13 July 2016


Hi Gang!!

Time to revive the blog!

I am not going to put the rest of the schedule for the season up yet, but Something funny happened on the way to the forum....

I did a bottom scrub last week prior to the Chicago-Michigan City-Chicago Race. When I was down at the keel, I noticed that there was a mark on the side of the bulb. It looked remarkably like a lightning strike exit. I popped up and told the skipper about it, and then got back to work.

I dove the boat today, but this time I had Don't underwater camera. It looks like we had multiple
exit points along the keel. There is not another mark on the boat, not a single one.

So I posted the pics on here so that I could also upload the video and it wouldn't kill your data streams if you were checking email on your phone.

First notice the spot

Exit holes on the front of the keel
 So, this was the first thing I noticed. There is another spot on the other side of the bulb of the keel. At first I thought it was a pretty aggressive bit of plant life, but there is no doubt it was bare metal.

At Right, Multiple exit spots along the front of the keel. Thankfully, the keel is solid lead, so there is no real damage to the function of the keel, other than corrosion. The paint is to make it smooth, and prevent corrosion. We'll have to sand the spots down (under water) and then repaint to protect the surface.

Looks like we got shot!

Not too sure the drive escaped damage.
 Here is a close up of an exit hole. You can see the pitting; last week was the first scrub of the bottom this season... usually I have done it two or three times at this point. The water had been cold, but in this close-up you can see that even though it was scrubbed last week, there is already some growth (warm water and sunshine help!) We have no idea when this could have happened this season-- All our electronics are acting normally, and no other boats around us have had any issues.

The drive looks a little worse for wear.... might be something else to inspect.

So lastly, I shot this video from the front of the keel to the mating point where it meets the hull. You can see the multiple exit points from the front of the keel itself. Any way you look at it, we are lucky that nothing was damaged further than what is basically paint chipping.

10 July 2015

2015 SuperMac, Port Huron-Mac, Ugotta Regatta, and Trans Superior!

   Maskwa lies quiet; her bottom is clean, her sails have been given the once-over for tears and rips that have gone unnoticed. Her lines are run fair, and checked for wear marks. The Crew's gear has been checked in, all safety equipment logged, and bags are packed. Perishables will be loaded in the morning, with gallons of water, blocks of dry ice, and maybe a treat or two.

568 statute miles.  

The longest freshwater race in the world, by nearly 200 miles.

We will race the 333 statute miles of the Chicago to Mackinac Race. We'll be scored in that race, but we will continue on, keeping Round Island Lighthouse to starboard, and then tack on another 238 miles down Lake Huron to Port Huron, Michigan. The nearest regatta in length is the Trans Superior, clocking in at 388 statute miles. 

This is the only location in the world that you can race so many uninterrupted freshwater miles, and we're going to go long.

Only a few days later, we'll be turning the boat North and racing the Port Huron to Mackinac Race. 235 miles. 

The following weekend, we have the Ugotta Regatta, a Saturday/Sunday regatta that has yet to show us any love, but the venue and the race make it worthwhile.

August 1st, we will be further north than we have ever sailed, racing across Lake Superior in the Trans Superior Regatta; Sioux Saint Marie, Michigan to Duluth, Minnesota! 388 more miles. So much lake to cover!

1 month.

4 races.

Just a hair over 1200 miles Rhumb line. 

The crew is ready, the boat is ready. 

At 1210pm Chicago time, on July 11th, we will be off and running.

08 July 2015

72 hours to go for the SuperMac!

Hi friends and family!!

In just a bit under 72 hours, Maskwa will be making her annual journey north on Lake Michigan, past her namesake ancestors, and up to the island.

But this year it will be different. This year, we will be sailing right on past Mackinac Island, and continue down Lake Huron to Port Huron, Michigan, in an race called the Super Mac.

That's right, the Chicago Mac is not long enough for us this year, so we will nearly double the distance. The Super Mac has only been run a few times, and we are selecting this season for a fantastic congruence of events--

Chicago to Mackinac to Port Huron "Super Mac" Race. (568 statute miles)

Port Huron to Mackinac Race (235 statute miles)

Harbor Springs, Michigan, Ugotta Regatta

Trans Superior Regatta. (388 statute miles)

We have quite a bit over 1000 miles of racing starting in 3 days.

You can track us on the Chicago Mackinac race here, or click the link below.

You can also download the YB Racetracker app for your smartphone, and the Chicago-Mackinac race is free,  I am not yet sure about how they will handle the Super Mac nor the Port Huron. So far the Trans Superior does not have information on race tracking.


See you on the water!!!!


27 April 2015

Maskwa is ready... are you??

Hi all!!

Sit down with some fine java, this email has some info going on…

Maskwa is mostly ready. Don and Steve are going up today to build the mast. This week it will be stepped, splashed in, and then we'll need to get her running rigging up.

Delivery Saturday, May 2.

Let me know if you can make it this Saturday and if anyone is coming with you!

There are some friends on here who are certainly interested in sailing, but have not spent a lot of time on the boat… or any boat. That is fine, but the delivery is probably not the best way to start. It is still cold out on the lake, and it can be a bit of an uphill slog.

For all the rest of us-----

The plan is…..

It is a FAR better option to take the train than it is to drive. Metra has trains running Saturday morning. Here is the schedule for May 2nd.

Station    Times
Train:        801        803        805

Ogilvie        6:35    8:35    10:35
Clybourn    6:43    8:43    10:43
Ravenswood    6:48    8:48    10:48
Rogers Park    6:53    8:52    10:52

Waukegan    7:55    9:50    11:50

Fare from Ogilvie to Waukegan is $7.50.

If we have a decent group on a train (I suggest Train #803) then anyone who has not walked from the station to the boat will know where to go.

Don is planning on leaving the dock at 1100. We all know this could be right on time, or a bit later.

