February 2015

Boats will be back soon...

Is it spring yet?

Where did all the water go?

Thanks to Jim Shugrue for the above photos!

Winter Sailing Entertainment

View from the tiller of a stern steering iceboat by sailor Joe Terry on Lake Petenwell. See the video...

And more video on snow-free ice in December by Joe...

And more video from 2015 Wisconsin Stern Steering Association Annual Regatta on Lake Mendota...

LAX Sailing Club Ice Boaters on New Year's Day 2015

Check out the Lake Onalaska Fishing Report and Average Ice Depth Report...


Without soft water, what's a sailor to do? Watch videos of sailing...


Avoidance Area

The Lake Onalaska Voluntary Waterfowl Avoidance Area is in effect from October 15 through mid-November. Large numbers of diving ducks are present on the lake. See what kinds of birds have been seen there. Buoys marking the boundaries of this area have been deployed. Please see the Avoidance Area on the official map...

Review of 2014 at Lax Sailing

by Vice Commodore Greg Martin

Suggestion for New Keel especially for Lake Onalaska when the weeds are bad--from Ken Johnson.


Work Day

2014 Fall Workday for the La Crosse Sailing Club was held Saturday, October 11, beginning at 9am. Many members came through the foggy morning to help take lifts and docks out of the water and clean up the grounds. Fill was placed along the length of the bulkhead, ready for spring seeding.

Change of date for Fall Membership Meeting

Due to some scheduling conflicts, the date for the 2014 Fall Membership Meeting has been changed. It will now be held on Tuesday, October 28 at 7pm (dinner time begins at 6), at Heroes Bar and Grill on French Island.

Raft Up!

Saturday, Sept. 27, 4:30 meet at the shelter. Can you join us??
Bring your boat, 2 fenders, 2 lines to tie boats together, and a bit of food to share.

Bird migration is starting. It's fun to watch and listen. Later some of us will anchor overnight. Raft up again in the morning if you wish. Weather will determine our location.

Let us know if you plan to make it. 608.792.1304 Greg Martin


Board Boat Fish Boil Make Up

On Sunday, Sept. 28, Board Boats are invited to make up racing. The weather is going to be fine for racing! Suggested start time on the water is 11:00 AM--goal to get five races in before the evening activities. >>Portsmouth rating system. Fleets with 4 or more boats will be scored separately.




2014 Fish Boil


Saturday, Sept. 13th 4pm till ????

Shelter at La Crosse Sailing Club

$5 per person


Our final social event of the season is rapidly approaching and you are invited. Bill Plzak is making arrangements for a fabulous evening that includes fresh fish from the shores of Lake Superior. This is a traditional style Fish Boil including potatoes and onions. We'll mix in a salad and end up with pie for dessert. If the weather cooperates, we hope to enjoy a moonlight sail on Lake Onalaska. A wide variety of beverages, including non alcoholic options, will be available that evening.

There will be two seatings; 5pm & 6pm.

The social hour will begin at 4pm or whenever there are enough people around to tap the keg.

WIN A TRIP FOR 2 TO VEGAS! Thanks to generous gift from Tom Sawyers Bar and Grill on French Island someone attending will win a trip to Las Vegas.

If you are attending..... Please rsvp now to dinsmoorbrad@yahoo.com. Indicate the number of people attending and your preferred seating time. The first seating is likely to fill up first. Another reminder will be sent but please rsvp sooner than later to help us plan.

What is under Lake Onalaska?


This Map shows the Mississippi River valley in 1896. See the map label. Can you find the Sailing Club site?

Explorer Report

Junior Explorer Tom Reporting

I took the day off to try to catch up on missed sailing.  I pushed off the dock at 10 am with a northwest 15 mph wind and no sun.  It was a rather cool day.  I headed to the far northwest corner of the lake, in search of the Summer Chute passage.  Sailing with only the main, upwind progress was slow.  Finally making it to the far corner of the lake, I sailed north, parallel to and still about 300 yards from the treeline.  I sailed past the opening and could see down nearly the full length of the chute.  But I feared sailing closer because I could not see the sand bar that I knew was waiting to trip up my boat.  I came about to look down the chute again.  Then a little disappointed I turned back to the club.

