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Old 01-10-2018, 19:15   #1
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Great Loop Height Restrictions

Please forgive (and refer) me if this is the incorrect forum. I'm hoping to complete the Great Loop in a sailboat and am researching both sides of the issue (i.e., finding an appropriate boat and researching restrictions along the route).

When it comes to bridge/overhead clearance restrictions, is there a compiled list anywhere? I keep seeing references to a 19' bridge near Chicago. OK, so I unstep/step the mast there. Also, it looks like I'll have to have the mast down for the Hudson River and the Erie canal (is this correct?). I assume there are mast-handling facilities available reasonably near each end of that segment (True?)

So, if my mast extends 45' above the waterline, where else will I have clearance problems?

BTW, I'm also targeting draft 5' or less.

Bouncing around the web looking for this segment and that leaves me without confidence I've found all I need to know. Most of the info I find has to do with power cruisers that aren't really concerned about heights over 20 feet or so.

Thanks,
--Jim
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Old 01-10-2018, 20:29   #2
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Re: Great Loop Height Restrictions

http://www.mvr.usace.army.mil/Portal.../AppendixB.pdf


19' bridge in Chicago, some lower 17' bridges that can be bypassed, you have 47' after you get out of the Chicago area. Mississippi is 60', Tenn-Tom is 52' at normal pool, Hudson River is 60' as far as Troy which is the entrance to the Erie Canal, Erie Canal is 15'6" with portions slightly higher. I haven't been but I've been doing my research.


I'm on lake Pepin, the widest place on the Mississippi -- which has great sailing. While there are places like Pepin, in general, it isn't possible to sail the river system except under ideal conditions because of the narrow channel and obstructions on the banks that block the wind. Usually the wind bends to follow the river channel so either you will be on a dead run or it will be right on your nose. The river part of the journey being southerly and westerly you will find that the prevailing winds are on your nose much of the time.



If you take the Welland Canal instead of the Erie Canal you can leave your mast up except for the short stretch in Chicago.


There are mast cranes at the usual entrance and exit points to the Erie Canal, and in Chicago. I am unsure where the best places are to put your mast back up after leaving Chicago. I believe that it is customary to wait until you reach Cairo but there are probably closer alternatives.


Draft wise you're supposed to have at least 7' in the Erie Canal and at least 9' in the rest of the river system. The Canadian canals are 5' under normal conditions, 4' if water is unusually low.
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Old 01-10-2018, 20:40   #3
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Re: Great Loop Height Restrictions

Some photos from the Mississippi
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Old 01-10-2018, 20:42   #4
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Re: Great Loop Height Restrictions

And a video clip shot near the bridge at Red Wing
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Old 01-10-2018, 20:47   #5
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Re: Great Loop Height Restrictions

I have been from Wabasha to Minneapolis and on side trips on the St. Croix and Minnesota Rivers and was able to engage in some actual, effective sailing for maybe 10% of the miles covered. Had the sails up mainly for decor and aspirational purposes another 10% of the miles
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Old 01-10-2018, 21:51   #6
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Re: Great Loop Height Restrictions

Have you gone through the Great Loop website?
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Old 02-10-2018, 08:54   #7
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Re: Great Loop Height Restrictions

Thanks, Jammer.

This is just the kind of thing I've been looking for. I agree that 'sailing' the rivers will likely be wishful thinking, but I hoped to avoid moving the mast more than once or twice.

BTW, where is the bridge at Moline/Arsenal? There's a split there, so it might be avoidable, but I can't tell with the information I've got now.

As it happens, I'm considering Lake Pepin for home port, though it'll be a few years to retirement.

--Jim
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Old 02-10-2018, 09:18   #8
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Re: Great Loop Height Restrictions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer View Post
http://www.mvr.usace.army.mil/Portal.../AppendixB.pdf


If you take the Welland Canal instead of the Erie Canal you can leave your mast up except for the short stretch in Chicago.
The Welland Canal is quite interesting and takes you to Lake Ontario assuming you're heading north then east. You then have two choices. You can take the Oswego Canal to the Eire CanaL, in which case you have to step your mast, or you can take the St. Lawrence River. The only downside to the St. Lawrence River is that it adds some 2,000 miles to the trip.
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Old 02-10-2018, 09:20   #9
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Re: Great Loop Height Restrictions

Thanks, Stu.

Are you referring to Captain John's site? Yes, I have. It has a lot of great info there, but it does exemplify the problem I'm having with my research: 20 feet or so would accommodate most cruisers, so I'm concerned clearances greater than that but less than mast-height may not be mentioned.

Still looking.
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Old 02-10-2018, 09:26   #10
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Re: Great Loop Height Restrictions

Join AGLCA

https://aglca.clubexpress.com/conten...=login&sl=#req
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Old 02-10-2018, 09:29   #11
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Re: Great Loop Height Restrictions

Quote:
Originally Posted by jcox55 View Post
Thanks, Stu.

Are you referring to Captain John's site?>>>>>>>>>>>>

This one: https://www.greatloop.org/ Don't know if that's John's site or not.


There are probably many other GL blogs and forums, which came up on my google, but this is the "original" one AFIK.



Safe journey.
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Old 02-10-2018, 09:39   #12
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Re: Great Loop Height Restrictions

Seems like you have a good sense of it. In my PCB/Destin area there are a few 50'ish bridges that force most sailboats out of GICW and into the Gulf of Mexico for easy day passages of about 50nm. 45' stick eliminates any concern here but getting from here to Tampa area requires a serious 1.5 - 2 day open water passage that might not be all that fun in a small boat unless you pick a great weather window.
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Old 02-10-2018, 10:10   #13
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Great Loop Height Restrictions

Have you considered rerigging the mast so it can be dropped flat for a bridge transit and immediately put back up? Bruce Bingham has a system outlined in one of his books that does not need a crane, just some extra rigging and an extra long main sheet.

What size vessel do you have or do you feel you need?

I have a sailboat suggestion that I’ve co sidered for a Great Loop but it would be small for most folks, 30’.
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Old 02-10-2018, 11:17   #14
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Re: Great Loop Height Restrictions

Thank you all for the good question and good info! We are planning our Great loop trip. We have found some of the websites mentioned, and they are wonderful! We have started looking at bigger boats, and will keep these guidelines in mind. We are limiting ourselves to a 4' draft because of where we are now, and also because that seems to be a good number for the Chesapeake and Bahamas.
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Old 02-10-2018, 11:52   #15
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Re: Great Loop Height Restrictions

Quote:
Originally Posted by jcox55 View Post
BTW, where is the bridge at Moline/Arsenal? There's a split there, so it might be avoidable, but I can't tell with the information I've got now.
The low bridge at Moline is on a side channel; it provides access to the island where the historic arsenal is located. L&D#15 is in the main channel on the other side of the island.


The web app for Navionics may help with some of these questions, e.g.:


https://webapp.navionics.com/#boatin...etk%7CF%60zrgP
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