Planning a cruise

Discussion in 'Trailer Sailors' started by john6206, Apr 21, 2019. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. john6206

    john6206

    Joined Feb 19, 2008
    85 posts, 13 likes
    Catalina Capri 18
    US ann arbor
    I’ve been sailing about 20 years, but almost all in a daysailer, and mostly within full view of the boat ramp. Now that I have a boat with a little more weight, and a nominal cabin, I’m interested in sailing TO somewhere.

    Last year’s cruise in the Grand Traverse Bay was a success. I rented a slip in Sutton’s Bay for a week, knowing that I wanted to sail to Northport on one of those days (about 12nm each way). It was easy, we picked our day according to the weather. Most days we just sailed around the bay with no particular destination in mind. The day that rain was forecast was a great day to do things on dry land.

    This year I’m planning Escanaba to Fayette (Lake Michigan’s Bays de Noc). I guess my question is how do you account for weather when making plans?

    Do you frequently pad the schedule with extra days? I’m thinking about reserving a slip for three nights in Escanaba, with one of those three nights being spent in Fayette.
     


  2. jon hansen

    jon hansen

    Joined May 25, 2012
    2,093 posts, 1,815 likes
    john alden caravelle 42
    us sturgeon bay, wis
    [​IMG]
    love fayette, love big bay de noc, all the bays and all the beaches. you might consider launching and basing out of Garden Mi . one of my favorite places in the whole world is South river bay :)
     


  3. jon hansen

    jon hansen

    Joined May 25, 2012
    2,093 posts, 1,815 likes
    john alden caravelle 42
    us sturgeon bay, wis
    another great place for a trailer boat would be to base out of St. James harbor, beaver island. take the boat on the ferry out. go find the prehistoric indian cemetary on garden island.
     


  4. jon hansen

    jon hansen

    Joined May 25, 2012
    2,093 posts, 1,815 likes
    john alden caravelle 42
    us sturgeon bay, wis
    cedarville, mi would be great
     


  5. jon hansen

    jon hansen

    Joined May 25, 2012
    2,093 posts, 1,815 likes
    john alden caravelle 42
    us sturgeon bay, wis
    when you get there and start sailing, just plan 10 miles at a time. keeps it simple
     


  6. jon hansen

    jon hansen

    Joined May 25, 2012
    2,093 posts, 1,815 likes
    john alden caravelle 42
    us sturgeon bay, wis
    oh, and john, "go bucks" :)
     


  7. jssailem

    jssailem

    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    9,292 posts, 4,133 likes
    CAL 35 Cruiser
    US Salem, Moored Port Everett WA
    @john6206 Your avatar image implies you have a much bigger boat than a Capri 18. What are you sailing?
    You have posed a good question. How to plan a cruise?
    There are many elements. Let's focus on the weather. First you should start reviewing your weather several days in advance of your trip. You want to know not only what is happening immediately but what is coming up and how it will need to affect your planning.
    I like to look at my whole trip using something like "Windy.com". You can not only look at the immediate area of your cruise, but you can look out to the weather that is forming and will be coming your way over say 2-3 days. If this is a new approach, why not give it a try and see if you can predict the next three days of weather for you home. You will find that the skill is the same as used by the weather girl on TV. If you are as correct as she is you are doing real good.
    Recognize that if your set a schedule of sites (reservations) you may try to keep the arrival dates during the cruise. This can be a bad way of thinking. You always need to be ready to say. Let's not go out on the water today. Sit out a bad storm in the safety of a harbor.
    The less you force a schedule the overall happier and safer your cruising will be.

    Is this what you are asking about?
     


    Tom J and jon hansen like this.
  8. Tom J

    Tom J

    Joined Sep 30, 2008
    1,422 posts, 313 likes
    Catalina 310
    US Quincy, MA
    :plus:Like John said, having too many scheduled stops on a cruise can take the fun out of it. We like to anchor out or take a mooring. In many of the places we cruise to, moorings are first come, first served, so the only schedule we would have is to get there early and then relax for a couple of days.
    As for the weather, we look at the long range forecasts and plan accordingly, but keep an eye out for changing conditions locally.
    Squalls and such can often pop up later in the day, so we try to have an alternate plan in mind, just in case. Most importantly, be flexible in your schedule. As a couple from Canada once told us, "When we go cruising, our plans are firmly fixed in Jell-o".
     


    jwing likes this.
  9. Tedd

    Tedd

    Joined Jul 25, 2013
    102 posts, 29 likes
    Macgregor 26S
    CA near Vancouver, BC
    I second jssailem's comment about weather and planning. I like to approach it like a battle plan: You want to have one, but you know that you're going to have to start revising it right from the get-go. I guess the distinction I'm making is between a plan and schedule, where the schedule has you doing certain things at certain times whereas a plan has you doing things based on conditions, with those conditions being dominated by weather and sea state.
    It's really worthwhile to learn as much as you can about meteorology, too. I'm far from an expert but I did take a meteorology course many years ago and some of it has actually stuck with me. I think it's a fun subject even for non sailors, but it's especially interesting for us. I'll bet there are some good online courses these days.
     


