Monday, June 20, 2016

Utah? Let's go sailing!

Leaving northwest Nevada, we passed through Wendover, the last bastion of casinos before the relative chastity of Utah. I thought it was amusing, many miles of deserted I-80 on either side, and suddenly a casino island, as close as allowed to Salt Lake city; the Nevada border.  There was this cool old camper truck;  A GM product hauling a Six Pac camper.   (I prefer hauling 24 or 30 packs...)

Then a quick stop at the Bonneville Salt flats. It has been too wet for racing the last couple of seasons, and currently it seemed a bit wet. Walking out on it, our shoes quickly loaded up with a half inch layer of salt. Maybe possible to drive on, but the truck was shuddering at the thought of all that wet salt. Or maybe it was the wind making the truck shudder, which got me thinking of sailing. Back at the black rock playa too it would have been fun to have some sort of sailing toy.

After a couple days camping looking out over the great salt lake (Antelope Island), and with internet and plenty of sailboat classifieds (staying in a boondockers driveway), i could resist no longer. Now we have an old windsurfer to trip over inside the camper. (the board, two booms, and four sails)

We went straight to the water, Willard Beach state park, where we camped along the big fresh water reservoir. The wind was beyond my fear level that evening.
The next morning the wind was just entertaining enough and I puttered around again for a while.

After lunch we packed up and the kids had a little float time before heading on. Elliot became unresponsive in the cold water, and Alice had to rescue him....

Next stop, the famous spiral jetty, on the super salty northwest arm of the Salt Lake. What?, never heard of the famous spiral jetty? Me either until a couple days ago. At Antelope Island I was talking to the owner of one of only two boats at the nearly dry marina. He mentioned that it could be a place to camp on that part of the lake.

The northwest arm of the lake has a salt content of approximately 25 percent. It is segregated from the rest of the lake by a railroad causeway, and it gets very little fresh water inflow. Other parts of the lake are 5 to 10 percent salt.

In 1970 an artist had the jetty built. At that time it was in the water, then in the 80's the water covered it. Then about ten years ago, the jetty reappeared and now the water is a good quarter to half mile or. It is impressive, thanks in part to the crazy lake conditions there.

First thing after setting up, I went out to see fit myself. It was crazy to plop down in the water and not sink at all. I was laughing, it was hard to get my feet back under me because my sandals were so buoyant.

The water here is pink with many tiny brine shrimp, too small to see, but really pink. At the waters edge the salt is soft like fine sand, as crystals from evaporation off the water surface wash up on shore. Foam piles up on the edge if there's a good breeze.

Out a couple feet the bottom turns into rough solid salt, bare feet are not a good idea here. The bottom is shallow for a long way out.

After dinner we hauled the windsurfer out there. There was a good breeze, and I was able to whiz around. The board does float noticeably higher on the water. The denser water doesn't show the wind very much, it has to be a stronger breeze to show any riffles. 

The next day I went out in the morning with a light breeze, and the water surface was perfectly flat. As I sailed along, the salt flakes floating on the surface tension would get disturbed and flutter down into the water like huge clear snowflakes.

I had been going for that island floating out on the horizon, it seemed like I was never more than halfway there, but the camper was really tiny. As the wind started quitting, I turned around. I had to pump the sail most all the way, which was fine too. Very relaxing, like rowing a boat but with the paddle in the air.

In the evening the wind came up again pretty nice, and I had another go.

This time the slide where the mast attaches pulled out of the board. It was a matter of time, it had been glued back in with silicone caulk.

Next stop in Utah, Bear Lake. On the east side still in Utah there are a whole string of state campgrounds right on the lake. Couldn't be a nicer spot to set up a little workshop.

I don't see how the original threaded inserts could have been expected to hold, there was not very surface area connecting them to the foam.

Carve out the center, polyurethane glue a 2x2, and screw in new threaded inserts. All solid now.

I was able to get out on Bear Lake that evening, and the next day.

At the next stop, Lava Hot Springs, we got the board stowed on the back of the camper. So we don't need trip over it all the time. And now we look like we mean business; surfboard on the back, laundry hanging out.


  1. A Salty Adventure for sure. We've never been at the salty lake, but I would love to go.

  2. It was a different world... The salt water hurts too! I had a couple scrapes on my feet from the day before, wading through the sticks at the reservoir. I tried to cover them up with band-aids, but they didn't stay on long. The scrape on my toe looked really impressive after a few sessions in the salt water, Annie thought it looked like a piece of ham, she was asking me how my ham toe was doing for days.


What do you think, where should we go next?