Category Archives: Sailing

Blessing of the Fleet Fun Family Affair

The Waukegan Yacht Club conducted its annual Blessing of the Fleet Saturday, June 11, 2022. The club was open all day Saturday for the first time this year. The club offered a sumptuous menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It was great to see people in the club on a Saturday.

Blessing of the Fleet breakfast
Members came early to have breakfast before the Blessing.

All boaters were invited to participate and several brought their boats to the club decorated smartly for the ceremony. Families were in attendance with their kids and grandkids

Blessing of the fleet
Participants dressed their boats for the Blessing.

Commodore Jason Fergurson kicked off the Blessing by welcoming our members, guests and participants and introducing Mayor Ann Taylor of Waukegan. The mayor spoke and remarked how Waukegan’s past, present and future were tied to Lake Michigan and the harbor. She talked about how the city was focused on developing the harbor as a major attraction to draw people and business to the area. Following the mayor’s remarks, an Episcopal priest from Waukegan began the blessing ceremony.

After the Blessing, everyone gathered inside the club in our lobby to install the name plates for our last four commodores. Over the last seven years the club was focused on building membership, providing fun events and serving our members, not on honoring our commodores. But, over the last year WYC doubled our membership and the board thought it was time we recognized the hard work invested by our commodores over the last decade. Name plates were ordered and received earlier this year. The board decided that the best time to install these name plates was during the Blessing of the Fleet. Plates were installed for Barbara Gunther, Kathy Sivia, Jim Hellquist and Jason Fergurson. Unfortunately, two of these commodores, Barbara Gunther and Jim Hellquist, have passed away prior to having their name plates created and installed. We were fortunate to be joined by Jim’s daughter, Kristin, who spoke about her father’s legacy and dedication to Waukegan Yacht Club.

WYC Commodores name plates
Name plates for our last four WYC commodores were installed in the lobby of the club.

Kathy Sivia and Jason Fergurson spoke to thank everyone for coming and accept the honor of joining the long list of people who dedicated their efforts to continuing the history and traditions of Waukegan Yacht Club. We thank all of them for their hard work. Also, kudos to Bo Harper and his crew for making it a great day for everyone! The food and service at the club has never been better.

First Milwaukegan fantastic race!

The inaugural Milwaukegan Race went off beautifully over the weekend. We had 23 boats register and 20 boats started the race Saturday morning.

Waukegan Yacht Club hosted an amazing party Friday for the racers supplying all the racers with tasty food and cold beverages! A live DJ entertained the crowd and got people up and dancing. We even had a fun raffle of great prizes.

Milwaukegan welcome dinner.
Milwaukegan welcome dinner.

Everything was set for the start of the race the next day. The start of the race was greeted with sunny cloudless sky and light winds from the northwest. It looked like the race would be a challenge for many of the boats. Light wind boats moved out nicely and soon were leading the pack. But by the time the fleet got to Kenosha the winds flipped around to the south and rose and fell the rest of the day but held steady from the south.

The 2021 Milwaukegan race was a spinnaker duel.
The 2021 Milwaukegan race was a spinnaker duel.

Boats with symmetrical spinnakers had the definite advantage over racers with asyms or none at all. With the winds dead from the south it was a run the whole way to Wind point. Many of the racers headed out northeast looking for more wind but that turned out to be fruitless for most.

By sunset, the fastest boats were starting to pull into Milwaukee and tying up at the Milwaukee Yacht Club (MYC). The first boat finished around 7:30pm and the last one came in around 9:30pm. The MYC kitchen stayed open late for the racers and the club treated everyone to free beer. It was satisfying ending to a wonderful day of racing.

Boat arriving late in Milwaukee
Boats started arriving around sunset. The last around 9:30pm.

Since no one knew what time the racers would arrive in Milwaukee, the race committee decided on a morning award breakfast. On Sunday, the sun rose in a cloudless blue sky and the racers assembled in the MYC boat house for the awards ceremony. Waukegan provided nearly half of the racers for this years’ contest and we took home our share of flags.

WYC racers took home several awards.
American Dream took home 2nd place in the PHRF 2 section.

Thanks to all the planners, volunteers and racers for making this a new tradition on the Great Lakes! We could not have done this without you!

