Fall sailing on Lake Michigan is the best. While the daily air temperatures are beginning to cool, the water temperature is still warm, and you’ll find it warmer out on the water than you will on land.
The summer air is full of hydrocarbons and humidity, which all gets swooshed away by the northerly breezes cleaning the air. This causes visibility to skyrocket, the buildings and sites along the shore suddenly have sharp edges and no longer look hazy and fuzzy. No longer are things washed out in a light gray pastel, they become vibrant with color. The big ore ships farther out on the Lake are easier to see and admire.
The color of the water begins to change, as the northeaster’s waves pound the shoreline stirring up the bottom, making the color of the water turn gray. The blue colors of the summer begin to disappear.
The air is fresh, the breezes commonly a bit more in speed than the summer. Sometimes hats, gloves and parkas are the right thing to wear. A hot buttered rum at the end of the sail is a tasty treat.
Some days the northeaster will be in, blowing 20-35 knots, with big seas. Some consider sailing in this beyond their skills, while others are very comfortable sailing in this breeze and big seas and will relish the day. I always compare days like this to a theme park, except the ride is for hours, not a few short minutes.
As the days grow shorter, the time on the water during daylight shortens as well, as the sun works its way lower in the sky. If it feels right, you’ll find yourself coming in after dark a lot more often.
It saddens me to see people putting their boats away early in September, seemingly gearing up to watch football, rather enjoying the great outdoors and sailing on some of the prettiest days of the year. The Chicago Harbors don’t close until October 31, there’s plenty-o-sailing left to go!
If you know someone who owns a sailboat, ask them for a ride. Give them a reason to use their boats. They need memories too, to keep them enthusiastic about sailing. The more days they use their boats, the more they’ll feel it is worthy to keep going.
Get out and Sail!
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