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Old 15-07-2014, 13:09   #16
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Re: Is there a "Best" time of the Year to Cross?

I gotta admit, I am absolutely amazed at this question.

Why? 'Cuz, for example, I have a friend in Chicago who I talked to just the other day. He'd sent me a photo of his weekend event at an outdoor concert. He & his wife decided to stay 'cuz his cell hone (#@#%$*) told him that the thunderstorm cells were going to move just north of the venue.

This OP lives in WI. Unless he's only thirteen years old, weather had been around him for a loooong time.

The old SDT formulas work, too.

I used to have a Catalina 25 (12 years) and sailed it down the California coast to Monterey (60 nm south of the Golden Gate).

I still have no idea why folks tend to answer these "why (or how) did the chicken cross the road?" questions with such serious replies.

I understand wanting to share safety issues, but weather on Lake Michigan? C'mon, I live in California, and it doesn't take me but a minute to get the forecasts for anywhere in the world these days, and all i have is a laptop, my old cell phone is the original rotary dial model!!!
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Old 15-07-2014, 13:15   #17
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Re: Is there a "Best" time of the Year to Cross?

A64pilot, honestly the Great Lakes can be some of the hardest sailing out there. If wind kicks to 15+knots you are looking at 4-6' waves with a 2 second interval. You don't clear 1 before hit by the next. They bounce and return off break walls then you have 6' waves from 2 or more directions. I was out in 6-8' waves one time and it was horrible. Ocean sailing you can ride up and down the waves with a much longer period between them. Here they'll beat you to death in a hurry. Lake Michigan can have 12-15' quite regularly with I believe a record of close to 23' a few years back. Late fall is when it's usually the worst.

These waters sink freighters so a 25' sailboat is just a toy.

http://michpics.wordpress.com/2012/1...e-great-lakes/

It's worth the time to google and understand.
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Old 15-07-2014, 13:29   #18
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Re: Is there a "Best" time of the Year to Cross?

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
70 miles, really? Isn't that one day during daylight, easy? Got to be what 16 hours of daylight up there this time of year? Leave a hour or two before sunrise and eat lunch on arrival. Plan to sail of course, but be prepared to motor the entire way, just in case you have to.

I've never sailed the Great Lakes, but can they be that much worse than say the Atlantic?

I'm a newbie sailor too and the family and I just came off of 600 miles in two weeks and a lot of vacation time, swimming etc in that. I am in a bigger boat admittedly.

One special reason the Great Lakes are worse than the Atlantic is there is always a lee shore.
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Old 15-07-2014, 13:51   #19
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Re: Is there a "Best" time of the Year to Cross?

Go sailing all day every Saturday all summer long, rain shine wind or calm. After a few storms, waves, and rain in sight of tve harbour you will know how to handle most of what shows up. Crewing on a racing boat will start to get you there too.
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Old 15-07-2014, 13:56   #20
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Re: Is there a "Best" time of the Year to Cross?

Only someone with no real sailing experience on the Great Lakes could discount the seriousness of a lake crossing. Ask Ted Turner after the 1970 Chicago-Mac race who called Lake Michigan a "mill pond" and promptly ate his words as his sails on his 12 meter American Eagle were shredded in a unpredicted gale and nearly half the boats who started the race dropped out. The Great Lakes are a serious body of water and the number of deaths in the Chicago to Mac Race, as recently as 2011, are moving testimony. God . . . I love armchair sailors. Good luck and good sailing. P.S. I'd say jump in the water . . .but its too damn cold!
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Old 15-07-2014, 16:31   #21
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Re: Is there a "Best" time of the Year to Cross?

Geez guys, ALL bodies of water have to be taken seriously, people die in fish ponds, We have Thunderstorms here as well, we went through an enormous one 40 miles or so out of Clearwater a couple of weeks ago, really it was the lightning that worried me the most. Wx has to be taken seriously.
How often do you guys have early morning un-forecasted Thunderstorms? Yeah, it almost never happens here either. afternoon Thunderstorms due to atmospheric heating, yes, but early morning? Why I said leave a couple of hours before sun up and eat lunch at the destination.
70 miles?
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Old 15-07-2014, 17:42   #22
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Re: Is there a "Best" time of the Year to Cross?

I guess you just need to experience it to appreciate it. Today 15-18 kts and we have 3-6 footers. Photos don't do it justice as usual in any photo but you can see how close the waves roll in.

Most bodies of water aren't prone to seiches but these are. It's a pretty neat phenomenon.
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Old 15-07-2014, 18:10   #23
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Re: Is there a "Best" time of the Year to Cross?

sailcruiser...agreed, although if you have never been here, you may think that pic is close to shore (so like ocean surf)...not out in the lake...

a64pilot- that wave separation in sailcruisers pic could be 25 miles from shore, its not a joke...and its not just the storms, its the wind changes and how the lake(s) react to it....the ocean gets a storm, then its gone (talking about a localized t-storm)..the lakes tend to slosh the water around for a while and can spin up from flat to 6 footers in a blink..

waterspouts are always fun too..
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Old 15-07-2014, 18:27   #24
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Re: Is there a "Best" time of the Year to Cross?

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sailcruiser...agreed, although if you have never been here, you may think that pic is close to shore (so like ocean surf)...not out in the lake...

a64pilot- that wave separation in sailcruisers pic could be 25 miles from shore, its not a joke...and its not just the storms, its the wind changes and how the lake(s) react to it....the ocean gets a storm, then its gone (talking about a localized t-storm)..the lakes tend to slosh the water around for a while and can spin up from flat to 6 footers in a blink..

waterspouts are always fun too..

Yes and it happens that quick. We are expecting waterspouts tonight and tomorrow. Neat as long as you don't find one offshore. I've crossed 65 mi in glassy awesome water skier conditions and I've been caught with much worse than my photos above. Neither is fun and the black flies on calm days are miserable. I'll take them to getting my teeth pounded out any day.
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Old 21-07-2014, 17:13   #25
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Re: Is there a "Best" time of the Year to Cross?

Saturday night, 7/19/14, would have been a perfect crossing. South/Southwest winds 10-20, seas 2-3 feet with a late morning early afternoon arrival. The return would be dicey since a strong cold front is approaching late Monday/Tuesday. . . hence the inadvisability of a 5 day/week window.
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Old 24-07-2014, 12:22   #26
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Re: Is there a "Best" time of the Year to Cross?

I grew up in Muskegon and have crossed the wide part of the lake most of the past 7 years. Generally speaking, late July to early September is dominated by southwesterly winds, so crossing east to west means lots of tacking or waiting for the wind to move north or south. And crossing west to east may take a while if the winds are gentle and you avoid motoring. T-storms are an issue, as well - we generally don't go or try to get across by mid-afternoon if there's any chance of them happening. While north or south winds are ideal, you don't want them sweeping in right after a front moves through and they have the entire fetch of the open lake to build waves you don't want to encounter, not to mention being broadside to them. The bottom line is that patience is rewarded, but the smaller the round-trip window, the more likely adverse winds/waves. The glorious crossings have been after a modest front moves through, winds are generally from the S or N, and the waves haven't built to 3' yet.
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Old 24-07-2014, 12:39   #27
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Re: Is there a "Best" time of the Year to Cross?

I though mid winter would be good!

No waves at all
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Old 24-07-2014, 13:41   #28
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Re: Is there a "Best" time of the Year to Cross?

"September is dominated by southwesterly winds, so crossing east to west means lots of tacking or waiting for the wind to move north or south'' SoChi34

If you have a spinnaker, a SW wind is ideal for a W/E crossing with no tacking/jibing involved. It's a nice downhill run across the lake. Good luck and good sailing.
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Old 18-08-2014, 18:48   #29
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Re: Is there a "Best" time of the Year to Cross?

Thanks to all who replied. As for the difference between the lakes and an ocean...there is a BIG difference. The waves will eat your lunch out there on the lake. The word "lake" is misleading. Between work schedules and the end of the season approaching I decided to wait till next year and maybe take a two week window. As far as this year, I have been out sailing every weekend except one this year. Trying to go out in all sorts of weather and wind including gusts and stronger wind. Learning how to handle the boat and gaining confidence all summer. Most weekends being able to spend 2 to 3 nights out on the boat at the marina and being anchored. Been out on the big lake a number of times, a few miles out. Its great! I'm hooked and the wife is starting to come around, shes the one that already has the 2 foot bigger syndrome . I did encountered a hoard of black flies, they where fun for awhile trying to see how many I could kill but the fun gets old fast after they start getting some bites in...Again thanks for the input!!
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Old 24-09-2014, 10:13   #30
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Re: Is there a "Best" time of the Year to Cross?

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Thanks to all who replied. As for the difference between the lakes and an ocean...there is a BIG difference. The waves will eat your lunch out there on the lake. The word "lake" is misleading. Between work schedules and the end of the season approaching I decided to wait till next year and maybe take a two week window. As far as this year, I have been out sailing every weekend except one this year. Trying to go out in all sorts of weather and wind including gusts and stronger wind. Learning how to handle the boat and gaining confidence all summer. Most weekends being able to spend 2 to 3 nights out on the boat at the marina and being anchored. Been out on the big lake a number of times, a few miles out. Its great! I'm hooked and the wife is starting to come around, shes the one that already has the 2 foot bigger syndrome . I did encountered a hoard of black flies, they where fun for awhile trying to see how many I could kill but the fun gets old fast after they start getting some bites in...Again thanks for the input!!
I'm a little late to this thread but I noticed that you really didn't get an answer to your question. For all the reasons already listed there isn't a "best" time. Some are better than others but LM tends to be bad early May through early June and again after mid-September.

We normally cross to your side of the pond near the end of June and again in early September. We also have the 5 kt rule. If sustained winds don't keep us moving at 5 kts or more, we motor sail. Make sure that you have enough fuel aboard to motor the whole way.

I want to make sure that you understand that the WI / IL side of LM does not have the anchor/mooring opportunities you enjoy on the MI side. It's nothing but marinas over here and they aren't located every 15 miles or so.

Scattered summer storms tend to pop up out of nowhere in central WI and race east during August & September if there is a hot humid air mass over the state. We don't have any protected waters to hide in if you're between ports.

And finally, I will also warn you that sailing to a schedule is the greatest safety threat you will face. A 25 footer is kinda small for a Lake crossing, especially if you are doing it just so you can say that you did it.

Stay safe!
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