Riffe Lake Cruise Report

If you're planning on doing some cruising and would like some company or just a nice place to organize it, post here. Also, if you had a great cruising experience and would like to share it with other sailors, post here.

Moderator: Charmed Juan

Riffe Lake Cruise Report

Postby jeffd » Wed Oct 30, 2013 10:58 pm

Jack told me about sailing on Riffe Lake (near Mossyrock and Morton), so I had to try it out. The normal high pressure systems in the area tend to create a good westerly wind in the mid morning, with stronger winds building in the afternoon, and becoming light and calm around sunset. So that works out great for a day sail! There are a couple of launch ramps on Riffe Lake, but I chose the one near Mossyrock, on the west end, because it was a shorter drive, and I get to the downwind run first! Have you ever been "cheated", spending a lot of time and effort beating upwind, only to have the wind die, just as you turn downwind for the run? I have. So doing the downwind first seemed like a good choice. But I hear the launch ramp at the east end is pretty good to, with a good campground and places to gunk hole. Here is my sailing GPS track for my Riffe Lake sail on June 6, 2013:

GSP Track
RiffeLake01.jpg (40.91 KiB) Viewed 820 times

The ramp was pretty good (photo at the end), and there was lots of parking. Since the wind was going my way, it was very easy to raise the main and sail right from the dock. The lake is up in the mountains so the scenery is good, with very little development.

RiffeLake02.jpg (59.67 KiB) Viewed 820 times

Running downwind is a pleasure, but since this is a mountain lake, expect some wind shifts. The run to the far end of the lake is a good 10 Nautical Miles, and the wind was pretty good, so it wasn't hard keeping the spinnaker flying.

RiffeLake03.jpg (67.44 KiB) Viewed 820 times

Here is a view back toward the west. The autopilot is doing the steering, so I can take photos. For this trip, it was going to be a sailing trip - so I left my heavy gas 8hp Honda at home and took the electric trolling motor. OK, nothing's free - the light electric trolling motor needs to be powered by a heavy deep cycle battery. My battery (Group 24 deep cycle) is 60 lbs, but at least it is mounted in the starboard locker, near the center of the boat. Winds were pretty steady and not much chop - great spinnaker sailing!

RiffeLake04.jpg (70.67 KiB) Viewed 820 times

Here are some views looking east, as I got near the east end of the lake. There are two launch ramps up at this end - one to the north and one to the south.

RiffeLake05.jpg (51.55 KiB) Viewed 820 times

Downwind statistics using Motion-X on iPhone:
(blue colored track)

Distance: 8.77 Nautical Miles
Elapsed time: 2 hrs 1 min (12:45pm - 2:46pm)
Average Speed: 4.3 knots
Max Speed: 6.4 knots

RiffeLake06.jpg (74.6 KiB) Viewed 820 times

I took down the chute a bit early, before I got to the east end of the lake. The wind was blowing pretty good and I wanted to make sure I didn't get myself into trouble switching sails.

RiffeLake07.jpg (56.94 KiB) Viewed 820 times

I sailed in toward the south side, to check out the ramp and campsite, but decided the wind was a bit too strong, and the shallows and sandbars were a bit of a concern, so I decided it was time to prepare for the beat back home. I put a reef in the main - winds were getting pretty strong, and whitecaps starting to form. Here's a quick grab shot of one of the ramps on the southeast side of the lake:

RiffeLake08.jpg (66.68 KiB) Viewed 820 times

No photos taken during the beat back to the west side. I had my hands busy sailing the boat! But the winds were good, strong and consistent, so I can't complain, and I got to do the run first.

Upwind statistics:
(red colored track)

Distance: 18.7 Nautical Miles
Elapsed time: 4 hrs 33 min (2:46 pm - 7:19 pm)
Average speed: 4.1 knots
Max Speed: 6.6 knots (part of this track was running on main & jib. With a reefed main, I might have made 5 to 5.5 knots at times).

