In Chicago, there are some other costs, like docking and harbor fees. The sailing season runs from about Memorial Day to Labor Day, according to James Clark, general manager of the Chicago Yacht Club; in the off-season boats are stored in spots including in Indiana, Wisconsin and Southern Illinois.
But even without paying for expensive upkeep or repairs, Chicago sailing fans say there's a world of watery fun that awaits people who want to learn. Novotney wishes more people his age sailed.
"They should know they could do it," he said. "It would be great to have more people out."
BIG MAC: INSIDE THE SUMMER'S BIGGEST RACE
Among sailors, it's simply called "the Mac." The Race to Mackinac, is billed by the organizer, the Chicago Yacht Club, as the "oldest annual freshwater distance race in the world," and it's certainly one of the most prestigious. It's the centerpiece around which the rest of the Great Lakes sailing season is organized and is a huge social as well as sporting event. Here are some facts, figures and dates that make the Mac so mighty.
Race date: July 21
Number of Mac races: 2012's will be the 104th race
Distance: 289.4 nautical miles
Starting point: Off the Chicago Lighthouse near Navy Pier
Ending point: Mackinac Island in Michigan
Number of boats: 340 expected this year
Prize money: Zip. It's an amateur event, so section winners get bragging rights, a plaque and a flag, and the overall winners will get their names engraved on trophies housed at the yacht club.
Fastest Mac time: Roy E. Disney (nephew of Walt) and his boat, Pyewacket, ran the Mac in 2002 in 23 hours, 30 minutes, 34 seconds. Multi-hulled boats (such as catamarans) have run the race faster, but Disney holds the record for monohulled boats.
Last year's overall winner: John Nedeau of North Muskegon, Mich., skippered Windancer
WORDS WITH FRIENDS
Are you a boating novice or a nautical genius? Match these basic sailing terms with their correct definitions to find out where you stand.
Windward: Toward the direction the wind is blowing; also called "upwind."
Leeward: Away from the direction the wind is blowing; also called "downwind."
Jib: The triangular sail toward the front of the sailboat, in front of the mast. Also called a "headsail."
Mast: The vertical pole in the center of the boat to which the boat's main sail is attached.
Spinnaker: Lightweight, balloon-shaped sail used to sail downwind. Also called a "chute" or "kite."
Knot: A unit of speed, equivalent to one nautical mile per hour, or about 1.15 miles an hour.
Starboard: The right side of the boat, looking forward.
Port: The left side of the boat, looking forward.
Sheets: Ropes (lines) to which sails are attached. Used to adjust sails, which is called "trimming."
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