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Old 05-31-2013
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Re: Can I make this trip as a novice

1. It's not 100 miles from Bay City to Lake St Clair-- it's almost twice that if you have no upwind work.
2. Don't use this as your shakedown cruise. Use the boat a few days to make sure everything works. There's a 2-4 knot current in the St Clair River with a lot of freighter traffic. You need to know your engine is reliable and be comfortable handling an emergency (ie, your engine dies, the current is carrying you at 3 knots-- where's the anchor, does it work, where's the nearest marina for repairs?)
3. You won't do any sailing once you enter the St Clair River. You might keep your main up for the appearance of motor sailing, but for the most part it's a waste of time- you'll just flog the main and risk gybing at just the wrong moment.
4. Fine to do it yourself once you're used to the boat-- I do the trip every few years. Until then, have another set of eyes and hands.
5. I would recommend not being on the river after dark. The freighters know where they're going and they go fast. Plan your trip so you enter and leave the river during daylight (easy to do- you'll do 7+ knots with the current going down the river. Stay in Port Huron or Sarnia for the night and leave the next morning).
6. Study the charts ahead of time and know your waypoints. The river can be confusing the first time.
7. There aren't a lot of good harbors down the west coast of Lake Huron south of Saginaw Bay. Harbor Beach is probably the best. That means if the sh!t hits the fan, you don't have a lot of bail-out points. All the more reason to make sure your boat is in good operating condition before heading off on this trip.
Despite all the above, go for it once you're sure the boat is in good working order. It's a nice trip.
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Mark Smith
1977 C&C 30 Mk 1 hailing from Port Clinton, Ohio

Last edited by msmith10; 05-31-2013 at 11:33 AM.
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