Racing and Weather Reports

Before the race, some boaters expressed concern over the weather reports. Everyone should be aware that most weather reports are formulated and based on the land and usually are not pertinent or accurate for Lake Michigan. The lake creates its own weather patterns and modifies any weather moving from the land to the water, sometimes dramatically.

Wall cloud in Waukegan
Wall cloud in Waukegan in 2017.

In some cases, the weather happening on shore is the same as what’s happening over the water, but this is rare. Last night was a good example. Many boaters reported rain falling all over northern Illinois before they left home. From 3pm until well after the race little rain fell at all in the harbor or over the water by Waukegan.

Waukegan Yacht Club has and will cancel races whenever the weather conditions are dangerous or even potentially dangerous in any way. We will not jeopardize anyone’s health or safety for a sailboat race. The race committee arrives in the harbor at least one to two hours in advance of the race and monitors the local conditions. If conditions are not safe we will send out an email as soon as we can. If conditions are questionable, we will poll various skippers and go with the consensus.

Weather over Lake Michigan
Weather on Lake Michigan is unpredictable and can change quickly.

If conditions deteriorate closer to race time an announcement will be broadcast over VHF Radio, Channel 69. Please monitor this channel prior to leaving the harbor. If you do not hear a radio broadcast look for the committee boat on station by 5:45pm. If you don’t see the committee boat by 6:00pm, it’s likely the race has been cancelled.

The best practice is to plan to come to the harbor unless you receive an email from the club. We have two email lists for members and non-members. We ask that all skippers and crew sign up for the non-member list (if you are not a member) so that you receive these notices directly. If you think you are on the list and don’t receive regular emails, check your spam folder. Some recipients have unsubscribed from our emails, either intentionally or unintentionally and no longer receive our communication. If you unsubscribed we cannot add you back ourselves, you will have to opt back in.

Storm clouds over Lake Michigan
Storms are often moderated once they move over the lake.

Basically, all this is to say that you should ignore the weather reports and local weather conditions near your home or office. If you have not received notice of a race cancellation, the race is on. Come to the harbor and be prepared to race until 5:30pm when any cancellation will be announced.

Thanks to all who joined us yesterday. Fair winds!

 

Chicago-Waukegan Race Amazing Success

Ninety-eight racers participated in the 88th Annual Chicago-Waukegan Race in 2021. After being cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic it seemed that everyone was ready to get out and have a good time. The weather cooperated, too. The original forecast was for light winds from the north. That would have created a slow slog to the north over the 25.5 miles to Waukegan.

Fortunately, the wind did not read the forecast. Saturday morning the wind swung around to the west and built to 10-15 knots by start time at 0900. As the boats crossed the line the wind was gusting periodically over 20 knots. Boats were hitting hull speed and more with just jib and main. A few boats launched their asymmetrical spinnakers.

It looked like this year’s race could be a record breaker. By 1230 the first racers were crossing the finish line and headed into the north harbor to dock by the club. 

 

 

Cruise to St Joseph Wonderful

The Waukegan Yacht Club Cruisers completed a successful cruise to St Joseph, Michigan this Sunday. The weather was perfect and the lake provided no surprises. 

Three boats had planned to cruise on Friday, but one had to drop out for personal reasons. The Cruisers departed from the fuel pier around 1100. The wind was fresh from the northwest and the boats were able to achieve hull speed for the first 20 miles. Unfortunately, the wind dropped to 3-4 knots and the cruisers resorted to their engines for the remainder of the journey. 

Caramar pulls out toward the fuel pier to rendezvous with the other cruisers.

The boats covered the remaining 40 miles in good time and arrived just after midnight Eastern time at the entrance of St Joseph. The boats docked at the St Joseph River Yacht Club shortly afterward and watched in amazement as a huge lake freighter backed out into the channel. From the conversation heard on channel 72, the freighter had actually waited until the cruisers had passed safely out of the channel.

Dawn found the cruisers in good spirits and ready to explore the town. Some discovered a breakfast venue nearby and then crossed the drawbridge into downtown St Joe. The main street was alive with people shopping and dining at the local restaurants. A farmer’s market was still in full swing in a park overlooking the lake. 

