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Dan33

The Great "Lakes"

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Will have to check that out once I get home from the Gulag.

 

I will say that on Monday, Lake Superior was glass.

 

Before getting our boat on the Great Lakes, we would visit the North Shore at least twice a year. Rarely did we witness calm conditions. Usually it was pretty rolly and choppy. With our impending arrival to Superior, we would go down to the shore and just shake our heads at the rollers coming in and breaking against the rocks. More than once we've witnessed huge seas breaking against the shoreline and splashing up on HWY 61. Hell, even standing by the entrance to the lift bridge, the swells looked intimidating.

 

I can't say we've totally lost our Great Lakes virginity, but at least based on our benign little adventure this weekend it seemed less intimidating.

 

I think the biggest challenge is how quickly it can change. Note the thread about the poor 9 y.o. kid who died from a lightning strike. 2 hours before that, it was sunny, warm, calm. And for the 80% of the time it's pleasant, the other 20% is pure hell.

 

duluth_waves8.jpg

 

duluth_waves6.jpg

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I think the biggest challenge is how quickly it can change. Note the thread about the poor 9 y.o. kid who died from a lightning strike. 2 hours before that, it was sunny, warm, calm. And for the 80% of the time it's pleasant, the other 20% is pure hell.

 

 

Whenever I deliver boats up and down the Lake (Michigan), seems like it's always 65% fun, 15% boredom and 20% sheer terror.

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I think the biggest challenge is how quickly it can change. Note the thread about the poor 9 y.o. kid who died from a lightning strike. 2 hours before that, it was sunny, warm, calm. And for the 80% of the time it's pleasant, the other 20% is pure hell.

 

 

Whenever I deliver boats up and down the Lake (Michigan), seems like it's always 65% fun, 15% boredom and 20% sheer terror.

 

Friend of mine sailed in Chi Mac race. That was pretty much her account. At one point they had been screaming along and the wind sorta died, but the lake was still a mess. Their J80 was getting tossed all over the place. On top of that, they were flying a chute. Suddenly the wind picked up again and laid them sideways. She said all she could remember was being absolutely paralyzed. She could hear the crew yelling at her to blow the chute, but she was completely frozen and clingling to the mast.

 

And this girl was one of those tough-as-nails chicks who you wouldn't in your wildest dreams imagine cowering. But she did.

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Friend of mine sailed in Chi Mac race. That was pretty much her account. At one point they had been screaming along and the wind sorta died, but the lake was still a mess. Their J80 was getting tossed all over the place. On top of that, they were flying a chute. Suddenly the wind picked up again and laid them sideways. She said all she could remember was being absolutely paralyzed. She could hear the crew yelling at her to blow the chute, but she was completely frozen and clingling to the mast.

 

And this girl was one of those tough-as-nails chicks who you wouldn't in your wildest dreams imagine cowering. But she did.

What year did the J/80 do the "Chi Mac?"

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Two things about Superior. 1) It can change so very fast, and 2) the waves are very steep. Even if the sky is nice, you can get all sorts of sea state in the course of one day. For instance.

 

We headed to Isle Royale from Houghton (80NM) in 22K of NE. The waves quickly built to 13 feet, and are almost sinusoidal. We had friends in an Express 37 that 'raced' with us up, and took these pictures. He said we often completely disappeared from sight.

 

 

DSC07251tif-1.jpgDSC07258tif-1.jpg

DSC07256tif-1.jpg

 

An hour or so later, nearing the island, the wind drops down 6 knots to 16 and the waves go right down to 6 feet. We jib reach towards our harbor.

 

IMG_2163-1.jpg

 

Down to seven knots and the lake flattens right out. Deep asym reaches the rest of the way.

 

IMG_9997tif.jpg

 

Add to this wild thunderstorms, crazy thick fog, and typically cold water, and it can be intimidating. At the very least, well respected and traversed in decent sized boats. There are NO boats under 30 feet at our marina. 90% have radar. For good reason.

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Now THAT looks like a fun day's sailing.

 

I was under the impression that the waves on superior were more round than steep. Could just be our different corners of the lake too. The couple of times I've been out in "big" waves of 8ft+ they've been more of a big swell, with the wind chop on top. This is usually after a strong northerly once the winds have died down somewhat. Don't think I've been out in 22kts of north or east wind. I've done 30+ from the south but the lake is flat at that point :)

 

I really need to try and get video of some of the storms that should be starting to come through any time now. Even in your pics JD the waves don't look big at all until you capture one with your boat in the trough.