Here is a shot from the water of the launch ramp at Mossyrock park:

RiffeLake10.jpg (66.01 KiB) Viewed 820 times

As I approached the dock under sail, the wind was subsiding - the sun was going down. So I decided it was time to go gunkholing and exploring - motoring around, on the electric trolling motor. There are a couple of islands just off the park, which begged exploring. Here is my track:

RiffeLake11.jpg (35.9 KiB) Viewed 820 times

Here is a photo of the waterway looking south. It was very calm, and swampy. It might be a good place to drop the hook and anchor, but watch out for the mosquitos! As the wind died down, you guessed it - the mosquitos came out in full force!

RiffeLake12.jpg (63.95 KiB) Viewed 820 times

RiffeLake13.jpg (51.72 KiB) Viewed 820 times

Here's a shot looking to the north. Nice calm waterways to explore.

RiffeLake14.jpg (48.09 KiB) Viewed 820 times

Here is a shot of the launch ramp and dock. The area I was gunk holing is to the right, and you can see the first island. It was fairly sheltered, even when the wind was blowing earlier. By this time of the day, it was pretty calm. Glad I turned around early enough to be able to sail all the way back. By this time (8:30pm), the winds were pretty calm.

RiffeLake15.jpg (52.06 KiB) Viewed 820 times

One last sunset shot, after pulling the boat out and unrigging. This is a shot to the west, across Mossyrock park, near the boat ramp.

RiffeLake16.jpg (41.12 KiB) Viewed 820 times

Total distance sailed (and motored/gunkholed): 27.6 GPS Miles total
Elapsed Time: 6 hrs 33 min
Avg Speed: 4.2 kts
Max Speed: 6.6 kts


Mossyrock Park (west side of lake):
http://www.mytpu.org/tacomapower/parks- ... k-park.htm

Taidnapam Park (east side of lake):
http://www.mytpu.org/tacomapower/parks- ... m-park.htm

Windfinder and Windalert both have data and predictions for winds on Riffe Lake. Choose a good spring, summer or even fall day, when the normal high pressure systems create the nice draft up the lake, and you'll have a great day sailing. There are good campgrounds at both the east and west end of the lake, and a number of good places to anchor out, but watch out for the mosquitos! Great recommendation from Jack - Thanks!

Last edited by jeffd on Wed Nov 04, 2015 10:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.
User avatar
Posts: 30
Joined: Fri Sep 16, 2011 9:49 am

Re: Riffe Lake Cruise Report

Postby balder.matt » Fri Dec 20, 2013 12:09 pm

Thanks so much for the great report Jeff! I have been sailing my Ghost 13 on Riffe for the past 3 seasons and I'm almost never disappointed with the conditions. Last year I got my SJ21 and I would like to get it out to Riffe. There is a little music fest called Riffestock that happens July 11-12th and I'm thinking of planning my trip to include that. It's located at Riffe Lake campground just adjacent to the Mossyrock park. I was thinking of doing day sails and then anchoring by those islands so I could check out the music fest in the evenings. It would be fun to get a few SJ21s out there for it!
Posts: 13
Joined: Sun Apr 14, 2013 11:00 am

Re: Riffe Lake Cruise Report

Postby oborseth » Mon Apr 21, 2014 3:38 pm

Hello. I realize this post is a few months old but it's the only one like it that I could find when looking for sailing information about Riffe Lake and Mayfield Lake. Apparently; people don't sail lakes in them parts even though both of these lakes seem great for sailing small boats. Have you heard or know of anyone that has sailed Mayfield lake? I know there is a low bridge where highway 12 crosses it but I imagine it's high enough for a smaller craft to sail under (or just stay on the other side of it)? Anyhow, I'm moving back that way after having lived in Denver for the last 12 years. I've learned to sail, and with the exception of a 2 day Catalina Island sail, have been stuck sailing on the small reservoirs out here. I want to sail both of those lakes as they will be close, in addition to the sound.

Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2014 3:10 pm

Return to SJ21 Cruise Organization and Reports

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests