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Old 25-01-2015, 07:03   #1
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Two weeks on the Great Lakes in June - suggestions?

Hi guys!

After weeks of checking out the forum and scouring the internet, I'm slightly overwhelmed by the amount of information and would really appreciate some advice.

My uncle and I have always had a goal of 'sailing the Great Lakes', and for his 50th a few weeks ago, we decided that this year is the year. Now comes the slightly more difficult part: his best friend and I are trying to figure out which route to take, whether a return trip or point to point is best, and how to find a yacht to suit.

A quick bit of background: All three of us are between 35-50, have been sailing together since we were young and are competent sailors. Our last trip was two weeks sailing the great barrier reef on a 45' Bavaria. We have experience in both inland waters and coastal sailing, and have owned a variety of boats over the years.

The variables are as follows:

Time - our time window starts on the 7th or 8th June for about 2 weeks. We could start a few days earlier, but need to be home by the end of June.

Vessel - quality 40' to 50' sailing yacht. Less than 10 years old and in good condition.

Route - This is where it becomes difficult. I've read great accounts of the North Channel, the top half of Lake Michigan, the western side of Lake Huron (Saginaw to Mackinaw City), and also the Thousand Islands near Kingston on Lake Ontario - all have rave reviews. Have also found conflicting info about winds being calm in summer to the point where you do a lot of motoring, but also that the wind on eastern side of Lake Huron can get pretty interesting pretty quickly.

We really enjoy pottering around lots of little islands, rather than the long haul stretches (although transit days are fine). We are also fans of pulling into little ports along the way (a nice cooked dinner is preferable to what we're able to conjure up on the boat). Hot showers and friendly locals (although not at the same time) are definitely a plus

This is hopefully where you guys come in. Can anyone recommend a route that takes the above into account (beautiful scenery, island hopping, ports, 2ish weeks mid June)? Point-to-point (i.e. one-way) is fine if there is a yacht charter that offers this service.

Contact details for reputable yacht charter companies you know who might be able to help would also be very much appreciated.

Any other local (or other) tips & advice would be great.

Thank you very very much in advance guys! Really looking forward to the trip!

Michael

PS> I'm located in Australia, and my uncle is in Germany, so it may take a day or so for a response from us given the time difference, but we will definitely be active in this thread
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Old 25-01-2015, 07:16   #2
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Re: Two weeks on the Great Lakes in June - suggestions?

You can't do any of it justice in two weeks. Having said that The North Chanel of Georgian Bay Lake Huron is probably your best bet Charter out of Gore Bay on Manitoulin Island. Water will be cold and the bugs bad though. Lots of small and not so small towns and anchorages and probably not so many other boats about. 4 or 5 hours sailing should get you into a new one. usually wind at that time of year. Hope this helps.
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Old 25-01-2015, 07:19   #3
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Re: Two weeks on the Great Lakes in June - suggestions?

For your time frame, Can't go wrong with the Thousand Islands area.
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Old 25-01-2015, 07:48   #4
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Re: Two weeks on the Great Lakes in June - suggestions?

Be aware water and air will still be very cool in the beginning of June in northern great lakes.
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Old 25-01-2015, 08:01   #5
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Re: Two weeks on the Great Lakes in June - suggestions?

You can't go wrong in the North Channel. It's incredibly beautiful. The water will be cool and there will be a chill in the air, especially at night (in the 40s is possible).

Another option is the Traverse City area. You can charter a boat from Baybreeze in TC (you can fly into and out of TC too). Then head to a few islands in the bay. It's a nice ride up to Charlevoix, then Harbor Springs which are fantastic little towns with great sailing and excellent marinas. There are islands in Grand Traverse Bay and also off the north west shore of Michigan. All are within a days sail of Harbor Springs. If time permits you an even make it to Mack Island. It's always fun to sail under the mighty mackinac bridge. This area will be a bit warmer than the North Channel and have better facilities.

Hope this helps.
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Old 25-01-2015, 08:28   #6
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Re: Two weeks on the Great Lakes in June - suggestions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AussieSailor View Post
Hi guys!

AThe variables are as follows:

Time - our time window starts on the 7th or 8th June for about 2 weeks. We could start a few days earlier, but need to be home by the end of June.
The North Channel in Lake Huron is arguable some of the finest summer cruising grounds in North America. Good selection!!

But...you are planning to start your trip way too early.

For one, June month probably has the least amount of wind. OK not so bad.

But, last year there was still significant amounts of ice on Lake Superior during the 2nd week in June. Ask me how I know.

Lake Huron thaws a little earlier than Superior but it is still bitter cold in the cockpit of a sailboat in the North Channel.

Taking a look at last year the surface water temp near the North Channel was near 2 C on June 9, 2014 http://www.coastwatch.msu.edu/huron/...n09_230EDT.gif

This means the air temp will be around 5 C on the water. There is an upside, there will be no mosquitos or black flies off the land.

