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Old 29-03-2011, 09:03   #1
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Sailing on the Great Lakes first week of May?

Hi all, I am planning on sailing my newly purchased Ericson 27 from Port Huron, up through the straits and down into Grand Traverse Bay. This will be my first trip over 300 NM non stop. I am planning on having no less then four guys with me at all times. Not planning on stoping but going through the nights. We will only stop if there is a need to fill up on diesel or pump out the holding tank. I know the water is just above freezing at this point in the year, and the weather can be snotty, but is this crazy? Am I foolish for thinking that I can do this so early in the season? If you all wouldn't mind letting me know of your experiences with cold weather sailing and what you think would be wise, I would greatly appreciate it. Any tips or suggestions are welcome too. Thanks for your time.
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Old 29-03-2011, 09:42   #2
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Re: Sailing on the Great Lakes first week of May?

Not to early. Did a shorter trip green bay to holland early april a few tears back. Bring skiing/ hunting gear gets down to water temp or lower at night. With 4 you can rotate shifts two on two off down below warming up. Bring extra fuel so you can make it straight through if weather stays good.
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Old 29-03-2011, 10:19   #3
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Re: Sailing on the Great Lakes first week of May?

Forty years experience in all the Great Lakes both power and sail. Call ahead to the Michigan harbors of refuge to make sure they are open and have fuel. Generally they open the first week of May but those in the north parts of Lake Huron and Michigan may not until the second week. Plan your fuel as you are going to want to keep going not hang in a marina for better weather. Predominant winds are NW in Huron so you may be motoring rather than slogging to weather. Stay out of the ship channels, but do stay in 60+ feet of water and watch the depth off Alpena MI where you will have to go east before nw. You are going to be in extremely cold water and anyone immersed will have only about 45 seconds before becoming impaired in normal clothing.
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Old 29-03-2011, 10:59   #4
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Re: Sailing on the Great Lakes first week of May?

Left May 3rd from Marinette, WI and sailed across Lake Michigan and down Lake Huron. Cold but no problem. We only stopped at one state marina and it was closed. No dockage fee though. We sailed several nights. You will want warm cloths for the night watch. It seems like the weather is lagging last year by at least two weeks.
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Old 29-03-2011, 11:01   #5
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Re: Sailing on the Great Lakes first week of May?

Weather can be all over the board that early in the season (or at any time, frankly). The big thing that other have touched on is that regardless of what the inland temps are predicted to be, out on the water you'll probably be in the 40s because that's what the water temp will be. So bring full foulies and fleece and thermal underwear. Heck, even in late June, the water is still pretty cold- some of the coldest sailing I've done is one year on the Queen's cup race from Milwaukee to Grand Haven. That was in the low 50's but still, with the windchill and darkness, once you get cold it's hard to warm up.
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Old 29-03-2011, 12:43   #6
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Re: Sailing on the Great Lakes first week of May?

can it be done...yes, absolutely. Should it be done? On a very new to you boat in marginal conditions? What is the experience of you and the crew?

Do you have a 'schedule" you need to follow? What if something quits working on the boat, do you have a contingency plan? How are your storm skills? You are much more likely to see rough seas in May than later in the summer. 8' to 10' seas are common that time of year.
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Old 29-03-2011, 14:10   #7
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Re: Sailing on the Great Lakes first week of May?

I agree with gettingthere - it can be done, but on a boat new to you (and I assume your crew) you are asking for trouble. I would imagine you are talking about the first week in May as that is the earliest that you can have her in the water. You really should take her out on some test sails first - check out the diesel, the transmission, the batteries, the electrical, the sails, ruuning rigging, lights, compass, head, stove, water system, instruments, VHF, the ground tackle etc., etc - in real world conditions. I would be suprised if you don't need some servicing, repairs or upgrades. If not, you have at least familiarized yourself with the boat - and learning how to anchor her, reef and heave-to, are all things that you must be familar with prior to setting out, in spring on the Great Lakes, for a 300 NM cruise.

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Old 29-03-2011, 14:10   #8
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Re: Sailing on the Great Lakes first week of May?

FWIW, I also have spent about 40 yrs traveling the Great Lakes and agree with everyone that says it WILL BE COLD. Take a look at the Web Cam Powers' Do it Best Hardware and Paradise Bay Webcam and look close. Yep that white stuff is ice. That's one harbor you can't take cover in. Wondering how many more?
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Old 29-03-2011, 19:20   #9
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Re: Sailing on the Great Lakes first week of May?

you all are making my mind think. Thank you. Anyone else?
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Old 29-03-2011, 19:40   #10
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Re: Sailing on the Great Lakes first week of May?

You are talking about Michigan. You know ďIf ya donít like the weather wait 10 min. it will changeĒ state. There isnít any way Iíd do it now. As said, the majority of the marinas will be closed. I know you want your new toy back in Traverse but hell itís coming up to the first of April, another months not going to kill you. Leaving now might.
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Old 29-03-2011, 19:46   #11
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Re: Sailing on the Great Lakes first week of May?

Yeah for sure not right now, there is still ice covering most of the Lakes. Were talking the first and second week of May.
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Old 29-03-2011, 19:55   #12
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Re: Sailing on the Great Lakes first week of May?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailerkid49 View Post
Yeah for sure not right now, there is still ice covering most of the Lakes. Were talking the first and second week of May.
That's mo betta. Have a great time and just for giggles if you've got time stop by B.I. on the way. I've killed alot of brain cells at the Shamrock.
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Old 29-03-2011, 20:50   #13
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Re: Sailing on the Great Lakes first week of May?

Spend the first night at the marina where you bought it and day sail it there to do a shake down to get familiar with the boat. Rise early and sail your baby home, bring extra warm gear, thick steaks, lotsa hot sauce, and eggs and backy for breaky, and have a blast, if ya have emmerson suits take those along for the guys on watch, switch out by twos every four hours and it will be great, don't forget to shoot some pictures and tell us how it went...
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Old 29-03-2011, 21:05   #14
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Re: Sailing on the Great Lakes first week of May?

I say wait, live down here in lower MI, the weather can do a lot in a day as you know. But I think the most important thing is break downs. New boat, lots of stuff can happen and not many places open or tow services running that early. But with that said if april becomes 80+ and you check and find everyone open early cause of good weather go for it.
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Old 29-03-2011, 21:21   #15
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Re: Sailing on the Great Lakes first week of May?

About all I can say is what others have said. I wouldn't leave before a shake down cruise, and not before May. I'd suggest shorter watches, cause overnight crossings are just about the coldest thing I can think of. Just think layers. Lots of layers. And best of luck.
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