After many years of hoping to sail from Dayton Harbor to Wild Horse Island, I took the opportunity presented with my Sailing Uncle's visit and headed to the lake yesterday.
The weather forecast held with clear skies and sailing breezes from the east and we chartered the 22 foot Capri Dayton Yacht Club had available. We launched quickly after our arrival and headed up into the wind on a close reach under mainsail and jib. With Uncle Stanley skippering, we alternated between hauling the sheets and manning the tiller and in short work of it we were out on the big expanse of Flathead Lake east of the islands in the Big Arm. Unfortunately the wind died out on the main lake and we tacked back to catch the breeze accelerating off the shore of Wild Horse Island. Cruising next to shore gave us great views of the remote and undeveloped coast of this great state park. What a gem of a place with a beautiful Ponderosa forest growing right down to the water's edge. With few folks out on the lake yesterday, we enjoyed the company of each other, a few sail boats, and splendid t-shirt weather.
After our afternoon jaunt, we brought the boat back to sail it quietly into its slip and fix the moorings. With a better sense of scale provided by this half day of sailing, I considered how the lake would offer about a week of sailing to new places and exploring anchorages and different shorelines. With some of the heavy weather that the lake occasionally sees with its small craft warnings, there are doubtless some exciting times to be had in the spray of a good squall on the lake. With the first trip finally under my belt, I hope to assemble a crew more regularly to enjoy this unique western Montana opportunity.