Yacht Racing - Salt Vs. Fresh Water
( Originally Published 1911 )
IT is necessary in practically all cases to use the water for sailing that is nearest your home, if of any magnitude, and be very thankful to have that, as there are many men very fond of sailing that for some reason or other can never take part in the sport.
The difference in conditions between salt and fresh is very great, and usually a very different type of boat is needed to compete successfully in either one. In the Western Lakes, Great Lakes, and St. Lawrence River, the wind is apt to blow very hard, and consequently kicks up a short choppy sea that is difficult to handle. It is also a very puffy wind and the most successful boats are usually sailed with low rigs in comparison to those used on salt water. The inland lakes and rivers are very apt to be shoal and a center-board boat becomes a necessity for pleasure as well as racing. This is not true of the Great Lakes, as there is plenty of water almost everywhere, and the deep keel, salt water boat is used almost entirely. Power in the beam and ballast, either in the centerboard or keel boats, is of vast importance, because the winds that blow over the fresh waters in America are usually very strong. This is generally not so on the salt water, where a high rig and an easy moving hull are essential in the racing boat, the sea being long and rolling and the winds apt to be aloft. One advantage the fresh water sailors have over salt, especially in certain localities, is that by dipping a cup overboard you can quench your thirst, and the old salt saying of — "Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink," does not stand. When seeing this done for the first few times it strikes the salt water man as very amusing.
I consider fresh water sailing in most cases, more difficult than salt, especially if you do not know your course, as the currents and puffs of wind come from almost any direction, for no perceptible reason. You may be sailing along with a twelve-mile breeze, and with-out any warning a forty-mile-an-hour wind will spring up and blow for ten minutes or so, then drop to a very light air again, there being at all times a perfectly clear sky. The reason for this is, I suppose, the topographical lay of the surrounding country and the temperature of the water, it usually being very much warmer than the salt, on account of its shallowness. The salt water, on the other hand, usually has a steady wind blowing after ten o'clock in the morning. The early morning breeze is very variable ; and as the morning advances and the land heats up, the sea breeze and prevailing wind for the day comes in. Undoubtedly the salt water has a freshness and life about it that the fresh water never seems to have, and this helps to make it very attractive. In my opinion fresh water sailing cannot compare with salt.