We need a good count to make sure there are enough hard life jackets. That water is cold, and an inflatable pfd might be nice, but you want the real deal in case of some unintended swimming.

More news….

Don has informed me that his schedule has changed for May, and he will not be in Indonesia for the 2nd half of May. So, we'll get a bit more time on the water!

So far----


Delivery May 2.

Wednesday May 13 (optional)
ColYC Runs their Beercan College Class. If you are interested in the hows and whys, this could be interesting.

Wednesday May 20 Beercan Tune Up

Wednesday May 27 Beercan #1 (Race series continues thru Sep 2.)

As of yet, we are not planning on doing any of the course races in May.

We have a lot of work to do to get ready for the long distance races, and we'll be rebuilding a bit. This is not a problem,  but a Sunday or Saturday race day would be far better spent with 3 or 4 hours on the water practicing than racing.


Now we start to get moving!!

Wednesday June 3 Beercan #2

We may make our debut with the Colors Long Distance Regatta.
Saturday June 6 Colors LD
Sunday June 7 Colors Regatta (pin race)

Wednesday June 10 Beercan #3

Friday-Sunday June 12-14 Chicago NOOD Regatta.

Wednesday June 17 Beercan #4

Saturday June 20 Chicago to Waukegan (overnight in Waukegan)
Sunday June 21 Waukegan to Chicago

Wednesday June 24 Beercan #5

Friday June 26 Chicago to Michigan City to Chicago round trip and overnight!


Wednesday July 1 Beercan #6

It is an early Mac Race this season, so that is all the racing we will have before the Mac!! We will be doing quite a bit more practice and preparation.

For those of you who ARE regulars, or want to be regular crew on the boat, I'll be sending a link with passwords reset for CrewSignup.

This is going to be a big season. Let's be ready!


28 June 2014

July sailing...

Hi Gang!!

Here is what we have going on for July:

Very little.

Well, until the 19th.

Wednesday July 2

There is no 'official'  beercan race Wednesday the 2nd. However, we will still be sailing. This will be a great chance to get out and get our new people some more time on the water, and also to do some evolutions that we don't get to do that often; like a peel, some sail changes, and some advanced sail handling.

Crew Fun Sail

We are still working the details out for the annual Crew Sail on July 4th. Don will have his family out either the 3rd or 4th, and we will be out whatever the other available day is. :)

Mac Prep

We'll be getting ready for the big race during the next few weeks, also.

If you are interested in doing some of the delivery from Mackinac Island to Harbor Springs, or the Regatta there; Jean will be driving up to Mackinac to arrive there on Monday or Tuesday. There is plenty of room available in Steve's Jeep. Also, if you would like to drive so that we can position another car up north, and join in the parties and sailing, come on up!

Post Mac, more racing, and general fun

The Wednesday after the Mac, July 23rd, Steve has a car that will be heading home.

Maskwa will then journey to Harbor Springs, Michigan, for the annual bloodbath that is Ugotta Regatta:

Harbor Springs-- UGotta Regatta

If you are interested in some great sailing, please drive on up to Harbor Springs, Michigan on Friday July 25th, through Sunday the 27th, please come on up and race the Ugotta Regatta. This is a 2 day regatta, with day 1 being the famous 'Tour of the Bay;' instead of a standard out and back type race, you go back and forth and across and up and down Little Traverse Bay. There are nearly 2 dozen different race courses that they might use, and some of them have up to 15 'legs.' The drive can be a bit of a pain in the behind, and if you leave late on Friday you will assuredly get in Saturday morning, but the parties are totally worth it, and the sailing venue cannot be beat. Let me know if you are interested, and I will get back to you with more details. Plus, it will help to have another car venture north.

As of right now, we are a bit short of crew for this race weekend. Even if you are just starting out, it is very much worth the trip to drive up on Friday and return on Sunday. Let me know!!

See you on the water!



Chicago to Michigan City to Chicago Regatta


Great weekend.  Great crew.  Everyone stayed up for the entire night (well mostly) and it was a beautiful sail across to Michigan City and back.  Not too cold, wind moderate to slow, but no 360’s no rain and no 30 knots.

Check out the results.  We were third, losing second place to Momentus by about 30 seconds.

Every second counts on these long distance races.  How many times can you recall that we did not make some small adjustments for a few seconds here and there.   Of course I always  drove at top speed in the appropriate direction. 

We can climb back to the top.    We always win just by being on the water.

MAC here we come!!!


22 May 2014

Beercan Tune-Up!

Had a great sail last night; not quite our best conditions, and a fair number of people not the boat, but we managed to sail well and fast, passed a few boats outright, and made it back in time to have a few drinks.

This weekend.

We will not be racing in either of the regattas this weekend. We will be having a few practice sessions.

Saturday (24 May)
Boat call is noon, plan on being back around 4:30-5:00 pm.

Sunday (25 May)
Boat call is 1:00pm, plan on being back about 5:30-6:00pm.

We will probably be back a little earlier than that, but that is for planning purposes (putting the boat away, etc.. etc…)

You can come for both, or make one or the other. We'll be trying to get some good practice in, some sail work, all the usual stuff to get our season started off right.

After this weekend, I'll be readjusting CrewSignUp for people who would like to be regular crew, or just want another way to get a grip on the schedule.

Wednesday (28 May)

This will start the full Beercan series. This is a great way to get out, have some fun sailing, get your feet wet (or more!)

Please email with regard to what days this weekend you can make it down, either/or/both, etc. It was a beautiful day yesterday, and while they can't all be that nice, we'll have fun any way you slice it.

See you on the water!



(photo by Kate)

08 May 2014

More from The Bear!


Last weekend was very successful.  Sarah, Ute and Kevin (aka Mary Ellen’s bro) washed and waxed the hull on Saturday.  It was not an easy task as the cold temps made the wax rather thick, but the hull looks like it just came out of the factory.

