Saturday, February 4, 2017

Ice Sailing Report, Sprague Lake, Spokane County

It's been two full months since the first lakes froze, with regular snowfall messing up the surfaces within days of them skimming over.  I snuck one day in on Diamond Lake in December before it got dumped on, and I've been scanning the four state area since then for some clear ice, without result.  We had three weeks of temps between 0 and 20, which created thicker ice than I've ever seen here around Spokane, followed by three or four days of warm and sunny, which was just barely enough melting to dispose of the snow on Sprague Lake.  So when Frank gives me the call, that the weather service is calling for cold, sunny and winds in the high teens, we take that leap of faith, that there MIGHT be a usable surface, and head west.  First glance looks discouraging, the whole lake is white, no clear ice at all.  But Frank's scouting has discovered four or five inches of refrozen snow atop almost fifteen inches of clear ice, bumpy with one to two inch hard snow drifts.  A challenge, to get the boats running fast enough to develop the necessary apparent wind to power thru the crud.  But it's blowing fifteen plus, so once we find a smooth patch, the boats leap to speed, delivering the rush that redeems all the suffering delivered by this unforgiving sport!  The trick then becomes finding smooth (relatively!) ice at either end of a reach to carve a clean jibe, and nurse her back up to speed.  Once there, focus on course, trying to thread between the bigger drifts, looking for the path of least resistance, and working to keep the machine under control.   When really booking, we're bouncing across the high points, with the bigger drift launching us free of the surface, clattering back down, requiring quick steering corrections.  Between constant sheeting in and out, continuous steering effort,  and the non stop gut clenching to deal with the hammering the body is receiving, we're wasted after three hrs on the ice, and we stash the boats in the tules, 'cause the prediction for tomorrow is more of the same!

These are the most brutal conditions the Mini Skeeter has seen so far, and I'm hugely impressed.  The new springboard, and the well designed plank absorb shocks very well, and all the hardware and attachment points held up beautifully.  I kind of expected the aluminum runner chocks to suffer or loosen up, but a careful inspection post Day 2 revealed nothing loose, other than one runner bolt needs a new nyloc.  The surface was about as bad as an icesailor is likely to put up with(desperate folks!), and Scooter came thru shining!  Thanks John!!!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

First sail of the year!

Got my sailing in for January with my sailing buddy Mitch. Little work pushing the sailing kayak back up the ramp, but other than that its was way fun. Not to cold either. As with every year Mitch and I goal is to sail every month of each year. This is like our 5th year doing this.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Crusade for Accessibility


Coeur d'Alene Press (NewsPaper): January 03, 2017 at 5:00 am | By STEVE CAMERON Staff Writer

It's a common description.

When you hear or read about someone working to help people with disabilities, it's pretty routine to find the phrase: “He/she spends a lot of time with those who are less fortunate than themselves.”

Except in the case of local sailing instructor Miles Moore, that sentence wouldn't be correct.

Not even close.

Moore, who has been sailing most of his life and now spends endless hours helping people with disabilities get out on the water, happens to have several disabilities himself.

Talk about being able to relate.

Moore was diagnosed with dyslexia as a child and didn't read until he was 14. A disease you really don't want, called otosclerosis, has left him hearing-impaired despite several surgeries. Multiple knee injuries have limited his ability to run and walk properly. And he has been diagnosed as bipolar.

“My disabilities have impacted me in many amazing ways and a few sad ways,” Moore said. “I openly talk about them, because it does no good to overcome things and keep it to yourself.

“Other people gain hope when they know or see others overcome disabilities and find balance.”

MOORE'S problems have been so severe that many people would have given up.

“When I got into college — which was a miracle — I had a fourth-grade reading level,” he said. “My wife (Corine) was my tutor so any academic success goes to her.”

Moore downplays his college achievements, but he has a degree in recreational therapy from the University of Idaho and a masters in vocational rehabilitation counseling.

That education, along with the fact that he grew up in the seaside town of Westport, Wash., — with his mom and dad working as sailing instructors and fish taxidermists — pretty much set the course for Moore's own professional and volunteering life.

Miles and Corine run a sailing equipment shop in Hayden called, 406 W. Miles Ave., and he earns a living as an instructor — but Moore also puts in endless hours working to get anyone with a disability on the water.

