Waiting for the Weather

As my brother Adam, among others, succinctly pointed out, our average speed for this leg is zero knots.

While waiting for Customs and Border Control to clear us in, a beautiful north westerly and westerly breeze came and went. The afternoon we were cleared in the wind moved to the East and then North East and that is where it has stayed. The forecast is for the wind to continue to come from the North East for the next few days.

Modern sailboats can sail in the general direction of the wind (beat windward).  However there are costs to beating into the wind.

The most obvious cost is speed. The speed made over ground in the direction you want to go is much slower. Partially because you need to zig zag to your destination, and partially because the boat is pushed sideways (leeway).  The wave action can also slow a boat down.  A North East breeze blowing down towards Duluth creates steep seas which also reduce boat speed. In short, if your destination is windward it take much, much longer to get there.

Beating windward can be a lot of fun because it is more exciting. The boat feels more powerful as it punches through the waves. The wind feels stronger. However over long periods it is hard on the boat and on the crew. In the Spring  the water temperatures on Lake Superior are still only a few degrees above freezing so beating into the wind is cold (and often wet) for anyone on deck. There is more strain on the boat per mile and that means more repairs and more expense in the long run. Beating windward for long periods can be bad for morale and bad for the budget!

But most importantly, most of the bad weather on this part of Lake Superior comes from the North East. There is no point beating into the wind for a few days with potential for the weather getting worse, when we can relax at a dock, work on the boat and wait for better weather instead.

So here we sit, waiting for better weather. We may make the 18 mile jump to North to Knife River if the wind swings around to the east for a few hours tomorrow morning. Knife River would give us a better angle of approach the to the Apostle Islands. However, one thing we do know is the weather will change soon and the right day will come for us to start making our way East across Lake Superior.