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Memo, maybe just wording. The waves typically are as wide as they are tall. I guess that makes them round AND steep! ;^)

 

Yea in pictures the telephoto really hides the height of the waves. In that last pix (which is a zoomed crop of a bigger image) there are at least 4 troughs that could have covered the boat

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I've only been offshore once in the Great Lakes on a Lake Michigan fishing trip. This was a 50' sport fishing boat. It wasn't super rough, but enough (combined with diesel exhaust) for me to chum. What I recall was very steep and short period waves. Not like the swells on an ocean. My guess is that most wave action on the Lakes is caused by fetch rather than swells which are caused by gravity. At least that's my understanding of swells. And since wind can change direction any time on the lakes, the sea state can be pretty confused. That's one reason why, when I tried my hand at hull design, I gave my design a bit of rocker. The thought is that rocker can help reduce some of the pounding you might experience with a flatter hull in choppy conditions.

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My guess is that most wave action on the Lakes is caused by fetch rather than swells which are caused by gravity. At least that's my understanding of swells.

It depends upon the lake, and , more importantly, the location on the lake. Each lake has it's own flavour. Erie is essentially a big shallow pond- it's not unusual, in a good blow, to see the water level change 2-3 feet as the lake gets blown around. it also has a relatively short fetch compared to Michigan or Superior,. or even Huron prevailing winds out of the SW in spring and summer and NE in fall and winter mean that they blow only 35-45 miles shore to shore. Add to that the shallow depth, and typically huron swells are like my first wife- short, square, nasty, mean, and quick to get angry.

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I've only sailed on Lake Michigan.

 

Down south - Chicago - the lake can be challenging - steep, short waves. I guess due to the fetch (300 miles worth) and shallow water. Farther north it seems more benign - though I've been in many storms I've never been concerned about the waves - just the wind. I've only passed through the north during the Mac race though - so same place/time every year.

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I pretty much grew up floating on Lake Michigan's gold coast near Manistee. I can assure you the waves can become stupid up there at times.

The biggest seas I have experienced were ~22 feet. They get very steep and the period extremely short.

 

That lake can make you feel real small in a hurry. The power is awesome and unforgettable.

I love it.

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I forget where I heard this and it may or may not be true . .that there is a freak wave pattern in areas of Lake Superior that can occur with gail force storms . .the term is 'Triple Sisters' . .the pattern is 3 peaks and 3 troughs in a row . .and that some speculate that one of these actually welled up under the Edmond Fitzgerald and only supported at bow and stern is what snapped her in two . . .Obvious this could also be conjured up by sun deprived Michigan Tech students that partake in naked beer sliding on the maple floored bars of the Houghton - Hancock area

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Three Sisters. You can see them on Lake Michigan in November. They look like 3 hills moving down the Lake, from north to south.

They are real and have to be really big since they stand out on the horizon and are unmistakable.

 

I've been caught in them before. You cannot control your boat in them. You just kinda go with it until it ends.

It's kinda fun going 15 knots in a 4KSB. After 3 years and you've thrown your soiled underwear out...

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as a general rule, by the time the lakes get rough, in the autumn, sailing season is over. sure they get fun in the summer, but nothing too severe. maybe up north things can get bad in the summer, but the term 'light and variable' is a standard summertime forecast.

It depends upon the lake, and , more importantly, the location on the lake. Each lake has it's own flavour. Erie is essentially a big shallow pond- it's not unusual, in a good blow, to see the water level change 2-3 feet as the lake gets blown around.

 

with a strong westwind that lasts, the western end of erie can drop dramatically.

DSC_0490.JPG

DSC_0483.JPG

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Thos vids are cool! Notice in the first one the boat is pretty rock solid. When you're 1000 feet long, I guess a short wave period doesn't cause too much commotion.

 

That Erie pic is....eerie :P

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Nothing huge this year that I noticed, but last summer we had a seiche of almost 6ft running in the harbour in Marquette. Every 20 minutes or so the water would rise and all that amount, went on for hours. There was a massive wake running around the breakwall from the movement, really really cool to see.

