Thunder Bay Sailing

[ Background | Equipment | Where ]

Background of the Sport

Moored sailboats at marina

Sailing uses the wind to power the boat's motion. It's not as much by pushing the sail (as is the case when sailing downwind) but by creating forward-pulling lift using airfoil-shaped sails (when sailing across or into the wind). The joy of sailing combines the joy of being on the water, the power you feel in harnessing natural forces, and with the thrill of going fast without significant energy on your part.

Sailing dates back to the ancient Phoenician traders, though the technology of sailboats has improved dramatically over the years. Innovations in the past 50 years include fibreglass hulls, metal masts and booms, synthetic sails, computer controlled laser cut and sewn sails, and computer aided design for boat hulls have made sail boats faster, safer, cheaper, and easier to maintain.

Small sailboats under 20 feet in length come in two main configurations: either single hull or multi-hull (like a catamaran). They typically have one mast, one mainsail (the big one), and a jib (the small triangular at the front, to direct the wind around the mainsail), and sometimes a spinnaker (the large round-shaped one for going downwind). Small boats are designed for a limited number of people to crew, with them either sitting in or around the cockpit (which may be a tightly stretched tarp between the catamaran hulls), or supported from a trapeze rig over the edge of the boat (in high winds). Smaller boats with centreboards include modles like Albacores and Lasers.

In coastal waters and in larger lakes, boats can get larger (with fixed keels), more sophisticated (and much more expensive), and can handle larger numbers of people. Some such boats even have multiple masts, and complex sail configurations. Such larger yachts are suitable for a sailing on open water for significant distances, and provide sleeping, kitchen, communications equipment, even entertainment facilities.

Yachts with gear at a marina

To go sailing, you'll need a boat, and lifejackets.


Thunder Bay marks Canada's western-most city on the Great Lakes, and it is the centre of cruising on the Lake Superior North Shore. Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world, and the North Shore offers 536 km of shore (4,385 when you include all the islands). Marina Park is the focal point of the city's yachting scene. Head east past the Sleeping Giant Rock, and you cruise to Red Rock and the town of Nipigon on the western shore of Nipigon Bay. You can continue on to Rossport, a former fishing port, and a stop on the transcontinental railroad. At the eastern end of the North Shore is Wawa, known as a major stopover for the Canada geese migration route. Take a side-trip to the gorgeous High Falls on the Magpie River. For more details see or

There are a number of Yacht clubs in the area where you can get involved: Loon Lake Sailing Club (Thunder Bay), Temple Reef Sailing Club (Thunder Bay), Royal Lake Of The Woods Yacht Club (Kenora), Kenora Sailing Club (Kenora).

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