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Old 29-01-2013, 09:27   #1
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Great Lakes to the Gulf?

I have found some good buys on boats, but they are in the Great Lakes. How feasible is it to sail either down to the Gulf or over to the Atlantic Ocean?

I will be retiring so time isn't an issue.
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Old 29-01-2013, 09:41   #2
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Re: Great Lakes to the Gulf?

Its not quick, but its pretty easy. It's half of the great loop. google the great loop and check it out.
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Old 29-01-2013, 10:02   #3
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Re: Great Lakes to the Gulf?

In the spring of 2010 we did Lake Superior to Halifax via the St. Lawrence Seaway and it was a great trip. Scenary, whales, locks, Quebec City, pure magic and just a great time.
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Old 29-01-2013, 10:13   #4
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Re: Great Lakes to the Gulf?

"Its not quick, but its pretty easy." RabidRabbit

I don't know if you've spent anytime on the Illinois, Ohio or Mississippi Rivers, but I can assure you that it is not easy. With the recent drought conditions the last couple years, the continually changing channels, sandbars, depth and the incredible amount of unseen hazards to navigation below the surface (uprooted trees, branches, ubiquitous flotsam)as well as the commercial barge and ship traffic, the river route to the Gulf is hardly a walk in the park. In addition to this, much of the river system is muddy, polluted water with vagrant currents that require constant vigilance at the helm. And, then there is the constant presence of the flying Asian Silver Carp that inhabits much of the Illinois and the Mississippi Rivers and is wreaking havoc on the commercial and recreational use of the rivers. A far safer,saner and picturesque voyage is sail the Great Lakes to the Erie Canal and head south. Unless, of course, you're into Zumba Dance. Good luck and good sailing.
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Old 29-01-2013, 10:55   #5
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Re: Great Lakes to the Gulf?

I don't have any experience down the Mississippi, but any of the great lakes have access to the Atlantic via the Erie canal or St Lawrence Seaway. Nothing like buying a boat that has seasonal use and only been in fresh water. Some great sailing between your purchase point out to the ocean to shake down the boat.
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Old 29-01-2013, 17:02   #6
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I've seen everything from kayaks to 125' yachts on the Mississippi. The channel is safe for navigation of tows that draft 9' I doubt you'll have a problem in a pleasure craft. The IL. river enters the Mississippi about the 219 mm, the best route to the gulf is on the Ohio river umr mm 0. Then south on the Cumberland at Ohio mm 922 or on the Tennessee at mm 934. If the boat has the range you can bypass the Ohio & continue on the lower Mississippi to the gulf. Marinas are few & far between on the lower miss. but people have done it using cans or fuel bladders. If you go thru with this get yourself a quimby's guide & charts the quimby's has info on locks, bridges, marinas & restaurants. The charts so you'll know where it's safe to get out of the channel to anchor. The river is a great place to boat with a lot of places to visit, when its high it can have debris in it, but I've had no problem avoiding any damage. The Asian carp can be a problem on the IL. but they are usually in shallow water areas not in the channel. You'll need to have a VHF radio to communicate with the locks, bridges & tow boat pilots. If I can be further help let me know.
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Old 29-01-2013, 21:09   #7
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If the water levels of the Mississippi stay at the extreme lows, you could have issues finding anchor spots. If you can run 25k it's OK but for a sail or trawler it will be a big problem. If levels come back up, it's a great trip. The Ten-Tom route to Mobile is much preferred vs New Orleans. The lower Miss is pretty hostile to slow cruising boats.
Many hundreds, perhaps thousands of small pleasure boats run Chi to Mobile every fall.
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Old 04-02-2013, 08:42   #8
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I wouldn't tear out of the Great Lakes very quickly if you don't have to. Though they make their own weather and can have a wicked long fetch if the wind is blowing the wrong way, it's a good place to spend a season, get to know your boat and get things fixed. Spend time with the Canadian Shield or get to know New York or Ontario's wine country.

On the Erie canal you will have to remove your mast. If you have all the time in the world take the st Lawrence and brush up on your French.
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Old 04-02-2013, 09:15   #9
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Re: Great Lakes to the Gulf?

