Well, two recent news items may have served to change that perception now.
The first one is a July 13, 2007 Chicago Tribune article entitle "Survivors searching for missing friend in lake." It tells the story of a boating event by two brothers and a friend that was disrupted by an unexpected "giant wave" written by Alexa Aguilar. Here's the main part of the story:
The men had met at the auto shop where the brothers worked at about 5 a.m. Wednesday to take out the 16-foot Mark Twain outboard. They launched from Diversey Harbor around 6 a.m. The weather was pleasant, but they noticed a chop on the water.But their friend Ramirez was not found. The essence of this story for me is the sentence:
"We thought it would get better, but the waves got really, really bad," said Art Lemus, 39.
The National Weather Service issued a small craft advisory at 7 a.m. Wednesday after reports of 6-foot waves and winds gusting at 25 knots.Art Lemus said they never learned of the advisory.
About a mile from shore, Ramirez took the wheel and Aris checked the bilge pump to see if it was working properly because the boat kept filling with water.
Suddenly, a giant wave crashed over the boat, the brothers said, and the craft quickly began to sink. The men weren't wearing life preservers so they grabbed onto whatever they could find. Aris Lemus clutched a seat cushion, Art Lemus grabbed a life preserver, and Ramirez held onto a loose fuel tank.
Panicking, they shouted at one another to "hold on" and "keep swimming," Art Lemus said.
Within minutes, they were separated. Both brothers describe a terrifying two hours of treading water and swimming alone with nothing but the vast expanse of Lake Michigan around them. Both were convinced they were going to die, they said, and thought of the families they would leave behind.
"I was ready to give up," Art Lemus said, "but that gave me strength."
He swam with the waves and ended up on the breakwater in front of the Navy Pier light tower, where he flagged down a passing sailboat. Police arrived, and he frantically told them his companions were still in the water. Police found Aris Lemus swimming a few hundred yards from shore.
"Suddenly, a giant wave crashed over the boat" which clearly signifies the occurrence of a freaque wave!
The other one took place ten days earlier in Saginaw Bay off Lake Huron reported by Steve Griffin in July 3, 2007 issue of Midland Daily News entitled "Saginaw Bay teaches safety lessons" that told a couple's Saturday fishing trip:
This one has a happy ending as the couple were successfully rescued by the Coast Guard. Kirk's description of "all of a sudden a huge wave came over the top of the windshield. A second one came just seconds later, and pushed us under" accurately accounted the nature of freaque wave they encountered. It is interesting that Julie recognized their freaque wave encountering from watching the TV show "The deadliest catch." And she was right!
Saturday afternoon, the Schleckers, from Alden in northwest Lower Michigan, were four miles out on Saginaw Bay south of Au Gres, headed out for some walleye fishing, trying to duplicate the success Kirk had enjoyed the previous weekend.
The marine weather forecast called for waves of 1-2 feet, fine fishing weather. But the waves seemed a little rougher, said Kirk Schlecker.
"A sailboat guy came on the radio and said, 'I've just experienced a microburst,'" a small but violent wind event, "registering winds of 60 miles per hour plus on a gauge at the top of his mast. He said, 'I'm not in trouble, just advising people.'"
The waves already were building, and Julie Schlecker was feeling a bit nauseous. "I said, let's go in," said Kirk. The pair pulled on life jackets, and headed in.
"On the way in," said Julie, "the waves turned to 3-footers."
Said Kirk, "We quartered into the waves, like they say you should, and all of a sudden a huge wave came over the top of the windshield. A second one came just seconds later, and pushed us under."
The boat had "submarined," its nose buried in the wave.
"It was like a rogue wave on (the television show) 'The Deadliest Catch,'" said Julie.
Quickly, the big boat was full of water and settling deeper. "We were standing crotch deep in water," said Kirk.
"I got on the radio, called mayday, and stayed on as long as the radio worked. Then we got on the cell phones, until they quit working."
So I'll say "yes" to the question regarding the existence of Great Lakes freaque waves a little more affirmatively now than before. There are freaque waves in the Great Lakes as well as the Oceans. In case anyone would ask about the size of these waves, please remember that it's not the size that makes a freaque wave, it's the unexpectedness. Put yourself in those occurrences, any waves comes all of a sudden, out of nowhere that submerges you will be a monstrous one regardless what the real size might be. Just beware!