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eckcn17 02-23-2011 07:03 PM

Lake Michigan launch date
SO maybe another silly queston from me, but I have been an inland sailor of Lake Geneva WI most of my "career", and my wife and I just bought out first new-used 31ft cruising boat to try out hand on Lake Michigan.
We have a slip and are very excited to learn. I would like to launch late April, but my question to other Lake Michigan sailors is: when do you normally launch and is late April going to be too early in regaurds to storms and such, I am not too terribly worried about the cold besides hard freezes, but I do not want to be putting our boat in a situation that it could become damaged?

Any suggestions or reasons why you guys launch when you do would be great!
Thanks as always

sailortjk1 02-23-2011 09:23 PM

Where is your slip located?
I think Chicago Harbors open on May 1. Some others are a little earlier, but if you are up North say in Green Bay and Door County, than many of those marinas do not get into full swing until the Middle of June.
Yes, again dependent on where you are located and how well you are protected, early Spring and late fall is when you can expect some of the more nasty weather systems. If you are in an exposed area, it may not be the best idea. I always had a personal rule when we were moored in Monroe Harbor; never launch before Mother's Day. This is a personal superstition of mine. Back in the early 80's there was a storm on Mother's day and well over 12 boats brook free from their moorings and sank. That was Monroe Harbor. We now routinely launch in mid April as well. Our Marina opens on April 1st.
Sailing in the cold yes, of course you can do it. But I much prefer cold sailing in the fall in comparison to the spring. Why? Because of the water temperature. Water temps in mid April will only be in the 40's or so. A nice 15-knot breeze blowing across 40 degree water temps and you feel it deep down in your bones. In the fall the exact opposite is true, air temps can be in the 40's and the water temps will be much warmer than the air.
I would recommend that you simply check with you harbor master before scheduling your launch.

MSN2Travelers 02-23-2011 09:38 PM

Milwaukee Area
For SSYC on Milwaukee's south side ... Slips available after April 15th. Actual time on the water before mid-May is real cold due to low water temps. I'll likely launch around May 15th.

sailingdog 02-24-2011 07:07 AM

Yes, planning a launch date is tough, especially since everyone is aiming for the same two day sailing season...

kwaltersmi 02-24-2011 07:15 AM

Simply check with your local marina. They'll dictate when you can launch.

Here on the eastern shores near Grand Haven/Muskegon, late April is not too early in most years. Storms can occur any time of the year so you'll have to be prepared for storms in June/July/August/Sept anyway, so just make sure she's secure in the slip and battened down.

While the water in the big lake won't warm up reasonably until late June or sometime in July, there's some great early season sailing to be had.

cormeum 02-24-2011 08:41 AM

Waukegan opens April 1. We're usually there at the slip the first week of April- we wet store in the river and have to be the first out. There can be a lot of good (albeit wet and cold) sailing in April- if you don't mind throwing in a reef or three :D

I'm surprised by the comment that Chicago Harbors opens so late- maybe check their website.

MC1 02-24-2011 10:03 AM


Originally Posted by sailingdog (Post 701646)
Yes, planning a launch date is tough, especially since everyone is aiming for the same two day sailing season...

. . . That's kiddin' with a knife in it! :) Sad, but almost true.

Mitigation? See threads on cabin heating and full enclosures.

eckcn17 02-24-2011 12:23 PM

Thank you guys very much, it helps me feel better!! I have the launch scheduled for 4/22 with SKipper Buds in Winthrop Harbor, and I know the harbor in Pleasant Prarie opens the harbor up on 4/15! So I do feel better about it do to your comments!

Thanks again!


Barquito 02-24-2011 12:26 PM


Yes, planning a launch date is tough, especially since everyone is aiming for the same two day sailing season...
Ha, ha, ha... also check out how little wear and tear there is on our boats that only sail for a few weeks a year in fresh water... well don't look at my boat:laugher

EJO 02-24-2011 12:52 PM

It looks like you got your answer. Put her in and enjoy. Even though I'm a Michigander now my boating season is NOT from Memorial to Labor (contrary to the Admiral's) I boat from the weekend around April 1 to a weekend or two B-4 Halloween (end-Oct).
This gives me 6 to 6-1/2 months of sailing :D and sometimes I have to have a wind-breaker, sweater and gloves on, but hey the sailing is great. Last May 7th, 2010 I sailed Lake Michigan from Whitehall to South Haven (81nm) and although the marinas were still closed:( (as to full service(gas, water etc)shore power is normally on by then) and there was ice on the deck in the early AM when we left Whitehall, the average temp during the trip was 35 deg.F and the sailing was great. Again this was in May so you never know in MI (on LM) because I also had great boating on April 15th with 60 deg.F weather.
Hey it's Lake Michigan weather changes quick, storms come and go, but it's fresh water and no sharks when you fall overboard.:laugher

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