Typically fall brings us a decent cycle of winds that start in the last week of September and continue through mid November. This fall has been somewhat inconsistent in terms of patterns, except for now.
Today saw south winds gusting to 40 knots. Overnight the winds will clock west and eventually north as the system passes. Then they're swing back to the south and blow again for a few days - only to turn west then north and repeat.
You'd think that the strongest south winds would be in the spring when summer is beating back old man winter, but that's not the case. Our strongest and best southerly winds are in the fall when summer is trying in vain to defend her turf from the onset of winter.
Starting Sunday, south winds will build into the 20-25 knot range and blow for a few days turning the wind driven wave fetch on the lake into an amazing spectacle of surf that only the most determined watermen will enjoy.
While I'll only get a few sessions out of the next system before I fly back to the west coast, I look forward to them like I would seeing an old friend again. When the southerly gales blow on Lake Michigan, there's really nothing like it anywhere in the world. One minute its sunny and inviting with the suns warming rays almost, but not quite, enticing me to pull my hoodie off of my head. But the lights turn out as the low scud snuffs out the warmth, and on cue, the lake turns into a dark, dangerous beast that you can't turn your back on.
Of all the places I've sailed in my 30 plus years on the water, Lake Michigan in the fall is some of the most technical yet rewarding sailing I've ever done.
I look forward to it for its recognized character, but I relish in the chaos that it dishes up.