An Over the Top Clark Lake Sunset

An average Clark Lake sunset is spectacular.  But there aren’t many superlatives that accurately reflect tonight’s amazing show.

No Photoshop tricks.  Really!

You’ve Been Ghosted!

It could happen any day from now until the end of October.  Some item or items show up your doorstep, like a gourd, pumpkin, or other fall item.  And with it, a note that says “you’ve been ghosted.”  These things happen under cover of night, and anonymously.  The perpetrator says “be sure to do unto others, and leave a note saying ‘you’ve been ghosted.'” 



A Gusty Saturday

The day started soggy, then cleared followed by gusty winds.  That was enough to lure a Hobie onto the lake.  And true to form, the Hobie literally flew from one side of the lake to the other.

But then another Hobie trait revealed itself.  A big, unexpected, gust pushed the boat past its limits.

It was a struggle to upright the boat.  Help was offered by a nearby raft.  In the end, the sailing was good again.

Not many took advantage of the warm weather.  A select few, did.

As the sun worked its way over the western horizon, there were a few minutes remaining for a slalom.

With the help of the DamCam, those on the west end of the lake could track the sunset from the east end simultaneously.

More Dam Information

Facts are gradually emerging that offer enlightenment about the origin and history of Clark Lake’s dam at Ocean Beach.  This one is a surprise.

Ted Ligibel carefully researched and wrote the history of Clark Lake, published in Clark Lake, Images of a Michigan Tradition. While combing through his files recently, he found a newspaper article that documents a significant marker in what we know about the dam.  The article, appearing in the Cit Pat on February 7, 1954, told the story of the failure of the dam’s spillway.  This dire warning came from County Road Commissioner Leslie Reed– “If prompt action was not taken this water that was undercutting the dam would soon have torn away larger and larger openings, finally losing all semblance of control.”  Reed told the paper the lake could have been lowered by “nearly seven feet.”   He explained “that due to the nearly 7 feet of drop between a point 500 feet west of the dam into the lake and point 500 east of the dam (upstream), it could mean a loss of that much water from the lake.”

“Emergency crews and equipment were sent to the dam…”.  The paper described the repair project. “After initial sandbagging to protect the in rushing water from crumbling first reinforcements, interlocking sheets of heavy steel were driven 10 to 12 feet below the water line.”  At the time of the writing, the work apparently had not been finished. “Concrete will be poured between this heavy wall of steel and the original dam to prevent any further danger of undercutting.”   

What new information does this article reveal? 

  • There was a major infrastructure threat in 1954 and subsequent repair took place on an emergency basis by the then County Road Commission.
  • The 1954 estimate of potential lake level loss was far greater (7 feet) than the current day estimates in case of catastrophic failure.

In an effort to establish more of the dam’s history, Flip Reynolds reached out to Gloria Steinem as her family owned land in that area at one time.  He asked  her what she knew about the dam.  “During the time that my parents, Ruth and Leo Steinem, owned 40 acres or so of lakefront property there, I remember that the dam was said to be the only one in the state of Michigan that was on private property.”  In her email to Flip, she adds “our family was also responsible for its repair as well as for dredging the creek on the other side of Ocean Beach Road.” No evidence has emerged that refutes the dam is not on private property.  

In 2012, the north shoulder of the dam was threatened.  The Clark Lake Spirit Foundation arranged and paid for its repair through donations.  A similar vulnerability exists today on the south shoulder.  The Foundation’s Dam Strong Fund has raised enough money to repair that weakness.  It’s expected that repair work will start this month.

In a video on this website, contractor Bill Bendele described the failings of the south shoulder of the dam.  In that same video he described the spillway as being sound.  That’s the area worked on in 1954. 

Bill Leutz has also been active in researching history of the dam.  In a future article, learn when the first dam was likely constructed and how he came to that conclusion.  Also find out more about the mysterious inscription “Palmer” found on the spillway of the dam.  

Click here to read about a 1934 rebuild of the dam.  Below a view of the dam circa 1943.