 

From a high vantage point the big waves on superior look pretty spread out. 100 or 200 yards peak to peak maybe? Hard to judge from a distance and on shore. Giant swells of water marching along. Accounting for rogue waves and maximum blah blah blah I think waves of over 50ft are possible on superior in ideal conditions.

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Superior is a canyon lake. It gets reflective waves and makes life a bitch at night to know whats about to hit you. Lk Mich. get a long fetch going cause of its length and how is shallows up to the south. Huron is a mix of both and Erie is just stupid chop. I have not sailed Lk O.

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You can take small boats out on Lake Superior, but you gotta be careful. These guys got caught out in the Apostles last weekend. Wind was in the teens NE but backed to W and went over 20. Put their 'safe' harbor at Michigan Island dock right into a nasty fetch of short sharp 4 footers. They could not get back onto the boat. Chewed it up in minutes. Deck completely broken away from the hull.

 

376734_4072287457933_1253058128_n.jpg

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This week on our "little" version of the Great lakes....

post-25646-0-05095800-1350180794_thumb.jpeg

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If we don't get some serious snowfall this year the Great Lakes will be shallow ponds next year. My Contessa 32 is sitting on the bottom at Jefferson Beach Marina in Lake St Clair and there was 2 ft under the keel in the spring. We are down more than 4 ft of water from 10 years ago

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This wasn't a dry Summer...at least not THAT dry...the GLs are being drained. Time for our US friend to start making some noise.

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There have only been a couple of times that I was seriously concerned that wave action might overcome a boat I was driving. One of those was down in the SE section of Lake Okeechobee in a strong NW wind. Part of the problem was being on the very worst-riding powerboat I have ever experienced, but the conditions would have been hairy in any boat.

 

It doesn't even have to be a "Great" lake to scare the crap out of you!

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This wasn't a dry Summer...at least not THAT dry...the GLs are being drained. Time for our US friend to start making some noise.

 

No, it was really dry actually. That and our last non-winter was not good.

Don't forget, the GL basin feeds that water table of the areas around it and vice versa.

 

I was at the cottage last week, and I will say the lake is as low as it was in the 1970s.

Then, by 1987 or so, we had to build a seawall or lose the house.

 

We built that seawall twice because Lake Michigan came up so hard.

Now it's under 15 feet of sand, boulders and all.

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Hard to believe the Lakes would be as low as they are if it was strictly do to rain/snowfall. Maintaining the freighter traffic through the channels and rivers has to be a big contributor. Oh yay lets keep widening and dredging the rivers so we can squeeze more/bigger boats through, what could possibly go wrong!

 

I pulled my boat out and trailered it home last weekend. Had been sitting a month without being used. Every weekend had been cold and rainy with strong north winds making sailing a no go.

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When they finally drain Superior...we can still sail!!

 

Nice to see there is a plan in place.

post-25646-0-43742900-1350393596_thumb.jpg

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When they finally drain Superior...we can still sail!!

 

Nice to see there is a plan in place.

 

Plan?? Here's the plan.

 

We 'donate' 74,000 cubic feet of water per second to Lake Huron.

 

When the water level to Pikes Bay marina drops to 8 feet, we bomb the river shut.

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It would help if Lake Michigan would freeze all the way down to Chicago this winter. Without that, evaporation causes a lot of the water loss.

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Our club's harbour on the east side of Toronto is as shallow as anyone can remember in the 37 years our club has been around. We are running out of places to stick the deeper draft boats. We only have to last 10 more days now, haulout is next weekend. With this shallow water the club has incurred greater expense for haulout, having to bring in a crane with a longer boom and more counterweight to pluck some of the bigger boats from further out from shore than usual.

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recieved this email the other day from other concerned sailors in the Great Lakes region

 

"Well we were stunned last weekend in Lost bay when the water was so low. I looked on the internet and on Sunday - the water was 17" below chart datum in Parry Sound and in Collingwood was 20" below datum - so I looked for the water all around Lake huron and Lake Michigan - and couldn't see where it was higher than previous weeks - generally it was 10 - 15" below datum. and was low all over. Little Current also showed 18" below datum..

 

http://www.great-lak...cur/hurwlc.html

 

On the latest news - it is apparently a dought year and this is not helping - water is expected to go even lower - so be prepared. Here is a story I found. It's not pretty. Water will be 18" below Datum (long term average was about a foot above datum) this means that water will be a foot lower than last year over the year.