@rognvald - What you described is called navigation, its a huge part of boating. Nothing more, nothing less.
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Old 04-02-2013, 11:34   #10
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Re: Great Lakes to the Gulf?

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@rognvald - What you described is called navigation, its a huge part of boating. Nothing more, nothing less.

Of the three options available (St. Lawrence, Erie Canal or the Mississippi) the Mississippi is the least desirable option for a sailboat in regards to ease of navigation,safety, available anchorages and scenic beauty. I'm not certain that the respondent is interested in an Outward Bound experience. I believe he simply wants to transport his boat from point A to B. But, nonetheless, thanks for the education on navigation. It was nothing short of revelation. Good luck and good sailing.
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Old 08-02-2013, 06:00   #11
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Re: Great Lakes to the Gulf?

Having done all 3 several times they are all fun, beautiful and interesting trips. Each is different. However do not be in such a hurry to get out of the Great lakes. Superior and the Georgian Bay of Hudson are some of the most interesting and beautiful cruising grounds on our planet!!
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Old 08-02-2013, 06:21   #12
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Re: Great Lakes to the Gulf?

The St Lawrence is one of the seven wonders of the world IMHO whales of all kinds some of the most beautiful scenes will be captured as you head to the Atlantic. If your coming in from lake Erie you will have the Welland Canal to go through, another fantastic area to cruise, the thousand islands at the base of the St Lawrence is worth of time spent.
You can spend years doing the great lakes an see a fraction of the worlds largest body of fresh water. If ya need a second along the way at the Welland or Seaway Canals give me a call and i.ll come out and give you a hand, either is a five hour drive to get to but worth the sail.
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Old 10-02-2013, 05:47   #13
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Re: Great Lakes to the Gulf?

Hey, and yea. I to am planning and out bound trip from great lakes to east coast. So Bill can you or anyone else please give any experience with locks conditions/requirments. how much time it takes to curise a sailboat through the erie canal and down the Hudson river? Marinas on west of the canal that will unstep masts and marinas south on hudson who will step masts that will not break the bank? These are some of my questions being that this part of the trip will have the most hassels without any sailing time. So any info on the do's and dont's?
Thank uall so much!!
Wilson
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Old 10-02-2013, 06:05   #14
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Re: Great Lakes to the Gulf?

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Originally Posted by ketchman View Post
Hey, and yea. I to am planning and out bound trip from great lakes to east coast. So Bill can you or anyone else please give any experience with locks conditions/requirments. how much time it takes to curise a sailboat through the erie canal and down the Hudson river? Marinas on west of the canal that will unstep masts and marinas south on hudson who will step masts that will not break the bank? These are some of my questions being that this part of the trip will have the most hassels without any sailing time. So any info on the do's and dont's?
Thank uall so much!!
Wilson
Have done the trip from Toronto south many times.
Toronto - Oswego- 20 hrs. (120 miles)
Unstep mast at Oswego Marina - 1 day
Oswego- Hudson via Oswego & Erie Canals- can be done in 4-5 days easily but take 10 and enjoy it.
Troy Lock (Hudson River)- Catskill , 1/2 day
Step mast at Riverview Marina, Catskill (Mike, the owner is very cruiser friendly)
Slow three day trip down Hudson to N.Y. City
Atlantic Ocean south, ICW south , a bit of both, up to you.

Best advice I can give you. When unstepping mast keep the headsail on the furler, keep the main on the boom. Protects furler and saves storage space down below. Have one of those emergency vhf antennas and hitch it to the main vhf. for communication with lockmasters. Handhelds are nearly useless. Take your time in the canal (free tie-ups every night)and down the Hudson. Very relaxing, enjoy yourself. Finally, tie up on the high side of a lock. If you tie up on the low side when they dump the lock your boat goes all over. Also on the low side, it's like being in a cave.
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Old 10-02-2013, 08:15   #15
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Re: Great Lakes to the Gulf?

Vasco,
You the bomb,,yep .Thanks about vhf,and having backup antenna,,did'nt even think of that! Any restrictions on locks with a short handed crew, or no? Also any proven methods of keeping the hull off lock walls to prevent scratches/ gouges? So after entering in the canal you buy the ten day pass? yea? Any other wisdom is very welcome.Nice sailboat,!!!
Thanks CapEtan!
wilson
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