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Old 29-11-2007, 12:43   #1
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Can I learn to sail around the world, on Lake Superior?

I'm in Minneapolis, MN.

Long story not too short, I'm struggling with the aspect of either buying a trailer sailboat and doing the lake thing (various smaller lakes here in Minnesota) or getting a smallish (27' to 30') fixed keel boat and a slip up on Lake Superior.

Question is do you think one can learn a great deal from sailing on Lake Superior as compared to ocean sailing? With a view to coastal sailing/long distance passages, will Lake Superior be a good training ground or should I stick to the small lake thing (22-25' boat) and just move close to the ocean some day for the big stuff.

Would the expense of the larger boat/slips/travel time (4 hours for me to drive to Superior [Bayfield WI intended stomping grounds]) be worth the learning on "big" water I would get or should I save the money get a smaller boat/do a few charters a year on Superior/other places?

Thanks! I think there is a question up there someplace...
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Old 29-11-2007, 13:06   #2
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Originally Posted by marty9876 View Post
I'm in Minneapolis, MN.

Long story not too short, I'm struggling with the aspect of either buying a trailer sailboat and doing the lake thing (various smaller lakes here in Minnesota) or getting a smallish (27' to 30') fixed keel boat and a slip up on Lake Superior.

Question is do you think one can learn a great deal from sailing on Lake Superior as compared to ocean sailing? With a view to coastal sailing/long distance passages, will Lake Superior be a good training ground or should I stick to the small lake thing (22-25' boat) and just move close to the ocean some day for the big stuff.

Would the expense of the larger boat/slips/travel time (4 hours for me to drive to Superior [Bayfield WI intended stomping grounds]) be worth the learning on "big" water I would get or should I save the money get a smaller boat/do a few charters a year on Superior/other places?

Thanks! I think there is a question up there someplace...
Lake Superior will give you the same (or worse) experience as the open ocean. If you can cross Lake Superior on a boisterous weekend, you can cross oceans. The Lake should be a real confidence builder for you.
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Old 29-11-2007, 13:12   #3
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Don’t know much about Lake superior, but I can tell you we have gone from sailing a few times a summer on our trailer boat to sailing a few times a week if we can get away with on San Francisco bay...

The trailer boat was much more of a pain in the *(&% to rig and get going... raising and lowering the mast was just not much fun and always the source of many ugly glance at boat docs by waiting power boaters wondering why were taking so long to launch.

You might want to take a look into some of the new fractional sailing options (fixed costs, nice boats, etc) and scheduled witch lends it self to having some discipline about using it.
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Old 29-11-2007, 13:16   #4
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Some of the best sailors in the world started on the Great Lakes, anyone remember Mike Plant? What about Steve Fossett?
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Old 29-11-2007, 13:45   #5
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YES (more or less).
Not only is “there is a question up there someplace...”; but there’s a couple of good answers.

Small boats provide the most intense learning experience. There’s no quicker way to learn the basics, than Dinghy sailing.

Lake Superior sailing can provide the basis upon which to (spend the rest of a long lifetime) building your cruising & passagemaking skills.
She will test you, and teach you. (unlike most schools; the test usually comes ahead of the lesson)


A trailer-sailor could be regularly used on Lake Minnetonka (et al)
, then trailered up to the Apostles, when time allows. Not a bad compromise, methinks.


Fossett & Plant
Both Great Sailors - But, unfortunately, Both Deceased:

Peggy Fossett, the wife of Steve Fossett, who disappeared while flying his plane in September in Nevada, asked a court Monday to declare him legally dead.
Court papers indicate that he vanished while on a pleasure flight - not while looking for a dry lake to use during a world land speed record attempt as had been reported.
Mike Plant began his sailing career racing X-scows on Lake Minnetonka and later became America’s premier single-handed sailor racing 60-foot open-class yachts around the world. Plant raced Duracell around the world in just under 135 days, setting a new American record, then finished 4Th in the 1992 BOC Challenge (his 3Rd circumnavigation)
Mike was lost at sea, during the 1993 Globe Challenge.
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Old 29-11-2007, 13:59   #6
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YES (more or less).

Small boats provide the most intense learning experience. There’s no quicker way to learn the basics, than Dinghy sailing.
This is true. If you are confidant in you sailing fundamentals and want to learn about world cruising, the maintenance/ technical side can be more easily learned by having a 24-30 foot cruiser. I feel like you could get a trailerable boat that would work for Superior, other lakes, or the sea.