Moon over Mud Point

As the 7 am hour approached, the moon shone brightly over Mud Point, from a perspective along the Eagle Point Road shoreline.  As the moon drew closer to the horizon, one could almost see it move.   Nearing the treeline, the moon appeared to expand in size through the help of atmospheric refraction. 

Here are some photos taken this morning between 6:45 am and when the moon set at about 7:15.

Community Center’s Oktoberfest

October 14th will be here before you know it.  That’s the date for the Community Center’s biennial fundraising event.  More than a way to support the historic building in the County Park, it’s a major social gathering.  To provide expanded room, it’s being held this year at another iconic building, the Clark Lake Yacht Club.  

The event starts at 5:30 pm on Saturday, October 14.  As the Oktoberfest theme suggests, German fare is on the menu–authentic wurst and chicken schnitzel, potato salad, a variety of cheeses, pretzels and dessert.  BYOB.  The Persuaders, a local band, will entertain.  Tickets are $50 per person and are available by calling John Deming at 529-9117 or John Karkheck at 745-2929.

If that isn’t enough, you may want to do bid for some very cool things.  

Live auction items

  • Condo in Cancun donated by Dr. David and Lori Munro
  • Week stay on Clark Lake donated by Meredythe Van Dusen
  • Hobie Cat 18 foot donated by Lynn Vermeulen
  • Original Necklace made by Jacque Kudner

Silent Auction Items

  • Beach Bar Basket
  • White wine basket
  • Red wine basket
  • Beer basket
  • Michigan State basket
  • U of Michigan basket
  • Bee hive
  • All things Clark Lake basket
  • Wood duck box plus a Jim Beam Ducks Unlimited Decanter and Jim Beam shot glasses
  • Golf Bag with towel and hat markers
  • Clark Lake wine decanter and Clark Lake red wine glasses

Would you like a preview?

For those interested in showing their flair for connecting to the theme, the Community Center promises a $100 prize for best costume.  Plus don’t miss the 50/50 drawing. 

Dan Riley will be providing cab rides home after the party for $10. 

In addition to the item below, the Community Center will collect returnable bottles and cans for donation to the CCHS Leadership Class. If you are unable to attend but wish to donate cans and bottles, you can do so from 1 pm Friday the 13th until 9 PM on the 14th.  Containers will be located at the Yacht Club parking lot.  The leadership class will be assisting in the set up and take down of this event. The bottles and cans will be used to support a cancer program that the class has chosen  as its project for this year.

Weather Changed

Clark Lake’s weather changed from unseasonably warm to what you might expect for the latter part of September.  And with the change came some sunset drama.  It’s not unusual to have an awesome sunset at Clark Lake, and last night was no exception. 

Similar photo at 9:50 am today.

Regatta 2017 Final Results

More wind sped the competitors along on day two of the Clark Lake Yacht Club’s Fall Regatta.  Two races yesterday and two, today, provided the numbers needed to determine the winners.  Or did they?  It turns out there was a three-way tie for first place for the Wayfarers and a three-way tie for second place among the Rebels.  So were the ties broken through trial by combat?  No, there are rules that address ties.  But race officials had to go down to the last level of them to solve the dilemma today. 

Scoring works somewhat similar to golf.  The lower your score, the better you place. If you come in 4th in one race, and 7th in the next, your score is 11.  Low numbers rise to the top when the heats are combined.

Here are the winners for each class, but don’t stop there.  Scroll down for more views of the gorgeous boats in this event, including video and air pics from BJ Lyons’ drone. 


