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Old 09-12-2007, 12:55   #46
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I used to live in Duluth and met a number of International captains who'd brought their ships there. Superior is dangerous because: it has a very short wave period; it is too narrow to run before a storm; the Northern coast is mostly rock and there are few harbors. I suppose there are other reasons I've forgotten. But every few years an ore boat would be broken in half.
On Superior you get hit and before the ship can recover, get hit again. Because of the shape of the lake, you do not have full options about which way you can head, to take the waves the best.
I think the sailors reading this who have hit circumstances like a wind heading dead into the Gulf stream's flow, reducing wave periods to 6-8 seconds, can give you first hand accounts of how risky this makes it.
The ship's captains were all refering to big water that international shipping would use. Or that we might sail.

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Old 09-12-2007, 14:04   #47
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I see where you are coming from Rez and for the reasons you state it may be that the Lake is actually more dangerous for commercial shipping than for pleasure craft. Pleasure craft are not generally out on the lake early and late in the season when the weather is it's worst and most unpredictable. The "Fitz" is always mention as an example of what could happen but to me it has little bearing on my own view of safety. I would NEVER be out on the lake in November. The summer storms are generally of short duration and seldom kick up really dangerous waves. It took three days of a 25-30 knot northeaster to get the waves to 10 feet where I was at on Isle Royale, the largest I have experienced on the Lake. I am sure they may have been a bit bigger by the time they reached Duluth. Check out the book by Marlin Bree titled In the Wake of the Green Storm. A local guy is caught out in the teeth of that unusual summer storm we had here back about 7 or 8 years ago in his 20ft homebuilt trailersailor and lives to tell the tale.

The restricted manueuvering room of the lake has much less bearing on small craft and there are many more harbors, anchorages, and bays available to us. The one exception would be the cliff and rock bound Minnesota shore which could be a very dangerous place in the wrong conditions. A few marinas and harbors of refuge are being built along this shore for small craft to lessen this danger . The southern shore from Whitefish point to Keweenaw Bay is another stretch with fewer places of refuge.

Don't trust your dog to guard your lunch.

Patrick, age 9
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Old 09-12-2007, 18:36   #48
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I'm glad you've enjoyed good sailing conditions on Lake Superior. I've personally experienced over 20 ft waves with seven second periods (luckily, on a ocean going Tug). Living on that lake for years has underscored what one hears about sudden storms and choppy seas.
The following was posted by GordMay, who lives in Thunder Bay:

Lake Superior Factoids:
Maximum depth1,333 feet (10 miles NW of Caribou Island)
Length 350 miles ~ Width 160 miles maximum
Elevation602 feet above sea level
Shoreline2,980 miles including islands - Surface area 31,700 square miles
Water clarity 65 - 75 feet
Water volume 440 trillion cubic feet, 3,000,000,000,000,000 gallons, or 10% of the worlds fresh surface water (One inch of water depth equals553 billion gallons)
Flushing rate400 500 years (Time required to change the water)
Detention time 191 years (average time a drop of water remains in the lake)
Flow rate into Lake Huron73,700 cubic feet per minute
Average water temperature40 degrees Fahrenheit
Calmest monthsJune and July ~ Stormiest monthsOctober and November
Maximum wave height31 feet
Ship wrecks recorded350 (over 1,000 lives lost)
Gord May
~~_/)_~~ (Gord & Maggie - "Southbound")
"If you didn't have time/$ to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time/$ to fix it?"

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Old 16-01-2008, 13:55   #49
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Hi Folks
I don't think it matters where you sail. The equation is, the more you sail the more mistakes you make the more you learn the better the sailor you are.
Have fun out there
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Old 16-01-2008, 15:44   #50

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People I know say cruising is not really about sailing, it is about fixing things. The truth is that it is a lot harder to learn the technical aspects of winning a race than crossing an ocean.

In a race, sailing skill is 90% with cruising, 20% (numbers negotiable).

My advice, crew an ocean passage before buying a boat. Consider this...

Some hundreds of boats head for the South Pacific every year. A large number expect to circumnavigate. By the time you get to South Africa the number drops to a dozen or so. Many people never get past Tahiti, they just cannot take the passages.

An ocean passage and a couple months as crew will teach you so much more than a season on any lake, harbor or bay. Won't cost the price of a boat either!
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Old 16-01-2008, 16:39   #51
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When I got my 1st keel boat & moved to a harbour & joined the club I was approached by the racing commodore who asked if I was going to join the racing fleet.
I replied " When I learn to sail Iíll join in the racing"
He replied " Join the racing & youíll learn to sail"
Well he was right about that. After I started to race it became obvious to me that any time two sailboats met there was a race, & both participants knew it. This was my training in "go fast" sailing. Whenever I cruise this training is applied.
Every thing else I learned was from courses, reading & experience. You can read A.Coles "Heavy Weather Sailing" but you do not learn until you are in those conditions he describes. Itís better to head out in those conditions with experienced crew then it is to be caught in them with out the experience when you are cruising short handed. %75 of my cruising/ surviving knowledge comes from experience, a lot of it from mistakes. Thankfully none of them were life threatening only scary as hell.
Have fun out there

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lake superior, round the world

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