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Grab the High Wind

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Pat Gavin enjoys Lake Pend Oreille while waiting for the moon to rise. Photo by Kathy Gavin Pat Gavin enjoys Lake Pend Oreille while waiting for the moon to rise. Photo by Kathy Gavin

Or experience the power in silence with the Sandpoint Sailing Association

The full moon, heavy and weighted and deep orange, rose between the Sunnyside Peninsula and Fisherman’s Point. Its pull, helped by a light breeze, slapped the lake against the hull of the boat in steady rhythm. Voices called from boat to boat and a mechanical ratcheting filled the air as mainsails and jibs were hoisted to the wind. It was the Sandpoint Sailing Association’s Full Moon Race and I was right in the middle of it, invited to be part of the “committee boat” that would mark both start and finish line.

We’d been anchored near the point for a couple of hours, eating Mary Hendricks’ barbeque beef sandwiches and splashing in the warm water of Lake Pend Oreille. Three sailboats and Barb’s little Sea Sprite – the spider boat, I called it, as it was full of the crawling critters – were lashed together so the crews of all could visit, share food, and listen to music floating over the waves, while four teenage girls and two grown men cannon-balled into the water. Around us were another baker’s dozen of sailboats, all waiting for that moon to rise and the race to begin. I discovered my friend, Kathy Gavin, on one of those boats and another friend, Steve Lockwood, was captaining the O’Really - you never know who you're going to run into on the water. The Magic and the Second Chance, The Great Escape, The Rookie and more, were all gathered in the late afternoon, celebrating companionship and good food and summers in north Idaho, while reveling in the quiet beauty of a boat, some wind and a pair or more of sails.

Begun six years ago, the SSA was organized to bring regular races on the lake to boats of all shapes and sizes – except powerboats. Races, open to all classes of sailboat, are held every Thursday night through Labor Day weekend. On Saturdays, races are held for boats that are class legal. A small fee of $25 per year for family and crew includes membership in the association, free entry to the Thursday night races, and reduced-fee entry to the Saturday races.

Labor Day weekend marks the end of the official sailing season with the Spud Cup, a two-day event that draws sailors from Calgary, Seattle, Lewiston and points further on the compass.

Commodore Keith Sheckler, who owns and operates the Windbag Marina in Sandpoint, says sailing is, "multi-faceted. You can enjoy a peaceful evening on the lake, or grab the high wind and put your heart in your throat.

"The association's purpose is to create a fun sailing atmosphere for local sailing enthusiasts. The more people, the more boats, the more fun we all have."

SSA invites anyone interested in sailing to stop by the Windbag Marina (just down from the Edgewater Resort at Sandpoint's City Beach) and learn more about the association. They try to put those interested on a boat and let them experience the combination of a little wind, a sail to catch it and something to float on. Call Keith at the Windbag, 208-263-7811, for more information.

Lake Pend Oreille’s 180 square miles of water, and ample deep moorage, makes for some idyllic sailing. And the opportunity of sailing under a full moon, or even a golden sun, should not be missed. 

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Author info

Landon Otis

Tagged as:

Lake Pend Oreille, Spud Cup, sailing, Sandpoint Sailing Association, Pat Gavin, Sunnyside Peninsula, Fishermans Point, Full Moon Rade, Mary Hendricks, Kathy Gavin, Steve Lockwood, Keith Sheckler, Windbag Marina

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