Monday, May 20, 2013

Yuba Lake Utah

I have a goal to find all of the sailable lakes in Utah and try them out. The problem is that I consider certain qualities of a lake important for a good sailing outing. Most of these qualities come from the fact that I have a young family and I want the trip to be enjoyable for everyone. I wouldn't mind spending an entire day on the water, but that is impractical for my wife and kids. Yuba Lake in Utah meets  all of these requirements if you go out on a week day.

1. A Sandy Beach

For young kids, a sandy beach offers countless hours of fun. For the past 5 years or so I've been sailing with three young kids. This year, for the first time in a while, I'll also have a tiny baby. That means that someone will always be a shore with the little guy. There are lots of lakes in Utah, but Yuba has the best sandy beach.

2. Warm Water

Water in Utah takes a while to warm up. Most lakes are feed by mountain streams. Many of lakes are up in the mountains and the water is cold. Yuba is 5100 feet as compared to deer creeks 5400 feet. In the summer the water is warm and clean.

3. Shaded Camping

There are some options for shaded camping on Yuba, but it comes with some trade offs. The worst is bugs. the shade attracts mayflies. Most of the time we camp in the trees on the west beach or right on the north beach and set up a shade. I also like to camp on the beach next to my boat.

4.Close to Home

My tolerance for driving to a lake is about 3 hours of highway time. Since we live in Cedar Hills that puts Yuba about 2 hours away. There are many good lakes (reservoir) in southern Utah that I haven't explored because they are too far to get to for a day trip. I'm going to have to suck it up and drive to them.

The down side to Yuba is that it is crowded on the weekend. I completely steer clear of it on the weekends in the summer. If only they would make one lake completely reserved for sailing, sigh...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Keeping Your Electronics Dry

My wife and I were looking for a way to keep our cell phones and camera dry while on our sailing adventures in Utah. The Hobie Getaway has some built in storage boxes, but they are not entirely water tight. Most beach cats don't have any storage built into the hulls and so you are limited to stowing items in pockets in the trampoline or tying bags down to the trampoline. In any case you may want to keep you gadgets dry.

A lot of the electronic gear I keep on the boat is water resistant, like my GPS, but I still prefer to keep them somewhat dry.  I looked at waterproof cases online, but they are quite pricey and bulky.

My wife came up with an ingenious, cheap, tough solution for this problem. I keep these two plastic jars in one of the cooler boxes on my boat. One is a mayonnaise jar and the other is a jelly jar. They are both plastic and completely water tight. Before we used them I tested their water seal by submerging them in the sink. Their water seal is perfect.  I prefer the wide mouth lid jar with the blue cap because It is easy to get large items in and out of.

I keep cell phones in one jar with a GPS and wind meter. I keep a camera and tools in the other. I normally also put my cell in a what tight bag so I can use it and not worried about it getting ruined, by boat spray.

Happy Utah Sailing.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Utah Weather Stations

One frustration we have all felt as sailors is getting to the lake on a nice summer day and find that there isn't an ounce of wind. I finally found a website that feeds the current weather data from the actual weather stations across Utah. This is a great tool for planning a Utah Sailing trip. Below is the link to the NOAA weather station map of Utah. Click on a weather station link near the lake you are planning a sailing trip too. Not all weather stations give wind readings, but many do. You can also get humidity, barometric pressure, and precipitation.

Friday, May 10, 2013

3 Sailing Gadgets for Your Boat

I've been sailing for quite a few years. Over the past few years I have come across 3 great gadgets that I never leave home with out. OK, sometimes I forget them, but when I do I kick myself.

The first is obvious. Its a hand held GPS. I prefer a inexpensive GPS unit that is waterproof and has good battery life.  This Garmin eTrax 10 was about 100$ at Cabela's. I'm never away from shore so far that I need to find my way back. Rather, I like to keep statistic on my trips, like my speed, distance and direction. There are a lot fancier units that would work just as well, but after dropping a few in the lake, I opted for the cheapest unit possible.  This unit has a battery life of about 22 hours, so the two double a batteries will actually last  you the entire season if you turn it off between outings.  You can import most GPS  tracks to Google Earth and save them, keeping a nice log of our trips.

Second is a hand held wind meter. My wife gave me a Skywatch Xplorer 3 for Christmas a few years ago. This hand held meter is good for measuring wind speed,  air temperature,  water temperature and calculating wind chill. It also has a built in digital compass. One can also hold it in the wake of your boat and check the water speed.

Knowing wind speed helps one to gauge ones sailing abilities and make wise decisions about when to take up arms against the weather.