Tim appeared a little later and I had him add another coat of wax to the hull.  He was encouraged by his girlfriend as she lounged on the deck thinking about sunny days and warm temps on the water.

Sunday Anthony arrived with his friend Matt.  I think he thought we would have the hull sanded, but did not know we were waiting for him to arrive , suit up and sand the bottom, one of the dirtiest and most demanding jobs preparing the boat for the season.  Nice try Anthony.  Of course his friend had to join him in the fun.  Several hours later the red/copper faced pair finished the job.  The protective suits for painting purchased for protection turned out to be porous and the clothes underneath were as red as their faces.  Next time it will be tyvek or less porous material.   Matt has never sailed and has not even seen what the inside of the boat looks like.  Wait until the next time Anthony asks him to join him for some work on the boat-- he will be heading off to Dubai or some place far away.  Hopefully Matt can join us on a sunny moderate weather day for his first real sailing experience.   Many thanks to Anthony and Matt,  I would still be recovering if I had to sand the bottom.

Meanwhile, Sarah appeared for a second day of fun after the sanding had begun and thus had to be assigned another task.    She begged me to let her sand, but Anthony and Matt were having so much fun they refused to let her get dirty with them!!!    Up on deck, she managed to get dirty cleaning and lubricating the cabin top winches.  They now spin and sing when turned.

A few touch up places on the boat, sanding the keel to perfection, followed by taping the waterline and painting will be the focus on Saturday.  If we have a couple of people we can send some over to the wash and wax the mast/spreaders. 

Meanwhile, my sunburn skin is peeling as I remember the warm Caribbean breezes of a week ago.

The boat is longing to be in the water.

Launch will be on 8 May and the trip to Chicago will be on the 10th weather permitting.

Sailing time is getting closer.   Are you ready????


14 April 2014

The Bear Writith!

MASKWA Gang Awakes,

The bear is coming out of hibernation.

Spend time with your significant other, non-sailing friends, family and pets and be prepared to say Good bye.   Sailing season is about to begin.  We will have the usual full schedule with lots of races.

However, we first need to sand the bottom, clean/lubricate winches, clean/wax the hull and mast and many other items to prepare for the season.

Who will volunteer to suit up and sand the bottom??  Not a task for the meek or a clean freak.    Steve is hiding in Houston, TX, Ryan moved to San Fran,  Scott always seems to be flying, Anthony will surely have some job which takes him away.  All these previous volunteers know how to deal with sanding the bottom and make sure they are not around when it needs to be done.    Maybe I can find someone who has not experienced the thrill of looking up at the beautiful hull with tasty VC17 dust falling on their face. 

 I have been working on the keel to continue making it fair and repair the damage at the bottom from a grounding sometime last year.  It is longing for the touch of Kristen to keep it fair and smooth.   Some damage, deep scratches to the hull below the waterline also needs to be repaired.    Crystal has cleaned the oven/stove and the frig to begin the cleaning process.

The water cooler exchanger has been replaced with an updated higher capacity unit.  Hopefully no more temperature warning signal on the way to the starting line for the Mac race when the boat is fully loaded.

A new #1 jib will be on board this spring to keep us moving in light winds.  Working with the 1 year old main and spinnaker, we should be able to be able to keep up with the fleet even in those conditions.

Ok so who will massage the hull and topsides? 

26 and 27 April (9:30 am start) will be the first opportunity for a crew work detail.  We will wash, clean and wax the hull.   (I am not including sanding the hull,  waiting for an unsuspecting crew member to appear and then present them with a sanding block and a tyvek suit for the days fun- face mask and goggles also provided, beware, arrive early and awake, it can happen very quickly.)

3 and 4 May (9:30 am start)will be used to complete any tasks needed prior to launch.  The mast will be available for someone's tender touch on this weekend. 

The boat will be launched on May 7 or 8.  Halyards and electronic gear, cushions, cabin sole will be installed.   Cruising sails loaded.

Trip down to Burnham Home planned for 10 May (Departure from dock about NOON or whenever the last train arrives in Waukegan about that time.   Any early arrivals will be welcome to help organize and continue assembling the boat.   11 May is the backup date if inclement weather on 10 May. 

We will plan on practices weather permitting on Wednesdays (Except 14 May ) and weekends.

Wednesdays of course from 21 May, and any other day I can recruit some hardy souls for a venture out on the water.

The Spring opener (24 May) and Olympic cup (25 May) are the first races with the Colors on the following weekend.  We will decide to participate in these races if there has been adequate practice to not make fools of ourselves on the race course.    (Has anyone seen Mary Ellen??? Or will the foredeck be a lonely place this year??  Sarah, that is the pointy end of the boat where all the fun occurs,  Scott or George can show you the way???)  No Carly, you cannot do foredeck with a baby on your back!  Andy, I know you love the foredeck but we need you in the pit.   Andrew will probably be studying all summer.   David,  you steer down when the boat heels over with a gust while driving downwind, OK???    Mary has probably been working the sewers all winter preparing for those douses while Kristy is practicing her skills to convince the protest committee we were not guilty of a rules infraction.   Kate is working out to gain muscles to manhandle the Main or is it to manhandle the skipper??  Nicole will hopefully make some appearances as well to escape the heat of Miami and be sure I am driving properly.

We must be prepared for the NOOD regatta which follows on 6,7 and 8 June.  Three days of all out racing.

Pull on your long johns, the water is cold and the wind will also put a chill in the air.  But hey,  we survived one of the coldest winters in Chicago’s history  (well most of us, some like Nicole and Steve were positioned in Miami/Phoenix waiting for the warmer weather in Chicago).   Rum will warm you after racing.

Lots more racing for the season.    I am ready for a new season of adventures. 

MASKWA is anxiously awaiting to splash in the water.

