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Old 17-02-2013, 21:00   #1
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Great Lakes End to End

Living in Montana, winter is a time for dreaming and planning while waiting for June to come and the sailing season to start. We're planning on extended cruising beginning in 2017 when I can retire. We threw common sense aside last year and bought a Cabo Rico 34 and brought her to Montana. We love the boat but hauling it here only to turn around and haul it somewhere else in the near future doesn't make a lot of sense financially. That being said, we're spending many winter nights talking about where we want to begin the journey. The current idea is to truck the boat to Duluth, sail the great lakes, and make our way to the Bahamas. From there, who knows. My questions for all of you have to do with getting started. Where are the best facilities on western Lake Superior to stay for a little while and do final preparations on the boat? When in the spring or early summer is the earliest that we would want to start working our way east on Superior? I'm not planning on having radar so fog is certainly a consideration. I'd also be interested in hearing thoughts on the New York canal system versus going to the Atlantic via the St. Lawrence Seaway. Thanks in advance for your input.
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Old 18-02-2013, 08:29   #2
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Re: Great Lakes End to End

I would plan on having radar, personally, and ocean-grade foulies and cabin heating. The CR 34 if properly rigged is certainly up to the journey, but leaving from Duluth in the spring (which I would recommend as this is a lot of sailing miles) is a cold, blustery, mostly downwind journey.

You should also be aware that you need magnesium "zincs" in the Great Lakes and (assuming you go out the St. Lawrence River) zinc zincs past Quebec City when you start to encounter proper salt water.

You do this change at New York City (or Albany, I suppose) if you use the canal down from, say, Oswego, which requires bringing the mast down. As you may read nearby, however, the future of the canal system is in some doubt, so you might have a 1,500 NM "diversion" which I'm not even sure you can do in one summer without going day and night from Duluth to the ICW "outside".

There's great cruising in the Canadian Maritime provinces, particularly Cape Breton. I would suggest aiming for August there is reasonable, arguing for a fairly frosty departure in May. Brrr!

Cheers to your ambitions, anyway. Get the boat surveyed before you go very far, because this is the sort of trip I would suggest argues for a rerigging and an engine overhaul unless it's new or recently redone. Superior in particular is no place to have a sub-par boat with tired gear. It's easily as dangerous as the ocean when in a temper.
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Old 18-02-2013, 08:48   #3
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Re: Great Lakes End to End

"great lakes end to end".

i liked it wery much. i thought even to move to live over there.
i done it several times. lakes, welland canal, locks. from duluth, superrior and chichago (calumet or something). last time sumer 1981.

i remember last stops usualy were three rivers (trois rivieres), rimouski or port cartier beefore crossing atlantic for europe.

once there was snow last days of may begining of june in hamilton
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Old 18-02-2013, 08:50   #4
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In regards to the NYS Canal system. Last spring I transported our "new to us" hunter 28.5 up the Hudson river and through the canal to Cayuga Lake. It started as a low cost venue to transport our purchase home and turned into a vacation of great times and wonderful sights.

I would do it again in a heartbeat!

Virtually every town or city offers free or low cost tie ups, some include water, pumpout, and electric. You can also over night at almost all of the locks for free, 2 days max each.

Locking thru is a breeze after you get one or two under your belt, we did 25.

Drop your mast in Oswego, not sure who to use there. Once in the Hudson, motor down to Casleton where they have a self serve crane for raising. A Hunter 40.5 pulled his there when we overnighted on our way up.

If we ever plan an extended cruise I can assure you the canal will be involved.
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Old 18-02-2013, 10:59   #5
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Re: Great Lakes End to End

The Apostle Islands are on Lake Superior, right? For your shakedown cruise and "getting ready" once you splash into the lake. Plenty of good marinas at the west end of the lake.

I agree on radar. No idea why you'd nix it before you do your homework on conditions one would expect on a cruise of that distance in that environment.

Nice boat, good luck.
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Old 18-02-2013, 11:56   #6
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Re: Great Lakes End to End

Hi Ron, we sail out of Thunder Bay, Ontario on the northwest shore of Lake Superior. I can recommend Barker's Island near Duluth as a good spot for work and a refit. Bayfield area (just a bit further east) is also a great place to hang out and do upgrades. And La Pointe on Madaline Island across from Bayfield has a nice yacht club/marina that offers great service. Bayfield is in the Apostles, which is a decent place to get your feet wet. When you're ready, point the bow north and explore the north shore (the Canadian side). It offers some of the best cruising in the world.

