Saturday, July 26, 2008

Friday, July 25, 2008

Top Chicago-Mac memory: Vampire Flies!

Have you ever just been so in awe of how much can happen over a short period of time that to summarize seems an impossible feat? The last few weeks have been full on and the Chicago to Mackinac Race forever engraved in my head. It was amazing and incredibly "challenging" ("Challenge" being the name of the 1970 S&S 50 owned by Ray Teborek, whom privileged me the right to join he's historical program.)

Currently still on Challenge as we work our way back to Chicago and with help of fellow crew participating in the journey will do my best to get a few tales out in a somewhat reasonable time...

For now, lets just say more care should have been given to the black fly warnings. Though, no one told me just how vicious the suckers are!! We were all pretty knackered on our off-watches and for the most part eating and sleeping took top ranks over anything else. From the get go we engaged in the marathon of sail changes to really work Challenge. Between the head-sails, stay-sails, kites...some solid physical labor.

Enough so to be pretty passed out in one's bunk and completely oblivious to the mini-vampires hunting us down. I slept pretty lightly the first 24 hours but after our 20th sail change (not an exaggeration!), heading into Sunday the body was ready to just give in to sleep. The wind had laid down a bit, was foggy and warm...the mini-vampires closed in.

Most of us stayed covered at all times once the flies moved in. I wore a light pair of fleece leggings and long sleeve capelline, but did it stop the feeding frenzy...no.

I've since done a little research on how these damned and evil, no good black flies feed and can not believe that the pain caused by seven mini-vampires making a little "hole" in my skin did not wake me!?! Through my fleece no less, six of the god forsaken insects fed on my left hip-glutes region and one went for the nicely exposed neck (in true vampire form!)

Slept through the whole feast!

Furthermore, so focused on racing did not even notice an attach had occurred till Tuesday (we completed the race late Monday, actually Tuesday morning.) Turns out I am a wee bit allergic to the lovely toxins they inject into their victim and has sadly consumed my focus for the last few days...sitting has been a problem since my left "cheek" is out of commission for the grape sized welts from each of the bite wounds.

A learning experience? Yes!

The Black Fly tale is simply on the tip of my tongue since I can not even sit to type this post, but in all fairness it was an amazing experience sailing with the Challenge Crew, an incredibly talented group of guys: I was the only female amongst 13 males and never once did I feel incapable or treated differently, minus my need for a bucket! They empowered me to take on any job I felt able, which is a wonderful opportunity to grow as a sailor. Thank you!

There really is a lovely story to tell and will post a proper report with slide-show when we arrive at port with proper WiFi over the weekend.

I truly hope folks visit back over the next week for pictures and more tales from Chicago-Mac 2008.

All the best!

Jenn

Friday, July 18, 2008

Chicago: America's hidden sailing meca??

I've been playing around on Lake Michigan in preparation for the 100th running of the Chicago-Mackinac Race and feel that I've found a hidden mecca of sailing. Clearly it's always been here, incredibly established but this East Coast gal born just South of Chicago in Peoria feels like she's been missing out! My head has been clearly "stuck in the Sound"...so to speak!

I arrived in Chicago on the 11th to help deliver 55 foot beauty "Northern Light" to Saint Ingus, MI for Ray Teborek, owner of "Challenge": a 1970 S&S 50 I'll be crewing on for this year's Mac. Himself, wife and close friends will continue on to cruise after we complete the event while the "kids" will deliver "Challenge" back to Chicago.


"Northern Light"


"Challenge"

I am honestly not sure where to begin, since being here I've been completely in awe and positively overwhelmed with the sailing community. I simply love it! Looking to take in as much as I can with what little time available.

Last evening I embarked on what turned to be a 5.7 mile walk from the Belmont area to the Monroe area to meet up with folks at the Chicago YC's Monroe station (there is another at Belmont.) It was not my intention to go on such a hike in flip-flops but the activity on the shore line kept me walking, wanting to drink it all in (volley ball galore, extreme Frisbee matches, Dodge Ball in the live, hundreds and hundreds of people enjoying the lake!)

It was getting dark and the city lights egged me on to keep walking, a friendly txt message from Becky DeMore and Ed Furry of Saill22.com encouraged me to make way past Navy Pier and keep moving...they also offered me a ride back to Belmont, which sealed the deal!

Though, before making the trip home an invite to tour the Columbia Yacht Club was too good to pass up! Who would not want to muck around an old ferry turned into a floating Yacht Club?!?! A very special thank you to Peter Nielsen of Crowley's Yacht Yard Lakeside for the exclusive tour...he even let us play with the old fog horn!

The evening ended with some incredible candid conversation about community sailing programs and what Chicago has done to make the Lake accessible to as many people as possible. It was nice and quite enjoyable to spend the evening talking about how to get people access to the water and creative ways to share the sport of sailing with more people...so expect to hear more on this topic...

Till then...time to get my head in the game! I've never done the Mac before and very excited to participate in the event, even more excited about the prospects of a little island taken over by over 4,000 sailors and ecstatic about the material and pictures I hope to post and share!

Mackinac Island "Pre-Sailor Invasion":







I'll be posting both tales and photos at these blogs:

Velocity Made Good
Sailing World

Fair Winds,
Jenn