Let me or Scott know what days you might be available so I can plan the day’s activities with appropriate supplies, ladders and miscellaneous.  

See everyone soon.

Rounding the MARK!!!!


18 February 2014

Hi gang!!

The preliminary sailing schedule is in for the 2014 (not 2914) season, on the sidebar.

This is not all of the races. ColYC has not put the 2014 Beercan Schedule out yet (I am fairly confident they will have the races on Wednesday evenings… just a thought.. ;). Plus, I am sure that we will add or drop a few of the races.

Boat work

Expect some weekends in April. Usually if we have decent weather, we can be comfortable in the hanger, and get everything knocked out in a single weekend. We will have all the usual cleaning, washing, and waxing the hull, mast and boom (the top part of the mast is hard to wash/wax once it is stepped..;) ) rebuilding the winches, etc. If we have enough heads, it will all get done fast.

Don is usually working hard through the offseason, taking care of the little details for his (and our) summer home so that she is in tip top shape. We need to pitch in and do our part.

Launch and Delivery

We usually plan for the start of May. Our official race schedule starts towards the end of May, but it would be nice to get our earlier in the season and shake off the rust. Our schedule for bringing Maskwa down from Winter Storage is based on getting all the work done and then Don's schedule. Personally, I am hoping for the start of May (or even end of April… think about that-- 75 days till we have the boat sailing again!!!)

So details to come as we get more info from The Bear on that!!

Cheers, all!


23 January 2014

Maskwa off season update!

Hi Gang!!

As the deep cold settles in, we know we are getting closer to sailing season!!!!

Strictly Sail

This weekend is Strictly Sail; we have not done our usual footwork leading up to the big sailing event of the winter, however if people would like to get together before or after the show, please let me know; we usually go for around 2pm at Bubba Gump on Saturday. For those who have never been there, this is a good place to get discounted gear, etc, to get ready for the season. I have not yet heard of any groups offering discounted tickets; maybe our brother Sabu Gillespie knows of some discounts?

Maskwa "Christmas" Holiday Festival Extravaganza!!

This year is planned for :

Saturday, Feb 1st, at Casa Waller
time - 'eveningish' till the cows come home

I believe Ute still has the Twister game; if anyone has other fun games we can play, please volunteer to bring them along; Don usually sets out a nice spread, but if you have a special dish you would like to share, please let Don or me know, and we'll make sure there is room.

We know some people are stuck with public transportation… if you happen to be one of them, and you can't arrange a ride, again, let me know, and we will figure something out. Plenty of room, lots of vehicles.

If you know of any prospective Maskwa peeps, this is a good time to bring them out to meet the crew; Bonus, we can see how they handle their booze, so we can see if they are true Maskwa Crew!!

Again, I will be collecting food for the Chicago Food Depository; if you have canned goods, or boxed goods that will not expire too readily, please bring some. We usually get a good sized box for me to drop off, and it is a great charity.

Speaking of charities, Just a reminder that Feb 8th, I am doing the Cycle for Survival, a 4 hour ride with 100% of the proceeds going to research for the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, a center that specializes in rare cancers. That's right, 100%. No executive pay, no advertising, all the money goes to research. All donations are tax deductible, and you can donate anonymously, if you desire. MY goal is to bike the entire 4 hours, if they let me. You can click on the link at the top of this
paragraph, or here, conveniently located- http://mskcc.convio.net/site/TR/CycleforSurvival/AG_Cycle_Event?px=2774564&pg=personal&fr_id=1970

In the next few days I will be completely updating the Maskwa Blog, since they have the 2014 (but not the 2914) race schedule out already; I will be putting in the races we are most likely to participate in. We had a smashingly good season in 2013, our best season ever. We did miss out on overall Best of Lake Michigan (Port to Port) by exactly 1 (one!!!!) point to Defiance. If we had simply sailed another Port to Port, we would have had that, too, with the incredible score we built up. Any way you slice it, it is very hard to argue with this picture from the Boater's Bash. Let me know if you can come on Feb 1st, if you need directions, or if you would like to introduce a prospective new sailor to the mix.

Until then, fair winds and following seas!!


04 September 2013

The Bear Posts - "MASKWA kicks a** on the Tri-State, and the season as well

Foreboding skies part to leave good strong winds and following seas
Bear figurehead

Maskwa Crew and Friends,

What a great weekend.

The fleet was spanked for a short period of time with severe winds (50 knots +) and rain just as the start sequence began leading to a postponement, but the starts resumed after the bad weather moved South. A fast and furious reaching ride over to St Joe (no tacks, no gybes, but several flawless sail changes in the middle of the dark  night.) We arrived earlier than ever while  chasing one of our competitors right up to the finish line.  Only later did we find out we were third for the race and a flag would be presented later at the party.  Then a great day of relaxing, beaching, and then partying at St Joe YC.   It was a fun time for all.  Scott was not successful in riding the whale, but future attempts will probably take place  (the blow-up whale brought to the boat by Kate.)  The new inflatable bear head was properly installed on the bow pulpit for all to see as we were the boat tied up on the wall at the St Joe Yacht Club.  Thanks Kate,  great addition to the bearaphanalia.

Inside boat can be a good thing!

The crew was in great form as we headed to Michigan City,  A little hung over, but still on the top of their game.  The usual decease in wind as we neared the finish line at Michigan City led to a grumpy skipper remembering all the times we sat and waited for hours to finish the MC Race, not to  mention
the recent hours at the end of the race to Mackinac this year waiting for wind as well. As we finished I thought we were not in contention for any award, but entering the harbor, there appeared to be a  only a few boats tied up on the wall. Since several of the missing boats were from Michigan City, I thought they were tied up in their slips and could not be seen.  However,  only one boat from our section finished ahead of us by a few seconds and they owed us time.  Hey, another flag and this time for First!!!  Dinner at Matey’s was not the best food or service, but David managed to be distracted as we departed (of course!).