I've had this wind meter for a few years now and haven't had to replace the battery.  It's water proof and very durable.

Finally I always go sailing with my Leatherman Multi-Tool. I have a Leatherman Wave. It has a sharp knife, pliers, screwdriver, file and saw. Sometimes I have a hard time loosening the Shackles with my fingers and a pair of pliers comes in handy. I keep a small tool kit in my sail box also, but I like to keep my multi tool on the boat with an extra rope and some cord. The Leatherman is stainless steel, so it doesn't rust, even after many wet trips on the lake. On my Hobie Getaway, I stow all of this in one of the coolers, which don't make great coolers but make great storage.  

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

4 Hobie's Compared

I was first introduced to sailing at scout camp. I wish I could actually find a picture of the strange little boats that our scout camp owned. They where strange little boats that where donated to the camp. Working on the aquatics staff at the camp I figured out how to put them together and sail them in order to offer a sailing merit badge. After several years of teaching swimming, lifesaving and canoeing; sailing stuck with me.

During my third year of college I decided that it was time for me to get a sailboat of my own. I purchased a Hobie 16 for about a thousand dollars, which I borrowed from my parents. Since then I have owned 4 different Hobiecat's, a 16, 14, 17 and lastly a Getaway.

My first Hobiecat was a Hobie 16 with a jib. I assume all 16's come with a Jib? In any case mine had one. It was bright yellow, with a beautiful rainbow colored sail. I set it up for the first time in the yard of a house we rented in South Provo, which has since been torn down.  When I bought my first Hobie 16 I was newly married with no kids, so I thought the 16 seemed like a great choice.  I learned quickly that my wife was more keen on riding on a boat rather then helping to sail one.

I sold the H16 after a season or two, opting for a Hobie 14. My thinking was that the 14 would be something I could handle easily solo. I was right, and the 14 is still my favorite boat for solo sailing. The H14 is fast, easy to sail and very tough. It flips easy and rights easy. If I could have two boats, and a magic wand, I would have a H14 today.

There are a few short comings of my H14. First it didn't have a Jib. This made tacking tricky, the Jib pulls acts like a wind vain when tacking and helps pull the boat through the wind. Catamarans don't tack as quickly as  keel boats. Jib kits are easy to install on H14, but I didn't install one at the time because it made for simple sailing.  My biggest complaint for the 14 was that it simply couldn't hold enough people. Sailing with two adults on the 14 was pushing its capacity. We took it out with as many as 4 adults and the 14 was sluggish and cramped.

Looking to remedy this problem I found a Hobie 17 for sale and I picked it up for just 400 bucks. It came with a nice trailer and sail box. After a few fiberglass repairs, I had it on the lake. I really like the H17 sleek design. Sailing it solo I discovered it to be very fast less inclined to flip then my 14. My H17 also didn't have a Jib and tacking on the H17 was more difficult then the 14. Unlike the H16 and H14, which are all but identical, the H17 is completely different design.
 First the H17 has dagger boards to improve its windward capability, a feature I deplored. The dagger-boards where always getting stuck. When beaching the boat, sand would wedge between the hulls and the dagger boards causing them to bind.  The H17 was not much more buoyant then the H14. It preformed great with one person, but now I had a family of 5 and we needed more space. The H17 hulls also leaked and I could never find the hole, I suspect the leak as caused by the holes that attached the wings. My favorite thing about the H17 was the wings. The wing seats made such a difference in the comfort of the boat.

After owning 3 boats I had decided what I wanted in a catamaran. I wanted a boat that had lots of capacity, easy to sail,  beach-able with wings.  So the Getaway seemed like the perfect boat. I looked for sometime for a used Hobie Getaway. I figure either Hobie doesn't sell alot of Getaways or used boats go pretty quickly.  I eventually decided to pony up the dough and get a new boat.

The getaway is perfect for a family boat.. It has enough buoyancy to handle 4+ adults easily. It has no boom which is great when you are sailing with kids. The front trampoline is fun and comfy. The wings fold in and much easier to use then the wings on the H17.  The Getaway is very stable, easy to sail and tacks well.  You can beach it with no concern about damaging hulls.

Over all each of these boats is a great choice for someone looking to get into sailing.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Rockport State Park

Sunday afternoon my family and I drove up to Rockport State Park a nice little reservoir located just north of the sleepy town of Peoa Utah. The little lake is about an hour and a half drive from my house in Cedar Hills Utah, but a bit closer if you are coming from either Salt Lake or Provo. Either way the drive is worth the trip. The drive is a beautiful jaunt through the mountains passing by Deer Creek Reservoir, Heber City, Park City, and Jordanelle Reservoir, each of which makes a great destination.


