20 November 2011

Circumnavigating Utah Lake Day 1

Tonight we set sail on a historic voyage to circumnavigate Utah Lake.  To our knowledge, no one has ever accomplished such a feat in a single voyage  We likely wont finish till sometime tomorrow afternoon. Add tacking, run-ins with natives along the hostile western shores, battles with herds of man-eating carp, the wind-blown wrath of mother nature, and the fury of Poseidon himself, and this will be an EPIC Voyage.

We're not just sailing along these exotic shores without immersing ourselves in the local culture along the way.  We will be setting foot in each of Utah Lake's 7 Ports of Call: We'll set sail from Provo Harbor, sail north to the Lindon Marina, American Fork Boat Harbor, sail across to the three harbors along the shores of Saratoga Springs (Community Harbor, Private Nautica Yacht Club, and the new Saratoga Springs Public Harbor).  We'll then sail south past Pelican Point all the way south to Lincoln Beach Harbor, before heading back to Provo with a stop at the fishing haven and only island on Utah Lake, Bird Island.

The winds are fair as we leave Provo Harbor and head north.  With wind out of the northwest, we decide to sail a few miles west, then we'll turn northeast and reach our first two harbors on a long beam reach.  Once we tack towards the northeast, we all settle down for a comfortable sail.  The water is splashing past the hull and the sails are full.  We're flying the big genoa for maximum speed tonight, as the winds are in the 5-8 knot range and we want as much speed as we can get.  The genoa is a 150, and made from a lighter-weight material so it fills easily in lighter winds.  By my cellphone's gps, we're doing about 5 knots most of the way.

Zack and Kate take advantage of the long tack to finish up school homework.  Which is probably another first: the first time someone has solved AP calculus problems while sailing a beam reach to American Fork Harbor.  I'll have to check the Guiness Book of World Records on that to be sure.

The sunset is beautiful tonight, and the sailing is sublime.  I have plenty of time to walk up on deck and take some videos and photos of the sunset.  The waves are fairly mild, so the sailing is pretty flat and very comfortable.  With the sun setting, the lights along the shoreside towns are coming to life, changing from distant colored blocks to sparkling white lights as the sky darkens.  It's a beautiful night.

Darkness fell just before we reached the American Fork Harbor, which was a small problem.  Without the ability to see the harbor in daylight, we had to sail by other landmarks.  Fortunately, you can find the Harbor by sailing towards the Mormon Temple in American Fork.  The temple is a beautiful building and is lit up at night.  Although several miles inland, it sits on a hill and is an easily distinguishable landmark.  

So we knew we were in the right vicinity now, but the harbor entrance is along a dark section of shoreline, and we really weren't to keen on the prospect of running aground while poking along the shore looking for the harbor entrance.  The red and green marker light had already been removed for the winter, and we hadn't sailed into this harbor in a couple years.  So I pulled out my cellphone, which thanks to a fantastic app called GaiaGPS, has completely replaced my handheld GPS.  (You can download GaiaGPS from the app store here.)  I navigated through the dark water using the cell phone's screen right into the harbor.  Here is an image of the boat passing through the marina opening (the shot was taken the next morning, since I was too busy steering the night before to grab a screen shot.  Also, I was zoomed in more than this the night before so there was no question how far away the jetty walls were).

Once in the harbor, the wind was blocked and the water was as smooth as glass.  We tied up to one of the docks and went ashore to stretch our legs.  Out on the windward side of the harbor wall, the wind is still blowing nicely, and its tempting to just keep sailing tonight.  We're hungry though, and I'm sure by the time we finish dinner we'll be tired.  Or ready for a movie.  I brought a laptop and a couple of great sailing movies like Master and Commander and the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

Dinner is a simple affair tonight.  (Teens are hardy sailors and easy to please).  Cup o Noodle soups and lots of snacks, and we're all warmed back up.

I forgot to bring the tripod, but want to get some shots of the boat in the harbor at night.  So I took these pictures, holding the camera as still as I can for a 6 second shutter time!  The water is really as flat as glass.  The red lights in the cabin are the great new LED lights I installed a couple winters ago.  They have a 2 way switch that turns on either red lights to protect your night vision, or white lights.  The LED is such a low draw on the battery, I only have to charge the battery once in spring and it lasts all summer with no real recharging needed.  (The outboard does recharge the battery, but the outboard is only run for about 5 minutes each trip just to get the boat in and out of the marina.)
Be sure and read the next thrilling post for day 2 of the Utah Lake Circumnavigation.

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