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Old 04-08-2008, 09:23   #1
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Duluth to Two Harbors ?

New to Lake Superior sailing. So far we've just gone out and sailed close to Duluth Harbor. We'd like to sail to Two Harbors and then back. Has anyone done this? Is this easily doable in a day (assuming there's wind) or is it an overnighter? How is the commercial traffic? How far off shore is the best wind and least traffic? Any comments and suggestions would eb appreciated. Thanks!


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Old 04-08-2008, 11:14   #2
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I would think in the summer with lots of extra daylight the trip is doable in a day. A very long one at that and it needs to be the right day with good wind all day.

But for you it's not doable should you get some "weather". It tends to mean you have to pick the weather window and be ready to cancel or lay over if things don't look perfect to come back the next day. Coming back is the hard part as the pressure to get back tends to make you think you can do more than you can. I'm sure you understand what is in between Duluth and Two Harbors so it's not like a lot of places to hole up if required. You pretty much need to go all the way in one shot. You also don't have a lot to look forward to if you end up in the water.

I would do the numbers on fuel so you could complete a trip most of the way under power if you had to. In rough weather the outboard engine could be a problem keeping it from being totally submerged. Going a great distance off shore adds to the distance. Being pinned against the lea shore would be disastrous in any thing worse than not such a nice day. If it got really bad I'm sure they would find the boat but it might be empty. The boat is clearly more than able if you use it properly.

If all you have done is sail close to the harbor day sails then you might want to spend a summer just getting better. You'll need to come to terms with a lot contingencies as well as planning for some support if for nothing else to provide communications and weather information along the trip.

Getting more experience wouldn't be a bad idea and trying something a little shorter for a dry run would be a good idea too. I would try some very short out and overnight then back trips just as a way to shake things down. Might all be fun too. The kicker to all this is Superior can make it's own weather and weather reports are not like they are in the Cities. In the 28 years I did hiking and canoe trips to the north shore I never found the weather predictions that great, but on the right day it could be a lot of fun.

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Old 04-08-2008, 22:20   #3
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Off the top of my head I think the distance is about 30 miles on a NE heading. You do have one place at Knife River as a stopping point maybe 10 miles before Two Harbors. It is an overnighter for your small boat. Chances are you may have a beat on the way back. This is one trip where you want to pick a good weather window wind direction wise. Anything out of the west thru south will make getting back to Duluth a long day. A NW wind for a few days would be ideal coming off the shore keeping the waves down and a nice beam reach there and back. A SE wind would also give you a beam reach there and back with a bit bigger waves on a lee shore so stay out a bit further. East and NE can bring some good size waves due to the long fetch. The whole Minnesota shore is very rugged and rocky with few places of refuge so it is critical to watch the weather. Commercial traffic should not be a problem. Depending on wind direction I would stay 1 to 4 miles offshore. To tell the truth it is not a great shore for sailing due to its orientation, ruggedness, and predominate wind direction. I don't mean to "scare" you off but there are better places to get some experience. If you have a trailer you are only 60 miles from the Apostle Islands. Otherwise watch the weather, use your common sense and your trip to Two harbors should be fun.
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Old 07-08-2008, 08:18   #4
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Thank you Steve, that's exactly the information I was looking for. We definitely need more time onboard before taking on a trip that distance. Good advice Paul, thank you as well.

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Old 08-08-2008, 04:38   #5
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Steve & Paul have given you some good advice.

Knife River (Lat 46º 56.65 N x Lon 91º 46.66 W) is about 18.5 miles from the Duluth Harbor Entry, and has an excellent new marina.

Two Harbors (Lat 47º 0.61 Lon 91º 40.41) is about 25.5 Miles from the Duluth Harbor Entry, and doesn’t have much to recommend it (that I recall).

Given our long Superior summer days, and prevailing Westerlies, either should be a doable daysail (<7 hrs to KR, or <10 hrs to TH). The trip home (SW) might take as much as 50% longer than the trip out (NE).
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