I had a 29' Bayfield Cutter and decided when I retired in 1996 I'd like to do the Great Loop trip. We needed some life jackets went to the September Mt. Clemen's In-The-Water boat show. I ended up buying a 33' Nauticat Pilothouse Ketch. We planned on going up the east side of Michigan, through the Mackinaw Bridge and down the west side of Michigan before going across to Chicago and into the river system. We started two weeks later on October 14th and unfortunately most of Michigan's state marinas closed on October 15th. The Nauticat had a lot of bells & whistles we weren't used to and it was a scary trip just because I knew if anything went wrong, I probably couldn't fix it. We also had a hard time finding fuel and food though when we found a place to stop, everyone was friendly and loaned us cars for shopping trips and we found a few private marinas where we could still buy fuel. We reached South Haven, MI, across Lake Michigan from Chicago, in early November. The next day, 'the Gales of November' started and that means big storms on the Great Lakes. The waves on the lake were about 14’ and spray routinely went over the lighthouse at the entrance of the channel. After the first week, we thought we were stuck there for the winter so I had the masts pulled and fastened them on the fore & aft deck and pilothouse top. Then we had a day of lowered wind and only 5’ waves so thought we’d try to get to Chicago, about 68 nm. We went out through the South Haven channel and were out about half a mile when the masts started to slide around. I told my girlfriend to take the wheel (for the first time ever), keep the bow into the wind (how?), and I ran out to secure the masts better. I was able to refasten the masts, ran back into the pilothouse, and we spun around and headed back into the channel where we surfed back into town on 8’ waves. The channel walls seemed like they were only 10’ on each side of the boat. I still remember the exhilaration and fear of that ride. The next day waves were back up and then we had 8”on snow on the deck that night. That was the same night that Buffalo, NY received 49” of snow. On the 12th day, the waves were down to 3’ and we took off again. By the time we arrived in Chicago, the water was glassy. The next day we entered the Illinois River system and started another part of life.
Yeah, we have waves.