My recommendation is later July or August/September for your trip. The weather then is spectacular and you can do a fair amount of swimming also. More wind in August and September.
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Old 25-01-2015, 08:35   #7
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Re: Two weeks on the Great Lakes in June - suggestions?

I'd also recommend the North Channel. Charter out of Gore Bay with Canadian Yacht Charters. This puts you right in the centre of a huge number of remote anchorages, and within reach of a number of communities. As others have said, the water will still be pretty cool, but this means the anchorages won't be very busy. Things can get very busy in July to mid-August.

If you're looking for a bit more urban exposure you could cruise the Georgian Bay eastern shore. From Parry Sound to Killarney, there are tons of great anchorages and lots of communities to explore. Not sure about charter companies there, but there must be some.

A third, slightly more adventurous option could be the Apostle Islands on southern Lake Superior. It's an island archipelago that is a wonder to explore. There are a few towns within easy sailing. Again, you'll be ahead of the crowds, although Superior will be cold, and you'll have fog. Talk to Superior Charters.

I've heard that the 1000 Islands is great, but I have yet to experience them (this year!). And the waters of Lake Michigan remain a mystery to me.
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Old 25-01-2015, 09:23   #8
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Re: Two weeks on the Great Lakes in June - suggestions?

I'll put another vote in for the Traverse Bay Area, 2 weeks gives you time to explore many fine harbors in the area with option of land-based excursions as well. Bay Breeze is a good charter company in the area. Their website has several itineraries you can peruse.

But as stated, the water will be cold. The air maybe, maybe not. The last of the ice melted last year at the very end of May. Wind will be all over the place and will depend on any fronts, storms, or persistent ridges if there is an early season heat wave.


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Old 25-01-2015, 09:28   #9
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Re: Two weeks on the Great Lakes in June - suggestions?

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Michael.
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Old 25-01-2015, 09:39   #10
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Re: Two weeks on the Great Lakes in June - suggestions?

Significantly opposing sailing experiences, eastern Lake Michigan versus the North Channel, Lake Huron.

North Channel - 100's of protected anchorages, can get solitude, semi-wilderness setting, spectacular wilderness scenery, quaint small towns, few marinas.

Northeastern Lake Michigan - typically open water lee shore feel, relatively few protected anchorages, marina to marina sailing, way populated, tourist towns, wall to wall cottages on the shorelines.
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Old 25-01-2015, 09:51   #11
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Re: Two weeks on the Great Lakes in June - suggestions?

saugatuck mi was a great time during the 4th of july

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Old 25-01-2015, 10:11   #12
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Re: Two weeks on the Great Lakes in June - suggestions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by toddedger View Post
Be aware water and air will still be very cool in the beginning of June in northern great lakes.
But in June, they will be able to experience the exquisitely unique overlap of the Mayfly with the Blackfly seasons. Certainly a bit of cold air and just-melted water is worth that?

Besides, a 6" covering of dead mayflies on deck insulates the boat, and one stays very warm slapping blackflies all day. If you miss a few, the sheet of blood covering your limbs keeps you warm for a while...

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Old 25-01-2015, 10:38   #13
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Re: Two weeks on the Great Lakes in June - suggestions?

LS's caution regarding cold should definitely be headed. I've sailed the Apostles and the North Channel as early as May, but there have been some seasons where ice is still present well into June. Either way, it will be cool. Cold water means cold cabins. If weather turns ugly you'll be cold and wet.

Not trying to dissuade you, but do keep an eye on the weather over here. So far the winter hasn't been too harsh, but if we get a sustained cold snap late in the season we could build ice fast. Either way, water will still be cold.

Check out:
Great Lakes Average GLSEA Surface Water Temperature
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Old 25-01-2015, 10:52   #14
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Re: Two weeks on the Great Lakes in June - suggestions?

Gore Bay charter fleet is extensive and relatively new (and kept new) and up to 50+ feet. The anchorages are all only a couple hours away. If I were going that early in the season, I'll take the north channel. Close to amenities or protection when it's too cold, and wilderness and solitude less than an hour away.


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Old 25-01-2015, 11:00   #15
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Re: Two weeks on the Great Lakes in June - suggestions?

Hi
I spend most of my time boating in the Thousand Islands. A 40-50' sailboat would limit your access to some places around the islands, expect to do lots of motor sailing.

Average boat size is 30-35' for locals who sail the islands. I have seen larger but they head out to St Lawrence and sail Lake Ontario.
Weather in June is quite nice here, I usually have my boat in by second week April.

If you want to boat the Thousand Islands I would recommend power not sail. It can be done with sail, but limits your mooring possibilities.

Since you want to sail I to would recommend North Channel but again might be to early in the season.

Another option is charter out of Kingston Ontario, Sail west to Waupoos in Prince Edward County and stop by for a wine tour.

If you are interested in the Thousand Island / Kingston area feel free to pm me with questions.
Rob
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