|Raft up fun!|
The Rendezvous was set to start on Friday, but we towed our newly acquired Com-Pac 19 down on Thursday. We wanted to leave plenty of time for "just in case". Fortunately that wasn't necessary and we arrived late Thursday evening. What a beautiful place! Hazlet State Park was everything we were used to in Wisconsin - minus the fees. That's right, the park was completely free. We kept looking around for the ranger station or a post with a box for entrance fees, but found nothing. As we were checking out the dock and surrounding 200+ parking spaces and stainless steel fishing station, we asked three different people where to pay. Even the boat launch was free. We couldn't believe it.
|Under our sun shade.|
|Inlet to our cabin and slip.|
The next morning we woke to a beautiful day. After getting our keys for the cabin and taking a driving tour of the park, we launched our boat. Mike sailed it around the corner to our slip while Brenda drove the truck and trailer around to the cabin. We quickly unloaded our things from the truck to the cabin and then went for a sail. We were amazed at the minimal number of boats we met on the water. We pretty much had the place to ourselves.
Carlyle Lake is a man-made lake run by the Corp of Engineers. It is the largest man-made lake in Illinois with more than 26,000 acres of water and 11,000 acres of land. There are no houses along the shore and never will be. The original vision of keeping this a pristine lake has been honored. More information can be found at carlylelake.com.
Friday evening we were scheduled for a meet-and-greet at Bretz's Wildlife Winery. What, you might ask, is a wildlife winery? We were soon to find out. Hanging on the walls inside Bret's were a zebra, giraffe, and other taxidermy wonders. This was where we met the other Com-Pac sailors for the first time. From the beginning there was a sense of camaraderie and as we swapped stories we knew this was a group we would become very close to.
|Lots of Com-Pacs to check out.|
Saturday found us out on the water, using our vhf radios to gather the boats before we spread out again. After setting a raft-up point, we were off sailing and taking each others' pictures as we passed on the wind. The water level was still very high, so we had no problem finding a place to drop anchor and swim. Did we mention that it was in the 90's? Rafting up gave us a chance to check out each others' boats and to pass around a few snacks and share some beverages. As our chatting continued, we found that we had all, at one point in our lives, owned and ridden motorcycles. We also found that over 1/2 of our group were educators.
|Hosts Steve and Sarah clipping along. They are darn good sailors.|
Enough time IN the water, it was time to get back ON the water for another sail. We quickly could separate the expert sailors (John J) from the amateurs (us). Even when there was not much wind, John was zipping around the lake while the rest of us struggled to find the right combination of sails.
|A CP 16 and a CP19 enjoying Carlyle Lake.|
Then it was time to pack it in for the day and head to the barbecue. Remember, only 3 of the couples had met before (at last year's CLR), but we were able to produce a spread to be envied, due in large part to the hard work of Sarah and Steve. Everyone brought something to add to the table and soon we were eating, drinking and laughing like we had been friends forever. Some brought little gifts to pass out and we made anchor- and sailboat-shaped sugar cookies personalized with the CP logo and boat names. After a day full of sun and sailing, it was nice to sit and relax by the lake.
|Let the feasting begin.|
|Mike and Becky aboard Island Time|
|John J the best sailor in the lot and one truly nice person.|
We got pretty good at making Walmart runs. Seems like every day we needed something. The first day the gas line needed a new part, so off to Walmart we went. The next day we decided to make a tent awning to help keep us out of the sun. We fabricated one our of a sheet, some grommets and carabiner clips. Another day we went back just to enjoy the air conditioning and pick up some more bottled water (remember it was HOT).
|Our cabin viewed from the lake.|
All too soon it was time for us to pull out and head back to Wisconsin. Boy did we have stories to tell when we got home! The sense of adventure of trailering to a lake we had never seen before, navigating on an unknown lake, and meeting new people made this a week to remember. Then, add in the feeling of satisfaction that we felt for having tackled such an undertaking and you have two confirmed sailors who can't wait to see what is next!