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Old 03-07-2012
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Re: Lake sailors: how do you like your wind?

Hoo boy. How do we like our wind? Not very well, thank you. Sailing n the Finger Lakes as a kid, I thought I knew about quirky, frustrating, shifty winds. Nuh-uh. Start in SE Wyoming, one of the windiest places on the planet. Add 7300' elevation. Stir in mad convection activity caused by 12,000' mountains, just a handful of miles away. And what you get is sailing like nothing I've ever experienced.

Here's a photo from a fairly typical day on our little mountain lake:

meter

Left the mooring singlehand in 15mph; just got the jib up when it jumped to 41 mph (middle number); put the jib away, reefed the main; five minutes later, the wind backed 90 degrees and settled down to alternating (buffeting) 15-25, which is when I took the photo. IIRC, it later dropped to 3-5 -- from exactly the other side of the compass.

Upslope, downslope. Never the least hint it's coming, either. Here we are crashing back to the beach, having been caught out with two second-time sailors as crew. Doesn't look bad in the foregound because we are behind a little point; look at the smoke blowing off in the distance. Windsurfers clocked it at 42kts, that afternoon.

June 2011 blow Tony

Happens almost.every.day.

But ya know, you deal with it. You set up your boat, and you learn to deal with it. The alternative is never going out. The only sad thing is that we sometimes hesitate to bring newbs or small kids along, just because it can scare them badly. And we don't often get to practice spinnaker sailing, cuz it's just too dangerous.

Some good sailors come off small inland lakes, tho. You learn to read the shifts, trim sails fast, and you tack & gybe a hundred times a day.
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