It took over an hour to reach that corner, and only twenty minutes to sail back to club.  What a great wind!

After an hour break at the club, I headed back out.  The wind speed still read 15, but there were a lot of white caps now.  So I sailed into the lee of Arrowhead island.  I've never sailed up on a beach with my Daysailer.  I got within 25yards and made 3 or 4 passes, but didn't see a good spot to land.  So I headed back out to the open waters.

Then I decided to try Broken Gun island.  This time I spotted a small sandy beach and headed for it.  About 25 yards out, I pointed into the wind and stalled the boat.  This gave me time to raise the centerboard and grab a paddle.I was able to easily paddle in for a smooth landing, then hop off the boat while grabbing the bow line.  And pulling it to bring the boat up on shore for my first beach landing.  

I started to explore and found a recently washed up boat bumper and a single flip flop sandal.  I kept the bumper - it's black in color.  Let me know if you know who lost it, otherwise it's the first piece of my future keel boat!!

On top of the island was a large pile of soft black sediment.  I wondered if the flood had left it behind.  Looking closer I saw that it was covered in ants.  I think I found a 10 foot diameter ant hill!  And I've seen enough late night movies for that to explain the single sandal.  And I quickly departed.

The wind had let up and the white caps were gone.  I headed back to the chute.  This time I spotted the sandbar.  There were 4 large White Cranes standing on it making it easy to locate.  So I sailed closer this time.  But then I ran aground.  I quick pulled the uphaul retracting the centerboard; and then released the main just in time as I got blown around into a run.  Time to call it day and head back in.

I passed Greg on the way back.  He was motoring up to the chute with rowboat in tow.  I guess he will be the first one this year to map the passage.

Another Kind of Adventure

From Nate Melby: My mom is nearing the end of a big adventure.  She started in May at the headwaters of the Mississippi, and is in Northern Louisiana/Mississippi now.  Last night, she camped at a spot that she said was 40 ft from a water hole with gators splashing in it!  She started on her 60th birthday. When she's done, she'll be the first American female to kayak the Mississippi River from Source to Sea solo, and should see the Gulf in a few weeks.

Here is an article the local newspaper in Natchez, MS just did on her trip: http://www.natchezdemocrat.com/2014/08/26/60-year-old-kayaker-aims-to-become-first-to-travel-miss-river/

And here is the article in the La Crosse Tribune prior to her trip: http://lacrossetribune.com/news/local/ellen-kolbo-mcdonah-artist-seeks-inspiration-in-mississippi-river-adventure/article_2e50169a-2f2e-5a89-85cf-c6d69275df75.html

Update: Sept. 8, 2014

There was a nice article about my mom that just came out in Canoe & Kayak magazine, and it shows some of her sketches and drawings from her trip, just thought I'd pass it along as an update:  http://www.canoekayak.com/kayaking-artist#3b01155ab3

After the article came out, she said that she had about 100 new facebook friend notifications pop up on her phone that night. :)

She said that the industrial complex from Baton Rouge to New Orleans was incredible, and that she felt like an ant in the middle of all of those huge ships coming and going.  She said the barges were small compared to the ships.  She's glad to be past that now, sounds like that was the toughest part of the trip for her.

Today, she's in the river channel between New Orleans and the Gulf, and should reach the Gulf by the end of the day.  Adriane and I are going to New Orleans to pick her up, leaving Tuesday and coming back late Sunday.

Unfortunately, it means that we'll miss the fish boil regatta this year.  We're pretty torn up about that, but it's about the best reason that I could probably have to miss it!


Adventures Continue

Several LAX Club members have visited the far reaches of Lake Onalaska this summer. Several teams have reached the Sommers' Chute in the NW part of Lake Onalaska; some even reaching the Mississippi River!

