Lake Ponchartrain - Is small craft advisory safe? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of Old 02-09-2010 Thread Starter
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Lake Ponchartrain - Is small craft advisory safe?

Ok here is my situation. I am planning on departing the dock tomorrow afternoon to sail across Lake Ponchartrain. As most of you probably know its the 2nd largest lake in the USA. Takes about 25min to cross in a car going 65mph on causeway bridge which is 26mi long. This said, I have only been out in my boat ONE time for about 4hrs and this was Sunday and was the first time I ever sailed a sailboat. I only had 5-10kn winds that day so I cancelled the lake crossing that day and just took it easy about 2mi out and enjoyed the day with a couple of friends aboard with me. Boat was easy to handle, very and easier then I had thought it ever would be.

Now, tomorrow I am planning on going single handed and crossing the lake. I need to do this to get my boat over to the southshore slip, I live on southshore and can't keep my boat on northshore. The mooring registration is expiring tomorrow, I can fill a new one out but the boat will stay there. I need it down here to be able to work on it like I want. So, a small craft advisory is in effect, winds forcasted at 15-25kn. Thats an aweful lot it seems for a new sailor. I know a small craft advisory is for boats under 33' but what about a sailboat thats smaller, say 25'? What can I expect in a 25' Cal in those conditions? Will she handle it ok just running on a mainsail? I like to think even though its a big lake, it should be a playground for a good size sailboat or am I talking dangerous? Any answers appreciated!
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post #2 of Old 02-09-2010
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Sailguy,
A Cal 25 (if it's been well maintained and everything is in good order) is a great boat and will easily manage 15-25kt breezes. The question is, can you? From your previous post asking about how to attach a jib, I think it'd be the better part of valor to wait for a lighter day, or find an experienced friend or friends to make the trip with you.

...and just for fun:

List of lakes of the United States by area - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


oh, and get an anchor!

Last edited by puddinlegs; 02-09-2010 at 03:43 AM.
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post #3 of Old 02-09-2010
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I would stay put. It is just not any fun and that’s a long way with no place to hide. My experience with forecast like this is it could be 10 or it could be 35. I assume the lake is rather shallow and that can cause a steep chop to build up. NO FUN! If you are not pounding into it you are fighting a following sea or rolling if it is on the beam. Limited experience, single handed, leaving late, a new to you boat. You could be out there a long time. Make your first long trip a fun one. Wait. Just my 2 cents. Dan S/V Marian Claire
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post #4 of Old 02-09-2010
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Have sailed there NASTY chop.Also if new docking a boat in high wind can be a challenge.marc
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post #5 of Old 02-09-2010
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The boat can handle it. YOU can't. Stay home.
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post #6 of Old 02-09-2010
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Lake Pontchartrain

Sailguy40

I was in the same situation that you are in. I needed to get my sailboat a 30 catalina from Slidell to Mandeville. The weather was not good, small craft advisory. I hired an experienced sailor. We ran in to trouble about three miles from the slip. His experience saved my boat and our lives. If you are not experenced don't risk your boat or your life. Wait or hire someone with experience.

Let us know how it goes. May God be with you.
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post #7 of Old 02-09-2010
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On Feb. 14, 1968 my dad didn't pay attention to the small craft warnings and Lake Pontchartrain took his boat and very nearly took three lives. Those winter storms can make it a pretty nasty place.
Wait for better weather.
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post #8 of Old 02-09-2010
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I agree with the above. Forecasts are glorified guesses. Expect 10-35 like marian stated. Either get someone who has experience (in the winter it might costs you more than a 6 pack) or wait. Docking in 25 kts by yourself is a royal PITA.

Merit 25 # 764 "Audrey"
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post #9 of Old 02-09-2010
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You don't have the experience to handle those conditions... wait for better weather... This is especially true if you're going to be doing this single-handed. My recommendation would be to wait for better weather and get at least one experienced sailor to help. Under the best of conditions, you're looking at a minimum of six hours of sailing...

I've sailed a Cal 25 quite a bit, and they can be a lot of fun under those conditions, but I've been sailing since I was 8 or so... and on a lot of different boats. A couple of summers ago, we took out my friend's Cal 25 on a day it was blowing 20 knots and had the full genny and main up... we were doing 9 knots on the GPS at a couple of points in time and his wife refused to come out of the cabin until we "started sailing the boat like sane people...."

It is a good boat in those conditions if you know what you're doing on it.

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ANNOUNCEMENT (from the news):

"WWLTV - FEBRUARY 9TH, 2010 7:40am CST...

THE CAPTAIN OF THE 25FT SAILBOAT, "JOLIE DAME" HAS CANCELLED THE LAKE PONCHARTRAIN CRUISE THIS MORNING. SMALL CRAFT ADVISORIES AND COLD TEMPERATURES PLAYED A PART IN THE CAPTAIN'S DECISION. "THESE ARE HAZADOUS CONDITIONS THAT MUST BE AVOIDED. WE DO HAVE TO APOLOGIZE TO THE CROWDS WAITING AT THE DOCK IN MANDEVILLE TO SEE THE VESSEL DEPART", SAID CAPTAIN MAMMELLI. IN ANOTHER ARTICLE FOR CNN, THE CAPTAIN WAS ALSO QUOTED AS SAYING..."MEMBERS OF THE SAILNET FORUM HAD KINDLY ADVISED NOT TO ATTEMPT THE VOYAGE".

You see, you guys were even mentioned on that news article so apparently you all did play a part in the captain's decision, definitely should be proud of yourselves. No, seriously thanks for the advise guys, I think not only that but the cold weather would have been a problem for me as well. So unless for some strange reason it clears up and gets better, no way I am going at this point. Now, it is still early so weather can change as far as the advisory in effect but the cold, that is here to stay today. I will just have to fill out another mooring registration and aim to make this trip this weekend. The only reason I was considering this trip is to get the boat over here so I can start doing some work on it asap.

This said, I am aware of the dangers of the sea. You know how Pearl Harbor is considered the "Day of Infamy"? I have my own personal "Day of Infamy" on record. This was October 17th, 2009. Don't think I ever mentioned, but I am also a kayaker. I have several kayaking videos on youtube.com under the name of ' warspite2 ' . Anyone here is welcome to watch them. Anyway, I almost lost my life at one of the barrier islands off the coast of Biloxi that day, what appeared to be a harmless trip would later become my worst nightmare. If anyone would ever want to hear my story, just let me know, pretty terrifying to say the least but you all are sailors. So not even sure that is terrifying to any of you, I know you all have some stories! Ok, thanks guys, I appreciate all the advice and I am taking it.

@puddinlegs - hey you see what happens when I do not finish reading the sentence? Lake Pontchartrain - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia darn wiki.
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