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Old 30-04-2013, 08:28   #1
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Great Lakes-Summer SAILING not MOTORING

Wife and I live in Virginia and want to charter in the Great Lakes. Have never sailed the Great Lakes but have chartered in the summers elsewhere and spent too much time MOTORING and not enough SAILING.

I checked Wunderground for historical June-August wind info for Lakes Ontario and Erie and concluded (based on the numbers) that we would probably not have a rail in the water much of the time. However, numbers do lie.

Anybody have a recommendation on where and when in the Great Lakes June-August we might charter for a week and spend most of it sailing rather than motoring? (With whom we might charter would help as well but where and when is most important!)
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Old 30-04-2013, 09:39   #2
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Re: Great Lakes-Summer SAILING not MOTORING

Stay out of the middle of Lake Ontario and rig for downwind crusing spinnaker/light genoas, loose halyards, poled out jibs.

The winds are frequently from WSW to NW here, but you can get onshore winds on either side; as far as I can determine, the Canadian side is breezier. I would pick June: it's cooler and generally windier.

On the other hand, in August you can anchor and swim.

You might want to be aware that the relative orientation of Lakes Erie and Ontario is WSW-ENE more or less and that there is a less dramatic "tornado alley" in SW Ontario. Practically, this means when sailing off the wind on hot, light air days, you look behind you (and listen to WX radio and watch the barometer) for rapidly moving squall lines and thunderstorms. The good news is that they rarely last more than 15-30 minutes and can bring hours of fresh, cool air behind them. The less good news is that they can blow at 60 knots or better, meaning get all sail off and all hatches sealed. The worst wind I've ever experienced in a boat has not been on the Atlantic, but about 10 NM SE of Toronto: 65 knots plus.

However, this is predictable stuff. Get your sailing done in the mornings or even overnight. Light air weather can happen a great deal on hot, summer days here, but it's always cooler on the lakes.
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Old 30-04-2013, 10:19   #3
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Re: Great Lakes-Summer SAILING not MOTORING

I was up in the Kingston area last summer, and they have a pretty consistent seabreeze most afternoons.
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Old 30-04-2013, 13:03   #4
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Overall you will mostly motor and wish for a breeze.

Lots of offshore breezes near major cities in Canada but they soon fade as you move offshore.

No matter Lake Ontario sports some of the best yacht clubs in the world!

Fair Winds
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Old 30-04-2013, 13:24   #5
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I would recommend the North Channel of Lake Huron. One of the best freshwater cruising areas in the world. When I was there for a week the beginning of August there was lots of wind. Of course, if you get a high parked overhead, there won't be much wind. However, there are tons of great anchorages, so you will never need to motor for long if you don't have any wind on some days.

If you are driving, it is a bit further to get to from Virginia. My second choice would be the Thousand Islands near Kingston.

Have fun.
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Old 30-04-2013, 18:31   #6
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+1 on the North Channel. There is a charter company out of Gore Bay. I believe there is one at Little Current.

On the other hand 1000 islands will be easier to get to than either of the above.
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Old 30-04-2013, 18:53   #7
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Re: Great Lakes-Summer SAILING not MOTORING

In the lower lakes(Erie and Ontario)- June and Sept are windier usually, but to try to predict anytime is crazy in the Lakes. Its kind of the neatness, goes from nice, 15K smooth, to flat and stopped, to 'Oh Sh..' all in 3 hours or less at times...
Practically, it usually blows in the morning early, changes around 11 (notice I didn't say how- it just changes), then changes again around 3 (usually picks up, but you never know, if you are close to shore it usually changes direction completely)..

S/V Alchemy has it right with the weather, and being shallow, when those storms come through, it is no joke..

Travelling at night or early AM in July or Aug seems to be best in July/August if its hot..
The Sandusky area in Ohio has a few charter companies and the islands are there, but if you are looking for remoteness, head north (the North Channel, Lake Superior).
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Old 01-05-2013, 19:56   #8
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+1 on North Channel.

Great sailing, and warm water, loads of anchorages.

