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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Cruising & Liveaboard Forum
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  #1  
Old 01-11-2001
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Great Lakes Sailing

I am interested in cruising the Great Lakes in the future. I just stared sailing last year. I have a Catalina 22 I sail on Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin. I would probably sail mostly Lake Michigan. What would be a good length boat for those waters? I have alot to learn and am looking for any input I can get. I have never sailed that lake and dont know what to expect. Thanks

Bill B.
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Old 01-16-2001
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BruceClark is on a distinguished road
Great Lakes Sailing

I sailed on Lake Ontario for a few years on a Hughes 22 (also called a Northstar 22) and had a lot of fun with it. In fact, was able to gunkhole into some places not accessible in a deeper boat

Sailing on the Great Lakes is not so much a function of the boat as it is of the skipper. Be careful about making sure that the boat is working properly and be conservative about your abilities and the weather and you should be fine.
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Old 01-28-2001
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Great Lakes Sailing

Bill B,
I have cruised Lake Michigan for many years and have found her to range from serene to quite scary. One must always respect the lake. Your 22 should be just fine but you have to be careful. To cruise you should have roller furling, 2 or 3 reefs for the main, autopilot, 2 bruce anchors, 2 anchor rodes (175'' to 200'' each), charts, gps, long shaft outboard, inflatable vest with harness, and more. You will be caught in thunderstorms with 35 mph winds and 6 to 8 foot waves but they are usually short in duration. The weather service is: very poor in predicting wind velocity, wind direction, and wave height; fair at predicting thunderstorms; pretty good at predicting major storms; very good at predicting severe weather ( never, ever leave shelter even if they say there is a chance of severe weather as the waves on the lake will be 20 to 30 feet and you will not be able to see very good and will have a hard time breathing as there is so much water in the air). I have cruised the lake in the following boats: Alberg 30, Ericson 39, Frers 38, Lightning Class 19 footer. I now cruise between 30 and 50 days each summer on a Freedom 21. The winds are often light and often fairly heavy. Thunderstorms are a possibility almost every day. Severe weather is a possibility maybe 5 times a summer and while I have holed up quite a few times I have only had a severe storm hit me twice while at anchor and never while on the lake. Always drop your sails before you get hit with a thunderstorm. Never get caught out in a storm with winds over 35 as a 45 mph wind is absolutely much much worse than a 35. I love adventure and therefore have experienced much on the lake. For example I found out that my Freedom 21 is totally out of control with the spinnaker up in 35 knot winds and that when it gets knocked down under these conditions water pours into the cockpit, things break and the spinnaker halyard must be cut. An 11 pound Bruce anchor will hold my Freedom 21 in Round Lake (Charlevoix) in 50 feet of water with 200 feet out in a 35 knot breeze. Cruising is MUCH more fun easy beating, reaching and running and no fun tacking to windward. Give yourself a 3 day window to cross the lake ( if the weather is great today but you don''t have to get back for 3 days you better cross today as you may not get another chance). There are very very few boats which actually cross Lake Michigan as the vast majority of sailors do not like to lose sight of land. I guess I could go on and on.
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Old 01-28-2001
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Great Lakes Sailing

Fran: Thanks for the many pointers. The topic of thunder storms reminds me of the subject of lightning. What precautions have you taken againt being struck. The other thing I was wondering about is why you are sailing a smaller boat now. Thanks again.

Bill
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Old 01-28-2001
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Great Lakes Sailing

Bill,
I was not the owner of the larger boats. I owned the Lightning and cruised across the lake with it but was scared alot as it is an open boat ( easily fills up with water from waves on a beat) and is easily rolled over. So the Freedom 21 is a big move up as it has a fixed keel, very large rudder and an enclosed cabin.
I take absolutely no precautions against lightning except that the mast is grounded to the keel. I have always remained in the cockpit during thunderstorms for over 30 years and have gone through hundreds of lightning storms. I may be nuts but I have never heard of anyone being struck by lightning on a sailboat. Personally I believe that it will hit the mast and not me. On the other hand every sailboat I have ever sailed on has had the top of the mast hit which usually blows the instruments completely away. I think it is silly to buy wind instruments for cruising unless you can afford to replace them. Lightning is not a real concern. Even strong storms are not really to dangerous if you have sea room and they don''t last to long. The most dangerous thing is fatique. Fran
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Old 01-29-2001
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Great Lakes Sailing

Fran:
Thanks again. I am not sure my c22 is grounded. I would guess that it is not but I think it is a good idea. I have been caught in a few storms. I usually drop the sails and throw in the anchor and wait it out in the cabin. If there is no lighting I might motor in but prefer the first option.

