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Old 07-06-2013, 12:23   #1
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First Great Lakes Trip

Having just bought a boat located in Bayfield Wi on Lake Superior, I am planning to sail her across the Great Lakes in early July to Buffalo, NY, have the stick pulled and then through the Erie Canal and down the Hudson, destination Norwalk, Ct on the Long Island Sound.

I have many years experience aboard all types of boats, mostly around LI Sound, Block Island Sound, etc. Am looking for any words of wisdom/things I might not be thinking about, but should.

Many thanks.
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Old 07-06-2013, 12:45   #2
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Re: First Great Lakes Trip

Hi diapason, congrats on the new boat. What is it? We purchased our current boat from La Pointe, WI -- just across from Bayfield.

Is this a delivery, or are you wanting to explore? If the former, there's some amazing places along the north and eastern shores of Lake Superior (which is my prime cruising grounds). Happy to share some of my favourites. The North Channel is also a great place to dally, as is Georgian Bay.
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Old 07-06-2013, 14:05   #3
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Re: First Great Lakes Trip

Mike,

Many thanks. She's a Tayana. I sailed past La Pointe last August a few times while I was aboard with the previous owner (on the way to Stockton Island and back, and while going between Madeline and Long Islands) . You've got some beautiful cruising grounds.Would love to explore, but, unfortunately, it's a delivery and I'll need to make it a quick trip back. I have a week to get to Buffalo.
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Old 07-06-2013, 17:01   #4
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Re: First Great Lakes Trip

Ah ... too bad. You'll have to plan to come back up our way. Your new boat is meant for the big water. It would do well on Superior.

A week is very tight for a time for a run to Buffalo. I assume you've got a good crew. You're gonna have to be doing overnighters through Superior and Huron. The Canadian St. Mary's locks are probably going to be faster than the US locks. I assume you're going through the St. Clair river/lake and doing the Welland. The Trent would take too long (and you're probably too draughty anyway).

I dunno ... I would not plan for a week. If everything goes perfectly it may be possible, but it doesn't leave much wiggle room. Great Lake weather moves fast. If something nasty moves in you could easily lose a day or so. I'd suggest giving yourself more time.
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Old 07-06-2013, 18:10   #5
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Re: First Great Lakes Trip

Uhh, why would he go through the Welland if he's entering the Canal at Buffalo?

Still, a week is pushing the time..As Mike says, the weather can turn and the Lakes can be 'angry' very fast. Steep, short waves, very changeable conditions in a heart beat, and sometimes no place to run to that's close/protected.
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Old 07-06-2013, 18:18   #6
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Sound fun. Can one sail the boat upstream?
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Old 07-06-2013, 18:25   #7
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Re: First Great Lakes Trip

Thanks, very helpful. Sounds like my time line is a bit unrealistic. Looks like my limited pre-voyage chart work needs a bit more thought.
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Old 07-06-2013, 19:40   #8
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Re: First Great Lakes Trip

Quote:
Originally Posted by RicknSue View Post
Uhh, why would he go through the Welland if he's entering the Canal at Buffalo?

Still, a week is pushing the time..As Mike says, the weather can turn and the Lakes can be 'angry' very fast. Steep, short waves, very changeable conditions in a heart beat, and sometimes no place to run to that's close/protected.
Opps ... my poor Canadian geography. No Welland, of course. I was thinking of my pending journey. Still pretty tight, as you say.
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Old 07-06-2013, 22:09   #9
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We are making the same trip now from Duluth. In Munising, MI. We are cruising, not delivering, and we have some passengers to juggle. Taking our sweet time.

Making the trip too quickly might be tempting fate. You do need to be careful with the weather. Lake Superior is a graveyard for many who did not pay it the proper respect. We have not seen any other sailboats on the open lake in our travels this year.

July is probably more realistic because the weather is more settled. I recommend you make good use passageweather.com. Be ready for fog and freighters. Stay out of the shipping lanes. Dress warm. Bring parts becuase here are no place to buy them after you leave the Apostles.

You are welcome to contact me if you have questions about specific harbors. We are visiting most along the south shore. You might also talk to fellow cruiserforum member LakeSuperior. He has a lot of experience on the south shore.

Ask locals before going to any marginal harbors. Many need dredging.We were surprised to find some closed to our 5ft when marked much deeper in the charts. But be warned, we have also found some of the local reports about the next harbor dangerously innaccurate. Most boaters on Lake Superior do not stray far from their local harbors. Use your judgement.
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Old 08-06-2013, 08:47   #10
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Re: First Great Lakes Trip

I don't know if your engine has been inspected or has been customarily run for long stretches, but I would purchase spares and particularly filters for this trip. I think two weeks is fairly optimistic. The warning about low water is excellent...I would assume that chart datum low water is only holding after a few days of rain on Huron in particular. You may wish to rethink the Erie Canal portion as it may in fact be faster to keep the stick in, go through the Welland Canal, and then sail the south shore of Ontario to Oswego, and then "down the stairs" to Albany.

Good luck with this. If you can get sufficient crew to "keep on keeping on", you will do much better than simply heaving to or anchoring every evening. Lastly, Superior and the upper reaches of Huron are neither benign nor well populated. You should seriously consider getting an EPIRB and filing sail plans with USCG or CCG as pertains.

Several cruisers local to Superior have offered advice here. I would graciously accept it, as my strong impression is that one is essentially "on his own" there most places, and you'd better have a Plan B.
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Old 09-06-2013, 20:56   #11
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Re: First Great Lakes Trip

Water Level Station Monitoring
This might help with water levels. This is what we freighters use to keep an eye on things.
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Old 09-06-2013, 21:31   #12
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Re: First Great Lakes Trip

If I remember my French correctly, "Diapason" means a tuning fork; like the one used by doctors to check your hearing. It's refers to a "precision instrument" ...just in case you didn't know!

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Old 11-06-2013, 05:42   #13
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Re: First Great Lakes Trip

Teknav,

You are correct, Diapason is French for tuning fork. Without getting too philosophical, it was the name of my first boat and had something to do with getting in tune by getting out there with the wind in my face etc.

Thanks to all for the comments. The engine has been run for long periods, is being thoroughly gone over and I will be carrying spares. I'll also be carrying an epirb (and likely immersion suits as I don't have a liferaft and those lake waters are cold !!!!).
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