1st Place
Tom Marriott, captain; Nat Hill, crew – sail 4179


2nd Place
Steve Cummings, captain; Lyndsie Cummings, crew – sail 4167


3rd Place
Tim Nickels, captain; Brad Nickels, crew – sail 4200


4th Place
Dave Nickels, captain; Peter Klein, crew – sail 4176

5th Place
Jay Topping, captain; Pat Topping and Bruce Nowak, crew – sail 3994

6th Place
Kevin Nickels, captain; Brianna Nickels, crew – sail 4140


1st Place
Al Schonborn, captain; Shannon Donkin, crew – sail 3854

2nd Place
Sue Pilling, captain; Steph Romaniuk, crew


3rd Place
Marc Bennett, captain; Julie Seraphinoff, crew – sail 10861

4th Place
Joe DeBincat, captain; Larry Lewis, crew – sail 1115

5th Place
Ian Pouliot, captain; Jake Wolny, crew – sail 3999

6th Place
David Wilpula, captain; Gabbie Smith, crew – sail 453

7th Place
Dave McCreedy, captain; Vitaly Conhar and Jorge Vivas, crew – sail 8911

8th Place
Erik Smith, captain; Ted Johnson, crew – sail 2420


1st Place
Mark Kastell – sail 7500

2nd Place
Jim Richter – sail 4058


3rd Place
Richard O’Boyle – CB-1


Geoff Moehl, captain; Gene Palmer, crew – sail 5206

Saturday Highlights

Sunday Highlights

Clark Lake is never accused of being one-dimensional.  Almost always you can find an abundance of activities.  Below is a sampling of some other activities during the Regatta.

So how do you win a sailboat race?  On Saturday, Primary Race Director Neil Robb revealed the secrets in this video.  The Yacht Club’s scorer, Hugh Harris, explained how more points mean less gain, sort of like golf.  And Neil finished it off with the story of the spinnaker.  Click to watch now.






Regatta 2017 Day One

If there is one thing a sailboat race requires, it is wind.  And the running of this year’s Clark Lake Yacht Club Regatta looked doubtful because the day started as calm as it could be, and it was still calm through the noon hour.  Finally at 2:45 pm, there was enough wind to run the race. Even so, some sailors commented that it’s hard to operate under those conditions.  One small mistake can add up to being left way behind.  Because of light winds, the race was confined to the east end of the lake.  The course featured the traditional Olympic triangle.

So how do you win a sailboat race?  Primary Race Director Neil Robb reveals the secrets in this video.  The Yacht Club’s scorer, Hugh Harris, explains how more points mean less gain, sort of like golf.  And Neil returns to tell the story of the spinnaker.  Click to watch now.

Thanks to BJ Lyons for his drone video.

Clark Lake will be the scene for more competition tomorrow.  Twenty boats with skilled skippers and crews will go at it to win the coveted awards for each class–Rebels, Wayfarers, Sunfish, and Buccaneer.  This website will have the details, and many more photos to bring the event alive for you.

A Favorite Feature Is Back

Once again, you can get your instant Clark Lake fix on the New DamCam.   As before, the DamCam allows you to view the lake 24/7 365 anywhere in the world where you have internet service. Simply click on the DamCam navigation tab, and you’re there.  To enlarge the view, click the icon in the lower right of the picture.

When you view the New DamCam, you’ll notice the quality of the picture has improved markedly.  For those with a technical bent, it is a full 1080p.  It will also be possible for this website, provided by the Clark Lake Spirit Foundation, to focus on certain special events such as the start/finish line for Run Clark Lake or the Raft-O-Rama parade as it goes by the dam.   

It is because of Mike McKay that this has happened.  In addition to his many other contributions for the betterment of the lake, Mike purchased the new equipment and paid for its installation.  After the dam is repaired, the area around it will be landscaped, adding to the beauty of the Ocean Beach lakefront.  Mike is also donating that improvement.  The Beach Bar has generously allowed the DamCam signal to ride on their internet service at no charge.  Thanks are in order to both Mike McKay and John Collins.

John Collins, Peggy Collins, Mike McKay at the new Gear Garage

To quote the Beatles, getting to this day has been a “long and winding road.”  The old DamCam depended on a high power extender that took the signal from the pole to the Beach Bar where it linked up to the internet.  That was just one of its vulnerabilities.  The new system is more direct, robust, and less prone to outages.  Final adjustments may require the view to be temporarily offline for short periods over the next few days.

To view a video on dam infrastructure problems and solutions, click here.  In this video, the financial goal is met.