Sunday, February 15, 2009

Catamaran Launch Sites - Chicago Area

There are several Lake Michigan catamaran launch sites in the greater Chicago area. This commentary is from a fellow Chicago area catamaran sailor.

This appears to be the best prospect, unless there is some show-stopping aspect that is not yet apparent. It appears that the weekend beach launch fees of $23 daily / $233 season are the 2008 rates, which will probably go up for 2009.

Nevertheless, this appears too good to pass up, if not too good to be true!It appears that the facilities generally wouldn't allow putting the mast up with the boat on the trailer & hitched to the vehicle, due to trees overhanging the road between the parking area and the beach, based on the Google Maps satellite photos. However, that would be an inconvenience, not a show-stopper, and one would have to assess that on-site.

Highland Park
I see that their 2009 weekend beach launch fees have been increased to $70 daily / $334 season / $814 season launch+storage (L< ft, W<=8 ft; would have made exception for W=8.5 to fill spot last year). Unless there is a show-stopper for Winnetka, that appears better.

North Point Marina, Winthrop Harbor / Illinois Beach State Park
I have not been to this site, but I understood that people launch Lasers & Sunfish by carrying them from the parking lot to the beach, and that one probably could use beach wheels to do the same for catamarans. There would be no fee. A motor would be required to launch from the ramp, which would involve a fee. This is per phone call Sep 2007.

Gary/Miller Beach, Indiana: Lake St. Beach:
This used to be a very good venue, and appeared to still be passable when we stopped by there in Aug 2007. We sailed there alot from 1986 to ~1991, with Hobie Fleet 126 when it was still active, and held a Hobie Regatta there ~1990, but haven't sailed there since.

The beach had been a pleasant are for picnicing & swimming a bit, but the jet skis had ruined that by ~1990. I don't know what the jet ski situation is now; I don't recall seeing any Aug 2007. There is a large parking lot adjacent to the beach, allowing masts to be erected on the trailer and cats to be taken off the trailer onto beach wheels. However, in Aug 2007, the beach had extended out ~150 yards from the lot, with sand dunes built up to maybe 15 ft high, vs. ~50 yards with no dunes ~1990.

Also, sand bars had developed with water depth ~3 ft out another ~100 yards. Two strong people probably could traverse the dune at an angle. Or, one could use the ramp, for which they had dug a channel through the dunes to continue using. With winds from the W, S, or E, the sailing is great. Of course, the waves quickly become very high if the wind has a major northerly component, with the full N-S fetch of Lake Michigan.

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