Cruisers assemble at dawn at St Joseph River Yacht Club
Cruisers assemble at dawn at St Joseph River Yacht Club after a late arrival.

A couple of WYC members flew over to St Joe and met the cruisers for dinner at the Yacht Club. Everyone had a wonderful meal and enjoyed the great company.

The Cruisers and some surprise guests met for dinner at the St Joe Yacht Club
The Cruisers and some surprise guests met for dinner at the St Joe Yacht Club

Sunday morning came early and the cruisers were up and ready to go. The sun was bright and the sky partly cloudy. The wind was fresh again this time from the southwest. As soon as the boats passed the last lighthouse sails were up and they were off toward Waukegan at hull speed.

St Joe Lighthouse
The view of the St Joe Lighthouses as the cruisers motor out of the harbor.

The wind held most of the day until the boats came within 10 miles of home. Engines were revived and the last short distance passed quickly.

Cruising back to Waukegan
Cruisers enjoying the sail back to Waukegan.

The first cruiser entered harbor around 6:00 pm. After the boats were tied up and closed down, the cruisers met for a celebratory dinner at Casa de Samuels on Belvidere in downtown Waukegan. A fitting end to a wonderful adventure.

You do not need to be a member of the Waukegan Yacht Club to cruise with us. All motor and sail boats are welcome. Come join the fun!

If you want more info, send an email to sail@waukeganjosephconrad.org.

88th Annual Chicago-Waukegan Race amazing!

On June 22, the Waukegan Yacht Club hosted the 88th Annual Chicago-Waukegan Race. Over 120 boats participated in this year’s race. Over 500 sailors descended on the club and the weather turned out nicely although rain threatened all day. Want to know who won? Check out the list of finishers here.

Sailboats preparing to start a race
Chicago-Waukegan race start off Montrose Harbor

Over all the racers who participated in the race in 2019, many chose to dock and raft off at the club. The dock offered food and drink to the thirsty and hungry racers. Mount Gay flowed liberally.

Racers rafted off the dock by the club.

Dinner was served starting at 5:30pm and ending at 7:30pm. A live band played after dinner and well into the night and the dance floor was full. 

Many volunteers turned out to help with the committee boat, ticket sales, dinner, and the party on Saturday night and for the breakfast on Sunday. Thanks to all those volunteers who came out to help. We could not have done it without you!

Chicago-Waukegan volunteers Joanna Tarnawski, Eleanor Vick and Erik Hellquist.
Chicago-Waukegan volunteers Joanna Tarnawski, Eleanor Vick and Erik Hellquist.

Want to get a piece of history? Buy our 2019 commemorative Chicago-Waukegan Race t-shirt. The 100% heavy-weight cotton t-shirts were very popular Saturday and Sunday, but we still have some shirts on hand for sale. Order one today and pick it up tat the club, or have it shipped right to your house. Don’t wait. we only have a few shirts left in each size!  

Chicago-Waukegn comemorative t-shirt

Click here to order your shirt now

Last Race, Race to Kenosha Great Success

The Last Race, Race drew over 20 boats to participate in our last port-to-port race for 2018. Boats sailed down from Kenosha that morning and Waukegan boats came over to dock at the club for our Le Mans start sequence. The sun came out and the wind died as the racers left the harbor and for the first hour the boats floated just past the breakwater by the red lighthouse.

Photo from a racer in the last race, race
Winds were strong from the Northwest making the trip north a long slog.

About an hour passed and a line of clouds moved in from the west and brought some light winds that built all morning and into the afternoon. Most boats arrived in Kenosha before 3pm. Leading the way was Madcap Express which took the trophy but everyone had a great time for the last major race of the season.

The wind clocked around to the east overnight and built to 15 knots or higher. Four foot waves were pushed in from the east and provided a bumpy ride for the boats that stayed at the Kenosha Yacht Club that night. In the morning, the race back was canceled due to weather, but the concern over high winds and choppy waters was misplaced. The wind and waves fell off all morning until by 1pm the lake was nearly calm and the winds dropped to 5 knots or less.

Flying Spaghetti Monster passes Lucille Marie heading back to Waukegan.
Flying Spaghetti Monster passes Lucille Marie heading back to Waukegan.

