Can Lasers handle Lake Michigan?

Thread starter #1
I am an experienced life-long sailor. I have owned Sunfish, butterfly, catamaran, and windsurfers. However, I'm sick of the catamaran. I need a change. I'm thinking of getting a laser. What I want to know is, can a laser handle Lake Michigan on a rough day? Or should I get a more durable, perhaps less performance oriented boat?
 
#3
I sail on Narragansett Bay all winter long. If a laser can handle Newport in Feb with 30knts out of the north, I think lake Michigan will be fine :D
 
Thread starter #5
Thanks, all. I had always thought so. But two things bothered me. One was the fact that Laser recommends this special trailer that supports the boat at the gunwales, not the hull. That suggests fragility. And then a friend said they are just for inland lakes. I simply didn't want to buy something that doesn't love to get in the waves and thrash around.
 
#6
The gunwhales are the strongest part of the hull, but that doesn't mean that the rest of the hull isn't strong - it definitely is. You will break long before the boat does, guaranteed.
 
#7
Although I am landlocked in Park City Utah, I hail from Michigan. The Laser is a great boat that can handle almost anything, but you should still keep a weather eye and sail with another boat nearby. I have seen conditions deteriorate on Lake Michigan so badly and so quickly that survivability on any small boat(power or sail) could be questionable. If you are on the Michgan side you will more likely be blown to shore in bad conditons, but if you are on the other side and get too far out in a big blow you are pretty much screwed. It isn't like salt water where there is some distance between the waves. If you are on a small boat on Lake Michigan and you get into trouble, you may not fare well. The same is true for any of the othe boats you listed. I have been out there on 40+ foot boats and we were not sure we would make the harbor. I would still absolutely reccomend that you buy a laser asap!

Barometer Soup
Pak City Sailing Association
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
#8
Good advice from Barometer Soup and the other correspondents.
In addition, do inspect your boat, if you are buying an old one, before going out in ominous weather.
 
#9
Random question... as I havn't done much big freshwater sailing... What accounts for the differences in the swells between fresh and salt water? Is it due to the salinity of the water? Tides? Less aggressive bottom topography?
 
#10
As I understand it, the salinity and other heavy mineral content makes salt water much more dense. That means that a gallon of salt water weighs more than a gallon of fresh water. Therefore gravity has less of an effect on it. The waves in fresh water can be closer together and the chop steeper. Your boat can pierce through fresh water more easily too. The Great Salt Lake in Utah is so dense that ripples don't form until it is really quite windy. Reading wind shifts is very difficult.

The Great Lakes(fresh water) often get "confused seas", with waves coming from different directions. This can be frustrating. Sometimes an inshore course can really be helpful, however the winds inshore often differ greatly from those further offshore.

I really do miss the great boating and the harbors in Michigan.

Barometer Soup
Park City Sailing Assocition
 

Rob B

Active Member
#12
Don't forget that Blackburn sailed the Bass Straights in a Laser! That place has destroyed many large 70+ foot boats.
 
Thread starter #15
TonyB:

Unfortunately, I am not familiar with it, I've never been to Australia. It just puts a big happy smile on my face that I'm getting feedback from Down Under. Very cool.
 
#16
I am an experienced life-long sailor. I have owned Sunfish, butterfly, catamaran, and windsurfers. However, I'm sick of the catamaran. I need a change. I'm thinking of getting a laser. What I want to know is, can a laser handle Lake Michigan on a rough day? Or should I get a more durable, perhaps less performance oriented boat?
Jon:

Sailing on Lake Michigan is a blast, come out for frostbiting in Belmont Harbor in Chicago Sunday mornings, or sail with the active fleet in Milwaukee, see you on the water
 
#17
Jon,
We are all now wondering if you have found a suitable laser to purchase in your area, or if you will have to travel far to aquire one.

Barometer Soup
Park City Sailing Association
 
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