Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Importance of a Good Harbor

Not an ideal place to anchor in a storm
Living on a boat leaves you pretty exposed to whims of the weather and, forecasted or not, there's not much more that gives me a little peak in anxiety than being smack-dab in the middle of some nasty weather. Rain is fine, even some wind is fine. Lightning? A little nerve-wracking but not so long as we've got some protection around us.

Now, put me in some nasty weather unprotected and it's a test of my sanity. You see, the problem is fetch. Unprotected by some sort of land mass/structure, winds can quickly toss up some waves that leave you bouncing around on anchor until you almost go bonkers. Add to that the constant howling of the wind for hours on end and it can be downright miserable.

So far in our travels we've found ourselves in a couple of fairly unpleasant anchorages, either due to inaccurate forecasts or pure lack of options. Like that time we anchored in Lake Huron just north of the St. Claire River when a surprise storm came through. Not fun. But we got lucky and most of it missed us. Bullet:Dodged
Not a sailing day on Erie
In Lake Erie the number of what I would call protected anchorages is very limited. Many of them are simply areas within break walls jutting into the lake that you can anchor in. From our experience; not good places to be when storms kick up. One anchorage had us bouncing around so bad that, after a sleepless night (on my part) and continuing winds, we headed up river and got a slip for the evening.

On the flip side, we now sit in Erie, PA, one of the best natural harbors on the lake. With 20-30kt winds and 5ft waves out on the big lake, we're comfortably anchored in flat waters with less than a 10kt breeze in our little bubble. And while waiting out the weather can itself test my patience, at least we're comfortable while doing it...and not cranky.

Here's to good harbors!

Not the best picture, but you get the idea

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