Lake sailors: how do you like your wind? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 27 Old 03-06-2012 Thread Starter
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Lake sailors: how do you like your wind?

Blue water sailors get to sit this one out. Just as costal and blue water sailing has its challenges, sailing on inland lakes has its own peculiarities, like unpredictable gusts and lee shores everywhere.

So, lake sailors, when you are watching the weather forecast from your office chairs what conditions make you decide to burn that vacation afternoon and call your favorite sailing mate to hit the water? Conversely, what wind conditions make you want to leave the dock lines be, barring thunderstorms and tornadoes?

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post #2 of 27 Old 03-06-2012
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Re: Lake sailors: how do you like your wind?

Shifty! LOL!

I only say that because on my lake, its almost always shifting.

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post #3 of 27 Old 03-07-2012
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Re: Lake sailors: how do you like your wind?

Last weekend we had 20-25 with gusts to 30, Friday and Saturday. Left the office at 11 a.m. Friday and was out there by noon. You are correct, lee shores all over, tons of wind shadows but also tons of places to gunkhole and my office is 19 minutes from the dock, my home 26 minutes (give or take a few seconds). Fresh water means tons less maintaining BUT it 'taint the ocean for sure.

When the wind is thin and squirrely we just find a place to drop a hook and swim, cook out, sleep, stargaze and repeat as necessary for the weekend or week.

Nice thread.
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post #4 of 27 Old 03-07-2012
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Re: Lake sailors: how do you like your wind?

The wind depends on what part of the lake you are on. When the breeze gets to 16 to 20 the wind at the marina will be light. head out and it will get better, head east in it will be great in one area where the wind comes up a valley from the south. It is always changing and usually gusty.
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post #5 of 27 Old 03-07-2012
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Re: Lake sailors: how do you like your wind?

When the forecast is for "Light and variable" at one extreme or "Lake wind advisory" at the other, I typically won't go. I have been on both dead calm and gusting over 30 days but I try to avoid them.
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post #6 of 27 Old 03-07-2012
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Re: Lake sailors: how do you like your wind?

"Lake" Pontchartrain may not qualify since it has a narrow gut (the Rigolets) that leads out to Mississippi Sound and the Gulf. But it's where I teach sailing, on the South shore.

30 by 20 miles, yet depth only about 15 feet and low shoreline so it gets almost as much wind as offshore, which ain't that far away.

With the shallow depth, the wind kicks up a very "square" chop, steep and short wave-period, makes upwind work in a small lightweight boat rather teeth-jarring. So with all that fetch, wind direction is critical--15 knots with a windward shore is nice (though shifty), but with a lee shore is a slam-banger and a little uncomfortable for some of the new students.

Also water temp rises and falls very quickly with the weather since the 'dish' is so shallow. Lots of fronts in the spring with "sporty" northerlies, then big, hot light-air southerly highs in the summer punctuated by some exciting afternoon thunderstorms. Evening sailing is the cool thing in July.

All that said, there's some really good sailing to be had here, and it's year-round.

Last edited by nolatom; 03-07-2012 at 11:03 AM.
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post #7 of 27 Old 03-07-2012
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Re: Lake sailors: how do you like your wind?

Winds here like do a 10-20 kt range which is perfect for a lot of boats. Or sometimes a 5-20 kt range.
My boat needs to be reefed at 15 kts. I'm usually either overpowered by gusts or underpowered and I don't have a traveler.
The reef I have now is good to 30 kts. I need one half that size, so I'll soon have the loft fix that for me and then I will probably find something else I need to customize.

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post #8 of 27 Old 03-07-2012
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Re: Lake sailors: how do you like your wind?

The only times I would not go b/c of wind conditions is if it is too slow or too fast. Even the days that say it will be shifty and gusty can be fine (or be a fine challenge). I have also had plenty of days that said it will be nearly dead, and have a good sail.
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post #9 of 27 Old 03-07-2012
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Re: Lake sailors: how do you like your wind?

Generally, I DON'T like my wind on southern Lake Michigan as it is today...

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post #10 of 27 Old 03-07-2012
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Re: Lake sailors: how do you like your wind?

Lake Ontario isn't bad but can be gusty. My makor concern is summer thunderstorms that can bear down on you in no time. Tend to watch the radar closely on those days and stay tied up to the slip if the weather is really active.

having grown up sailing on the Atlantic, its the waves on the lake that get me!

I am not really from Toronto


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