Love the Palm Tree, First time with 1st!   
The forecast for the ride  back to Chicago did not look promising. Luckily, the winds were not as strong as predicted, but were strong enough to keep the fleet moving.  The moderate North wind with the 2-5 foot waves made for a fast and wonderful ride back to Chicago.   We finished ahead of everyone in our section, ie another first!!!

Several crew could not make the weekend.  However I know where your hearts were for the weekend.  You can be assured you were part of our success this weekend.   Winning requires lots of hard work, practice and commitment.  Everyone works to create support for sailing Maskwa as fast as possible.  Everyone contributes to every success, regardless if they are on board or not.

So Thank You to everyone.   We missed those who were not able to sail, we enjoyed the company of those who were part of the sailing (and partying).

Everyone’s work this year probably has earned us the AREA III Boat of the Year Award for the Port to Port Series.   It is not official, but consider our finishes  this year in the races,   Chi-Waukegan  1st, Waukegan to Chi 6th,  Chicago-MC-Chicago 2nd,    PHRRFection to MC and Back Two 1sts, Chi to St Joe, 3rd, St Joe to MC 1st, MC to Chi 1st.  (Five firsts, one second, one third and one sixth).

A special thanks to Scott who has been instrumental in keeping everything organized.   Everyone knows his unbelievable efforts to coordinate three races in three different places far from Chicago (and it all worked exactly as planned).    He also scrubbed the bottom to keep the bottom smooth and fast (ably assisted before the MAC by Kristin—the keel keeps crying for another massage).  

Steve also deserves a special thanks,  he has been there for me every race humping sails and providing me support to prepare the boat, scrubbing, adjusting the shroud tension, cleaning the deck, anything that required attention (The boat and I are very needy).  The case of Guacamole he bought just before the MAC was also very helpful for me to have nourishment throughout the season.  Only one box still remains.

Kate also deserves special recognition, giving up her spot in the Port Huron race to manage the transportation between the races and the final compilation of all the costs looked like an experiment in high energy physics.   Don’t worry Kate, My voice is getting softer as you work to keep the main in control.  I only had to repeat your name twice in a row once on the way back from MC.

Carly,  your spot on the tactical team at the rear of the boat is secure.  We miss you greatly.

Mary Ellen has done a great job of taking control the foredeck. And whipping it into compliance.

Kristin, Kristie and Mary, you are all becoming essential pieces of the Maskwa racing machine.

George and David,  your sailing smarts (George) and strength (David, "I work out" guy or is it" I wiped out" guy?) and the efforts to train the newbies  are greatly appreciated.

It is always great to have the Whale on board.

We miss the presence of  several others (Ute, Nicole,  Ryan, Andrew) as new opportunities have taken them away from us this season.

It was great to have Jean and Doug return for the Pt Huron (and Ryan) and Harbor Springs regatta.    

No one in the fleet can compare to the consistency of our boat during this season.  

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this effort.

We still have some Wednesday night races remaining and the MORF open if anyone wants to continue racing.    Who is In???
The Maskwa Team ROCKS.

aka The Bear!!

31 July 2013

2013 Ugotta Regatta, Harbor Springs, Michigan


Calm waters and dark skies in Little Traverse Bay
Ah, Ugotta Regatta at Harbor Springs…. Why do you treat us so bad?

There are gremlins that live in the water between Harbor Springs and Petosky, Michigan. They have our name, and they enjoy the visit.

Prep Work
We had a great crew for both days of the race. From the bow to the afterguard, we were looking in tip-top shape, with Doug and Jean returning for a few races, then Whale, Ute, Kate, Mary, Kristin, Kristie, Steve, Don,  and me. Experienced crew, all ready for action.

Ready for the start!
The Tour Of The Bay kicks off the Regatta, and this is the best reason to do the race. The venue is great, tucked into the bay at Little Traverse, hills on 3 sides, with the open expanse of Lake Michigan to the West (so the prevailing winds can get a good running start at us.)

The Tour is a 9-15 leg course, up, down, and across the bay. We have done this race many times, and it always serves up something interesting.

As usual, it was a dead calm that we motored out into, and that gave us a break to jump in the lake (the water temperature was higher than the air temp,) relax, scrub the underside.

The “Harbor Springs Virgins” thought that we were joking when we said “Oh, it is calm now, but it could easily be 20+kts of wind in the next 15 minutes; we need to watch the water to see it happen.”
Hold my feets so I don't slide!
So, then it happened….

We got the wind we wanted, that is for sure!

Dang fast boat
The Tour of the Bay went well, but a funny thing happened. We opted for a ‘2nd line’ start, since we were slightly slow and didn’t want to get pinched out on the line… and then we just stopped. It was eerie. The front line boats went rocketing off onto the first leg of the course, but the 5 boats that were 2nd line (in the 19 boat section,) all just stopped. It was like there was a wall between our boats and the race course. By the time we all sailed out of the hole we had gotten ourselves in to, the frontrunners were all 500+ yards ahead.  They were sailing along in 15-10kts of wind, and we were just accelerating out of being becalmed.

We would fight the rest of the 18 miles of the race, but there was just no way to make up that lost time. We had a great race, sailed well, managed to get sails up and down without  a hitch…. But we never made up that lost ground, and you can see the results in the finishes; the 2nd line starts all have markedly different times than the front line starters. Bummer.
The Sleds are off!
 That was ok, we had some partying to do Saturday night, and then a set of W/L races on Sunday to look forward to.

More pressure inshore!
Sunday dawned with not a calm in sight. We motored out in 15+ kts, and knew it would remain blowing. We had good sunshine, happy sailors, and we were ready for action after the previous day.

Race #1 went well, we just picked the wrong side of the course. The winds looked like they were favoring the center of the bay, and they were by direction, but the boats that ran to the southern end of the bay had a good 8 kts more breeze. You can cover a lot of ground with an addition 8 kts!.

