the weather service threatens us with a cold front and rain the following day.  A relaxing dinner in camp winds things down, and the morning will find us embarking upon Phase Two of the adventure.


I just spent some time on your website, enjoyed it.  Will you do the Desert Regatta again?  I sent you some older reports that you may or may not have seen.  Feel free to post them if they have value for your site.  Waiting for ice.  Only moderately patiently.

Here is a fun video showing the fun and craziness of Land Sailing...

NALSA Big Boat Coalition, Alvord Desert, 2017 from Cinemotion Media on Vimeo.

Author of text Dave Farmer

Diamond Lake Cat Sailing

Temps in the nineties and high pressure have dampened all breeze for over a week now.  But the weather folks spied something three days out that was going to drop those temps and give us some wind for Wednesday, starting early.  So I hitched up the recently retrieved and nicely waxed A cat, and showed up at Cliff Snow's lovely home on Diamond Lake about 8:30 am, and the breeze is on!  Cliff and assorted friendly neighbors helped me off load and rig, and within 20 minutes I'm on the water, fully trapped out, with squeals of glee escaping regularly.  I make my way upwind to the east end of the lake in six tacks, poke into a small bay on the north side to see if
any sailing buddies are home (no!), and turn downwind for a sleigh ride back to the beach.  Gusty as always, near 20 in the puffs, so great concentration is required to the pointy end up.  A couple of sloppy jibes put me in the drink, but in these winds it's near effortless to right her.  After a couple hours of intense driving and furious sheeting, I'm spent.  Pull her up on the sand, drop sail, and spend a some time with Cliff in front of his computer monitor, browsing his extensive photo portfolio of life on the lake, year round.  Wildlife (animal and human), sunsets, iceboating, and spectacular aurora borealis shots entertain us for long enough to allow me to recover enough to look lakeward again.  I launch into dying breeze, and throw in the towel shortly thereafter.  The guys all show up to help me tear down and reload, and I cruise home with that warm glow.  And sore muscles.  Good day.  Thanks Cliff!

Author... Dave Farmer of Spokane

Lake Pend Oreille Keelboat Sailing

The wind gods delivered today, as per the National Weather Service prediction.  Steve called me last week to extend me a sailing invitation aboard his steed on spectacular Lake Pend Oreille, but I was off in MT, probably sailing.  So when I called to offer thanks for the invite, we settled on today, trusting our faithful government servants.

Such an outing provides an unnecessary excuse for a motorcycle ride, so I fire up the Wee, and gleefully head for the back roads that snake over the northern flank of Mount Spokane, and hence onto the Rathdrum Prairie, and then into Farragut State Park.  Once home to thousands of WWII Naval recruits doing basic training, it's now open meadows and timberland on the southernmost shores of the lake. Today the navy's only presence is a submarine base, for research or training is my best guess.  The lake is 2000' deep in spots (making it good for subs), being a huge mountain valley filled with the coldest, cleanest, bluest water you can imagine. With plenty of mountain above lake level to please any mariner.

We cavort in ever increasing breeze, til we have to reef(partially furl) the genoa, and play the main in the puffs.  Tacking upwind eventually takes us to the very southern tip of the lake, Buttonhook Bay, shaped exactly so.  Nothin' to do but spin her around for a romp downwind, and out into the main body of the lake.   Where the wind gets fluky, big ups and downs, massive shifts in wind direction.  Entertaining!  Steve graciously grants me the helm for the entire trip, and serve admirably as crew, responding to my every command with a smile.

The afternoon winds down, and we return our worthy craft to her slip.  I remount the two wheeler, and return whence I've come, making one stop at a small lake I dimly recalled.  Ah, to lie on the forest floor, gazing up, listening to the breeze in the trees.  Next to water, even better! With that refreshing break, I resume the cruise, and get home just after my lovely bride.  Another full day!

Author... Dave Farmer of Spokane

Extreme Sailing Series 7

Extreme Sailing Series results thus far after regatta number 7. Last race of the year is at Los Cabos. Foiling racing at its finest. Watch all the racing at their youtube channel at

Friday, November 10, 2017

Building Ice Boats in Montana

A boat building party!  Four new converts to Mini Skeetering, all from other landsailers and iceboats, friends I sail with regularly.  John is hosting this woodfest in his cabinet shop in Lakeside, MT, and is eminently prepared, with frames cut and coated, stringers milled, and skins epoxied.  As a result, we have Phil's boat ready to pop off the jig when he arrives from Portland, in a snow storm, the first of the season.  Feels like winter, an impetus to build with purpose, ice is coming!  Bill Eisenlohr and Tom Schock  show up to contribute expertise and raw labor, having built three of these craft between them.  So far.

Internal parts go in, deck stringers are wrestled into place, glued and clamped.  Leave to harden, build a few cambered, laminated planks.  Lunch at Perks, the Bozeman boys roll in, in a snow storm, still!  They arrive fully stocked with precut parts, and we immediately throw frames on jigs and the mayhem commences!  We now have five boats in various stages of construction, and as many as nine dusty and determined wood workers scurrying about, back and forth from the chop saw, tablesaw, and bandsaw, fitting the bits, slathering with epoxy and tacking 'em into place.

Another couple boats to dry overnight, we retire to John and Laura's warm and welcoming home for a magnificent barbecue, happy chatter, and an early retirement, as we're wasted,  and tomorrow promises.

Saturday morning sees us popping two more hulls off the jigs, and the fury continues.  We have now discovered out strengths, and we're perfecting our assumed tasks, and the speed at which the boats come together accelerates, with each boat taking shape faster than the last.  Jim drives down from Somers, another early adopter of this lovely design, and offers his insights.  Scott works determinedly in his metal shop next door, fabricating the metal parts for runner chocks, mast base tubes, and steering components, some of which will be installed before the strip planks are applied to the decks.   By evening, the last boat is off the jig, with all deck structure in place.  

We're back at the Eisenlohr's for pizza, beer and TWO Montana college football games.  Split, one win, one loss.  And desserts!  Laura is hostess extraordinaire!   Again ready for horizontal at an early hour,

Last morning has the wood shavings flying, with power planers and belt sanders movin' material, shaping all the deck framing, sculpting those graceful bows.  Phil exits to catch a plane, and by noon Dave, Pat and Lance's boats are loading into the trailer, and they blast back east, in a snow storm.  Hope they made it!

There's something special about building your own boat, in the company of like minded fellows who share this strange passion, to sail on hard surfaces.  Fast!  That grin I'm so fond never left my face for four days, thanks boys!

Dave Farmer of Spokane WA.