 

Lake Huron Chart Datum = 176.0 - Record Low was 175.58 - which is .42 m below datum (16.5")

 

Pray for snow".

 

"Portions of the Great Lakes are forecast to near or sink to record lows as a result of ongoing drought conditions over the next few months.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) reported Tuesday that the water level on Lake Michigan-Huron will match the record-low water levels, previously set in 1964, in November and December and then set new record lows in January through March 2013.

The Army Corps is also predicting that Lake Superior will be only one inch above the record low water level set in 1925 by late October and then three to five inches above record low water levels from November through March.

The precipitation on the Lake Michigan-Huron basin was reported 74% of average in September and 92% of average over the past 12 months.

The water levels are expected to be 28 to 29 inches below their long-term average through March 2013, which would be 11 to 17 inches below last year’s levels.

The provisional water supply for Lake Superior was the driest on record for September, according to the Army Corps. The water supply is primarily a combination of precipitation falling on the lake surface, runoff from precipitation falling on the land which flows to the lake, and evaporation from the lake."

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Jackdaw......does your chainsaw cut thru lead? if so, i need to borrow it after your finished with it....... :P

 

Start scanning Craigslist for a shoal keel....... :unsure:

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Was talking to a friend of mine a few weeks ago who sailed on Lakers (ships) on the Great Lakes in the early 70s. He said the ships twisted through the waves, he could see the twist walking between cabins in heavy weather.

 

I spent time on my 22 footer out of Duluth, Bayfield and Munising. Always was looking over my shoulder ready to run for port.

 

We have a Crealock 34 now, nice Lake Superior boat. It seems strong enough to take anything that builds in a day. The real heavy weather on Lake Superior takes several days to build so there is almost always time to get off the lake.

 

Lake Superior is fun, because as the pictures above show you can get to test all your sail configurations in one day. You get to try out all your clothing configurations too.

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Here is a current look at what our 'navigation' channel to Lake Michigan looks like.

Incidentally (or not) this is the same channel that took Barracuda out after the Mac race a few years ago.

 

I used to fish off the wall for perch where that person is standing.

 

8156510782_27576eae4d_b.jpg

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Was talking to a friend of mine a few weeks ago who sailed on Lakers (ships) on the Great Lakes in the early 70s. He said the ships twisted through the waves, he could see the twist walking between cabins in heavy weather.

 

I spent time on my 22 footer out of Duluth, Bayfield and Munising. Always was looking over my shoulder ready to run for port.

 

We have a Crealock 34 now, nice Lake Superior boat. It seems strong enough to take anything that builds in a day. The real heavy weather on Lake Superior takes several days to build so there is almost always time to get off the lake.

 

Lake Superior is fun, because as the pictures above show you can get to test all your sail configurations in one day. You get to try out all your clothing configurations too.

 

Shane, where do you keep your boat?

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ha! I was wondering if that was you :)

 

I see you're a bit of a virgin here at Cruising Anarchy. Someone should give you a proper greeting that you would understand. Being from Oz and all ;)

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Shane:

Being an ex Aussie I guess it's my duty. Seems Sons is going soft on us.

 

We have rules here. In order to post on CA you must post some pictures of women with their shirts off. It's a rule. Technicaly it should be your wife but we have never seen your wife and you may not even have one so any nice pair of tits will work.

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Shane:

Well done. I think my Dad has some pics of the same gal from when he was in NG in WWII.

While it works for me you might have some trouble with the other board members here.

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:) Born on Moreton Bay ( Redcliffe) but grew up in Port Moresby.

 

Well played. But I think I've see her on Isle Royale. I think.

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According to a bunch of guys with PhDs and stuff, the drought we experienced last year is just the beginning. Supposedly going to get much, much worse. I say its time we start sacrificing virgins. Not in a 'throw 'em in a volcano' sort of sacrifice. More like 'polishing my wood' sort of sacrifice.

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According to a bunch of guys with PhDs and stuff, the drought we experienced last year is just the beginning. Supposedly going to get much, much worse. I say its time we start sacrificing virgins. Not in a 'throw 'em in a volcano' sort of sacrifice. More like 'polishing my wood' sort of sacrifice.

 

We should start an upswing soon if you listen to the old codgers.

