Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Cruising Sailor's Reflection on Winter

To me the most tangible sign of spring occurred this weekend. We gain another hour of evening sunlight! The days are already noticeably longer and earlier I saw the first robin of spring, but winter still holds a grip. Below freezing weather and snow are possible for another several weeks. The sun, however, won't set again before 7:00 until mid September! The desire to spend time outside will be stronger, especially after work.

The weather was much different a mere six weeks earlier.  The region was in the midst of a historic blizzard. While walking around in the blizzard that night, I was thinking about sailing. The wind reminded me of being on Lake Michigan during a blow. It was impressive and awe inspiring. The conditions were dangerous if prepared, deadly if not. It was the same feeling as watching Lake Michigan rage during a blow.
Diversey Harbor Looking North on February 2, 2011.
This is near the site where a drowning occurred during the blizzard.

The feeling the next day was almost surreal. Lake Shore Drive was closed. There was no traffic noise near Belmont Harbor.  This is a rare experience between the quiet and and snow drifts over the docks.

Later as I was near Diversey Harbor the sky started to clear. While taking pictures someone told me to be careful as someone drowned the night before nearly where I was standing.

Belmont Harbor on February 2, 2011.
This is Donnybrook's summer home.
Routine weather doesn't affect us the way extremes do. We're made uncomfortable, scared by, or worse during most weather extremes. I say most because the positive extremes (extreme beauty, absolute perfect conditions) can inspire or give us great pleasure. Understanding and harnessing the negative extremes can build a healthy respect for the power of mother nature.

That respect is important to cruising sailing. It's easy to enjoy the perfect day on the water but its rare to have that more than a couple of days in a row. If you spend more than a few nights on the boat on Lake Michigan you're sure to encounter extremes.

The people who survived being washed out to sea while photographing the tsunami certainly have a new respect for conditions (Story here).  They were probably looking to experience a historic event as Peter Davis, the gentleman who died in Lake Michigan during the blizzard, may have.

I recently re-read two posts from last year, Mac Sail Practice and Thunderstorm LifecycleMac Sail Practice illustrates how a routine sail can quickly turn to adventure. Thunderstorm Lifecycle is the meteorology behind the storms.  Obtaining experience and the respect gained is key to enjoying cruising in a sailboat.

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