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Old 23-11-2016, 15:43   #1
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Great Loop

I am in the process of outfitting my boat (Bayliner 3258) for an extended cruise. I have installed a new 3 way frig freezer, a automatic ice cube maker, upgraded all the lights to LED,s Installed a enclosed hardtop over the back deck. The two 350 Mercruiser I/Os have been totally rebuilt. Took out all the carpet and replaced with a combination of carpet and vinyl flooring. I have just built a hinge for the radar arch.
The boat is on a triple axle trailer and just about ready to go. I would like to launch the boat as far north as I can get that will not involve portaging. The final destination is Florida. Where can I launch so as to get into the Mississippi. My projected launch date is this coming spring. Thanks in advance for you opinion and expertise.
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Old 23-11-2016, 18:34   #2
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Re: Great Loop

I don't have an answer, but you should be able to find one at either greatloop.org or captainjohn.org.

Have a great trip.
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Old 24-11-2016, 17:58   #3
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Re: Great Loop

My two suggestions would be either Itasca Minnesota as that is the headwaters of the Mississippi, and ther is something to be said for traveling the ENTIRE length of the longest river in North America, or you could put into Lake Superior and travel through the lakes down to Chicago, then take the Illinois River to the Mississippi. That way you can begin and end your journey by boat from Canada (I do not know but it might be frustrating with immigration bringing a boat to Minnesota, don't know). If there is a way to get from Calgary to Lake Superior it would be interesting to hear about it.

Good luck, that will be a great trip!
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Old 24-11-2016, 18:01   #4
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Re: Great Loop

Also, I live on a section that is traveled by a lot of boats making this trip, and most of them are members of a website called ActiveCaptain.
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Old 25-11-2016, 19:38   #5
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Re: Great Loop

Try the marina at Lake City, MN. Operations are currently closed for the winter but the office is staffed. 80 miles or so from Mpls on Lake Pepin on the Mississippi.
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Old 26-11-2016, 10:36   #6
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Re: Great Loop

The starting point for you on the upper miss would be St. Paul as they have the st Anthony locks permanently closed due to invasive carp traveling north. Imho I would start a bit south of the two cities. St. Paul is loaded with barges and wing dams and is pretty unforgiving especially past the confluence of the Minnesota river and the miss. I personally have seen whole trees come through the Minnesota river. Water up here is murky too so absolute zero visibility on wingdams or debris besides some light current swirl at the surface. Get charts for sure but the miss is ever changing so rely primarily on common sense and instruments. Happy
And safe travels and if you want any info or help feel free to message me this is home for me up here and I got a long fin keel so I know some ins and outs of the river
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Old 27-11-2016, 06:03   #7
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Re: Great Loop

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, JJWhite.
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Old 22-12-2016, 11:10   #8
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Great Loop

I would launch at Red Wing, Minnesota, Ole Mis Marina has a very large fenced lot where you could leave your tow vehicle and trailer if need be. Red Wing is about 60 miles south of Minneapolis so you could go north as far as possible and double back to head south. You would be able to start out on the Mississippi much earlier in the spring than on the lakes,typically the ice will be gone sometime in March or April depending on the severity of winter, it was late May before I could safely move a boat on Lake Michigan a few years ago. Starting in mid April would find the marinas open and fuel available without problem, flooding shouldn't be a problem that early in the year more likely in May or June, but every year can be different. Starting out later say July the water will be warm enough to hang out on sandbars, wade around in the water and drink beer with the locals. The upper Mississippi has plenty of marinas if you prefer a slip for the night, there are also a abundance of safe anchorages. No matter your preference get a copy of Quimby's guide, it has all the information you need for marinas, contact info,mm and services available. I would also recommend a iPad with Garmin Bluechart Mobil and get Active Captain so you can overlay the AC information on the charts. Allow yourself plenty of time to enjoy what each area and town has to offer, you'll find plenty of friendly people willing to help and share their local knowledge all along the rivers.
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Old 22-01-2017, 08:22   #9
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Re: Great Loop

As has been pointed out upthread, the Upper St. Anthony Falls lock in Minneapolis is permanently closed, at river mile 854.

The first boat ramp downstream of there is at Hidden Falls Regional Park (846.5), however, it is not clear to me whether that is a suitable facility for a boat and trailer of your size, and the site is unattended so you would be on your own.

You could also launch in the Stillwater area, on the St. Croix. This stretch of river is known for excellent boating, and there are many marinas and services available. You would be farther upriver there than you could go on the Mississippi itself, if it is a goal to cover as much distance as possible.

The Minnesota DNR publishes a "Metro Area Rivers Guide" and "Mississippi River Guide." I believe they are free for the asking. They have locations and contact information for the marinas and other river facilities, and include river charts.
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