“I soon will be producing trap seats that bolt onto either side of a Hobie 16,” Moore said. “These seats are made specifically for persons with disabilities.

“The trap seat was designed by Mike Strahle, a good friend of mine, who has a spinal cord injury. I will also start to produce Mike's adaptive sailing chair — called the Strahle Chair — that is used in keelboats and that I'm adapting for the Hobie Islands, a sailing kayak I use a lot for my programs as they are the most accessible sailboats on the planet.”

BESIDES working with individuals and groups of future disabled sailors, Moore is conducting a personal battle to make sure there are proper facilities available for anyone who wants to get out on a boat — or even use a local beach.

To that end, he runs a program called Access to Outdoors (, a nonprofit that aims to improve access for everyone.

“It does no good to teach persons with disabilities to sail and kayak if there are no accessible places to launch,” Moore said. “This was a big complaint of my friends and clients with disabilities.

“They would say: ‘Miles, I appreciate what you're doing, but there are no accessible launches.'

“When a person gets into a car accident and suffers a spinal cord injury, for example, then goes through a fabulous rehab program to teach them to ski, handcycle, boat, etc., it's discouraging when they go home and find there are no programs or no access to the outdoors for what they've learned to do.

“Thus, my work with ATO has become very important.”

MOORE insists that, occasionally, the problems with accessibility (including the Coeur d'Alene and Spokane areas) can be downright silly.

“I've gone to assess sites,” he said, “and had engineers tell me they followed all the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) legal measurement requirements. I tell them that's fine, but accessibility goes beyond measurements.

“For example, through a friend with a spinal cord injury I found a restroom that fit all the ADA measurements — but unfortunately there were big rocks around the restroom to protect it from vandalism. The rocks were so close together, it kept people in wheelchairs from getting to the restroom.

“I did get that one fixed by having one of the rocks moved just 12 inches over to create a 48-inch opening.

“Most of the boat launches in this area have real issues with slope. They're just too steep. Others have barriers to their accessible features.

“I actually have had people ask me: ‘If our site is made accessible, will people with disabilities really use the site?' To which I say: ‘If you build it, they will come.'

“There simply is a segment of our population with disabilities that just know that so little is accessible, they just stay home. That's what we're trying to change through ATO.

“The Forest Service in Boundary County did a lot with us last year, and we hope to make at least one site fully accessible. Also, I just met with the Bureau of Land Management to make a new accessible site at the Blackwell Island facility.

“The Blackwell Island site is by far the most accessible in Kootenai County, and I mean by far.”

MOORE is disappointed the city of Coeur d'Alene did not approve the 10th Street Non-Motorized Launch — he suggests some powerful people simply didn't want it in their backyard — but he has no intention of giving up on any project.

He's even willing to praise some areas that are not fully accessible.

“The Honeysuckle launch (at Hayden Lake) doesn't give persons with wheelchairs direct access to the water, but when it comes to boating, it does really well in facilitating a person getting to his boat.”

Moore intends to remain relentless in this crusade for accessibility — and for a very simple reason that he states as a question.

“Why shouldn't someone with a disability enjoy the same accessibility to boating or anything else that other people get to do?”

To Moore, the answer to that is pretty obvious.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

RS Venture Connect Keelboat Review

On Dec. 10th 2016 I was able to test sail an RS Venture Connect keelboat with side by side seats designed for those with disAbilities on San Diego Bay (CA. USA). This sailboat is 16'4” long overall, beam of 6'8”, hull weight 655 lbs with weighted keel. Sail area is 159 square feet with symmetrical or asymmetrical spinnaker options available. See Videos at the bottom of this article.

I was very impressed with the stability and performance
of this boat. On the day I sailed it the wind ranged from only about 2 knots, up to about 10 knot gusts. In the gusts I never felt like the boat was going to broach and found her very responsive at the helm. I found her speed

was impressive to keep up with any other monohulls on the water, from big keelboats to other small day sailors.

As for the strength of the boat I actually walked on the forward deck with little deck flexing. Overall this boat is very well built for years of sailing enjoyment. When stepping on or off the boat I found her very steady and stable, something those with balance issue will appreciate. To tell you the truth I found it nice to be able to step on and off the boat without excessive heeling or the feel that if you did step on the gunwale she might capsize. Again this boat is extremely stable.

