People ask, “When is it too cold to sail?” 50 degrees is pushing it unless you’re a hardy outdoors type. Two families from the upper Midwest braved brisk winds and chilly March temperatures of 50 degrees to sail sharply on the York River.
Stacy and Joe Rider of Golden Valley MN brought their son and a pal, while Lynette Mayer of Madison WI brought her daughter Audi. They were unfazed by the cold, and Joe was wearing shorts. “As long as the upper half of your body is covered, you’re fine.”
What exactly is too cold? “Minus 60 wind chill,” Stacy said without hesitation. “Your skin can start to freeze in five seconds. The water in your eyes freezes. At 60 below, they close school because it’s just too cold to go out. Your car won’t start, for one thing, even with the heating device. The Post Office stops delivering mail.” They said the bitter cold lasts only a day or two, but still.
Lynette said, “In Wisconsin, we get down to 40 below sometimes.” I asked Stacy what happens if your home heating goes out. “You die,” she said with conviction. College poses a special problem since students have to change classes. “They didn’t have it when I went to school, but today the University of Minnesotta has tunnels connecting all the buildings so you don’t have to go out. It’s called Gopher Way.”
Joe said, “If you look on You Tube you can find videos of people tossing pans of hot water into the air where it immediately vaporizes. Some people get it wrong and throw the water into the wind and it blasts back onto their face.”
A Great Time
Our wind was a steady 13 mph as we zoomed down the York on 4/5ths of the mainsail and no Genoa. Lynette ran the helm for much of the time, clearly having a great time.
Later we talked below as Lynette warmed up in the salon. She works as a respiratory nurse for a private patient. “I travel with the family to look after the patient. In my case, I stay up at night observing her sleep so she doesn’t develop a mucus blockage. They have taken her on vacation in Wisconsin, and they’re trying to let her travel more widely.” I envisioned an elderly grandmother coping with all this, but that’s not the case. “She’s 13.”
Let’s Go for a Midwestern Sail
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Two families from the upper Midwest were unfazed by a chilly breeze on the York, since they're used to minus 40 and minus 60 degrees.
Capt Bill O'Donovan
Williamsburg Charter Sails