Lake Michigan sailing months? how many? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 11 Old 09-16-2009 Thread Starter
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Lake Michigan sailing months? how many?

I have been bitten by the sailing bug. So at this point Im educating myself on many things and am working towards some ASA certifications. Meanwhile my concern is how many months a year does anyone sail on Lake Michigan. I am born and bred here and I know the lake starts to freeze over in January and thaws around March....but sometimes it never freezes.

Those who sail the lakes how many months "could you sail" providing the lake didnt freeze and they plowed your docks?

The reason I ask is that Im working 7am-6pm mon-friday. While thats a great thing, it leaves only Saturday/Sunday for fun time. Thus I dont want to jump into sailing and end up like other Michigan sports...very seasonal. Id like to know I could get 8-9 months a year of sailing in before committing big $$$$ and time. Cold doesnt bother me, but I understand the dangers of sailing in bad weather and this will limit even my Saturdays and Sundays during the warm months.

thanks in advance for your experiences....
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post #2 of 11 Old 09-16-2009
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I don't sail on the Big lake (yet), but I would imagine that fall sailing would be nice in that the air temps are down, but the water is not yet dangerously cold.
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post #3 of 11 Old 09-16-2009
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I put it in the water May 1st and take out the end of October. The next 6 months are spent thinking about the other 6.
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post #4 of 11 Old 09-16-2009
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For Lake Ontario, the best most will do is early April to late November, being really selective based on weather in April and November. Our marina wants us all out by Thanksgiving. The usual is as per funjohnson's reply. I have a similar work schedule, and I'd say you won't get out nearly as much as you want, so try to arrange some time off during sailing season where the exact dates can flex depending on the weather.
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post #5 of 11 Old 09-16-2009
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How much can you stand?

The answer to your question depends to some degree where you live. If your'e on the lake in northern Wisconsin or Michigan then your season could be a month shorter than in Chicago. Besides the obvious drop in temperatures that the fall brings there are changes in the prevailing winds and their strength to consider too. In the spring time the really nice, somewhat reliable sailing weather doesn't arrive (IMHO) until late May most years. It can get really nasty trying to sail in the southern reaches of the lake after the wind has been blowing out of the north over 300 odd miles of open water for a few days and the temperature's at 40 degrees. This kind of pattern can be pretty persistent early and late in the season. Something else to consider is how empty the lake gets (boat-wise) after the first or second week in October. You might well be the only vessel on the water for many miles around so help can be much farther away than it is on a warm summer weekend. At the extreme ends of the season the days are shorter, too, limiting weeknight sailing if you're not comfortable being out there in the dark (and many times fog). In a nutshell, six months of great, good, and marginal sailing max. But when it's great it's GREAT. For me, I'm in around the middle of May and out in the middle/end of September. (It was longer when I first bought the boat.)
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post #6 of 11 Old 09-16-2009
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Even down here on more sedate Long Island between the rain and wind April and October tend to be iffy months on weekends

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post #7 of 11 Old 09-16-2009
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I would love to sail lake michigan....I spent have my childhood swimming and playing on its beaches. I would probably trade my 12-month sailing season here in Texas for 6 months of clean, clear, freshwater and those beautiful sand beaches.

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post #8 of 11 Old 09-16-2009
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Lake Michigan

I agree with the early may late october/early November but there are some that sail into late November.
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post #9 of 11 Old 09-17-2009 Thread Starter
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as expected...

I thought May-November maybe it. I have drag raced, road raced, and sportbike raced for years and found most of the winter to be a nice break. I would spend that time working on the vehicles, readying them for the next season. Unfortunately Im unsure how I could work on a 25-30' boat on the hard. Im assuming most places wont allow you to "wrench" on your boat when on the hard. Perhaps thats something Ill look into...someplace that I can work on it off season. Seems a waste to leave it sitting for 6 months, in storage. Id rather spend the warm season, learning to be a better sailor, rather then working on my rig.
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post #10 of 11 Old 09-17-2009
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There are plenty of marinas that you can "wrench" during the off season. Where are you located?
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