Distances in the 1,000 Islands are so close, sailing isn't great. Distances in the North Channel are bigger and make for some great sails.

I will be there twice this summer and can't wait!
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Old 01-05-2013, 20:11   #9
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Lake Superior in later August will give you good winds most of the time. June is foggy, July is nice, but mostly light airs -- except when it's blowin like stink. I find off shore (+20 nm) you can usually find good wind. Closer to shore you can work with shore breezes. Chartering opportunities exist around the Apostles out of Bayfield. Perhaps Duluth area as well (not sure about these). Canadian shore is better for good sailing, but if you only have a short time you probably can't make it across the Lake and back.
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Old 02-05-2013, 19:22   #10
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+1 on North Channel.

Great sailing, and warm water, loads of anchorages.

Distances in the 1,000 Islands are so close, sailing isn't great. Distances in the North Channel are bigger and make for some great sails.

I will be there twice this summer and can't wait!
Agree except for the comment about warm water. On the other hand it is exceptionally clear.
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Old 05-05-2013, 03:35   #11
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Re: Great Lakes-Summer SAILING not MOTORING

Here's a link to a charter company located in Gore Bay, Ontario....haven't used them myself, but did purchase supplies there, nice folks.

gore bay canadian yacht charters - Google Search

Great sailing, lots of wind, doesn't get any prettier.

gunk
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Old 05-05-2013, 06:57   #12
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Re: Great Lakes-Summer SAILING not MOTORING

Gunk:
How's the ankle coming along?
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Old 05-05-2013, 11:32   #13
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Re: Great Lakes-Summer SAILING not MOTORING

Gord!!

Thanks for asking. The ankle is coming along...I think the key word here is SLOWLY...probably returned to work too early methinks! It's sore...but doesn't swell as much as it used to, thank goodness. Eight months today! Ladder work really sucks.....so it's been a real struggle working on Kewalo this spring....but I try to carry on as if I'm normal...lol...a lifelong thing you know.

You have certainly been levied with one long winter up there this year, my goodness....snow again on Friday past? Crapola!

Take care my friend, you and the lovely Mrs. are constantly in our thoughts.....when we get back up that way, we'll be hooking up you.

gunk
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Old 24-05-2013, 14:12   #14
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I thank the OP for this idea. I live in Colorado and until I retire and can live on a boat I'm always looking for good bareboat charter vacation spots. I would be sailing the first week of September FYI. I like to do 9 nights or so. I would also be interested in reputable charter companies as is the OP. My last charter in the Grenadines was super sketchy.... From reading others' comments here, Gore Bay looks right up my alley. I'd also be curious if there is anything specific about chartering in Canada that a typical American wouldn't know. I have sailed in the Gulf Islands but I chartered from Anacortes Yacht Charters in the states. They were awesome by the way. Thank you for any additional ideas you all may have.
Shelly
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Old 24-05-2013, 14:29   #15
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Re: Great Lakes-Summer SAILING not MOTORING

Quote:
Originally Posted by ssn View Post
I thank the OP for this idea. I live in Colorado and until I retire and can live on a boat I'm always looking for good bareboat charter vacation spots. I would be sailing the first week of September FYI. I like to do 9 nights or so. I would also be interested in reputable charter companies as is the OP. My last charter in the Grenadines was super sketchy.... From reading others' comments here, Gore Bay looks right up my alley. I'd also be curious if there is anything specific about chartering in Canada that a typical American wouldn't know. I have sailed in the Gulf Islands but I chartered from Anacortes Yacht Charters in the states. They were awesome by the way. Thank you for any additional ideas you all may have.
Shelly
Hi Shelly, I used to sail in the North Channel. We ran into a lot of Canadian Yacht Charters boats. Never heard anything bad about the company, although I didn't have any direct experience with them either. The North Channel is a wonderful cruising ground. Lots of anchorages, and by September the crowds have started to dwindle.

You should also consider the charter opportunities out of Bayfield, WI. Lake Superior can be beautiful in September.

As for advice: leave your guns at home, and always say you're sorry ... even when you're not. It's the Canadian way .
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