It's amazing and almost scary how fast Lake MI can come up.

 

I remember in the '80's it came up with such ferocity the pounding waves made our house shake.

Still have nightmares about that. I don't think our house is very seaworthy.

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According to a bunch of guys with PhDs and stuff, the drought we experienced last year is just the beginning. Supposedly going to get much, much worse. I say its time we start sacrificing virgins. Not in a 'throw 'em in a volcano' sort of sacrifice. More like 'polishing my wood' sort of sacrifice.

 

We should start an upswing soon if you listen to the old codgers.

It's amazing and almost scary how fast Lake MI can come up.

 

I remember in the '80's it came up with such ferocity the pounding waves made our house shake.

Still have nightmares about that. I don't think our house is very seaworthy.

Believe me I hope it does come up fast and soon too. (God this is going to sound like it belongs in PA) However I believe that some of the reasons the water is low isn't weather related. There are a lot more people on the planet now and the supply of fresh water isn't increasing at the same levels.

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You wouldn't be the only one claiming that or some interesting conspiracy theories I've heard but I'm not strolling into that conversation!

Serves to say the GL basin needs water and leave it at that.

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Sure there is more than one factor at work here. However if the lake levels go down (from drought or whatever) then naturally the water exiting the lakes via canals and rivers should go down with it. I don't think that natural balance exists anymore. If the freighter traffic requires xxxxx flow in the rivers to keep moving, they'll keep it there to keep the shipping going. Maybe that's just a really small part of the lower water problem, but when some of the lakes are 30" low you'd think there's more at work. I wonder if the decrease in the input to the lakes from the watershed is equal to a decrease in the output of the lakes through the saint lawrence.

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fresh water isn't increasing at the same levels.

 

well, it is 'increasing' at the same levels if you mean by 'increasing' that it's 'staying the same'. The amount of fresh water on the planet has changed very little over the past, what, 200 million years? The issue is distribution.

 

This is a pretty good (a-political) article on drought. We are just in a bad cycle right now and there is historical evidence that it has been worse in the past (prior to us humans supposedly mucking everything up).

 

Also, there is very little influence from the Great Lakes on the Mississippi River. The River originates in Lake Itasca in Northern Minnesota. And while the Illinois River connects the Mississippi river with Lake Michigan, I'd say that's a pretty small contribution.

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fresh water isn't increasing at the same levels.

And while the Illinois River connects the Mississippi river with Lake Michigan, I'd say that's a pretty small contribution.

 

2000 million gallons per day. 3200 cfs. gone from Lake Michigan

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fresh water isn't increasing at the same levels.

And while the Illinois River connects the Mississippi river with Lake Michigan, I'd say that's a pretty small contribution.

 

2000 million gallons per day. 3200 cfs. gone from Lake Michigan

 

And of course, it didn't reach the lakes at all back in the day. The current flow is the result of the Chicago Sanitary District reversing the flow of the Chicago River so that Chicago sewerage flowed away from the city (and its drinking water supply) and on down the river.

 

post-24720-0-74576200-1352914795_thumb.jpg

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And of course, it didn't reach the lakes at all back in the day. The current flow is the result of the Chicago Sanitary District reversing the flow of the Chicago River so that Chicago sewerage flowed away from the city (and its drinking water supply) and on down the river.

 

post-24720-0-74576200-1352914795_thumb.jpg

 

This from the same folks that will be bringing Asian Carp to the Great Lakes. Way to go, Chicago!

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fresh water isn't increasing at the same levels.

And while the Illinois River connects the Mississippi river with Lake Michigan, I'd say that's a pretty small contribution.

 

2000 million gallons per day. 3200 cfs. gone from Lake Michigan

 

sure, 'gone' from Lake Michigan, but my point was its contribution to the Mississippi river. With the Mississippi River at 300,000 cfs, the Illinois River contributes a whopping 1%. Damn it up and no one would notice.

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That might add a bit of a shitty taste to the water in Chicago . .it did once before and killed off a bunch

 

You're saying this is a bad thing?

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Here is a pic from 2 weeks ago for all those who might think Lake Erie is a large pond. The outer break wall of the Vermilion river in Vermilion Ohio. BTW, the day mark is 18 feet off the water for reference.

post-5321-0-15867700-1353014980_thumb.jpg

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