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Currents of the Great Lakes

There are currents in all of the five Great Lakes, and the prevailing winds and outflow of water to the ocean affect these systems. Generally, the currents’ speed is estimated to be between one and four statute miles per hour. They are therefore significant to the movement and safety of today’s recreational boat traffic, and influence both passage times and fuel economy. People who engage in long-distance sailboat racing or cruising on the Great Lakes may find Great Lakes Currents of particular interest.

More than 100 years ago the Weather Service charted prevailing currents in all of the Great Lakes. Today's satellite-based analyisys and imagery bring up to the minute information on Great Lakes currents to everyone for both cruise and race planning. Interestingly, the century-old analyses, current observations by Great Lakes Mariners over the years, and today's regularly-updated satellite-based current data are all in remarkable alignnment. Prevailing winds and the outflow of water to the ocean effect these systems. Where currents exist their speed can reach from one to as much as four knots, more than sufficient to influence both passage times and fuel economy.

Using both historic analyses and modern satelite imagery, experienced Great Lakes sailor, Niels Jensen, explains the prevailing currents in each of the five Great Lakes in this significantly updated webinar based on today's latest imaging technology. Boaters engaging in long-distance Great Lakes cruising, as well as sailboat racing, will find today's on-line current charts of particular interest. In addition to their affect on passage times, Niels will examine how currents also interact with winds to create certain wave phenomena. The best known of these is the wind-against-current situation, which can quickly generate dangerous conditions that, for the comfort and safety of their crew, captains of small recreational craft should well understand.

NA00102-i: Currents of the Great Lakes
Niels Jensen

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Meet The Instructor

Niels Jensen
Niels Jensen, originally from Denmark, is a past Commodore of the Great Lakes Cruising Club, past president of the Great Lakes Foundation as well, plus is GLCC Port Captain for Stockton Island on Lake Superior. His home cruising waters are western Lake Superior.