Race #2 was the best of the bunch, and now that we knew the south shore was favored, we hit it hard. The J35 Touch of Grey tried to push us over at the start, but we managed to duck them properly and hit the start well. We executed our tacks and jibes, and managed to come in 4th, which would be our best finish of the regatta.

Race #3 started with great excitement, as we got into a battle at the starting line with Touch of Grey (again!) but this time when we got our bow under their transom, we pushed them up and over the starting line, and kept our bow clear so they had to return and re-start. They showed their experience by catching us on the upwind leg (they are a faster upwind boat than we are, in general, but downwind they don’t stand a chance,) but we consistently pulled away.
Hike out!!

Approaching the finish of Race #3, we had a tight group of boats, including a Henderson 30, an FT-10, and some other fast boats, all of whom owe us time, but we were flying along in Maskwa’s favorite air… 20+ kts of wind, following seas, and a happy skipper. Regularly over 9.5 kts downwind, now we were hitting the 10s, and managed to leap across the finish line surfing down a wave with 11 kts of boat speed. It was a great rush, we all had big smiles on our faces.

We didn’t end up on the podium for this race, but unlike many other years, we came away happy and ready for more. Everyone happy, everyone uninjured, nothing broken, and a good experience all around.

Now we take a few weeks off, and come back for the Michigan City PHRFection Regatta.



24 July 2013

2013 Chicago to Mackinac (Part #3, a.k.a. The End)

Wash, Lather, Rinse, Repeat.
I guess we could say Sunday and Monday into Tuesday sounded like that. But more like "Drift, Calm, Breeze, Drift."

When I went off shift Saturday night, we were humming right along upwind at 6.5 kts; the winds showed no signs of lessening, and I fell asleep listening to the current of water flow past the hull.

I woke up to barely holding on to 1.0 knots. In fact, it rapidly fell to under that.

And there it would stay, except for short bursts, alllll the way through the finish.

Some things are hard to explain
George and I doublehanding Maskwa
The problem with slow boat speed, is that even moving around effects the speed of the boat. You need to make sure the boat is heeled properly so you are using the entire waterline, so you need everyone to hang out on one side of the boat (usually where the sun was beating down.) Speaking of which, we did not have a single cloud Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday.

Regular Mac racers will recognize the biting flies. Of course, it was nice and hot, too, and with no wind, belowdecks it was a good 100+F, and nothing to cool you down; so you were out of the sun, but it was more hot and stuffy. Not always a fair trade.

Was almost a Stew Codpiece
We found that using the frozen solid packs of beef stew as coolers we could wear, we would bring our body temps down into normal range. Everyone was ready to sport the Stew Look

We managed through the shifts. We slowly worked our way up the lake; we actually had good boat speed for a few hours as we worked our way into the Manitou Passage, but then we were sucked into another hole.
Skipper by night
The good thing, is that we kept managing to sneak out at the top of the hole as it was developing. The winds would freshen from and out of the north, and we would always be on the tail end of the deal, but we did find a way to keep grabbing on to the wind.

It ended up being a 72 hour race. On the long side for SURE.

another sunset.... right!
Too much time to reflect
We all agreed that being on a slow boat on the Mac was certainly better than just about anything else we would otherwise be doing. So we enjoyed ourselves. You find games to keep your minds occupied, like come up with nicknames for each other (actually, we only looked for nicknames for Dave; a few of them stuck, too!)

We did not really see many boats from our section, which is unusual. Normally we go neck and neck with a boat from our section for at least part of the race, but once we were gone from sight on Saturday, that was it.

Don't even tell me I lost my toothbrush, too!
After passing under the bridge, it got really hard. We were 5 miles away, but we were doing 5 kts... then we were 4 miles away, doing 4 kts... then 3 miles away, doing 3 kts. It kept taking us longer and longer to work our way across the distances.

Looks like the crane is loading the Grand Hotel on board!

We had a big celebration at 1 mile to go, even though we were over an hour from the finish. We were staring at that lighthouse for quite a while! Thankfully we were south of the shipping channel when a
So close and yet so far
freighter came through; I am posting video of it here. You can hear us... you got a Lake Michigan Perfecta out of the video... a Lake Cargo Carrier, 2 sailboats, a Mac Island Ferry, and a powerboat that disappears just out of sight behind the cargo carrier.  Fun stuff.

We finally made it across the finish line, but with the TOT ORR set for Off Wind, we were physically behind many boats in our section, and winded up 10th out of 18, with #19 as a drop out. We sailed well, we had fun, and we finished.

We had great land support, with loved ones meeting us on the island. We all went various ways once we were off the island, but Maskwa will be back next year, ready and roaring up the course once again.

On to some more racing, now!



22 July 2013

2013 Chicago to Mackinac (Part #2)

Hi all!

So we all got down to the boat early on Saturday, to finish the prep work, and launch out to the lake.

Even though this was an 'early Mac,' we were ready to go. Kate and Mary Ellen had the food prep out of the way, Steve spent the morning tensioning the rig, we gave the waterline a good scrubbing, took some photos, all the usual stuff.

It was actually a relaxed morning. Loved ones came and saw us off. It was relaxed because we had done the majority of the prep work the days before. Maskwa was ready, and so was her crew.

Kristin and I had used the deck snorkel to get the bottom scrubbed, we rebuilt winches, cleaned and lubed them, checking for telltale shiny wear marks; everyone pitched in to scrub the boat from stem to stern, so we would have a clean house (to start out with, at least.) Gear was organized, sails were repaired, fitting were adjusted, the works.

We had a good section, although as I explained in post #1 on the Mac, there was a good chance if they scored the race as Off Wind, we would be at a disadvantage.

