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Old 04-09-2014, 10:02   #16
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Re: ICW Travel Time

...and to quickly add: Nearly all cruisers do it southbound in the fall, but, going north (or reverse it for south), you would go from Biloxi up the Tenn-Tom Waterway, up to the Ohio R. at Kentucky Lakes, then down to the Miss. R. then up to the Illinois. Taking the Miss. R. from New Orleans is unadvisable, and would be a really long, hairy ordeal. North in spring is tough either way because of all the floods, and a sailboat would have a hard time fighting its way.(Gemini is a great idea...you could probably build a tabernacle — I think someone demonstrate theirs on the gemini gems list-serve, but not sure).
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Old 04-09-2014, 10:03   #17
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Re: ICW Travel Time

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Wow! So many opinions, I value them all!

I'll be a little more specific so you can all give a more informed answer

We are selling everything we own, buying a 35'-40' sailboat with a diesel engine and leaving our old lives behind. We are taking basic, intermediate AND advanced sailing courses in may/june 2015 and taking july/august to get used to the boat before we head to the east coast at the end of august. We will be heading down the east coast and then off to the islands. We were then going to head back to Canada for hurricane seane season to a little spot in ontario called grand bend where we'll work all summer and then south again at the end of august. From what everyone has said, heading north from new orleans to chicago is a no go. No problem! We'll just head back up the east coast. Does this sound like a doable plan or am I way off base??
You will not make it to the BVI and back before the hurricane season if you do the ICW. With the schedule you propose you might as well stay home because it certainly wont be fun. Concentrate on getting a boat and learning how to handle it.
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Old 04-09-2014, 10:15   #18
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Re: ICW Travel Time

The Erie Canal is only open from May 1 to September 1. They say it's about 6 days each way because the locks are closed at night and you can't go any further than the next lock. You would have to make it thru and down the ICW, cruise the islands and back thru in 4 months and you already burned 10% of your time just in the canal. You might want to leave the boat down south and fly back the next year.
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Old 04-09-2014, 10:26   #19
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Re: ICW Travel Time

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The Erie Canal is only open from May 1 to September 1. They say it's about 6 days each way because the locks are closed at night and you can't go any further than the next lock. You would have to make it thru and down the ICW, cruise the islands and back thru in 4 months and you already burned 10% of your time just in the canal. You might want to leave the boat down south and fly back the next year.
The Canal is usually open till late November, around the 20th. However nothing can be guaranteed as far as the Canal is concerned as heavy rain often disrupts operation due to high water levels and the inability to lift to the next level. These disruptions are usually in the early part of the season although there have been late season disruptions in the past due to heavy rain from hurricanes.
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Old 04-09-2014, 10:32   #20
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Re: ICW Travel Time

So realistically, if I depart the Toronto area in mid august...how far south will I be able to make it before having to turn back in order to make it back to the great lakes area for spring of 2016? Flying back IS NOT an option for us as we are selling everything we own and the boat will be our new home.
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Old 04-09-2014, 10:39   #21
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Re: ICW Travel Time

You are correct, Vasco. I was going off the looper website and not the Erie official website.
Hours of Operation - New York State Canals
They did delay opening because of the rains from May 3rd to May 7th depending on the lock.
https://wwwapps.canals.ny.gov/news/n...tm.aspx?id=233

Lotsa work going on there along with temporary closures. This page is for all the NY canals, not just the Erie.
https://wwwapps.canals.ny.gov/news/notices/
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Old 04-09-2014, 10:40   #22
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Re: ICW Travel Time

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So realistically, if I depart the Toronto area in mid august...how far south will I be able to make it before having to turn back in order to make it back to the great lakes area for spring of 2016? Flying back IS NOT an option for us as we are selling everything we own and the boat will be our new home.

How fast can you move? You can do the Bahamas and back for the next spring but you'll have to move fast on the way home and it'll be a cold trip. Also as stated earlier you cannot rely on the Canal being open in early May. There might be a wait of a couple of weeks if the rain gods don't cooperate.
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Old 04-09-2014, 10:42   #23
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Re: ICW Travel Time

Now you are talking 9 months. The Bahamas are closest so if you just do those then it's doable.
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Old 04-09-2014, 10:42   #24
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Re: ICW Travel Time

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So you're saying most loopers head south from chicago to new orleans and then north up the east coast?
Yes. That way you're not travelling 1000 miles against the strong river currents.

It occurs to me that if you hadn't figured this out already you have a lot of planning and thinking to do before you head out. There's a Great Loop association you should consider joining and several books on the subject. Buy and read them.
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Old 04-09-2014, 10:51   #25
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Re: ICW Travel Time

I am self admittedly new to all of this which is why I'm asking the questions. I have already done a lot of reasearch and will be doing more with all of the info that you fine fols have provided. This isn't just a pick up and go thing. I'll be feverishly planning and researching from now until my planned departure date of august 2015. This a huge trip and I won't be doing it until I have ALL the info I need and then some.

Thanks so much all who have posted! Keep it coming! No such thing as too much info on something like this!
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Old 04-09-2014, 10:58   #26
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Re: ICW Travel Time

There is a possibility you can make better time by going outside if the wind gods smile on you. The Gulf Stream has these huge counter current eddies that head south here and there which will help you out if you stay in the right place. If you study the maps you will see what I mean.
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Old 04-09-2014, 11:13   #27
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Re: ICW Travel Time

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There is a possibility you can make better time by going outside if the wind gods smile on you. The Gulf Stream has these huge counter current eddies that head south here and there which will help you out if you stay in the right place. If you study the maps you will see what I mean.
Thanks Sand Crab, I'll certainly do that. Just to throw it out there, obviously all of the locals stay where they're at during hurricane season. Are there any cruisers that brave the weather and stay all year?
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Old 04-09-2014, 11:25   #28
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Re: ICW Travel Time

I grew up in Fla. We used our boats year round. The hurricane thing is overrated. But if your numbers up......

And no, the locals do not always stay where they are at, I guarantee you there are thousand of bosts cruising the US east coast and the Carib right now. Just keep and eye on the forecasts in case you have to change plans, or course , or run for the civil defense shelter.
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Old 04-09-2014, 11:45   #29
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Re: ICW Travel Time

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There is a possibility you can make better time by going outside if the wind gods smile on you. ........
Yes, but what's the point? I would think anyone cruising in a boat would be taking their time and visiting the towns and cities along the way for the pleasure and experience. Otherwise, just buy a plane ticket and fly to your destination.
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Old 04-09-2014, 12:30   #30
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Re: ICW Travel Time

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Yes, but what's the point? I would think anyone cruising in a boat would be taking their time and visiting the towns and cities along the way for the pleasure and experience. Otherwise, just buy a plane ticket and fly to your destination.
I plan on making stops on the way down and not rushing, just want to be sure I make it back to the great lakes to enjoy a Canadian summer while maximizing the amount of time I can spend in the islands
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