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Old 05-12-2022, 09:41 AM   #1
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Traveling West Side of Lake Michigan - seeking advice

We will finally deliver our new to us boat from the Sturgeon Bay area down to and through Chicago and further south. Looking for advice on trustworthy apps/sites for Lake Michigan conditions from the locals - We will take the lake trip in 50 mile “chunks”… still unsure of the boat (new to us) and don’t want to be out on the lake with dead engines. All advice for this time of year (Late May - Early June) from the bay down to Chicago would be great… Thanks all!!!
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Old 05-12-2022, 10:01 AM   #2
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I used to sail the Mac race but never did "The Hook" which is the route you sound like you are taking. I've also been gone from that area for over a decade so have no recent local advice other than seeing if you can speak with anyone who has sailed the Hook in recent years.



Otherwise, most cruising boaters I talk to use "Active Captain" to find out recent local information.



How far south are you going?
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Old 05-12-2022, 11:07 AM   #3
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We have found Windy app to be fairly accurate.
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Old 05-12-2022, 11:21 AM   #4
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Congrats on your new vessel! I haven't done any cruising on the lakes on my own vessel, but I drive one of the freighters out there. I use this site for weather most of the time:

https://www.weather.gov/greatlakes/

They tend to underestimate the wind pretty regularly though, so don't be surprised when the predicted gust speed is actually the sustained windspeed.

The Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab (GLERL) has a Coastal Forecasting System that has some good information too, though the site isn't as user friendly:
https://www.glerl.noaa.gov/res/glcfs/

Some other potentially useful weather stations, including several weather data buoys:
https://seagull.glos.org/map?coords=....3489729%2C6.9

https://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/

There's always windy.com
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Old 05-12-2022, 01:04 PM   #5
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Good catch on the weather bouys, Dave. We use them here on Lake Huron all the time.
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Old 05-12-2022, 06:54 PM   #6
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I'm leaving Chicago June 3 or so, heading for Lake Huron via the eastern shore. It's usually a nice time of year. I traveled the WI side in sailboats 30+ years ago, and have fond memories of visiting Sturgeon Bay and Manitowoc. They built submarines there during WW2 and delivered them to the Gulf of Mexico by barge. Interesting history. A lot of Loopers stop in Milwaukee and love it.

There are often multi day stretches of benign conditions when a high pressure system slows down and parks over the southern section of the lake. Westerlies aren't going to bother you much. Stay in port during strong north easterlies or local thunderstorm watches. If the weather is nice and everyone's happy maybe go a few extra hours to the next port if you want to make time. Night time operation is safe and easy in good conditions. There is very little vessel traffic along the shore, and minimal debris or hazards. It's usually an easy trip.

I use Windfinder and weather.gov. NOAA weather on vhf is also useful on that route.

Good luck with the new boat.
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Old 05-13-2022, 11:14 AM   #7
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thanks for the great advise - we are headed south in "chucks" through the rivers to the gulf with at least one long stop over. - I'll check out active captain and the other apps and websites - thanks all!
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Old 05-13-2022, 12:49 PM   #8
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We've had our boat on Lake Michigan since 2005. Sturgeon Bay 2005-2010.
Michigan side since 2011. You might consider a side trip north on Green Bay (Door County) before leaving Sturgeon Bay. Fish Creek is nice. Washington Island interesting, Fayette, Michigan simply stunning. Never went south of Sturgeon Bay on the Lake...always headed across to Michigan and then north. But from that experience, we learned that the Michigan side tends to encounter nastier wave conditions because of the prevailing westerlies and the long fetch. Fog can occasionally be an issue in the Spring, but easy enough to plan for. Radar is a nice security blanket. I use www.passageweather.com for wind and wave info. Seems to track fairly well with NOAA within 24-48 hours out.
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Old 05-13-2022, 06:42 PM   #9
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My experience with Windy is - Don’t forget to look at the “Gusts” layer. I have found that more often than not will be the true measure of your comfort out there. It’s the gusts that tend to drive the wave height.

Wayfarer Dave covered the rest of the bases with his suggestions as well.

We are launching in Kewaunee soon and heading north. We found Kewaunee to be a great little town with just enough to do for a short stay.

Port Washington has a great waterfront as well.

Have a great trip!
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