We motored out, passed in review of Navy Pier, turned to pass the check in boat, and then it was just us and the lake. Oh, and 300 other boat. And a Coast Guard Cutter. I am sure I am missing something.
Motoring out

We had 3 Mac "Virgins" on board. Mary Ellen, who has taken over for Carly as our bow girl, has been doing a great job calling the starts, and was on board for her first Mac. Kate, who came to us off and on last season, really started sailing hard this season, and won a good spot with her main trimming and positive attitude, and we invited our good friend Dave "Sabu" (a.k.a. Single Banger, a.k.a. Two Stroke, ) G, who comes to us from Denver just for this race. He has been sailing the NOOD Regattas with us for years, did a Tri-State a few years back. He sails his Sanata 22, Zen Tuna on the lakes in Colorado, provides excellent all around sailing skills, and is funny as hell.

Great crew to sail with!

We had our crew brief on the way out as we motored, and then we settled in and spent some time thinking about sailing.

The approach to the start went well, we had clear air, and away we went! We had bled off a little too much speed right before the start, thinking we were a hair early in the lighter winds (nothing like being over early in a 333 mile race!) and Crazy Diamond popped past us, but the rest of our section was low of us and not terribly fast.

We spent the rest of Saturday enjoying a fresh breeze out of almost exactly the direction we wanted to go, of course. But we were planning on a lull moving over the lake; pretty much every forecast had that included, so we wanted to be as far north in the lake as we could. We just did not have as much boat speed as we wanted. More is almost always better!
finally on the high side!

trimming from the low side
Slowly the boats that would finish ahead of us after 72 hours were working their way past us in the first hours after the start. Once we were up the lake, the solidified those positions, as the fresh breezes were coming from the north end of the lake, so they would get them earlier than we would.
Nite Hawk

In addition to all of that, we never saw greater than 10kts of wind the entire voyage. Usually some place in there we get a good breeze... we are a spinnaker boat, and we need some downhill sailing to really make hay. I think we had the chute up for a total of... oh... 4 hours?
1st Mac!!
Obviously not enough!

Saturday ended with us still moving along at a decent pace, but a little too far West of Rhumb for my taste... but we were concentrating on north, and that is where we went.

More to come, more to come!
preparing for the night...



21 July 2013

2013 Chicago Mac Race Recap (Part 1) -- a 'chat' about handicap systems

Flat... Glorious flat....

Hi All!

Well, it was the best of races, it was the worst of races... How's that for a classic start?

Ok, it was neither. It sure beat doing anything else for 72.5 hours, but it was a bit long and hot.

We hit our start right on the starting cannon. Perfect, except we had bled off a little too much of our speed, but I would say Mary Ellen called the line perfectly, in any regards. In this picture, Maskwa is the orange boat bumping the letter "N" in "Navy Pier." You can see roughly where the starting line would be (This was a few seconds after the start.) The red line is the Rhumb Line (most direct course towards the finish.) (land not included.)

This is a problem that has plagued us consistently with the boat; we just get creamated in light air. The slightly older boats with their 155 Gennies just scoop up that much more air to use to sail. If you look at the PHRF boats that tend to do well in light air, you will usually see that they have masthead overlapping jibs. That's just the way it goes.

Maskwa really starts to heat it up and come alive around 8 kts of wind speed. Between 5 and 8 we kind of wallow a bit, and below 5 we are forced to really put some heel on the boat to lay her over with no pressure in the sails.

So, off we went!

They were using the Off Wind handicap from ORR, which puts us at a wild disfavor over some boats we regularly race against. For instance:

Under LMPHRF, we rate a "72." Our 0.917 rating for OW ORR means that for all the time we race, our corrected time will be 91.7% of what we sail (kind of like a major league batting record, except fast boats can score higher than 100%.)

Under LMPHRF, Spitfire rates a "63." (So they would owe us 9 seconds per mile raced.) Their 0.902 rating means they will correct to 90.2% of the time they spend on the water.

Here is how those 2 handicaps play out head to head. We race against Spitfire all the time; we pretty much know if we should be passing them or yielding to them.

Let us suppose a good 40 mile race; we race across to our destination, and Maskwa and Spitfire finish at exactly the same time. There is no doubt, there is room for more than 1 boat in the finish line, it does happen.

We average 5 kts, finishing the race in 8 hours (because we want to play nice with the math.)

Here is how those races would finish scored under both systems:

So, in the PHRF scored race, you can see how Maskwa would have won by 6 minutes. In the ORR scored race, you can see how Spitfire would have won by over 7.5 minutes. Same race, two different scoring methods.

Now, PHRF also has a Time Over Time scoring system that can be used as opposed to a Time Over Distance system, but you get the idea.

One of the problems is that it scores you over total sail area available, and we have a massive spinnaker, whereas Spitfire has a little fractional chute. When we are going downwind, we have quite a bit more sail area. When we go upwind, however, Spitfire does lose some sail area, but Maskwa loses quite a bit more.

Another consideration that was brought to my attention some time ago was that ORR also bases a high percentage of their handicap 'weight' on having 20 kts of wind over a large section of course.

Considering that we never saw more than 10 kts of wind the entire 333 miles of the race, It is hard to justify that formula. True, we can best many of the big jib boats sailing with 20 kts upwind; we are still carrying our full jib, and they have most likely gone to their "2" or even their "3" by that point. (We would probably have our "2" up, but it is just a heavier, less roachy "1." Great sail, and our favorite upwind sail... we know when we are carrying that sail, we are probably passing boats.)

Having said all of that----

Every handicap system has a failure or three. One Design racing seems like the most simple, but even then they have to ok sail purchases, design changes are not permitted, etc, and people still cheat! How lame is that?

So we have to live with what we are given, we have to race the wind we have, not the wind we want. And this was certainly a race where we wanted more wind!

I'll end part #1 here, and come back with some of the fun and shenanigans we had on our 72 hour, 23 minute, 27 second journey.