Fog is definitely an issue early in the season (May-June) on Superior. Even through July it's quite common. August/September is mostly fog-free, but even then it is not uncommon. That said, radar is not a necessity here. We've sailed for years up here without it. Lack of radar means we are sometimes fog-bound, but that's what good books are for. The fact is the traffic is relatively light up here, especially once you get away from the few urban areas like Duluth, Thunder Bay or the Sault. So being smart will get you by.

Don't get me wrong, radar is definitely useful to have, but it's not a necessity for Superior. Personally, I think radar is more important once you get further south, and especially if you're headed out the St. Lawrence.

We're actually planning this exact journey, from L. Superior to the Caribbean. We're leaving the spring of 2014, and expect to be sunning our toes someplace warm once hurricane season passes. I've spoken with a few who have done the Superior to east coast run (out the St. Lawrence) in about a month. A friend went from Thunder Bay to Rimouski, and they left in August.
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Old 18-02-2013, 12:40   #7
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Re: Great Lakes End to End

Yeah, but that run didn't include touristic lay-overs, I'll bet. It's hundreds and hundreds of NMs.
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Old 18-02-2013, 13:25   #8
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Re: Great Lakes End to End

Thank you all for the replies. One of the beautiful things about buying our boat early is that we have time to sail and get to know her. Thankfully, she is in wonderful shape. That being said she is also 24 years old and very basically equipped. We're putting together a list of maintenance items and upgrades for extended cruising. It's amazing how the dollars add up without buying many of the "nice to have items". Standing rigging and new chain plates are must haves, new sails, and so many other things. Radar would certainly be nice but is tens of thousands of dollars down the list.

Hopefully the New York canal system is still in operation when the time comes. As I said in my original post, we're passing the winter by dreaming and basic planning and haven't done a lot of research yet. I'm thinking that when we set sail the idea will be to get to the upper Chesapeake by early to mid-October. This would give considerable time to explore the Chesapeake before heading farther south. With October in the Chesapeake in mind, it seems that a "somewhat" leisurely trip through Lake Superior and Lake Huron would be possible, with a quicker trip through Erie and the corner of Ontario. And Mike, the Canadian shore is certainly appealing. I'm guessing mid June would be about the earliest to get started.

As for magnesium zincs, I have to admit I hadn't thought of that. I only recently heard about them for fresh water use. Our boat spent it's first two years in salt water and has been in fresh water since. Is there a way to tell what kind of "zincs" she has?
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Old 18-02-2013, 13:30   #9
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Re: Great Lakes End to End

Quote:
Originally Posted by HoppySailor View Post
Thank you all for the replies. One of the beautiful things about buying our boat early is that we have time to sail and get to know her. Thankfully, she is in wonderful shape. That being said she is also 24 years old and very basically equipped. We're putting together a list of maintenance items and upgrades for extended cruising. It's amazing how the dollars add up without buying many of the "nice to have items". Standing rigging and new chain plates are must haves, new sails, and so many other things. Radar would certainly be nice but is tens of thousands of dollars down the list.

Hopefully the New York canal system is still in operation when the time comes. As I said in my original post, we're passing the winter by dreaming and basic planning and haven't done a lot of research yet. I'm thinking that when we set sail the idea will be to get to the upper Chesapeake by early to mid-October. This would give considerable time to explore the Chesapeake before heading farther south. With October in the Chesapeake in mind, it seems that a "somewhat" leisurely trip through Lake Superior and Lake Huron would be possible, with a quicker trip through Erie and the corner of Ontario. And Mike, the Canadian shore is certainly appealing. I'm guessing mid June would be about the earliest to get started.

As for magnesium zincs, I have to admit I hadn't thought of that. I only recently heard about them for fresh water use. Our boat spent it's first two years in salt water and has been in fresh water since. Is there a way to tell what kind of "zincs" she has?
Forget zinc or magnesium anodes, switch to aluminum indium and they are good for fresh and salt water.
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Old 18-02-2013, 13:54   #10
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Re: Great Lakes End to End

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Originally Posted by HoppySailor View Post
...With October in the Chesapeake in mind, it seems that a "somewhat" leisurely trip through Lake Superior and Lake Huron would be possible, with a quicker trip through Erie and the corner of Ontario. And Mike, the Canadian shore is certainly appealing. I'm guessing mid June would be about the earliest to get started.
We've been out as early as mid-May, but mid-June is more typical. Weather can be lovely on Superior in May, although it will be cold. Warm foulies are a must, especially for any overnight crossings. We use a simple alcohol heater (Origo), which is enough for us, but we're tough . In reality, Superior is always cold, so you kinda get used to it...
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Old 18-02-2013, 14:20   #11
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Re: Great Lakes End to End

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Yeah, but that run didn't include touristic lay-overs, I'll bet. It's hundreds and hundreds of NMs.
Those who've done the route report that while it isn't a leisurely trip, neither does it have to be done as a forced delivery. Our friend got to Rimouski from Thunder Bay (~1600 nm) in 5-6 weeks. They played around for a few days in various places like Toronto, Montreal & Quebec City. Another fellow CFer here reports leaving L. Michigan and reaching Halifax in a month, and that included 3 days in Montreal and 6 days in Quebec City.

