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  #21  
Old 06-26-2014
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Re: Blue water boat for the Great Lakes?

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Originally Posted by MikeOReilly View Post
Sailing on the Great Lakes is all about managing the seas. As others have said, Great Lakes waves tend to have much shorter wavelengths than out on the salty seas. But b/c we can have fairly large fetches (especially here on Superior), we still generate large waves. This makes them steep and tight together. A 20knot wind blowing over a 100 nm fetch for a 1/2 day will produce pretty nasty sea conditions.

BTW, on Superior we routinely do 2+ day crossings.
The Great Lakes, as Gordon Lightfoot has described so well:
, are not waters to take for granted.
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  #22  
Old 06-26-2014
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Re: Blue water boat for the Great Lakes?

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Originally Posted by smurphny View Post
The Great Lakes, as Gordon Lightfoot has described so well: "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" - Gordon Lightfoot (HD w/ Lyrics) - YouTube, are not waters to take for granted.
Yup ... here's another favourite of mine. Stan's White Squall is not exaggerating about how things can change so quickly on the Lakes. The song also has some lessons for the recent jackline discussion.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQ4ddAgykfk
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  #23  
Old 06-26-2014
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Re: Blue water boat for the Great Lakes?

I have a very healthy respect for the big lake. 8'-10' lake waves are a bitch to say the least. Things break, people get hurt, the boat usually survives but sometimes marriages don't! Weather forecasting is not perfect, but NOAA is more right than wrong on the big stuff.

The Edmund Fitz went down in November (when we all have our boats tucked away for good reason) and it was a predicted storm. Not predicted as big as it was, but predicted.

As much as I would like to think that we are all great sailors and the lake is always tough, the reality is different. The bouy at the middle of the lake, between Leland, Mi and Washington Is., Wi over the last 24 hours has had a high wind of 7.8kts, a low wind of 3.5kts, and waves under a foot. I have only made that round trip three times. 5 of those passages were similar to the last 24 hrs. and 1 we had a beam reach with 17-20KTs and it was a blast. That in a Catalina 34 that certainly had no problem with the 6 footers that day.
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  #24  
Old 06-26-2014
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Re: Blue water boat for the Great Lakes?

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Originally Posted by MikeOReilly View Post
Yup ... here's another favourite of mine. Stan's White Squall is not exaggerating about how things can change so quickly on the Lakes. The song also has some lessons for the recent jackline discussion.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQ4ddAgykfk
Nice. Thanks for that link! Here's another great singer of sea songs:
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Old 06-26-2014
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Re: Blue water boat for the Great Lakes?

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Originally Posted by smurphny View Post
Nice. Thanks for that link! Here's another great singer of sea songs:
Thanks! I've never heard of Gordon Bok before. I'll be exploring his repertoire.
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  #26  
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Re: Blue water boat for the Great Lakes?

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Originally Posted by MikeOReilly View Post
Thanks! I've never heard of Gordon Bok before. I'll be exploring his repertoire.
He goes back a long way, was with Pete Seeger on the Clearwater in the 70s and still, like Gordie, gets out doing gigs. Gordon Bok Official Site His classic, Peter Kagan and the Wind is a great song.
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Re: Blue water boat for the Great Lakes?

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Originally Posted by MSN2Travelers View Post
The Admiral and I have a 35' Beneteau, sail out of Milwaukee and routinely do over 1,000 nm per season on Lake Michigan. We do a couple lake crossings each season. Most were during the day but have done a few at night.

...

You need to shop for a boat that will have ALL the space and creature comforts your wife and small child will need, have the ability to sail reasonably well in light winds and be nimble enough to maneuver in the tight marinas that are typical of the Great Lakes. And more importantly, your wife will have to have the skill set that makes her an equal partner, not just a passenger.

As for boat size . . . We have found the 34-38 foot range to be a good size for short handed sailing on the great lakes. A dodger and full overhead sun protection for the cockpit is a must. Fog is a common occurrence so you will want to have AIS receive capability at a minimum (there is heavy freighter traffic).
If you really plan on duration passages, you will want an autopilot that is over rated for the boat. A below deck linear drive unit is much better than a wheel unit (due to the type waves we experience on the great lakes).

I don't know what you think a "blue water" boat is. The best way to survive a big storm on the great lakes is to not go out into one. Stay in port. Get a boat that meets the needs of your family for 95% of you typical use.

Good Luck!
Thanks for the awesome discussion here. Lots to think about as far as outfitting the boat and it's still very early for us in the shopping process. I guess I left my definition of blue water deliberately vague to see what sorts of ideas and priorities others had. I understand that avoiding the storm is the safest way, but sometimes that's not possible. Having lived here all my life, I know stuff can pop up that's not forecast. Two days ago it wasn't even supposed to rain, but by 6pm I had a foot of water in my basement and apparently a funnel cloud passed right overhead and the neighborhood sirens never even went off.

I just figured if something comes up and I'm even 5nm from port, that hour of sailing time needed doesn't get you anywhere safe before it hits the fan. Having sailed through a couple 40kt+ storms so far it seems sometimes you just have to drop sails and wait it out.

Fortunately my wife has been learning to sail along with me from the beginning and every bit as interested so we have two capable hands on deck and not just one. But I hear everyone on the light wind sailing too. Been out in plenty of snoozers also and having a quick and nimble boat is good thing to have.

Thanks again all - any other equipment ideas from other GL cruisers are most welcome, as I'm sure whatever boat we settle on we'll spend some amount of time getting it just the way we want it.
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Old 06-27-2014
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Re: Blue water boat for the Great Lakes?

Having spent 3 years as a captain sailing daily from May through October on various size and type boats on all the great lakes I do have an opinion about this. But more important is having sailed the Caribbean, Bahamas, East and west coasts, SE Asia and now captaining in the Adriatic, you will see all kinds of boats cruising long distances in all the oceans. Most of the boats now truly cruising are "Clorox Bottles" like my Bavaria 49 I am sailing these days. Now I must admit to an enduring endearment with ēH T Gozzard's boats, but that is just a passing fancy.

So when you look at boats, be truthful to yourself, if you want a "Blue water" boat, and there are lots available on the Lakes, then by all means buy one. But if the question is "What is the best boat for sailing on the Great Lakes?" then the answer is "Run what you brung".

My favorite sailing adventure over many years and many places in the world is sailing from Cleveland up to the North Channel in our then old and tired Erikson 27 sans motor. Of course we were and young, in love and broke but sailing up the rivers and through the North Channel was incredible. We did have to take on tow through the little current Bridge and we got that from a Hunter 34 that was from Buffalo N.Y.

Bob
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Old 06-27-2014
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Re: Blue water boat for the Great Lakes?

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Originally Posted by Enrique100 View Post
I just figured if something comes up and I'm even 5nm from port, that hour of sailing time needed doesn't get you anywhere safe before it hits the fan. Having sailed through a couple 40kt+ storms so far it seems sometimes you just have to drop sails and wait it out.
Once you have a boat you can learn how to heave-to. It often is more comfortable than just taking the sails down (lying a hull) but both work. Have fun with your choice.
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