Every sailor has his or her own reason for stepping into a sailboat, but for Todd Frye, it’s the feeling of pure freedom he first experienced in 1974.
“I’m not sure I can explain the experience of being powered only by the wind, but it’s a true sensory and personal experience,” he explains. “I would like to think I can share [this freedom] with others.”
As director of Bonneville School of Sailing at Utah Lake, Frye has the opportunity to share his passion of sailing on a daily basis.
Several other groups exist in the state to create sailing experiences, including the Great Salt Lake Yacht Club, Sailing Solution, Utah Sailing Association and Bonneville School of Sailing. So whether you’re interested in picking up a new hobby, improving your prior sailing knowledge or simply want to experience the wind in your hair, Utah’s sailing clubs have you covered.
Stretch Your Sea Legs
Jerry Harwood, commodore of the Great Salt Lake Yacht Club (GSLYC), had an experience similar to Frye’s in 1980 when he spent time on a friend’s sailboat. “I was hooked, but it was several years before I really got serious,” he says. Buying a boat 10 years later allowed Harwood and his wife, Jackie, to enjoy their “cheap Caribbean vacations” on the waters of Lake Powell.
“We would beach the boat, set up camp on the sandy beach and sail when the wind blew. To us, it was the best of all worlds. But later, we eventually decided that the best sailing for us was on the Great Salt Lake,” Harwood says.
Learning how to sail doesn’t have to be complicated if you invest in a simple sailing course and start out learning on a small sailboat. Originally organized in 1877, the GSLYC is thought to be the oldest yacht club west of the Mississippi River and has sailing instruction opportunities through its various programs.
The annual Women’s Sailing Program introduces women to the sport of sailing through simple instruction and hands-on sailing experience. And the Juniors Sailing Program gives basic instruction to youngsters in the classroom and practical experience using a fleet of three small sailboats.
Bonneville Sailing offers learn-to-sail and corporate team-building courses, along with boat rentals and social cruises. The company also has celestial navigation courses, in which sailors of all experience levels are introduced to the concept. By using the sun, moon and stars, sailors are able to know where they are on any body of water. The North Star is most commonly used at night, but in cloudy conditions there are 58 other “navigation stars” that can be used. “All those who take our Celestial Navigation courses agree, sailing is so much better at night,” Frye says.
Hop on Board
Learning to work with two of the most powerful forces in nature, wind and water, while mastering the ability to control and maneuver a sailboat under varying conditions is extremely gratifying, Harwood says. “It doesn’t matter if you’re the president of a company, department head, manager or worker, once you’re on a sailboat it becomes a great equalizer,” he says. “No matter how good you think you are, Mother Nature will test you to your limits. These experiences build both character and capability as sailing is a learning process.”
Sailboats are a terrific spot for onboard entertaining, whether it’s enjoying a light meal, playing games, listening to music or simply passing the time with family and friends. And this goes for any time of the day or night.
Although at times sailing requires its share of physical work, it can be an incredibly relaxing pastime as well. And when you learn how to sail, you’ll feel a genuine sense of accomplishment as you become intimately familiar with all aspects of the boat and how it relates to its environment in terms of everything from the wind to the weather. “It’s so peaceful and really releases stress,” says Frye’s wife, Louise.
Enjoy Utah’s Landlocked Sailing Wonders
Summer months are dry and desolate, but your weekends don’t have to be. As the second driest state in the nation, Utah has an unusually high number of lakes and reservoirs. In fact, Utah is ranked sixth in the U.S. for amount of boatable water per capita.
Below are the most popular boatable bodies of water, each with developed boat ramps, marinas, restrooms and campgrounds. Elevations and surface acres are approximate and are for full pool.
Great Salt Lake Elevation: 4,200 feet
Surface Area: 960,000 acres
Lake Powell Elevation: 3,700 feet
Surface Area: 160,000 acres
Elevation: 4,488 feet
Surface Area: 96,900 acres
Bear Lake Elevation: 5,920 feet
Surface Area: 70,000 acres
Flaming Gorge Elevation: 6,053 feet
Surface Area: 42,020 acres
Strawberry Reservoir Elevation: 7,560 feet
Surface Area: 17,200 acres
Yuba Lake Elevation 5,100 feet
Surface Area: 11,000 acres
Jordanelle Reservoir Elevation: 6,200 feet
Surface Area: 3,300 acres
Deer Creek Reservoir Elevation: 5,423 feet
Surface Area: 2,965 acres
Pineview Reservoir Elevation: 4,900 feet
Surface Area: 2,870 acres
Willard Bay Reservoir Elevation: 4,236 feet
Surface Area: 2,870 acres
Sand Hollow Reservoir Elevation: 2,900 feet
Surface Area: 1,000 acres
Quail Creek Reservoir Elevation: 2,900 feet
Surface Area: 590 acres
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