Moraine State Park Sailing

Location: Lake Arthur, Moraine State Park
Date: October 5th, 2003

This fall Evan Ringle approached the POC Officers with the suggestion that we run a sailing trip. “Yeah, sure….talk to us at the meeting,” we said, having seen things like this come and go in the past. We discussed the possibility on Tuesday night, however, and it seemed pretty viable. Evan had access to boats and we could muster enough sailing experience between him, his father, and a few club members to make the trip happen. A week later, Evan announced the trip at the meeting and the POC sailing program was born!

Sunday morning came far too early for some of us, but by a little after 8am we met up at the Union, said “be safe!” to the climbers departing for Krahlicks, and headed for Moraine State Park. The group was a bit smaller than anticipated, owing probably to the combination of huge climbing trip and cool weather. Temps were in the 40s or 50s, but it was clear and promised to be a nice day.

Kate McCaffery, Jello, Nerissa, Josh Rigney, Evan, and I met up with Evan’s dad Bill on the south shore of Lake Arthur and went about preparing the boats. As we readied the boats, Dan Ceiley showed up! We would split up, four to each boat. Evan and Bill had two Flying Scots selected for us, very stable 20ft boats with a main and a jib sail. After getting the boats launched, we donned cool weather clothes and pushed off into a growing wind. The water was a bit choppy from the 15 knot breeze, and the occaisional bit of spray on the water promised an exciting morning.

I hadn’t been out in a sailboat for at least two years, but it didn’t take long before I felt at home again with tiller and main sheet in hand. We beat upwind towards the bridge for a while, tacking across the wind and then falling off into fast, gust-driven reaches….”Ready about!?! Hard a’ lee!!” The squirrely winds of Lake Arthur danced across the water and played with the boat, forcing us to adjust heading and sails. As we shot across the lake, hiking out to port with the starboard rail touching the water and the sun shining on the other boat cruising behind us, it was easy to forget our cold fingers. As the sun hit its high point for the day, Nerissa brought us around to run with the wind, main sail to one side, jib to the other, “wing and wing” with the wind at our backs. We finished the day beating back upwind to the marina, tack after tack in the now surprisingly warm and windy day.

Bill and Evan showed us how to break the boats down, and once everything was safely stowed we sat at the picnic tables by the lakeshore and ate some lunch, watching the afternoon boaters sail lazily across the lake in the fading afternoon breeze. We had lucked out, snatched a few comfortable hours of prime sailing on what had promised to be a cold October day. Many thanks to Evan and his dad Bill, and to the Moraine Sailing Club, for making the trip happen!! Hopefully we’ll be able to do it again in the future!

For more information on sailing at Lake Arthur (only about an hour from Pittsburgh) check out the Moraine Sailing Club at http://www.morainesailingclub.org

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