Another expedition went to the South, just off Red Oak Island, to find previously marked hazards. On 8.20.14 Adventurers Ken Johnson and Greg Martin found (landed on) the stumps on the way to the spillway. The two were about 8 feet apart and under water about 20". (The stumps that is, not Ken and Greg). Pool at 639'(Project Pool). PS. Ken did not like holding up the flag but Nancy made it and we didn't want her to feel bad. MORE...


Annual Steak Fry

Steak Fry Social and Moonlight Sail to be held on Saturday, August 9. In keeping with our tradition, the cost of the event will be $5 each. Although the cost is the same ($5) regardless of when you notify the Leathens, we would greatly appreciate it if you could RSVP as soon as possible by sending an email to LaCrosse.SailingClub.SteakFry@gmail.com. If possible, we'd like people to RSVP by Tuesday, August 5. This will allow the Leathens to order the proper amount of food and make appropriate plans.


Sommer's Chute Adventure


On July 28, 2014, 3 of us "Adventures" sailed up to, anchored, and took a dingy into the south side of Sommer's Chute (633' tail water-low current). The south side entrances are very shallow. Walking and dragging the dingy was necessary giving the birds wide berth. The current is now low but so is the water. Once inside, good water depth. Sailboats under motor power can enter from the river side but will need to turn around before you get to the best bird viewing areas due to the shallow bottom at the delta. Other keel less sailboats should be able to get close from the lake side.

Sommer's Chute on July 28, 2014

Getting in and past the delta in most cases requires dragging, fast paddling, electric motor set up high or gas motor set up high(one foot water depth or less). Exiting the chute there is one place that still holds about 1-2 feet of water but all around it are shoals at one foot or less as you are entering the lake. Great place for a dingy with electric motor, kayaks, and flat bottom boats. With a sailboat, around the delta your chances of grounding are extremely high and the current pushing you up onto shoals makes it more likely. If you like birds, or possibly excitement, the experience may be worth it.

Greg Martin, Larry Kruckman(Mt. Horeb) and Dave Hoffman(Mt. Horeb)


Large Snag Removed



There was a telephone pole sized snag about about 100 yards southwest of our beach.  The snag was removed to the town ramp, where it was determined that it is a bridge pier that floated down the river to land at our beach. Previously, a large red navigation buoy was also on our beach, but the last high water carried it away downstream.


Flood Recovery


Members of the LAX Sailing Club have been working to repair and clean up from flood damage with several work crews involved. See more recovery photos...


Caribbean Party!!! Saturday, July 12, 5:00pm


From Lift Fleet Captain Gene McNurlen:

"The waters are receding and what better time to celebrate to a late return of raising the sails and succumbing to the winds than to party like the buckos. Aargh!! So we are bringing out the rum, the jolly roger, plenty of West Indie food and good cheer." The Lift Fleet hosted members and friends for the annual Caribbean Island Dinner!




Water Level Observations


New high water levels were photographed on June 27 by Gene McNurlen. More...

Vice Commodore Greg Martin has made a report of his Observations of Water Levels (updated on June 11. 2014), which may be a good resource for future high water events...

Scott Laurie and Kathy Fitchuk retrieve their boat after the town dock has gone under water on Sunday, June 22.

Juin Lune Party

The Beach Crew provided an evening in France on the Seine River for an International Night dinner social, June 21st on the summer Solstice.

We visited a Crêperie where Jeanluc worked his magic making savory and dessert crepes on three cooking stones. Bordeaux was served with baguettes, brie chesse and other hors d'œuvres at 5:00 PM. Dinner was served at two seatings, one at 6:00 PM and another at 7:00 PM.

Que pensez-vous?

The event also featured live music with Larry Dalton's new band! Under Paris Skies performing Euro café music and gypsy jazz - imagine a sidewalk bistro, Paris, 1930's... Repertoire includes French musette, Parisian swing, as well as tangos, boleros and bossas. Once you hear it you can’t forget it - sophisticated with a sentimental quality, delicate with a swinging feel. Gypsy jazz, also known as "jazz manouche", was once kept in the old tradition and delivered from one generation to another in the gypsy camps of Europe. The popularity of this style continues to grow with aficionados around the world forming local bands to keep the music alive. Under Paris Skies features Ron Reimer - accordion, Steven Meger - guitar, and Larry Dalton - upright bass.

