Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sailing Spirit Lake, Idaho

My name is Brian Auer and I've recently gotten hooked on sailing. My dad, Dan, and I have been going out almost every weekend for the last few months and he's been snatching up boats like there's no tomorrow. Here's a bit of info on our most recent trip out to Spirit Lake. In the photos below, my dad is the guy in the yellow jacket and his buddy, Chris, is the guy with the hat.  I'm the one behind the camera.

The Trip

We set out to Spirit Lake on the morning of September 18, arriving at 10:30am. The wind was already blowing pretty good, so we were quick to set up and launch. Once we got out of the narrow launch channel and onto the main body of the lake, we could see that the wind was light/moderate and consistently across the entire body of water. So we set the 150 Genoa up front and we were off and running at about 4-5 knots.

After an hour or so, the winds started to kick up and get gusty. We still had the 150 set and we ended up heeling over at about 30 to 35 degrees a few times. After one big incident, we took down the 150 and put up the jib. Of course, this caused the winds to mellow out again. So up went the Genoa once more. The rest of the day was fairly tame and the sailing was relaxing. Not a single other boat was on the lake, so it was very quiet and peaceful.

We made our final run back toward the dock at about 4:30pm and we drove home at 5:30pm. All in all, a good long day of easy sailing. I was hoping for some higher winds in the 15-20mph range so we could test our skills a little better, but things just hung out around 5-15mph all day. But hey, at least it didn't rain on us!

The Boat

The boat we took on this trip is a 1975 Clipper Marine MK 26.  It's about 26' long with a 26' mast and displaces 2400lb.  The cockpit seats 5-6 adults comfortably, and the cabin sleeps 6. There's also a dinette, sink, fridge, stove, and head inside.  We're looking forward to doing some weekend trips next summer. The boat has a 540lb swing keel that pulls into the cabin, so it sits very low on the trailer and can be launched quite easily. I don't have a good photo of the entire boat, so here's a diagram of the profile.
Everything on the boat is original as far as I can tell... except for one little thing. We had a mast "mishap" a few weeks ago and we had to replace it.  Lucky for us, the funtosail.com shop just happened to have a perfect replacement. I believe the mast was actually from a Prindle catamaran, but it had the same shape, size, and length as our original. At any rate, we learned a valuable lesson -- the staging areas at Farragut have tree branches hanging over them, so always look up when you pull the boat out of the water!

The Lake

Spirit lake is a great little sailing lake located north of Rathdrum and west of Athol. It covers about 1500 acres and is plenty big for small to midsize boats. The wind is typically consistent in strength and direction, though the occasional gust and side wind do pop up now and then. Based on the trips we've taken to this lake, here are the prevailing winds (at least for this time of year):

The wind makes for a nice round trip of tacking to the west end of the lake, followed by a run all the way back to dock. Every so often, though, you'll get a gust coming out of the south that throws you off a bit. I've also marked out a "Spirit Lake Triangle" -- this area messes with us almost every time. Something about the island and the point and the change in wind direction can make for a nasty little area that you seem spin circles and get stuck in.

There are two public launch ramps on the lake. #1 is the main launch that most boaters use. There are two docks and parking is ample. The problem with this launch is that you almost have to motor out to the lake.  You could probably tack your way out there with a cat or other small boat, but it wouldn't be very fun. #2 is the launch for catamarans and other un-powered vessels. You're right on the main body with the wind blowing at you from the west, so it's pretty easy to get out there and sail. The problem with this launch is there's no dock and parking is up a hill a ways. Between the two ramps, though, every sailor should be covered.

Next time you want to head out on a small scenic lake, consider checking out Spirit Lake. And if you ever see our flag flying, give us a wave and a shout! Please post at the end of this artilce if you would like to contact me, etc. or email me at brianauer@gmail.com

For directions and other info about this lake visit http://www.sailcda.com/ Lakes & River Guide. Direct Linke Here!

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