Slush + Wind = Great Sailing, 3/11

Jory and I took turns playing Eore today. He was there first thing, having left his boat on the ice last Saturday, and called me to say how great it was. It didn’t look promising at home as the lawn was still mud from yesterday. But this is what friends are for so I hitched up the Whizz and headed for the lake. The ramp was wet, but solid, so I set up with slush runners in what appeared to be a rather lame little wind. Jory looked like a white triangular ice shack sitting out there. I knew he wouldn’t just sit there and wait for me: he’d be sailing if he could.

But the boat took off easily and almost didn’t stop for another five hours. All of a sudden I was the optimist and Jory was saying nay. But he was pining for a trip to the south end and before he could finish his tea I was off in a spray of slush headed south. I love the way a new wind direction changes one’s relationship with a lake. Sailing is, after all, just an ongoing attempt to make another point, mark, or something. Now with the southerly all the familiar marks were new.

We made it to the mouth if the narrows and short tacked through. The snow mobile tracks had settled down a bit, and we popped out into the great puff that always seems to greet us in the first bay. It took a while to get out southing in because we couldn’t point too high without sloshing sideways but the wind held at a steady 8-10. It was enough for an occasional hike, which in slush reminded me most of windsurfing. There’s really not much down there holding you to earth. We worked down to the bottom of Muscongus Bay and while stopped for a break realized that the sun was coming out and we had no idea how deep the slush could get before becoming un-sailiable. Especially downwind. The wing mast of the Whizz loves these conditions, but Jory’s tired old DN sail had to work a whole lot harder to keep wound up. The downwind tacking angles became as shallow as the up-wind ones.

There was no way either of us could stay wound up in the narrows as the warmth of the shore seems to soften the ice there more than out in the broads. So we cheated a bit and just let the sails out until they lay on the shrouds and ghosted downwind like a soft water boat. It was wonderfully relaxing. Back in the North Broads the wind was right where we had left it. On the southerly, it’s one glorious reach three miles back to the pits. But we weren’t done yet. Now that we were within walking distance of home we ripped around with abandon, carving up the slush in great wonderful triple patterns lines. I tucked in behind Jory at one point and carved a long set of figure eights in his wake.

THis isn’t a great shot, but if you look closely you’ll se the great rooster tail. It was mesmerizing just watching the runners make their way through the slush. It ran more like a long skinny power boat. On the long runs with no traffic, pressure ridges or fishermen to watch for I would just stare at them. Lloyd has said he thinks they actually plane, and would have to agree with him.
So that was our day, and you don’t get them like this without faith and a little help from your friends! Conditions still look good for the weekend, DN racers take note.

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