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The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board now holds their sailing lessons at Lake Harriet. The MPRB rents buoys for sailboats less than 22 feet on Lake Calhoun, and other Minneapolis lakes, for an affordable fee.
White Bear Boat Works A berth at their 160 slip marina for the 2012 season was $2,295,and the all- included package $3685. The DNR launch is free and always crowded. The City launch requires an annual permit. Theh White Bear Boat Works launch is $20.00. Also, the City rents mooring buoys at the Matoska Boat Launch for a reasonable fee, but there may be a waiting list.
Take heed the DNR warning about White Bear Lake: "Low water levels have made launching and lake travel challenging."
Lake Pepin There are several marinas on Lake Pepin and most are knowledgeable and accommodating to sailboats. Sailors should note that if they launch from Red Wing, they will need to motor several miles before reaching sail-able water.
>WARNING:It is our experience that before buying a sailboat, or attempting to pilot a sailboat, SAILING LESSONS are required to protect the lives and safety of all persons aboard the vessel, and to maximize the enjoyment of the sport. There are many Coast Guard and ASA certified sailing instructors in MN.
Like many a Minneapolis wanna-be sailor, we began our voyage at Lake Calhoun by taking the sailing lessons offered by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. We had inherited a 13 foot Sunfish and needed to know how to have fun and not kill ourselves. We give top marks to the MPRB sailing lessons, the instructors are enthusiastic and first rate, the boats are 14 ft Lido's, well rated for beginners and superbly maintained.
"Sailing and Racing in the heart of Minneapolis since 1901," The Lake Calhoun Yacht Club is a Minneapolis legend. The Club hosts weekly and annual races and also the Aquatennial Regattas. As a part of the Club, The Lake Calhoun Sailing School instructs sailors of all ages, 4- adult, with competitive racing skills. Their boats are 60 Optimist dinghys and Club 420 sailboats.
While the kids were still at home we sailed our 13' Sunfish on Lake Nokomis, which was wonderful fun. We could hitch up the boat and have it in the water, rigged, in thirty minutes. There was no launch fee and often we were the only sailboat on the lake. Our experience was that the wind gets a little twitchy from the jet downdrafts, and in dry years the south side of the lake is so shallow that if you turtle, the mast will get stuck.
WHITE BEAR LAKE
After the kids left home we wanted a Bigger Boat and Bigger Water. Toward that end, we enrolled in American Sailboat Association (ASA) sanctioned keelboat lessons with Northern Breezes Sailing School at White Bear Lake. Now, and here, we only admit to a bit of trembling at first stepping onto a 24' sailboat, it looked SO huge after the Sunfish! Originally, we were scheduled to be in a crew class of 4, but we ended up with individual tutoring, because after the second no- show the other two students were dropped. By final test time we had gained the confidence and skills to handle ourselves on a 24 foot sailboat. The classes were held very early weekend mornings and we learned the reason for this is that by noon a sailor is spending most of their time dodging powerboats and fighting wakes.
After earning our freshly minted ASA keelboat certificates, we then found our bigger sailboat, a 1977 ODay 20 named "Joint Venture'. We discussed where we would put such a big boat, whether to berth, buoy or store it, and if so, where? In 2006, all the metro area marinas had five- year waiting lists. Finally, we found an open sublet berth at Hansen's Harbor on Lake Pepin. Yes, the drive was twice as far as White Bear Lake, and Lake Pepin is actually a pool of the Mississippi River, but the scenery was breathtakingly beautiful and it was the biggest water we could find near the metro area.
So often we had driven through Lake City, admiring the sailboats, and now we were going to be among them. The first time we took our Bigger Boat out onto Bigger Water was exciting and challenging- there is much to learn in unfamiliar waters!
Over the years we found the Lake Pepin sailing community to be universally good scouts, helpful and friendly. And from them we've heard many stories of the fickle Pepin winds, and earned a few of our own. The 2012 sailing season was outstanding, with the most good- to- great sailing days logged since we bought the boat. This year we also had the delightful privilege of being invited out on two other boats from the marina for picnics.
Pepin sailors should be prepared for sudden wind shifts, micro weather systems developing over the river with powerful squall lines and gale force winds, river barge rights of way, and large cabin cruiser wakes that can capsize small boats.
At Lake Pepin, there is a large and welcoming sailing community, egret and pelican flocks in spring and fall, flocks of soaring eagles, and scenery that never fails to awe and inspire.
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