Non-sailing Spouses' Party

Small Change to the Sailing Spouses Event Tuesday, June 10

The Feists' dock has not been put in yet because of the high water recently, so we will postpone the pontoon ride until another time. We WILL still have the social, with wine and beverages at 5:30, a light dinner at 6:00, (time change). There are about 10-12 people signed up. Come even if you haven't signed up yet. It is so beautiful out there. You may want to bring a lawn chair to watch the racers. It will be their first evening of Tuesday night racing.

See you at the club. Jerilyn, Kathryn, Patty, and Marian

Wednesday Gathering

Optional: Grill at 5:30, or BYO dinner and beverage.

Safety on the Water Session by Lee Peterson starts at 6:15 pm.

Possible Topics: What to do, what not to do...crew overboard retrieval, no-drama docking, and general sailing Q & As, with possible time for on the water demo.



Adventurers Trip to Fred Funk Landing Saturday, June 14 Cancelled


(All members welcome) Rain or shine(“Adventurers” don't wait for perfect weather. Bring a rain coat).

Sat, June 14, 3pm.

Sail to Fred Funk Landing. Walk to Brice Prairie Pub and Eatery.

Return by 9pm.

Any boat, with or without a motor, can do the Pub and Eatery but your landing will be different. With a motor; you can use the upper landing. You will need 50' of line and 2 fenders to raft up. Not recommended for boats over 20 feet. Without a motor; you can anchor or tie up in front of Fritz Funks house. You will need an anchor and line or 50' of line to tie up on shore. “Adventurers” leap from the boat to shore (not recommended but could provide a good photo opportunity), but otherwise you should expect to wade from your boat to shore. (Stick in front of the dock marks a rock.)

We need to know if you would like to join us as passengers. If you have a boat in the water, how many passengers are you are willing to take? Please respond as quickly as possible so we can inform potential passengers of openings. 608.792.1304

Without a boat, without a ride? Got a car? Most likely…. we will be at the Pub and eatery around 6pm. Come and join us. Feel free to offer us a ride back to our boat. : ) You can suffer damage to your boat and yourself striking obstacles under the water. Current, varying lake height, weeds, shifting underwater debris are part of Lake Onalaska. Let's learn the lake together.


Entering Sommers Chute and Beyond

6.7.14 The Adventurers
Two boats made their way to Sommers Chute and the North end of Lake Onalaska on a rainy day. A good time was had by all...

More photos...

Sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate but you can still have fun outside and a group of 7 people have a fun time. On Saturday, June 7th, they met at the club at 9am to travel up the backwaters on the northern end of the lake. Heavy rain and thunder shortened the trip. The group dried out over late morning cocktails at Bill and Sue Carskadon’s beautiful home on Brice Prairie followed by lunch at the Brice Prairie Pub and Eatery. The weather made it an adventure. It was a wonderful time for socializing too. Many thank to Bill and Sue for opening up their home, to Greg Martin for coordinating the event, and the other passengers and crew: Kathy Fitchuk and Scott Laurie, Patty Martin and Brad Dinsmoor.

The first 2014 documented Voyagers...now changed to "Adventurers" trial run was May 23, 2014. After discussion, Duane Bennett, thought that Voyagers were people who knew where they were going and we don't always know where we are going. Thus..."Adventurers".
Until further notice. Duane Bennett and Greg Martin

The Chute was raging and did allow the kayak to enter, but not pass through.

Women Sailing


Four LAX Sailing Club members attended the Women's Sailing Seminar in Milwaukee in May: Marian Scheisser, Nancy Sojka, Marilyn Webster, Suzanna Hanson. They will be sharing their knowledge and continuing their practice with other sailors on Wednesdays this summer.

