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Old 06-10-2007
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Sailing the Great Lakes in Fall--How late?

Starting Fall 2007, our family intends to sail the Great Lakes all the way over to the ICW. We will start in Bayfield, WI on Lake Superior and work our way East through the Great Lakes. Can you experienced folks please advise how late in the season we can travel before the conditions become inadvisable? We were thinking of starting mid-Oct. because of things that need to be done. Please advise. Thanks.
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Old 06-10-2007
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Ooooo that's getting late and iffy.
That good ship and true was a bone to be chewed
When the gales of November came early.
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Old 06-10-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by USCGRET1990
Ooooo that's getting late and iffy.
That good ship and true was a bone to be chewed
When the gales of November came early.
The Edmund Fitzgerald went down on Nov. 10th to be exact. I'd say mid Oct. is too late to be getting started. Most of the harbors in my area close between the 15th of Oct and the end of Oct. Getting fuel, etc... may be tricky if you start running into places with the sidewalks rolled-up. I try to leave my boat in til the last minute of the season, but if I get good weather and decent wind anywhere near mid Oct. I'm outta there. You could wait a long time for a weather window that time of year. That being said there are years when you can sail right up to Thanksgiving, but I wouldn't bet on that.
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If you made it to Lake Huron by early to mid October you might be OK weather wise. Actually after Superior, Erie is probably the longest haul. You are going to have to be prepared for straight runs down the lakes when the weather looks good typically 36 hour runs.

However I assume you are doing the Erie Barge canal? The locks and bridges may be closed for the season, that is pretty late. I would check on that first.

Gary
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Not sure what you are trying to accomplish here. If your objective is to just get there it can be done. However, you are missing the whole point in my mind. You are looking at about a 1000 miles just getting to the ICW, and then you will have to push down it to stay ahead of the weather. Why not just ship the boat?

September and October are the best kept secret in the north, but you need to be prepared for it. Diesel is very hard to find on the water after 10-15 in the north. After November 1, forget it till late April unless you are carrying jerry jugs from a truck stop somewhere.

If your boat is in Bayfield you must have an idea of that time of year in Superior. Would you take a two week cruise at the end of October? I don't think so!
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Old 06-10-2007
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Thanks for all the great replies. Looks like from your experience, we should get going a couple of weeks earlier than planned. It looks like it's a good idea to be out of the Great Lakes by end of Sept. or first week Oct. The crew taking the boat through the Lakes will consist of a group of fairly hearty North Sea sailors (which includes my husband) so cold weather and elements shouldn't be a problem, however, it's great understanding availability of diesel and marinas etc.

All additional thoughts are much appreciated!

Assuming we make it to NYC by late October, will that be a late start going down the ICW? If so, please send links to qualified, cheap shipping companies!
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Old 06-11-2007
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Cheap...I would leave NYC by 10/1 as the weather starts getting rough and the temps pretty cold offshore after that. You want to be in the Chesapeake by around 10/15. NYC to Chesapeake is a minimum of 5 days...weather permitting.
We left the Chesapeake one year on 11/15 and froze our butts off for 2 weeks...so it can be done but I do not recommend it especially w/ kids.
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Some folks to check out, just incase:
Boat Transport, Boat Shipping, Boat Hauling - boats.com
DAS Auto Shippers on eBay
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Old 06-13-2007
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Mid-October is about a month late. Lake Ontario boat clubs start hauling between Oct. 15-30, and supplies are going to dry up close to the water by then. If you are leaving via Oswego, check the end of season date for that transit, and work backwards. Remember you've got to factor in two half-days for hauling the mast down and up on that route.

We sail as late as mid-November (we were hauled privately last year), but we only cruise to mid-October away from Toronto. I would say that if you exited the Welland Canal into Lake Ontario by October 10, you would have plenty of time to get to NYC by Oct. 15., but as Cam said, you are going to have some crappy and possibly stormy weather going south to the Chesapeake in the following 10 days. The good news is that the October sailing on Lakes Erie and Ontario, while tending to be windy and sometimes cool, is frequently glorious and full of "single reef and a No. 3" reaching.

As for leaving from Lake Superior, I wouldn't be on that beast much after Sept. 15.
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