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Looking for a Great Lakes cruise

PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2017 11:02 am
by Shagbark
Anyone ever hear of a cruise in the Great Lakes? The Florida and Texas events are just a bit too far for my comfort to trailer to. Alternatively, if anyone ever does come across one, please report back here. I'm sure some of us Midwesterners would love the opportunity.

Re: Looking for a Great Lakes cruise

PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2017 9:30 pm
by GreenLake
Sometimes, you have to make the opportunity.

Re: Looking for a Great Lakes cruise

PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2017 8:23 am
by FloridaTom
You might try hooking up with these people : ... ation/info

They're actually pretty active up there, with cruises to the North Channel, etc, etc
Some photos of one of their cruises last year : ... _sept2016/

Oh, I see you're in Indiana - I think most of their stuff is along the Canadian border, so maybe too far also - Sorry

Re: Looking for a Great Lakes cruise

PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2017 7:44 pm
by Shagbark
That is a little far, but great boats, though. Thanks for the link.

Re: Looking for a Great Lakes cruise

PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2017 8:00 pm
by Shagbark

I agree that sometimes you just have to make your own opportunities. The problem is that the local waters, especially the southern end of Lake Michigan isn't that conducive to cruising.


I was thinking about a crossing of Lake Michigan from Chicago, Illinois to New Buffalo, Michigan. Approximately 50 miles of steep waves, pop-up storms, biting flies, and 25 miles from shore. Then I got to thinking that there isn't anyone else crazy enough to try a cruise like that!

Re: Looking for a Great Lakes cruise

PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2017 8:22 pm
by Shagbark
...Or is there??? :lol:

Re: Looking for a Great Lakes cruise

PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2017 8:37 pm
by GreenLake
Here are some of the question a relatively sane person might ask you:

What point of sail would you be talking about? Upwind, downwind, reach?

How reliable are the weather forecasts?

Do you have any experience with doing a partial trip, say 10 miles out and then back?

Is it feasible to go the "long" way, that is, along the shore? Would that be a lee shore?

If a storm or strong wind comes up, how does that affect landfall in Buffalo, MI?

What's plan B (for variousl conditions from calm to storm).

Re: Looking for a Great Lakes cruise

PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2017 7:37 pm
by Shagbark
The weather forecast is what makes this trip as an organized cruise impractical. The weather would have to be "just right" to make the trip across the lake possible - something that would not be known until the day before. If the wind is too light or out of the wrong direction, there wouldn't be enough daylight to make it across. Too strong and you risk capsizing 20+ miles from shore. And I have yet to hear of anyone righting the DS, especially while dealing with large waves.

Re: Looking for a Great Lakes cruise

PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2017 5:58 am
by GreenLake
I totally get you with an itinerary that's dependent on the wind being "just right". There are some places I would like to sail to that the winds are good for during the wrong time of year. Either they are too weak to make it past some sheltered places, or too strong and in the wrong direction for other parts.

For your scenario, it looks like a good portion of the year either southerly or northerly wind directions are predominant for stations along the South end of Lake Michigan. Those would allow for a clear reach across. But any waves would come from the side. Certainly better than westerly winds (sailing downwind is best in strong winds, yes, but preferably in flat water, don't you think?). Easterlies would mean beating against wind and waves, and put your goal out of reach.

Now, I would expect a rather regular progression of wind directions as the weather systems pass. If that is so, you might still need to make the call on the day, but you'd have some expectation beforehand whether there's a chance of good winds developing over a given weekend.

Also, I keep coming back to the question: why not sail a triangular course? For example some stop along the shore at a halfway point?

Also, if the winds serve for a reach, those would be better conditions for a test sail, where you sail some distance out, but then turn around without having to beat against the wind in either direction.

My thinking is that you'd want to build from trips you know you can do.

Re: Looking for a Great Lakes cruise

PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 4:24 am
by carl10579
Last summer I could cover 20 miles up and down lake Wallenpaupack in about 5 hours with a nice breeze. If your beating windward or stall out midway you'll be stuck out there overnight. You'd either have to heave too, anchor or keep sailing in the dark. You need lights. You might have to find cover in the "cabin" or under a boom tent. You should beef your Daysailer up with reef points, storm jib, heavy gauge stays, life lines, an outboard motor, tiller tamer. Then good life jackets, provisions, a radio with GPS and lots of other stuff.

Is your boat a DS I or II ? Although I like the DS I better for an all around classic boat I think the DS II is superior for a 50 mile crossing. It has floatation, a raised floor in the cuddy, a nice transom to hang an outboard on (I use a 9.5 Evenrude) and a self bailing cockpit.

30 years ago I would do that trip on a bet. But I agree that you should try a 10 mile out and back just to see. Anyway, the point is to challenge yourself and have fun.

And then you would have to sail back.


Re: Looking for a Great Lakes cruise

PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 10:51 pm
by GreenLake
I'm generally not afraid to be out at night, have done it in a variety of settings (but always in moderate winds). Fitting lights to a DS is not that difficult.
(Look these up in my personal album for a description)

Being able to reef your DS is a must for any type of cruise, I'd say.

I don't have an outboard, only a trolling motor. For my type of sailing, that suits me (I have enough range to get to shore, even if I don't have enough range to go home in one go). 9hp seem overkill for a DS, probably even 4-5 would have plenty oomph. Agree, that it's a good alternative to being stuck out on the open water - however, if you get wind, I'd always plan to sail out of the weather in front of it rather than counting on motoring against.

I have a 40 mile trip I'd like to do sometime, but it's not crossing open water.

People who've crossed oceans in 16' boats had boats that were enclosed (more than a cuddy) and ballasted (keel). There was a Japanese sailor whose boat was/is? at display in San Francisco. 16' or close to it, if I remember. His biggest scare was when the storm punched out one of his windows.

I've sailed both DS I and DSII. Both are capable boats.

Re: Looking for a Great Lakes cruise

PostPosted: Thu Mar 02, 2017 6:23 pm
by Skippa
A few years ago Sail Magazine had an article about a Minnesota sailor that took his DSII to 30 different lakes in the state including a trip to The Apostle Islands on Lake Superior. Being familiar with the area I could see how that was a very do-able trip with good planning, Launch from Little Sand bay and you have several choices of islands or open water. Two of the islands within 10 miles have lighthouses and good options for anchoring or beaching. Open water about 6 miles miles from the launch site to get a dose of true open water sailing nearly unlimited 5 mile jumps from island to island for camping.
I have sailed a 19 foot Mariner in the islands, Sailing the DS is not out of the question for me.

Re: Looking for a Great Lakes cruise

PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2018 9:43 pm
by rrcrazy
I’m a year late on responding to this post. But there are some Great locations on the Great Lakes for Cruising. One that is in my “backyard” so to speak is the Lake Erie Islands. On a good day, South Bass Island is easily reachable from Catawba and East Harbor.

I don’t recommend Sandusky, because on a busy day, the entrance to Sandusky Bay by Cedar Point is treacherous for smaller boats...anything under 20’. Between large speeding yachts and the Jet Express ferry, waves kick to three feet quickly even when the Lake itself is good.

The Western Shore of Lake Michigan also lends itself well to cruising. There are many smaller lakes that empty into Lake Michigan. You generally need to motor in the channels that connect the smaller Lakes to the big water. Many times the smaller lakes have better wind for sailing than the big lake due to differences in water temperature.

I have also sailed in Grand Traverse Bay. There is a small Bay there called Suttons Bay that offered excellent sailing and good access.