Would you prefer a larger boat? I would especially in regards to living quarters. My c22 seems very sea worthy for Winnebago.
Do you think a boat in the 30ft area would be more sea worthy on Michigan or doesnt it really matter?

Bill
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Old 01-29-2001
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Great Lakes Sailing

Bill,
Yes, I would prefer a larger boat as my wife sails with me now and can help run the boat. Also, a larger boat has more room down below, is drier, and if it has an inboard engine can power quite well into the waves whereas an outboard can''t. There are many positive reasons why a larger boat is better.
The reason I have a small boat is: expense; I often sail for 2 hours and a small boat is faster out of and into a slip; a small boat is easier to singlehand and I can fly the chute by myself. No boat is perfect and they all involve compromises. When I retire we will probably get a used NonSuch 30 or maybe a Freedom 28.
I don''t know what you mean by "sea worthy" so you will have to tell me. My Freedom 21 is built much stronger than a Catalina 22 and even some 30 footers so it can withstand more extreme forces but if you sail conservatively it makes no difference. When you push boats like I do it is nice to have a really strong boat. This is approximate but 15 to 20 winds create 6 foot waves; 25 winds create 8 feet; 30 winds create 10 feet; 35 winds 12 feet; 45 to 50 winds 20 foot waves so you will sailing in 6 foot waves alot. These waves are considered steep. I think a 30 footer is definately more comfortable on the Lake and a 40 footer even more so but size has propblems too. I have seen alot of Catalina 22''s cruising.
You will not be able to anchor and go below in a thunderstorm. In a 22 you would have to stay in the cockpit to steer. In a 30 footer you could put it on autopilot and go below but then you would not be able to avoid any possible collisions. I am scared in thunderstorms because there is so much water in the air I cannot see and worry about
collisions. I also hate fog because I cannot see. You also must have a depthsounder for navigation. Practice with your gps and remmember that 45 degrees 15 minutes 30 seconds is 45 degrees 15.5 minutes on a gps as the last digits on a gps are fractions of 100 and not 60.
How old are you? I am 53. How many days in a row would you have to cruise? I go for 12 days at a time 4 times a summer. Are you looking for adventure? Maybe some danger?
Simply peace and quiet? To just get away? I enjoy all of the above.
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Old 01-30-2001
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Great Lakes Sailing

Bill, I just moved back from an O-day 28 to a 24 ft. trailerable just so I could someday drag it to the Great Lakes to do like you are, and I have to agree with Fran on the pluses of a smaller boat. Have you considered keeping the C-22 and chartering a bigger boat for those few trips to the lake? My friends who cruise the coasts every year say it is better to keep the smallest boat you can stand to use most of the year on our lake, and charter that nice big boat when you go to Maine, G.L., or Fla.

I saw Lake Michigan last year for the first time, and want to come back to sail, so thanks, Fran for the good info. All my experience is on a small lake.

Skip
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Old 01-30-2001
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Great Lakes Sailing

Hi Fran
I am 52. Mostly go to get away and enjoy the beauty nature offers out there. I like how each time we go out conditions are always seem a little different. I have to admit I do enjoy some of the rough weather too. Right now I cant get away too long. Job and kids tie us down quite abit. When things lighten up (when the kids are on there own which may be only 3-5 yrs) I would like to go on 2-3day cruises many times a season. last summer we often went out 4 time a week and sometimes more. Usually 2-3 nights after work. Sometimes we sail at night. And often Saturday and Sunday both. Depending on our schedules I will go out 2-8hrs. Retirement years I would like to sail a week at a time. That why I am interested in Lake Michigan. I am not sure I have the savvy you do to sail the bigger waters but I sure am considering it when I get more experience and knowledge.

THis may be a dumb question. You said I could not anchor in a storm. Is that because of water depth and or wave heigth?
Do you reef the main and try to sail in a c22? I ask that because you mentioned I would have to steer the boat.

Where do you sail out of? Speaking of GPS. I dont have one and may not need one on Winnebago but would like to get one. Any advise is appeciated.

Bill
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Old 01-30-2001
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Great Lakes Sailing

Hi Skip
Thats a good idea. I do hate to part with this boat but onthe other hand would like something bigger down below. Thanks

Bill
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