Something like this might work...
1992 Corsair Marine F-24 Mark I sailboat for sale in California
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Old 29-11-2007, 14:16   #7
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Can I learn to sail around the world, on Lake Superior?
I'm in Minneapolis, MN.
I was there 28 years and learned to sail on Lake Minnetonka. You can learn a lot sailing in the midwest as well as the Great Lakes. I would work on the sailing part for now. Sail as much as you can now. I'm not sure you can learn to sail around the world, but you can learn to sail better, faster, farther. After you sail far enough you are almost there and so the last trip gets you back to where you started.

Personally, I would rather sail until I'm eighty something than sail around the world.
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Old 29-11-2007, 14:16   #8
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If you can sail the great lakes you can pretty much sail anywhere. Looked at the weather bouy for Lake Huron recently. On the 28th the wind went from nothing to 30 plus in about 6 hours, the waves went from 2 foot to 10 foot with a very short period. Condo jumping at its best.

NDBC - Station 45008
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Old 29-11-2007, 18:45   #9
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I was there 28 years and learned to sail on Lake Minnetonka. You can learn a lot sailing in the midwest as well as the Great Lakes. I would work on the sailing part for now. Sail as much as you can now. I'm not sure you can learn to sail around the world, but you can learn to sail better, faster, farther. After you sail far enough you are almost there and so the last trip gets you back to where you started.

Personally, I would rather sail until I'm eighty something than sail around the world.
Again Pblias brings up a good point. After 2 circumnavigations I am sitting here in my apartment asking myself the question, "Why???". Nobody cares.... After the 1st time, I guess we felt like, surely we must have missed something. Now looking back, I wish that I would have never left the South Pacific.

The bottom line is, the US has anything and everything that you can find in other countries. As far as pure, beautiful cruising grounds, there is nothing like the So Pac islands in the winter and New Zealand in the summer. There are all the thrills and spills of ocean crossings and nothing is more delightful than finding an island to yourself in Fiji. Best sailing, the most plentiful anchorages in the world and the friendliest people. You just can't beat that combination IMO.
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Old 29-11-2007, 19:17   #10
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I guess what I meant by "Can I learn to sail around the world" was can one learn to sail in most any condition, on most any moderate size sailboat (27'-50'), on Lake Superior. Can one gain the experience and confidence on Lake Superior to handle themselves on the oceans of the world. Or should one save the money, learn the principals soundly of sailing itself with the small boats (dingy etc) and save the cruising aspect (large displacements/different systems) till later.

Sounds like one can.

Thanks all for the advice and keep it coming! Do I see myself sailing around the world some day, I don't know. That's neither here nor there for me, building up the skill sets and confidence to be able to sounds like a fun enough ride (with a few select charters!) for me today.
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Old 29-11-2007, 19:32   #11
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Time on water is a real key. Work it out so you can sail as much as possible.

If Superior is 4 hours away you need to be realistic about how often you will make the trek during the season. If you are commited and get out there most weekends a keelboat on the lake, hauled out in the winter perhaps makes sense.

Are there any rental options or club options? My brother lives in LA and joined a club in San Diego. A similar 3-4 hour drive. He made it out about 6 times in a 12 month period. He tried the stay overnight option as well and that also had drawbacks - i.e. not being home with kids, not getting chores done etc...

He also has a 14 foot dinghy - Force 5. http://www.bosunsupplies.com/Force5B.cfmSet up time is <30 minutes. He sailed the dinghy at least 12 times on the lake that is 20 minutes from his house. It's roomy enough for 2 adults and we've had a kid on the bow in front of the mast.

You might consider buying a trailerable dinghy for those weekday summer evenings and weekends when you can't make the drive.

Then depending on budget get a 24-28 foot keelboat for the big water. Otherwise do the club thing.


My boat is 25 minutes from my house. I am out everyweekend and usually one night per week. I love dinghy sailing and am also trying to figure out how to get the one I want over here.

When we had dirt bikes (in another life) we would go out about once a month as the riding areas were 2+ hours away. It's a big commit to drive 4 hours for an activity.

