Sailing Crystal Lake: a Short History – by Grant Brown, Jr.


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Sailing Crystal Lake: a Short History

By Grant Brown, Jr.

The Benzie Area Historical Society’s most recent publication, with photos compiled from its archives and private individuals, by Grant Brown, Jr, who began racing sailboats on Crystal Lake in 1947 and has raced as recently as 2005. He has had a life-long interest in sailing.  Sailing Crystal Lake: A Short History traces the development of sailing on Crystal Lake from the early 1900s through the present day. At first, there was almost no sailing. Then, in the 1930s, the Crystal Lake Yacht Club was formed, and a relatively small number of people began sailing. The boats they sailed were very different from those of today. Made of wood, they often sank when put in the water each summer, the cedar planking drying out over the winter. When the boats tipped, the crew stood on bilge boards extending from the side of the boat while holding on to a monkey rail anchored on the deck to keep from falling into the water and to pull themselves back into the boat when it stopped tipping. A considerable amount of athleticism was required.

Heavily illustrated with photos from the past and present, the book follows the advancement of sailing to the current day, with hundreds of people on the lake each week sailing boats with fiberglass hulls, hiking straps, and numerous other upgrades. It is the story of how sailing grew from a very minor activity to a significant part of the summer experience on Crystal Lake.

Published by the Benzie Area Historical Society – January 2024

6″x9″ Book – 24 Pages – Color and Black & White Photos


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