Lake Michigan is kicking my anatomical aft area. - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 21 Old 10-08-2018 Thread Starter
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Lake Michigan is kicking my anatomical aft area.

Is there any way to sail with anything resembling stable motion on the Great Lakes when the wind picks up? The winds were piping up a bit to 16-19 kt with 23 kt gusts. This resulted in a wave height of 4.5 feet, and a dominant wave period of 3 seconds. Yes, you ocean sailors, 3 seconds. I sail a Valiant 32. We had the wind on our stern quarter. Are there any tactics to maintaining a minimally barf-inducing boat motion in such short wave periods?

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post #2 of 21 Old 10-09-2018
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Re: Lake Michigan is kicking my anatomical aft area.

I feel your pain, I was out on a friends Catalina 30 last fall and it was gusting to 34 with 4-7 and occasional 10'ers..sailing to weather, it was the second time I ever got sick, the first time was off the stern quarter. We tried changing course and sail arrangement, to no avail.


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post #3 of 21 Old 10-09-2018
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Re: Lake Michigan is kicking my anatomical aft area.

Get a BIGGER boat.

"Any idiot can make a boat go; it takes a sailor to stop one." Spike Africa aboard the schooner Wanderer in Sausalito, Ca. 1964.
“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” ― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

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post #4 of 21 Old 10-09-2018
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Re: Lake Michigan is kicking my anatomical aft area.

LOL yhea bigger boat helps.
40'er I can deal with motion up to about 6-8'
I'm at the bridge so if the wind is out of the west I sail on the east side of the bridge that helps!!! LOL
Really not much you can do but get used to it...

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post #5 of 21 Old 10-09-2018
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Re: Lake Michigan is kicking my anatomical aft area.

I wonder if heading further offshore to deeper water would help?
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post #6 of 21 Old 10-09-2018
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Re: Lake Michigan is kicking my anatomical aft area.

Reefing down might be effective to slow the boat and it's motion down. If quartering isn't working, it could be wetter, but try more of a beam-on angle. Short period makes it difficult. We had to beat into 8' chop in 20kt winds one Bermuda race, going 8 kts. Boat would sail right out of the top of the wave and drop 8' straight down, then do it again. I ended up sleeping on the cabin sole after getting thrown against the overhead in the V-berth hard enough to get cut from protruding fasteners. People on the helm can get tired fast in such conditions, slowing their reaction times. Changing the helmsperson more frequently might help too.
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post #7 of 21 Old 10-09-2018
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Re: Lake Michigan is kicking my anatomical aft area.

I don't think there's a good answer to this question (other than capta's get a bigger boat).

We get short period square (period = height) waves in Vineyard Sound frequently, particularly when the tidal flow is opposite the wind direction. When it pipes up much over 20 kts, and the wind opposes the tide, it's a sporty ride.
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post #8 of 21 Old 10-09-2018
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Re: Lake Michigan is kicking my anatomical aft area.

I also feel your pain, I've been sailing in exactly these conditions for years and the only answer (even though it's not necessarily an option) is a bigger boat. I sailed Lake Huron on my Tanzer 7.5m for years eating these types of conditions, this year I moved up to a Mirage 33 and it's "better" but still...the great lakes. My last trip out we had a decent East wind (15kts maybe) and had 6 foot rollers on the starboard quarter ensuring everyone but me was puking less than 2 hrs in (no good way to adjust the boats angle, lee shore...).

Pretty much any wind with any fetch immediately kicks up what I refer to as triangle shaped waves. Very steep, very sharp, very short period. In my old 7.5 (24ft) I would already be hitting the next waves face before I found the bottom of the trough sometimes. It's just great lakes sailing, and as someone else said, it's hard to explain it to anyone who hasn't done it, the period is so short you wouldn't think it possible.


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post #9 of 21 Old 10-10-2018
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Re: Lake Michigan is kicking my anatomical aft area.

shallow water generates those conditions.

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post #10 of 21 Old 10-10-2018
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Re: Lake Michigan is kicking my anatomical aft area.

Sounds brutal. We see similar conditions in the local bays(Naragansett, Buzzards, Mass) when the tide is going out but the wind is straight up the bay. Difference is if you wait for the tide change things improve dramatically. Some will time the tide for their day sailing to avoid wind against wave. Problem for mass bay is it’s usually a light air area so stout good sea keeping boats may not be able to ghost.
Had a friend do the Mac. He said after that he’d never diss a Great Lake sailor and he’d not go back for a second bite of that apple.
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