The biggest benefit to this boat is its versatility. One can purchase the Sailability Pack that includes two side by side seats, with stick shift style steering, and control tower that includes the main sheet and jib block system and other control line features. This system can be installed or removed in just a few minutes. This boat can be sailed like any day-sailor and even includes a trapeze system for those that want to trap out. Put in the Sailability Pack and sail with your grandfather or mother, or someone with a disAbility that requires supportive seating. Having a boat that can do it all is a great cost effective benefit for any individual, family, or program.

Some might ask me... “OK Miles, you gave us the pros, now what are the cons?” To that question I say... like any sailboat there are always things that could be improved or added. I would like to see a kick up rudder system and Keel raising system that can be used while on the water.
The weighted dagger board style keel is retractable for trailering. Still I find the lack of the kick up rudder and keel not that big of an issue if you are already use to fixed keelboats. As for any other negatives I can tell you I tried to find some but none really showed.

Other advantages include a high boom height that allows you to keep your head up during a jibe or tack, unless you are quite tall. Rigging is so easy as the mast only weights 00 lbs and all other parts are simple and easy to get to.

For sailing programs this boat is a win win as all ages can enjoy this boat, from the very young to the very old... as well as with people of varying abilities. This is great for any program with the desire to be truly inclusive.

- Length: 16.4 ft
- Beam: 6.8 ft
- Draft: 3.2 ft
- Draft Keel raised: 10”
- Mast Length: 20 ft
- Unladen hull and heel weight: 655 lb
- Mainsail: 118sqft reefs to 98sq ft
- Jib: 41sq ft
- Spinnaker (optional): Asymmetric 150sq ft; Symmetric: 113sq ft
- Self righting 264lb keel with lead bulb
- 1200 capacity max (that's a lot of weight for this size boat)
- Self draining cockpit - transom drain tubes quickly clear spray and rainwater
- Non-slip grip surfaces throughout the entire cockpit
- Can be stored afloat on a mooring
- Easy keel lifting via keel hoist for convenient launching and transport ashore
- Very durable composite GRP hull and skin construction with 3mm core mat for high durabilit-
   Optional Sailablity Pack includes side-by-side seats, stick steering system, control tower, etc.
- Optional aluminum keelband on hull bilge rails - protection when grounding - minimum maintenance
- Optional spinnaker pack (asymmetric or symmetric) to add speed and fun factor

For more info about this boat contact me at or call 208-704-4454.

US Sailing Adaptive Sailing Summit Results

Hello fellow sailing enthusiasts...

As some of you know on Dec. 9th I attended US Sailing's
Adaptive Sailing Summit in San Diego, CA. USA . It was fabulous to mingle with so many who share my passion to help make sailing more inclusive. The goal of this summit was to determine what would help to grow the sport of Adaptive Sailing and make it more inclusive.

The results of the open discussion during this conference were quite revealing... We determined 5 things are needed to help with our goal of making sailing more inclusive.

1. We need to have an easy way to find resources that are currently available, such as adaptive equipment currently in production, sailboats that are being used in various inclusive programs, etc.; 2. The US Sailing website needs to be made easy to navigate to find Adaptive/Inclusive Sailing info; 3. Develop best practices and standards for Adaptive Sailing via education; 4. Improve understanding and support in our local communities and yacht clubs for persons with disAbilities in sailing; 5. A network needs to be built and maintained to keep us all connected in our efforts to build participation in all aspects of the sport. It does no good to have this great summit and then go home and not stay connected.

Another discussion I found interesting was the question... “is there a better term to express what we are trying to accomplish in the sport of sailing?” Some call it “accessible” sailing; others call it “adaptive” sailing; and still others call it “inclusive” or “universal” sailing (basically inclusive and universal mean the same thing). Adaptive is a good word but it implies that something has to be adapted to make a particular boat accessible to persons with disAbilities, however many persons with disAbilities can sail a boat with no adaptions at all. The word accessible implies that something is able to be reached or entered, such as entering or getting aboard a sailboat, or accessing the outdoors via an accessible trail, etc. This word/term certainly fits the goal of making a boat accessible in and of its self, but what we want to do is go beyond the boat and include the programming, education, web resources, etc. The word “inclusion” and/or “universal” seems to be the words to cover it all as these words imply including or covering all the services, people, facilities, equipment, or items normally expected or required. I have to add that Inclusive in this modern era does imply an inclusion of persons with varied identities and political sensitivities. So likely a more neutral term is universal. And I might add some yacht clubs will love the word inclusive and others might be cautious of utilizing an idea or program that includes this word. So Universal seems to make more sense.

