Christian Sailing Inc.
Penasse Island, Lake of the Woods, Minnesota

A Sailing youth camp from 1978 to 1989.


Wow, four in a row!  A classic picture taken by Keith W. in 1980.
(
Omega, Alpha, Genesis, Revelation)

Christian Sailing Inc. was a Christian sailing youth camp located on Lake of the Woods. The camp began operation in June of 1978 and continued for twelve summers before ending in 1989. The camp was founded by Rev. Jerry Larson and his brother Steve Larson. Jerry was a pastor at Woodlake Lutheran Church in Richfield Minnesota and was looking for an alternative wilderness experience for his high school church youth. Being a sailor he investigated chartering sailboats on Lake of the Woods in order to sail and explore the 15,000 islands with his church youth group but found the cost was to high. The following year Jerry and Steve decided to start a sailing camp for church youth groups on Lake of the Woods.
 

The Boat... A Chrysler 26

The first step was to find an affordable sailboat that was large enough to sleep seven, safe enough to sail the big waters of Lake of the Woods, and affordable. After a quick search the perfect boat was found, the Chrysler 26. The Chrysler 26 was a unique boat in 1977. It was a large trailerable sailboat that could sleep seven and store the large amount of supplies needed to take kids out for a week long cruise. After arranging financing, two white hulled Chrysler 26 sailboats were purchased in 1978 and two more were added in 1980. The boats proved to be very successful charter boats. They were durable, safe, and able to sail in a wide range of conditions. The Chrysler 26 had three unique features that made the boat especially adaptable to Lake of the Woods sailing conditions. First, it had a swing keel, which allowed the boat to negotiate the shallow waters and channels occasionally found on the lake. This also allowed the skippers to develop a unique anchoring system that made shore to land transfers very simple. Second, the boats had swing rudders which gave the boat even more flexibility in shallow waters. Third, the boats had an outboard motor well which allowed for a very large rear berth (slept three!).

The boat was fun to sail. It was slow in light air compared to other 26 footers and it was quick to heal when the wind initially picked up. But, once the wind blew the boat was at its best. In strong winds the boat was stiff and responsive and if one reefed early it was a lot of fun to sail. The swing rudder and motor mount were under built but if braced worked quite well.

 

The Youth Camp

Christian Sailing was originally located at Bay View Marina near Morrison Ontario. After Three years at Bay View, Canadian laws forced the company to relocate to Penasse Island in the Northwest Angle of Minnesota. The final eight years were spent on the very beautiful Penasse Island as guests of Harley Jenson. The youth groups would arrive at Young's Bay on the Northwest Angle on Sunday night and would be ferried to Penasse where they would board the waiting sailboats. Each boat had a CSI trained skipper that worked on the boat for the summer and this skipper would orient the new crew to the boat and the Island. Monday morning the boats would leave Penasse and venture out into the 15,000 islands of Lake of the Woods. During the day the kids would learn how to sail and how to live aboard a sailboat. Each night the boats would anchor in a different secluded bay. After folding sails, scrubbing the decks, and cleaning the boats the kids would explore the island, swim, fish, paddle the dingy, etc... Due to the many protected bays, the unique design of the boat, and the rocky ledges along the shore the boats would anchor with the stern just a foot from shore. This made exiting the boat simple and allowed the kids easy access to shore from the boat. At night the boats would pull out a few yards from shore but stay connected to land with two stern spring-lines. The groups returned to Penasse Island at the end of the week and depart for home early Saturday morning meanwhile the skippers would clean and prepare the boats for another week of sailing.
 

The Alpha

The Alpha is retired from the charter business but is still sailed regularly on Mille Lacs Lake and Lake of the Woods. The other three Chrysler 26's have been sold.  For more information on the Alpha visit the Alpha's web page.
 
 
 

 

The Launch 

The launch used to get the groups out to the island was a Bayliner 21.  The boat was fun to drive and worked well in bringing the supplies and groups out to Penasse.
 


 

|| Alpha ||

  • We would love to hear from anyone who sailed with us in the 70's and 80's.
     

(Last updated 12/16/02)

Owners:  Jerry Larson and Steve Larson

 


The Omega at anchor on Lake of the Woods.

 

Skippers

Bjarne Lee  (1978, sub)
David Larson  (1978-1982)
Chris Saucier  (1978)
Keith Witte  (1979-1980)
Dan Lund  (1980-1982)
Brent Johnson  (1980-1982)
Mark Defor  (1981-1983)
Scott Rodine  (1982, sub)
Blake Witte  (1980, sub)
Eric Hassenstab  (1983-1986)
Scott Birklid  (1983)
Kent Erickson  (1983-1984)
Brad Johnson  (1984, sub)
Jan Dant  (1984, sub)
Jack Dant  (1984-1986)
Mike Halsne  (1984-1986)
Mark Larson  (1985-1987)
Paul Larson (1985)
Dan Krier  (1988-1989)
Bruce Ensrud  (1987-1989)
Tim Kamrath  (1988-1989)
Greg Kaiser  (1987-1989)
John Larson (1989, sub)
Ken Defor  (sub)


Complete skipper/boat history chart.

 


John (1978)


Keith and David (1979)


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