Friday the 13th

Ron Force (
Sun, 15 Aug 1999 17:53:54 -0700

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West Wight Potter Website at URL
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"Should we be tempting fate by camping in Campsite #13 on Friday the
13th?", says the spouse. You decide...

I promised the NW Potters a report on my Priest Lake trip, and thought
the whole mailing list might like to know about a nice trailering

Priest Lake ( is a long, narrow glacial lake in
northern Idaho just south of the Canadian border-- 25 miles long,
averages 6-8 miles across. It sits at the foot of the Selkirk
Mountains, and is surrounded by a good deal of National Forest. Because
of the remote location, lack of private land, and the short boating
season with severe winters, it's less developed than the lakes farther
south, and has clean, crystal-clear waters.

We took a short vacation (Thursday-Saturday) to try out the sailing.
We'd been cross-country skiing there for a number of years, and and gone
canoeing once, but had never taken the boat before We launched about
noon at the Kalispell Bay Boat Ramp, operated by the Forest
Service(USFS) ($4 launch, $2/day parking after the first day). The USFS
has 67 boat-in camp sites on Kalispell and Bartoo Islands in the lake.
While some sites have pit toilets, all boaters without porta-poopers are
issued pickle buckets as no waste discharge, black or gray, is permitted
in the lake. They do have a "Scat" machine to empty and wash the buckets
without much handling.

It was a beautiful, sunny day in the mid-70s, with a 15-20 mph wind out
of the south--working jib weather. I lost a cushion over the side, and
pleased myself by executing a perfect "man overboard" maneuver to
recover it. We sailed around the north end of Kalispell Island and
tacked south for Bartoo. On the way out, a guy ran out from shore in a
speed boat and asked me if I wanted to sell my boat! Well, not right
then, but if I had known...

We sailed down the east shore of Bartoo in the dying wind and light,
examining the campsites, and observing the wildlife (deer and birds)
along the shore. We decided to try the south end, and cut around the
shore with the electric motor a little too close, banging the
centerboard on the rocks. We spotted a great campsite on a sand beach,
and decided to run up on shore using the motor on high. When we hit the
beach, the leftover chop pushed the stern around into the sand, stalling
the motor.

We unloaded the camping gear, and I went to motor off in order to anchor
out with a stern tie to the shore. The ranger had mentioned that
earlier in the summer they'd had a thunderstorm whose four foot waves
had played havoc with beached boats. The motor didn't run. A closer
examination revealed that the transom plug had melted. I haven't
determined yet whether the motor itself is fried, but it sure wasn't
going to be of use the rest of the trip. I waded out and tossed the
anchor as far as possible and moored. We watched the sunset glow on the
peaks, followed by a beautiful starry night.

By morning the clouds had rolled in with visible rain showers, and very
light winds. We broke camp, kedged off, assisted by the paddle, and
sailed slowly downwind to the east side of Kalispell Island getting
showered on a few times. We picked out a site about noon, and set the
anchor 75 feet offshore on the way in just in case we needed help
getting out. We beached this time, since we weren't exposed to the
prevailing wind and waves. The rain had stopped, but there still wasn't
much wind, so we hiked the 2 1/2 miles around the island on a trail,
stopping to look at other campsites around the island. The sites are
very well done, with tent platforms, fire kettles, and picnic tables.
Although there's a 14 day limit, I understand that some locals will get
together and each family will claim the communal site for 14 days in
succession ($5/day) for the entire summer. There was one such site next
to us with six coolers and four large tents, but only three people in
residence. There were many unoccupied sites. The camp sites are sited
so that noise wasn't a problem, but that may have been due to the
weather. The only real annoyance was the occasional jet ski (a special
corner of Hell should be reserved for the inventor) although there
weren't nearly as many of them as are found on Lake Coeur d'Alene. We
spotted a wild turkey on the walk.

The wind came back up on Saturday morning, but the skies looked
threatening, so we headed back to the ramp. I started out with the
genoa. While rounding the north side of the island, we started to feel
overpowered, so we hove to, and I got up on the bow and changed to the
jib (yes, you can do it without turtling :-) ).

The wind was really gusting up the lake, and we quickly drove back to
the ramp, banging through the chop, and throwing spray into the air.
Fortunately, the wind was out of the south-west, and the ramp was
semi-protected, so we could drop the sails and paddle into what was a
congested situation, with only one small area of the dock not occupied
with boats coming and going. To put this in perspective for those in
urban areas, there were three boats unloading at the dock and two
waiting to launch :-)

As I was winching the boat on to the trailer, the skies opened with a
cold downpour, and I (too) hurriedly dropped the mast and lashed things
down. As we started down the road with me huddled dripping in front of
the heater, slowly losing my blue complexion, my wife said "What was
that that just flew off the trailer?" We stopped by the roadside, and I
immediately saw that one of the stays had fallen off under the trailer
wheel, and wrapped it several times. The tubular shroud cover had
departed for parts unknown, evidently taking the bearing buddy with it
on the way. The stay adjuster was bent, but the stay didn't appear to
be damaged. To untangle the stay from the wheel, I unhooked it from the
adjuster, losing the clevis pin somewhere in the grass.

We got home OK, but by the end of the 180 mile drive, most of the grease
had been flung out of the buddy-less bearing. Looks like I have some
maintenance and packages from West Marine in my future. Priest Lake
appears to have the potential for a longer stay earlier in the summer.
We only sailed a small portion of the lake-- there's still plenty more
to explore, and two more islands to camp on.

Ron  Force
Moscow, Idaho U.S.A.                                P-15 1195