This summit takes place each year and I can tell you I look forward to attending it next year and discussing all that we accomplished in 2017.

So what is Access To Outdoors going to do for 2017? First, as usual we have several access projects developing. We hope to have a fully accessible site on Lake Coeur d'Alene and the Spokane River, and continue to work current sites to improve their accessibility. In addition we will be running an inclusive sailing event in Redding California. One part of this event will be the Hobie 16 Trapseat Worlds and the second part will be an Inclusive Sailing Workshop to help persons become Adaptive US Sailing certified. So exciting! 2017 is going to be AWESOME!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Sailing Fort Peck, East Montana

Sailors hailing from saltwater ports of call are blown down by the thought of it: Sailboats in Montana? Have you heard you need water for that?

But old hands charting a course for the Can-Am Fort Peck Sailing Regatta, set for Aug. 20-21, 2016, know how to answer back: The water’s in Fort Peck Lake, and that lake is 134 miles long, with 1,520 miles of shoreline in six counties. It’s the fifth-largest man-made lake in the country and it’s more than 200 feet at deepest. And – this is the part that sailors love – that old prairie wind comes skating across that lake just the way it comes off the slope of the Rockies, steady and reliable, from the northwest.

Wind – that’s the other component that makes Montana a great place to hoist canvas.

“It’s really a great place to sail,” says Montana sailing enthusiast Page Anderson of the Fort Peck Sailing Club. “What a sailor wants is steady winds, both in speed and direction. What we see a lot of is steady winds, both in speed and direction. It’s pretty much always windy on the prairie. There’s just this weather machine that creates these prairie winds. We get more days when we can’t sail because of too much wind than too little wind.”

And, he added, the reservoir behind the Fort Peck Dam makes one of the largest inland bodies of water in the United States next to the Great Lakes. That’s why an increasing number of racers and sailing enthusiasts take part in the regatta, headquartered at the Fort Peck Marina at the Fort Peck Dam, 17 miles from Glasgow, Montana. This is the third year the regatta has been held at Fort Peck Lake.

As the name suggests, some Canadians take part in the Can-Am Fort Peck Sailing Regatta, just as some of the Montana sailors take part in events in Canada. One of the sailors from north of the border, John Cormack, has been instrumental in helping carry out the regatta.

“There’s a lot of equipment you need to put on a regatta,” Anderson said. “He offered to bring what he called a ‘regatta in a box.’ He would bring the flags, stopwatches, the inflatable marks that you make your turns around for the course, the anchors, the anchor lines.”

Much of the course is set up in easy viewing distance of the highway that runs across the dam so that motorists can stop and watch a bit of the event.

The regatta is just one sign that sailing on Fort Peck Lake is coming of age.

Rafe Sigmundstad, another Fort Peck enthusiast, said the Fort Peck Sailing Club was officially organized in summer 2015 by the core of sailors who organized the first sailing regatta at Fort Peck the year before.

Anderson said that brings to five the number of sailing clubs in landlocked Montana. The others are North Flathead Yacht Club in Somers; South Flathead Yacht Club, Dayton/Polson; Canyon Ferry Yacht Club, Helena/Townsend; and Hebgen Lake Yacht Club, West Yellowstone.

Anderson said sailing Fort Peck Lake does have its challenges. One is the water temperature, which can be bone-chilling during some parts of the sailing year. And the lake is big enough for a roaring wind to build some tall and dangerous waves.

But Sigmundstad said that sort of weather always blows out of the country before long; and quite often the winds are just right.

“For me, the sweet spot is between 8 and 15 miles per hour,” he said. “Anything over 20 miles per hour and we generally won’t go out.”

Sigmundstad said sailors sometimes have the Fort Peck waters to themselves. It’s another way to see eastern Montana, he said, especially on overnight journeys up and down the lake.

“There’s a certain romantic element to it and I really can’t begin to describe it in its splendor,” he said. “It’s kind of spiritual: Find a sheltered place to camp for the night, wake up on the water and make a good cup of coffee.”

Then hoist a sail.