A letter to the WPD Board

Pay attention! The WPD is considering reviewing the "Sail at your own risk" policy due to recent events
A letter I emailed John Crowley...

Dear Mr. Crowley,

I am writing you in response to your comments in this article,
I want to strongly encourage you against changing the existing policy
of "sail at your own risk". The park district has no place in the
decision of whether or not a boat sails in heavy conditions.
This responsibility rests solely on the shoulders of the boat skipper
and crew. The boats we sail are legally registered with the state of
Illinois and have all the rights and obligations that go along with
that registration, including good decision making, carrying proper
safety equipment and keeping ones boat in good working order.

While I completely understand your concern your the beach staff
safety, your staff is not obligated to offer any assistance to any
vessel that sails in the waters off Wilmette including: boats from
other harbors; boats from Wilmette Harbor; or boats from the Gilson
Park Sailing Beach.

On a more personal/local level, I am one of the sailors from Gilson
Park Sailing Beach. This is a fantastic resource and Holly and her
crew are doing a great job this year and things are overall moving in
a good direction. I have been sailing off the beach for about 10
years and own 2 boats on the beach. I regularly sail in heavy
conditions (a swell as light days too) and in-fact sailed on Sunday
w/o incident. One thing I do think that is missing on the beach is an
"orientation" as part of new boat owners arriving and the lottery.
This should include some guidance as what to carry on your boat (VHF
radio, length of line, righting bag, etc), how to dress (wetsuits,
drysuits, harnesses, PFDs) as well as covering policies and procedures
of the beach staff. As a experienced sailor on the beach, I do my
best to educate folks on heavy wind days and have actually told people
not to sail on several occasions. A 35 kt wind day is not a good day
to to take your eight year old out, but it is a great day if your
boat, crew and skipper are prepared.

I have encouraged other sailors/residents to write you as well and
plan on attending upcoming Park District meetings where this matter
will be discussed.

Thank you,

Wilmette Resident and Gilson Park Sailing Beach member
Norman Hanson