Posted by: Maria | July 24, 2012

Pirate Days at Portage Lakes

Well shiver my timbers, Good Enough is back on the water! After weeks of living room boating, this past Sunday the family went down to Portage Lakes for their annual Pirate Regatta. Regretfully, we didn’t dress in piratical costume, though Wayne could have passed as seafood afterwards. Just dip him in garlic and butter and call him a British Regular– he’s a lobsterback!

I could make a snarky comment about “Those who can’t sail, row” but I’m not going to do that. He’s too cute for that.

We met up with new-found friends at the lake and sailed together for the afternoon. They have their own homebuilt boat- a very nice 12 foot skiff that kept everyone afloat and dry. It was a boat on a budget, and Scott did a terrific job building her, especially when it came to scrounging things that would work. He has a very creative eye for materials, and is quite the sailor for having only been out three other times.


I didn’t check the camera settings. All we have from the day are fuzzygraphs. But here’s the general gist of his boat.

The wind was calm but still noticeable. It was not as bad as the last time we were on Portage Lakes; I would say that this is the first time we sailed here. Last time we bobbed and drifted and paddled. Average speed was less than 2 knots, but we were propelled by the wind rather than our own oomph. All in all, an improvement.

Speaking of improvement, there’s lots of room for it regarding our performance on the race course that afternoon. We joined in on one race just trying to run the course. We were left in the dust (er, wake) and lapped, and while being spotted a full lap, we still came in last. Pathetic, I know. But on the upside, there is lots of room for getting better. I noticed we are having trouble in light-air tacking, generally getting bogged down and losing all forward momentum. The centerboard stalls and we just flounder. I figure it will get better with practice, and I think I’ll try my hand at it to see if I can learn. I don’t think I could do much worse than we’re already doing.

We saw some interesting boats on the water that day (and according to one gentleman, we were one of ’em- who knew?) There was a huge trimaran, Scott’s balance lug, two (!) pink (!!) dragon boats, and a pirate pontoon boat with real pirate-y looking fellows on it.

Not much to say about the trimaran. It was big. It was fast. It had three hulls and a square-topped Bermuda rig. And did I mention it was fast?

We were like a puppy dog chasing a mac truck. Or maybe it was the other way around…we were being chased by a mac truck.

Scott’s balance lug was impressive, but the real draw was the people on the boat. If the multiple hours of conversation with him and his wife while de-rigging were any indication, we may have found friends here in our new town.

Our sailing buddies

The dragon boats were interesting. We were sailing back to the dock when we saw them, and the kids were floored. Elaina commented, “That’s what a Viking boat would look like!” Yes, Vikings. But who am I to argue? Vikings may indeed look like that, if Viking women wore pink life jackets and rowed in a pink dragon boat. I think Elaina caught the drumbeat and the synchronous rowing, and the dragon figurehead on the prow and filled in the rest with imagination.


I love the little boy peeking out from amidst all the pink.

But the pirates on the pontoon boat really took the cake. We sailed close by when they hailed us, and they threw over some pirate booty- green and gold necklaces which were immediately parceled out to the young crew. You never know where the pirate treasure comes from. These may be a prize from furthest India or were scavanged from a boarded treasure vessel, or maybe were left over from rum-sodden gentlemen of fortune in that wild port of New Orleans during the feast of Mardi Gras.


Pirate treasure it may be, but if they start singing “Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest,” I’ll keelhaul ’em.

It was a great day on the water. Heck, any day on the water is a great day. I’m so glad to be sailing again!




  1. The cool kids in school always had big, cool boats. The rest of us kids who didn’t have a boat didn’t stand a chance.

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