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What weather forecast makes you cancel your trip?

Feb 19, 2008
200
Catalina Capri 18 ann arbor
The forecast is still 9 days out, so it will change several times before the trip - but -

The plan is to trailer 6+ hours for a two / three day cruise. The forecast started with 25% chance of rain every day. I told my wife 25% chance is pretty good, and she agreed that we would go if that were the forecast. A couple days have passed and now it's 35% chance of thunderstorms, I'm kinda worried we are moving in the wrong direction.

At what point do the scales tip for you?

I thought about changing the destination instead of the date, but 35% chance of thunderstorm seems like the bright spot for Michigan next weekend!
 
Feb 21, 2013
3,378
Hunter 46 Point Richmond, CA
When we lived in New Jersey and Pennsylvania the saying goes..........if its raining it must be the weekend. So maybe sail during the week?
 
Jun 14, 2010
1,693
TBD Looking for my next boat CT
I'd go with that 35% forecast, with the plan for staying in a safe harbor if needed. (60% is probably my tipping point.) IDK about the Great Lakes area, but here in the NE when it comes to T-storms it's usually a well organized line of storms that pass quickly, or it's scattered storms that are somewhat random throughout the region. The scattered storms are more unstable and can literally form over your head from out of nowhere, whereas the organized line is more predictable "the day of". When you have a good radar app you can estimate the ETA of the line squalls. You may be able to get in some partial-day sailing without rain, or it'll more likely miss you altogether.

I don't want to cancel a whole weekend for a few hours of (maybe) rain.

PS - lightning scares me more than anything else on the water.
 
Last edited:
Jan 1, 2006
5,950
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
Are you sail/camping or something else?
I had to look up the Capri 18 on sailboat data.com. So, you are staying on the boat for a couple of nights. You are intrepid!
If you are going to be in a marina where you can seek shelter, or you can stop at one I would say go. 30% chance of showers is said to be "Scattered" showers. I would guess almost any day of summer would have about that chance. The key for me would be if there's something to do off the boat in case the weather turns bad.
If you are going to be in a remote area or on the hook, I would look for something more close to home to explore.
I've skipped overnights near home on the forecast of T-Storms.
 
Jan 1, 2006
5,950
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
There is a frontal severe thunderstorm warning in Delaware and New Jersey area right now. You don't want to be on the water if this is coming through. Up to 50 MPH winds, frequent lighting, heavy rain (making visibility very poor). Check it out.
 
Feb 19, 2008
200
Catalina Capri 18 ann arbor
@shemandr
that‘s funny.

Yes, we sometimes sleep on our boat. It’s like a pup tent with a hull. Because of the lack of sanitary facilities, so far we’ve limited ourselves to marina cruises.

This trip was supposed to be our first night at anchor.

The destination is Harbor Island in northern Lake Michigan (near Drummond island).

we might be pointing the headlights south If the forecast doesn’t improve. I haven’t checked places to sail in Ohio, usually we stick with northern Michigan.
 
Jan 1, 2006
5,950
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
I've taken my share of trail #2's but it is not how I want to exist now. Motel 6 is about as rough as I'd like.
I don't know Drummond Island area at all.
Regarding Ohio, a cruise from Sandusky to Kelly's Island or Put in Bay might work. Last I looked there were moorings at Put in Bay. About 3-4 hours sail from Sandusky. Less from Catawba. You need settled weather. Weather is always an issue in Summer (And Winter).
 

Tedd

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Jul 25, 2013
444
Between Boats near Vancouver, BC
This is not directly comparable but might be a useful reference point. For about ten years now I've been tracking precipitation percentage in the forecast against actually getting rained on, on motorcycle trips. I have yet to get wet when the forecast was 30 percent chance of rain, or less.

For those who don't know, "30 percent chance of rain" means "if you stand in one spot for the entire forecast period there's a 30 percent chance at least one raindrop will land on you." The reason I haven't gotten wet in ten years of riding a motorcycle on 30-percent days is (a) I'm only on the road for part of the forecast period and (b) I'm not staying in the same spot. That's where sailing is different. You're much closer to being in the same spot, and you're there for the whole forecast period.
 
Nov 8, 2007
1,389
Hunter 27_75-84 Sandusky Harbor Marina, Ohio
We include layover days and contingency plans for all our trips, so we can almost always ride out a storm in a safe harbor. We use NOAA, weather radar, SailFlow, and Mark 1 eyes to assess the danger from thunder storms, and never set sail when one is very likely. We get into port by 4 PM if afternoon thunderstorms are forecast.

I would go ahead with your Harbor Island cruise if it were us. The Drummond Island Marina is close enough to run to if you see scary storms coming on your phone radar app. I would also feel reasonably safe tucked in close to the hills and trees on the west side of Harbor Island if caught there in a pinch. We have anchored there several times while cruising the North Channel.

Our mast is grounded to our keel, and we do carry a bare cable with over a square foot of contact with the water attached to the mast and over the side. We have only deployed the cable a few times in over 500 nights on the boat in Lakes Erie, St. Clair, and Huron.

Two weeks ago was the first time we left our boat in a marina, and took a ferry (from Kelly’s Island) to the mainland to avoid a day of active thunder storms. My brother and I had to get back that day. The Admiral and I collected the boat the next week. Despite a few close calls, we have only been caught out in active lightning once in 21 years. We probably wait out bad weather in port or postpone a cruise once or twice a summer.
 
Nov 8, 2007
1,389
Hunter 27_75-84 Sandusky Harbor Marina, Ohio
Tedd, it’s my understanding that moving a any speed does not change your probability of experiencing weather. But a motor vehicle can easily outrun a thunderstorm, if you are threatened.
 
Jun 14, 2010
1,693
TBD Looking for my next boat CT
I wrote my original answer above without noticing the OPs boat is a Capri 18. If boat camping in a light centerboard boat I’d be more conservative.
 
Feb 19, 2008
200
Catalina Capri 18 ann arbor
@Captain Larry-DH Seaworthiness is a relative thing, I’m not crossing lake michigan in my Capri 18, but it’s not a centerboard boat either.

Its a 1500 lb boat with 500lbs of ballast in its 2’ wing keel.

I bought it because my old boat was a 17’ 400lb unballasted center-boarder. That boat was a ton of fun, but I wanted something that was a little more capable.

My Capri won’t win many races, but it will get me there.
 

Tedd

.
Jul 25, 2013
444
Between Boats near Vancouver, BC
Tedd, it’s my understanding that moving a any speed does not change your probability of experiencing weather. But a motor vehicle can easily outrun a thunderstorm, if you are threatened.
Exactly. Random motion wouldn't change the probability but, on a motorcycle or in an airplane, you can "dodge" the rain, whereas in a sailboat you probably can't.