The Larson Family Sailboat

(David, Jerry, John, Steve)


The Adventure

Seven weeks of continual sailing on Lake of the Woods during the summer of 2002.  

The sailing is complete and all have returned safely.  The Alpha did great!

The Alpha at anchor on her most recent trip.

The Boat

The Alpha is a 1977 Chrysler 26 and is currently moored  on Lake of the Woods.


A sketch of the Alpha (and Jean) by Mark L.Visit the new Alpha web page.

Summer 2002 Trip Reports



The Boat... A Chrysler 26

Close hauled on Lake of the Woods.The Alpha is a Chrysler 26 and was purchased in 1977. It is a large trailerable sailboat that can sleep seven and store the large amount of supplies needed to take a family out for a week long cruise. The boat is 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.  Second, the boats had a swing rudder 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 (sleeps three!). This also allowed the skipper to develop a unique stern-to-shore anchoring system that made boat to land transfers very simple (see pictures below).

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.  For specifications follow this link.


Lake of the Woods

With the rudder and engine up the Alpha can back right into shore.

When I think of Lake of the Woods I envision a sheltered bay with a sailboat safely anchored to shore and a small group of people sitting around a campfire. The sailing on Lake of the Woods is wonderful but arriving to a sheltered bay is my very favorite part of the sailing experience. One reason I am a cruiser and not a racer is I like to arrive more than I like getting there. I love that feeling of dropping the anchor in a secluded bay and feeling the boat come to a stop after a hard day of sailing. When the sounds of sailing have died away and the soft noises from shore take over, the feeling of relaxation and peacefulness is wonderful.

I figured this out a few summers ago when I cruised the lake in a 42 foot houseboat. I was prepared to tolerate the noise and the lack of nautical challenges in operating something you just point and drive.  However, I was surprised to find that arriving to my destination was just as satisfying in the houseboat as in the sailboat. In fact I realized that when you enter a harbor with a sailboat you are always motoring so the feeling was mostly the same.  I didn't convert to power boating but I did discover that getting there is still my favorite part of cruising. 

Lake of the Woods has thousands of anchorages and each has its own unique atmosphere.  Once anchored to shore one can explore ashore, hike in the woods, swim in the water, explore the shore by dinghy, fish, or just sit and watch the sun set.  


Photo Album

Photos - Here are a few pictures of the Alpha on Lake of the Woods.

Photos - Second page of Alpha photos.

Photos - Third page of the Alpha.

The Preparation

The Alpha returned to Lake of the Woods for the summer of 2002.  The boat had spent the past twelve years on Lake Mille Lacs and was in need of some upgrades to get it ready for the rigorous sailing of Lake of the Woods.   For information about these completed projects read our journal entries below.


The following is a list of new equipment we purchased for the boat.

  • VHF Radio
  • New marine head with fixed tank.
  • Knot Meter
  • Propane Grill
  • Saturn Compass
  • Dinghy
  • New Gas Tank
  • New Water Tank
  • New Battery
  • New Halyards



The following is a list of projects we completed this spring.

  • Removed all interior wall coverings and painted interior fiberglass.  The Chrysler 26 has a lot of wall carpet and vinyl.  Most have gotten moldy and need to be removed from the boat.  We painted the wall with a good marine mildew resistant paint.
  • Installed a new marine head and holding tank.
  • Upgraded wiring of boat.
  • Re-caulked boat to prevent rain leaks.
  • Complete rebuild of boat trailer and new tires.
  • New curtains for boat.
  • New cushions for interior.
  • Replaced Keel Cable.
  • Re-fiber glassed main cabin hatch cover.
  • Re-fiber glassed cockpit hatch cover.
  • Re-fiber glassed rudder (and spare rudder)
  • Replaced two deck windows


Preparation Journals

John and I have include journal writings as we worked on refurbishing the Alpha.  

Journal One - Take Out Day, Oct. 2001

Journal Two - John's "reupholstering the boat cushions" adventure.

Journal Three - Alpha provisioning List and First Aid Kit recommendations.

Journal Four - April in Minnesota (A Shackleton like adventure).

Journal Five - The work begins!

Journal Six - Workday II

Journal Seven - Making headway on the head and Flush with success!

Journal Eight - Izaty's Launch Weekend

Journal Nine - The Cockpit Mosquito Tent



Izaty's Golf and Yacht Club - This is where we keep our boat part of the summer.

Northern Harbour Marina - Our second home this summer.

Lake of the Woods Cam - Updated image from the Northwest Angle.

Water level Information - Lake of the Woods Water Levels

Fire Danger - Lake of the Woods fire danger

Lake Superior Sailing - My brother and I chartered a Catalina 30 in the Apostle Islands.

House boating Lake of the Woods - A cruise I took a few years ago. 

Christian Sailing - A history of a youth sailing camp on Lake of the Woods that featured the Alpha and three other C-26's.

Chrysler Sailing Association Web Site - Lots of information on the Chrysler 26.

Skean-dhu - An interesting  Chrysler 26 web page.

Original Brochure - Front page of original brochure.  I still have a complete original brochure.


My Other boat...  A Sunfish

Kirsten and dad having fun!My other boat is a Sunfish that I bought used in 1985 and keep at my parents cabin.  My dad has an identical one which he bought new in 1972.  This summer was its 30 anniversary! We have had a lot of fun with these boats over the years and they continue to provide lots of sail time at the lake.  Now my kids sail them which is really fun to see.






This file was last updated: Friday September 14th, 2002

(Web guy is David)