Though the general reaction from those we meet in our travels runs somewhere along the lines of:”Sailing… in Illinois? WHERE?”, or “People in the Midwest sail? HOW?”, that there are way more landlocked sailors with cases of wanderlust than you’d ever imagine. Though there are numerous lakes for power-boaters in the St. Louis metro-east area, sailors are pretty much left with one option: Carlyle Lake.
Carlyle Lake is the largest man-made lake in Illinois. Constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers in the 1950s and located in Clinton County, it consists of 26,000 acres of water and 11,000 acres of land. Though the majority of individuals in the region use it for fishing or jetting across in their powerboats, Carlyle has 4 marinas that cater to power-boaters and sailors alike. In order to sail here, one needs a boat with under a six foot draft; honestly, 4 foot is even better. During summer-pool, the low lake levels (around 15-20 feet deep in most places) turn the lake into an obstacle course due to years of silting-in and the many submerged items left by the Corps when the lake filled in too fast all those years ago (bridges, house foundations, water treatment silos, shoals… you name them, we’ve all hit them). The shallow waters and the spontaneous Midwestern storms make this lake a great place to learn to sail because although it is generally pretty calm, it doesn’t take much wind to get the shallow lake whipped up. It’s a nice spot to visit in the summer, but after growing up water that ranges in color from dark green to murky brown, Joel and I are ready to sail in some more interesting and aesthetically-pleasing places.
After cruising throughout florida and heading up the Tenn Tom waterway we are temporarily moored on Kentucky Lake as we make repairs and fill up the cruising kitty. The lake is nice compromise. There is easy access to the Gulf of Mexico and is within easy driving distance. We could have attempted to come up the Mississippi, however, I wasn’t confident we would successsfully make the journey up the mighty river. Kentucky lake is a beautiful place and Emily and I look forward to exploring all that it has to offer.