12 July 2013

2013 Chicago Race to Mackinac!

Hi Maskwa Friends and Family!

We've been working diligently on boat prep, (parts always need replacing, things wear out, etc…) and
with only a few small items to knock out, Maskwa is ready for the 2013 Race to Mackinac!! (
We have a mixed crew of veterans and newbies, consisting of (first, the veterans…)

Don "The Bear" -- Skipper, Owner, Tactician, Driver, Strategist (he can do what he wants, he pays the bills!)
Scott -- Crew Chief, Naviguesser, Driver, Jack of Most Trades
George "Splash" -- Driver, Trimmer, Comic Relief, Jack of All (sailing) Trades
eSteve -- Trimmer, Halyard Jumper, Rigger
Nicole -- Trimmer, Spin Flyer

And the Mac Virgins of 2013!
Kate -- Trimmer, Cook
Mary Ellen -- Bowgirl, Trimmer, Cook
Dave "Sabu, The Water Boy" -- Trimmer, Mastman, Rockstar

(wow, we have 3 people we need to throw in the lake!)

Everyone brings more than one skill to the table. We are all practiced, bloodied, we have tasted victory, and we are ready for the Big Race.

If you would like to track us, here is the link to Yellowbrick, a global race tracking company that provides the transponders that they will use to track us as we travel the 333 miles from Chicago to Mackinac: http://gae.yb.tl/chicagomack2013 They are supposed to have an update time of 15 minutes, so you can really see how we do!

Yellowbrick also has a race tracker application called "RaceViewer."  There is a fee associated with following a race on your phone, however, VC or one of the sponsors picked up the tab, so you can download and follow us on your phone for free.

Maskwa is in Section 5. Our start is this Saturday, 13 July, at 1220. You can wave to us as we 'pass in review' off of Navy Pier 'round about 1130, or follow us online as we head up the lake.

A big thank you also goes out to our friends and families for supporting us in this crazy sport.

See you on the water!!


23 June 2013

Chicago to Waukegan

This race has always been a bit of a mixed bag for us. We've been on the podium before, and we've been the pickle boat before...

If a picture is worth 1000 words, then this picture certainly says it all. Flew the chute, jibtop, chute, jibtop...

The crew is really coming together. After a disappointing start to the NOOD Regatta (recap still to come, when I can sit in one spot for more than 10 minutes,) We finished Sunday with a pair of 2s in that race.

Now, this race was great. Exactly Maskwa weather. Flat seas and high winds. And a calm.

Looking forward to seeing how everyone does on the ride back.



04 June 2013


A bit of a departure....

Is your mind in the right place?

Mindset makes quite a difference.

The free online dictionary defines mindset as "A fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person's responses to and interpretations of situations."

How many times are you on the rail, and you are not racing so much as reacting and watching the boats go past. If your conversation while you hike out "Dude, I got so wasted last night!" or closer to "I feel like the skipper is pinching, what are we doing, does anyone else feel like we are slow?"

In our W/L races on Lake Michigan, normally we run 4 legs, preferably about 1.2-1.5 miles for our PHRF group. The entire race at that pace with fairly decent winds should be around 1:00-1:15, maximum.

Given boat speeds upwind and downwind, that should mean about 18 minutes upwind per leg, and 15 downwind. Give or take a bit, that sounds right.

You know that you will, after the start gun goes off:

Hike out hard.

Tack 2 or 3 times.

Chute on deck.

Tack 2 more times.

Pole goes up.

Chute up, jib down.

Jibe twice.


How far ahead of the boat is your mind? If you are on the rail chit chatting about drinking, who will be at the party, your latest traffic stop, or your support for CSAs, how far into the race are you mentally? What is your mindset?

Yes, it is hard to stay completely focused on every single event taking place on the boat, but are you planning ahead? Where will you be in 3 minutes on the boat? For that matter, where will the boat be? Will we be able to lay the line, or is the helm driving us off into a corner all by our lonesome, and we're going to have to come all the way back? Are you prepared for the next evolution of the boat? Who packed the spin? Are we hatch or bag launch this time around? Do we have a crossing at the mark with boats from a different section that will effect our rounding? (especially since for them, the mark might not exist.) If we had problems with the tack, if so maybe the foredeck can help the jib around. Are we being lifted? Knocked? Are you scanning the water, looking for those telltale signs of wind shifting? IS it to our advantage?

There is so much going on, but in a normal race, you are 'on' for maybe an hour. Have you run through the next jibe in your mind's eye? (Release topping lift from caribiner while pit frees gear from lifelines, dumps jib halyard for douse... visually check spin bag to make sure haylard (ha ha) and sheets are hooked up... inboard end of pole up enough to clear bow pulpit... call "pole up!" to pit... spin trimmer is in place with sheet, s'board jib trimmer has swapped out the lazy jib sheet for the 'soon-to-be' active guy and taken up the slack for the preguy...foredeck has run the halyard free, ready to hoist... pole in place, level for expected spin position based on winds, preguy 20 yards from mark, completed with pole in position as the bow crosses the mark for "Hoist!" call from afterguard... spin goes up, trimmer helps the clew out of the bag with a little pre-trim... mast man spins 180 degrees to grab the jib clew on "full hoist!" call... Pit is already opening the jib halyard as the sailor manning the guy winch adjusts the pole to the helm's course... foredeck strips jib down forestay... spin trimmer settles the chute as the jib drops down... pit is feeding the jib halyard out... jib trimmer from opposite side slides across to ease the main halyard, cunningham, and outhaul for downwind sailing, then drops down to ease off the backstay... fordeck unclips the spin bag from the lifelines on the way back to grab the lazy guy and bring enough forward for an immediate jibe... are we all settled in?

What are you thinking of 200 yards from the mark? 100 yards from the mark?

Mindset means quite a bit. Are you ready to race?