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  10. john6206

    john6206

    Joined Feb 19, 2008
    85 posts, 13 likes
    Catalina Capri 18
    US ann arbor
    Lots of great comments!
    @jssailem probably ought to change the avitar pic. The Capri 18 is the flagship of my fleet. About 5 years ago I had opportunities to sail a beautiful Island Packet . . . 34’? Not mine, but really nice - it was a good summer.

    @jon hansen, it’s like you’ve read my mind. These are all the places I’d like to go.

    I was unsure about the boat ramp at Garden. The wing keel on the Capri really benefits from a good ramp, also, Escanaba seems like a cool place to have the boat. In garden, or at anchor, you got kinda nothin’. With the limited space and sanitary facilities and cooler space in the Capri, I think a marina would be more comfortable than a quiet anchorage.

    In the next couple years I hope to sail from St. Ignace to Hessell, to Cedarville and back to St Ignace.
     


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  11. john6206

    john6206

    Joined Feb 19, 2008
    85 posts, 13 likes
    Catalina Capri 18
    US ann arbor
    So, Big Bay de Noc is where I’d prefer to sail. I’ve never been there but it looks beautiful. Both the up side and the down side is the pristine wilderness. In relative terms there is NOTHING to do on land in the area - and not many places to get off the boat. And given that it’s an 18’ boat with a cooler for a galley and a bucket for a head, getting off the boat has its appeal.

    My wife quite enjoyed Sutton’s Bay, where the marina is right downtown. You can sail all day, then go out for a nice meal, use a proper bathroom, and then crawl head first into the pup-tent like cabin for the night.

    Do you think my idea of staying in Escanaba and sailing to Fayette is impractical?

    It would be a tough call if we had to do only one or the other. We could stay in Fayette and drive to Escanaba (or Gladstone or Manistique), but there is still that bucket matter to deal with.

    Sounds like the ideal situation might be to have a week in the marina in Escanaba and then we could check the forecast and pick our day for the big adventure.
     


    jssailem likes this.
  12. Kings Gambit

    Kings Gambit

    Joined Jul 27, 2011
    3,164 posts, 787 likes
    Bavaria 38E
    US Alamitos Bay
    One thing not mentioned above would be to have a “bad weather plan” in place, and to insure the boat has what it needs. If you end up in a squall or other high wind situation where it may be unsafe to continue your course to destination, or you feel you should douse your sails altogether, what will you do? If you need to rely on the outboard, it had better start up when you need it to, and remain running! Have it serviced b/f leaving on your trip. If you feel you might need to anchor in the face of a squall or T-storm heading toward you, you’d better have an anchor that sinks (pays out) fast in case you are being blown, with plenty of chain & scope to allow it to grab, set, and hold. A squall can pack 30-kt winds. So, a “lunch hook” typical of day-sailers probably would not cut the muster, as they say.
     


    Last edited: Apr 22, 2019
    Sumner likes this.
  13. jon hansen

    jon hansen

    Joined May 25, 2012
    2,093 posts, 1,815 likes
    john alden caravelle 42
    us sturgeon bay, wis
    the OP will be sailing in a smaller more confined area than the big lakes. picking his weather will be most doable. kings gambit, two things you got wrong about fresh water sailing. the squalls all season long can be 70 mph as there are no salt crystals to seed the rain clouds and there is zero need for chain on the great lakes and therefore the gear to handle it. no coral to chaff
     


  14. Kings Gambit

    Kings Gambit

    Joined Jul 27, 2011
    3,164 posts, 787 likes
    Bavaria 38E
    US Alamitos Bay
    So, are you saying that there is no need to prep the boat for squalls b/c the winds might be greater than 30 kt, and you do not need chain to help set an anchor b/c there is no coral or other abrasive materials on the bottom?
     


    Last edited: Apr 23, 2019
  15. Sumner

    Sumner

    Joined Jan 31, 2009
    5,248 posts, 288 likes
    Macgregor & Endeavour 26S and 37
    US Utah's Canyon Country
    Are you aware of...
    [​IMG]
    ... Double Doodie bags? I was very skeptical of them when I first heard of them but they are what...
    [​IMG]
    ... we have always used on the Mac. You are more limited for space but we also take one of those $5 with lid 5 gallon buckets and put the bags in there when about full. We can go 18 days on one 5 gallon storage bucket for two of us.

    A bag last the two of us 3 days normally. For you an option would be to use the 5 gallon bucket and when one bag is full seal it and leave it at the bottom of the bucket and put a fresh one on top of it.

    The Endeavour has a 20 gallon holding tank but we take one 5 gallon bucket and a seat with us. Before going into the yard and while still 3 miles out we dump the holding tank and I put in more water a couple times and dump that water to pretty much clean the tank before going into the yard so we don't have to have it pumped there by an expensive pump truck. Then the last day or two going in to the yard we use the bags. We don't throw the bags into a trash bin but leave them in the 5 gallon bucket and throw it and the bags in so there is no smell in the dumpster.
    [​IMG]
    I installed a pump-out MSD toilet in the Mac but we never use it as I don't want to have to clean it out at home. If the boat was in a slip all the time and we could get off shore far enough to dump it or have it pumped at a marine then I might use it. I put it in to comply with Florida's non-understandable rules for the Keys.