On Sunday only two boats decided to race back to Waukegan. Lucille Marie was the only boat that completed the entire race under sail. At the 2019 Sail-A-Bration the Last Race, Race trophy was presented to Captain Jim Maivald and his crew Howard Larson. 

Howard Larson and Jim Maivald accepted the trophy for the Last Race, Race
Howard Larson and Jim Maivald accepted the trophy for the Last Race, Race

Race to Racine fun for all

The Fall Series of Waukegan Yacht Club kicked off Saturday, Sept 15 with light winds. Racers worked every gust and lift to make their way north. The first boat finished just after 2pm.

The lake was full of boaters coming out of every harbor.

Lanteen-rigged sailboat on Lake Michicgan
Lanteen-rigged sailboat sails from Kenosha, Wisconsin.Lanteen-rigged sailboat sails from Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Lighthouse at Racine Harbor entrance
This lighthouse welcomes visitors to Racine Harbor

crew of sailing vessel Spitfire at dinner
The Spitfire crew waits for their food order after finishing first

87th Chicago-Waukegan Race Great Success!

On June 16th the Waukegan | Joseph Conrad Yacht Club hosted the 87th annual Chicago-Waukegan sailboat race. Nearly 130 boats registered for the race and over 100 took part in the race.

Sailboats preparing to start a race
Chicago-Waukegan race start off Montrose Harbor

This year the weather was unpredictable as usual. The wind started briskly coming from the south from 5-7 knots. Most boats immediately launched their spinnakers and the various sections started to battle it out for the lead.

sailboats preparing to start a race
Chicago-Waukegan race start off Montrose Harbor

A little over an hour after the last boat crossed the starting line the wind abruptly swung around to the northeast at over 10 knots. The shift caught many boats unprepared as their crews jumped into action to dose their chutes.
Now the race had shifted to a close hauled beat to windward. But, as they say, “if you don’t like the weather in Chicago, wait five minutes.” Less than another hour passed and the wind began to shift around to the east and not long afterward back to the south once more.
Chutes came out again and this to stay. At first, the wind was steady and strong, but ebbed over the next few hours. Fortunately, for most of the fleet they were able to stand to Waukegan and the finish line. By 2:00pm, the majority of racers had crossed the line and retired to the north harbor where they rafted off the club dock, or to berths they had rented in the south harbor. Waukegan racers simply went off to their own berths.

sailboats finishing race with spinnakers
Boats finishing the 87th Chicago-Waukegan race

The weather in Waukegan was sunny and warm and perfect for a cookout. Grills were fired up and many racers grabbed a burger, brat or hot dog and a cold brew or rum and coke. The club and dockside was alive with members, racers and guests.

dockside at the club
The dock was filled with members, racers and guests

Dinner was an Italian buffet and was served starting at 5:30pm. Food went fast and actually ran out by 8:00pm. Live music started by 7:30pm and rocked the club for a few hours before the awards were made. The party continued well into the night.

people drinking at the club
All parts of the club were humming with conversations, laughter and sea stories.

Sunday morning came early and many sailors and guests took advantage of Bo Harper’s Bloody Mary bar! Many took advantage of the hot breakfast provided by the club. By 8:00am, the Committee boat cast off to set up the starting line. The first section started at 9:05 and each following section went off in 5 minute increments. In less than an hour all 9 sections were gone.

sailboats racing away
In a blink of the eye the racers were gone, headed back to Chicago

The Board of Directors would like to thank the following volunteers who made this event a major success:
Claudia Aisenberg, Larry Beliant, Jeff Bernachi, Colin Classen, Richard Fee, Yvonne Fee, Mary Ellen Giffels, Jose Guzman, Bo Harper, Lynne Hellquist, Erik Hellquist, John Johnson, Barbara Klupiec, Chris Klupiec, Mark LeVan, Jim Maivald, Paul McEntee, Aaron Milks, Kim Nerheim, John Rouse, Viktoriya Rouse, Tom Sivia, Nikki Sullivan, and Al (Jeep) Trefts. Let us know  if we missed your name.

volunteers selling tickets for food and drink
Volunteers made this year’s event a tremendous success