The reservoir is about a across at its widest point and just under 3 miles long. That's plenty of area for sailing a small boat.  The water temperature yesterday was a chilly 53 degrees, but the sun was out for part of the afternoon and the air temp was almost 75 degrees.  The water was clear and clean like many mountain lakes.


There are plenty of beaches all around the lake. Some access near the boat ramp provides a nice sandy beach. Other access near the picnic and camping areas are rocky and sandy, but one could find a spot to beach a boat easy enough.  The beach was very clean and it seems they enforce a no beach camping or fires policy.


The wind blew consistently out of the south most of the afternoon when we were there. Gusting winds measured up to 26 mph, but most of the day the breeze was between 5 and 10 mph, perfect for sailing. 


Lots of great camping sites within walking distance to a nice beach. I've never camped here, but I plan to this summer. I can see that beaching my cat close to a campsite will be easy as long as I pick a weekend that isn't too busy.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Utah Lake

Utah Lake with my Boys last year.
Yesterday, May 4th was my first sail of the season, it was a warm spring day. The air temperature was in the 70's and the water temperature in Utah lake was 60 degrees.

It was wet suit weather for sure, but we didn't get wet, wet suits were more of a precautionary measure.  If you are wondering when it's time to dawn a wet suit remember the 120 rule. If the water temperature plus the water temperature equals less then 120 you need a wet suit or more.

The wind yesterday was mild and our max speed was just under 7 mph and our averages was much slower. We sailed about 3.4 miles into the middle of Utah lake and turned around and went back. The trip took about 3 hours. I wanted to cross the lake, but the wind wasn't cooperating.  We needed to get home by 5pm, but the wind died and we end paddling a bit. When the wind would move us faster then we could paddle we sailed back.

Overall it was a great relaxing day at the lake and the trip was a great ice breaker from the long winter.


There is a small beach at Utah Lake State park where the boat ramp is, It is man made and not very sandy. On weekends it is very busy. There is another beach on Vineyard Road south of the Lindon Boat Harbor that is accessible as a walk in only, but you couldn't launch a boat there The beach is fenced off, and a man size gate provides access. I'm not aware of any really nice beaches on Utah lake.


The water is warm in the summer. The lake is generally shallow and a bit muddy. They say that when the wind picks up the waves can get quite choppy for a small craft, I've never experience it, but I don't sail there often.  It makes a good location for afternoon sails if you live if the valley.


Like most lakes in Utah , the wind seems to pick up in the afternoon, so my favorite time to sail is between 3pm and 6pm. The last trip I took I got off the water at 5 pm and the wind had just began to blow.


I've never camped at Utah Lake. I know a few years ago they added some additional camp sites at the State park. I like to camp on the beach near my boat so the State Park doesn't offer much in the way of beach camping.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Sailing Deer Creek Utah

We went up to Deer Creek Reservoir to check out the water early in the year. The kids spent the time hiking along the beach and building bridges out to the trees. The water lever the spring is high.   We took the boat out later in the year to Deer Creek  I thought the sailing was great. The wind blew mostly from the dam, on the south side of the reservoir and we launched our boat from boat ramp Chokecherry Campground.

We stayed on  the lake all day, stopping in the quite times to swim and play in the water. We sailed about 2 and a half miles as the crows fly. I'm sure we actually sailed 4 times that.


There is isn't a great beach for kids to play on. There is a place called Sailboat Beach, that really isn't much of a beach. The day we went sailing, the water had dropped to the point where you couldn't launch the boat from there and the place was packed so you couldn't stake out a spot to picnic.


The wind was consistent for most of the day. Near the end of the day a small storm blew in and forced us to head back to the boat ramp a bit sooner then we had planned. There beach around the dock is steep and all of the boats where rushing to get off of the water. We had a bit of drama with a ski boat who was doing circles around ramp.


The water was cold, maybe in the high 60's.  It's a deep steep beached mountain lake with nice clean water.


There isn't a great place where you can camp next to your beached boat. There are lots of RV camp grounds, best plan to pull your boat off the water for the night. This is a hassle so we normally drive up for the day.

New Hobie Getaway

Last year we purchased a new Hobie Getaway.  We got it from in Venice, CA. It it didn't come with a trailer, so I put in on my Hobie 17 trailer. The Getaway is a touch wider then the Hobie 17 so I had to adjust my trailer rollers a bit to get it t fit. This is picture of it's first trip out.