Just my 2 cents.
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Old 29-11-2007, 22:02   #12
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Marty
I have a 22 foot trailer sailor that we have sailed many areas of the Great Lakes and have had a larger boat in a slip near the Apostle Islands. Here is my take on it. I would recommend a trailer sailor in the 21-23 foot range , about 2000lbs. This keeps the boat light enough for easy trailering and the rig light enough for easy set up. One key to successful trailer sailing is ease of set up and launch. It has to be easy enough so you will use it for just a weekend. We have sailed with people who have Oday and Catalina 25's and while they have more room, they require a more substantial tow vehicle and set up time is harder and longer mainly due to the heavier rig. My wife and I can launch, rig, and head out in 45 minutes. I can't count the number of times we have gone down to Lake Pepin for a weekend or up to the Apostles for a 3 or 4 day weekend. We have also spent many 2-3 week vacations on Superior and Huron and find it quite livable. It's a place to sleep, cook, and get out of the rain. You spend the rest of the time outside, hiking, fishing, campfires on the beach, etc. A well built and equipped 21-23 foot trailer sailor is plenty of boat to sail on the Great Lakes. This was discussed in an earlier thread. There are so many ways the trailer sailer makes sense. You could leave it in a slip for a few weeks on Superior during the best month or Lake Pepin in the fall. On of my favorite tricks is to trailer to Thunder Bay and sail the Canadian North Shore with the prevailing winds at my back, all the way to the Slate Islands. A short hop to the launch ramp at Rossport where I pick up the Greyhound that takes me to windward back to Thunder Bay to get the truck and trailer.

I found that after my first trip to Superior the smaller inland lakes did not hold much appeal other than daysailing with my 17 footer. Although Lake Pepin, Lake of the Woods, Leech Lake, and Mille Lacs are big enough to offer some adventure. Lake Pepin is with in easy reach of Minneapolis and is a great sailing area with a season extending into late October. Always seem to have wind here and the fall colors are spectacular. If you want to stick to small lakes get a 16-17 foot daysailor. I do enjoy sailing my 17 footer on Calhoun here in the city. Nice thing about the city lakes is the motorboat ban. I never bother with Minnetonka or the St Croix due to the speedboat traffic.

The cons IMO of keeping a larger boat in a slip near the Apostles are: (1) The long 4 hour drive one way. It gets old fast and with the price of gas these days...(2) The high cost of a slip for the short season. (3) The short season. The weather can be iffy up till mid June. One summer there was ice out in the islands on Memorial Day weekend. Many times we would leave Minneapolis with temps in the 80's and as soon as we got withing 10 miles of the Lake it would drop to 55 with rain or fog. You may lose 1/4 to 1/3 of your summer weekends to weather like this. Haul out is late September to mid October. (4) As nice as the Apostle Islands are you are stuck there and there are many nicer places in the Lakes to sail.

I do think the Apostles are a great place get some experience and it may wet your appetite for more adventure.

Where are you at in Minneapolis? I am in Bryn Mawr.
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Old 30-11-2007, 00:22   #13
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Compulsive maths teacher...

Lem me see :-
2 * 4 hours travel = 700miles = $600 * 10 trips = $6,000.

$20k trailer sailer = $5,000 a year.

Total $11k for 20 sailing days = $550 per day.

Fly to Caribbean and charter for a week $600 + $1200 = $1800.

Cost per day $1800 / 5 = $360 per day.

Number of charters = cost of owning trailer sailer / cost of weeks charter = $11,000 / $1,800 = 6

That is, you could save every spare day, charter in the Caribbean at every oportunity and still come out cheaper than limited use of a trailer sailer.

Numbers will need adjustment but do you get my drift?

Sorry. Retired maths teacher. Can't help myself.
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Old 30-11-2007, 01:43   #14
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Please don't do math to describe the daily cost of sailng. Especially where my wife might see it - LOL.

In flying we have the $100 hamburger. i.e. fly to a destination with 4 people, have lunch and fly back. It works out to about $100 for each person's hamburger. We don't do this to save money - LOL

I do have a nit with the first part of the equation.

2 * 4 hours * 70mph = 560 miles / 25 MPG = 22.4 gal * $3.30/gal = $74 bucks per trip + car wear and tear...

And to be fair you can only count the cost of depreciation + maintenance on the trailer sailer. i.e. cost to buy - sell price + maintenance / number of outings maybe more like

20k - 18k = $2000 + ($500/yr * 5 yrs) = $4500 / 50 trips over 5 years = $90 per trip

$90 + $74

So it's about $164 a trip to sail. And it could be lower on those multi day trips as you get to take out the gas money.

So if chartering is $200 (and you still have to drive there) owning makes sense. I could be a little low on the maintenance.
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Old 30-11-2007, 04:31   #15
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After 2 circumnavigations I am sitting here in my apartment asking myself the question, "Why???". Nobody cares.... After the 1st time, I guess we felt like, surely we must have missed something. Now looking back, I wish that I would have never left the South Pacific.
We had a local man that did it twice solo. I think the first time was when he was 60 and it took him 7 years. He didn't start out to do it but he kept going a little bit more until he was half way. Then he did it again at 80 years old on purpose and it took 9 years. If you decide to do it make sure you take a very long time. There is beauty in most places if you take the time to look. Learn to sail slow.
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