I measure the distance (very roughly) to be about 2500 nm to Halifax and another 1000 to the Chesapeake, so I figure we could leave in July and not have to rush.
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Old 14-11-2013, 05:33   #12
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I've sailed on Lake Superior the past ten years. Barkers in Duluth is a full service marina. Bayfield has great marinas and a great walking town too.

We use a mr buddy propane heater. Works great. You can buy them refurb from the company for half price.

I don't have radar, wished I did 3 of the last 500 cruising days (we are teachers).

Isle Royale is worth a stop. Chipewa harbor, south side. Zero services though.

Enjoy
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Old 14-11-2013, 07:10   #13
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Re: Great Lakes End to End

Using the Erie Canal vs St. Lawrence are drastically different trips. Not bad just nothing alike.

Another alternative is to go down to Chicago and take the river system to the Gulf. This probably the more popular route from the western Great Lakes.

The biggest issue I see is it doesn't warm up on Lake Superior until near mid summer (if you can call it warm). We launch in mid april in southern Michigan and usually just hang around the dock with quick day sails for the first few weeks because it is miserable cold. We've done the lengths of Erie, Huron and Michigan. While Superior is enticing, the short season is limiting if you need to escape before fall sets in. Now if you can haul out for the winter can continue on the next spring...

While I don't want to diswade you from Superior, you might consider dropping her in at Escanabe and immediately heading south for a loop of Lake Michigan. This will buy you 5-10 degrees warmer temps as you move south before you turn and follow the warming temps north to get back up to Macknaw and the North Channel in Mid June.

Lots of options and none are really bad as long as you provide enough time to stay ahead of the cold come fall while still allowing enough time to account for weather & mechanical delays.
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Old 14-11-2013, 07:20   #14
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Re: Great Lakes End to End

Great Lakes End to End

I done it in the summer of 1981, from Duluth to Rimouski, then across Atlantic. but can not help, done it with 30,000 tons bulk carrier M/V Hercegovina.

ahahaaa.....what coincidence, I just found this .....


Great Lakes NEWS & RUMOR Archive



More on the Hercegovina

09/30:
Just after midnight 18 Sept., U.S. Coast Guard personnel boarded the Hercegovina (Croatian-registry 30,882-dwt, 197-meter/645-foot motor bulk carrier built in 1977, operated by Atlantska Plovidba dd Dubrovnik) at the Eisenhower Locks of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Three licensed officers aboard were found to be legally intoxicated. The third mate, who was operating the ship's throttles as it neared the locks, was arrested. The Croatian citizen was taken to the jail in Malone, N.Y., and arraigned before a U.S. magistrate. The ship then moved to the Wilson Hill Anchorage and was released on 19 Sept. It was sailing from Venezuela to Toledo, Ohio, to load soybeans.
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Old 14-11-2013, 07:59   #15
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Re: Great Lakes End to End

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Originally Posted by HoppySailor View Post
Where are the best facilities on western Lake Superior to stay for a little while and do final preparations on the boat? When in the spring or early summer is the earliest that we would want to start working our way east on Superior? I'm not planning on having radar so fog is certainly a consideration. I'd also be interested in hearing thoughts on the New York canal system versus going to the Atlantic via the St. Lawrence Seaway. Thanks in advance for your input.
I have had all of my winter clothes on plus a -20 bag over me in the cockpit crossing Superior to Isle Royale on July 3rd one year. It was the 2nd coldest I have ever been. I was colder after 10 hrs of caving in Swilldon's Hole.

I have seen Munising Bay covered in pack ice the 2nd week in June. Very rare but can happen.

We went from the Great Lakes to Halifax in 2010. We staged the boat in Lake Michigan's west end the prior fall at Nestegg Marina in Marinotte, WI. Full service and great folks there btw. We were worried about a late spring in Lake Superior that could have delayed us. Left Nestegg on May 2nd. Had a couple of cold nights on the water but it worked.

You may want to reconsider the radar plan. I feel it is one of the most important pieces of sailing safety gear you can have in the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway. Primarily you can detect and track other boats that are not broadcasting AIS. There is much dense fog in the spring and early summer months in all of the Great Lakes all the way out to the East Coast. Canada and Maine is known for heavy fog in the early cruising months.
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