Pizza Party

In celebration of the water receding, a Pizza Party was held on Saturday night, May 24 at 5 pm. Plans are being made for a work day to reset docks soon. Watch this space for more announcements.

The water is going down rapidly...will be close to normal in pool 7 by Thursday, May 29.  

This navigation bouy has made it's way from the channel to our beach in the high water.



High Water Recedes


Daysailer Fleet Captain Gene McNurlen recorded these photos on May 11 and sends this message to lift boat owners: "A few docks will have to be put back and fewer less re-adjusted on their H-frames. Let me know if anyone needs help. I think we can do this on an individual basis without another workday. I will be around for part of the week but will be out of town this weekend."

The NWS is predicting that the water levels will be going up again this week (May12-17) to the levels we saw last week. If you would like to keep track of high water levels, go to this website: National Weather Service Hydrology


High Water Reports

From Markham Chatterton on Friday, May 3, 2014: "The river level is getting high--will be above the bulkhead by early next week (~6" or so at crest in the middle of next week).
Water will likely be into the parking lot today.  
Small docks will need more attention--putting them in the lawn is not an option."

More photos, taken Saturday May 3 and 4 by Gene McNurlan and Dave Meyer.

And a message from Commodore Tim Gongawar: "Jim Melby and Gene McNurlen were both out at the club today and informed me that the floating docks are increasingly in danger of floating away. Although some have been tied together and others have been weighted, the water is expected to rise another foot over the next two days.

The concern is that even those tied together and/or to the bulkhead may still be in danger of either floating away or causing damage to lifts/docks nearby, particularly if the wind kicks up more than expected. The suggestion is that members with temporary docks should remove them and put them back in the shelter (a foot increase may mean that any left on the ground by the bulkhead may still be in danger of floating away). "



Spring Workday 2014


Steps built by John Fischer, tested by Daun Allen, John Fischer, and Jim Paquette.


Steps before work day 2014!


Tiki Bar with builders Jim Paquette and Randy Scheisser. More photos...



Membership and Dues are Past Due Now

If you have questions about your membership bill, contact John Zinn at treasurer@lax-sailing.org


LaX Sailing Organizational Membership Meeting

Tue, April 1, 7pm – 9pm
Hero's Bar & Grill
Day’s Inn, Sky Harbour Drive Map

Many will be gathering beginning as early as 5:30 to order dinner and socialize beforehand, so feel free to come early :) NOTICE: We will be in a different room than we were in past years - please look for signs directing you to where the meeting will be held.

Suggestions, ideas, thoughts....

Vice Commodore Greg Martin has prepared a suggestion form for members, called The How To Move an Idea Form. Find copies on the Resources page.


Spring Workday La Crosse Sailing Club

April 26 - Saturday - 9am: Time to get the club ready for the season. Bring rakes and such.
Rain day is Sunday, April 27

Planning Ahead, LAX Sailing Club Voyagers

The following events are for anyone brave enough to follow Vice Commodore Greg Martin and his crew across the waters of Lake Onalask. Put these dates on your summer calendar: You can let Greg know you are planning to sail at 608.792.1304

May 18, Sun. Voyagers Sail to the Black River and Schafer's' Landing. 1pm-4pm

June 7, Sat. Voyagers Enter Sommer's Chute. 9am-1pm, 2.5 ft. water at entrance. Some none wind propulsion required inside Chute.

June 14, Sat. Voyagers Upper Brice Prairie Landing, Walk to Pub and Eatery. 3pm-dusk. 3 ft. water at entrance

July 5, Sat. Voyagers Overnight on Lake Onalaska Raft up at 5pm. Fenders, anchor(s), food to pass.

Sept. 27, Sat. Voyagers Overnight on Lake Onalaska Raft up at 5pm. Fenders, anchor(s), food to pass.

La Crosse Sailing Club Socials

May 24: Pizza Night
June 21: International Night
July 12: Caribbean Night
August 9: Steakfry
September 13: Fishboil