    More on both of the heads in the Mac here (maybe the only Mac with two heads ;)).....

    http://purplesagetradingpost.com/sumner/macgregor/inside-index.html

    Sumner
    ==============================================================
    1300 miles to The Bahamas and Back in the Mac...
    Endeavour 37 Mods...
    MacGregor 26-S Mods...
    Mac Trips to Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Canada, Florida, Bahamas
     


  16. jon hansen

    jon hansen

    Joined May 25, 2012
    2,093 posts, 1,815 likes
    john alden caravelle 42
    us sturgeon bay, wis
    NO and YES :)
     


  17. David in Sandusky

    David in Sandusky

    Joined Nov 8, 2007
    1,165 posts, 194 likes
    Hunter 27_75-84
    US Sandusky Harbor Marina, Lake Erie
    I’m also planning to sail Green Bay this summer, so here are my thoughts on cruising at the north end of the bay, and on dealing with weather as we cruise.

    First, if you will be cruising the Great Lakes from Ann Arbor, consider joining the Great Lakes Cruising Club. They maintain by far the best reports on harbors, anchorages, and cruising grounds for all of the Great Lakes and adjoining waterways. The reports are updated by members in real time, and backed by Port Captains you can call to discuss your plans. There are at least 8 anchorages in Big Bay de Noc, and other places where I would be glad to anchor. The trip from Escanaba to Fayette is 22 nm, very doable in your Catalina 18. (Based on my experience in a Rhodes 19.) You can carry food for a week, (a good cooler, freeze dried, canned, etc.) and water is available at Fayette. You can cruise the bay in short sails, taking advantage of the wind on any given day. You will want to pick days to sail into and out of Big Bay de Noc. This will require “weather days” in your schedule, and observing weather forecast patterns over your week there. Finally, get good at reading charts! There are numerous reefs in Green Bay.

    For weather, there are three generalizations: the prevailing winds are from the southwest; a weather radar app on your smartphone will give you good warning of all nasty weather except “pop up” storms; and it’s best to be in a safe Harbor by 4 PM to avoid those summer “pop up” thunder storms. We use NOAA for the general long term and daily picture, an app called SailFlow to give detailed wind implications of the forecast, and NOAA Hi-Def Radar app to see current storm conditions. Give yourself enough schedule flexibility to stay in port/at anchor on a nasty day, and to catch the right winds, especially for the passages to and from Fayette.

    Fair winds, and following seas!
     


    Tom J likes this.
  18. Kings Gambit

    Kings Gambit

    Joined Jul 27, 2011
    3,164 posts, 787 likes
    Bavaria 38E
    US Alamitos Bay
    I was referring to leader chain, not to a fully-chain rode. One needs a certain amount of leader chain, say 1/2 the LOA of the vessel, to help set the anchor, backed by a couple hundred ft of 3-strand nylon rode. Do you disagree?
     


  19. john6206

    john6206

    Joined Feb 19, 2008
    85 posts, 13 likes
    Catalina Capri 18
    US ann arbor
    Lots of good advice here, and all appreciated. But I'm kind of surprised how quickly the topic go off rails.

    I have been sailing for 20 years, and messing about in canoes / kayaks / rowboats for about 40 years. I have a healthy respect for Lake Michigan and all of the weather that it can throw at you. I've been on the lake when it was angry and when it was glassy. I have been out on "the big lake" ( Michigan and Huron) but am more comfortable in bays. The Bays de Noc are relatively large, but they are also relatively protected, and although in the middle of my trip I will be 10 miles from a port, I will be pretty close to some nice bays.

    and yes, I know that bad weather can still happen in protected water.

    @Sumner Yes - The boat came with a thetford portapotty that seems . . . problematic. A little research and an issue of "small craft advisor" converted me to the "bucket and chuck-it" approach. I'll be putting my woodworking skills to work soon making an attractive case for the bucket. Although, I was considering the bags as "single use" items.
     


  20. john6206

    john6206

    Joined Feb 19, 2008
    85 posts, 13 likes
    Catalina Capri 18
    US ann arbor
    As for a bad weather plan, my plan is generally not to go out if the forecast is bad. The times when I have been out in the worst weather have been when I was crew on someone else's boat and they made the decision, and even then it didn't feel dangerous, just really cold and wet!

    The "worst" sailing vacation ever was about 13 years ago when I trailered by hunter 170 to Traverse City Michigan and left it on the trailer all week because honestly I've never seen thunderstorms like that last a whole week. It was dark and cold, black sky, hail. We didn't see water spouts but the NOAA radio was saying to look out for them.

    Of course the day we drove back home it was 80 and sunny and perfect!
     




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