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Old 10-12-2017, 07:46   #1
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Great Loop vs. Welland Canal and a U-turn

My home waters are Lake Superior and the Mississippi. My cruising will ultimately involve both in some fashion. I'm planning around a 37' bluewater cruiser.

There are, of course, three ways into Lake Huron from the Northeast: the Welland Canal (via lake Erie), the Erie Canal (also via lake Eire), and the Trent-Severn Waterway. Leaving the Great Lakes for the Gulf, the worthwhile alternatives are one of the the two largely interchangeable routes into the Illinois River, or back out through the Welland Canal and down the coast.

The Welland Canal has sufficient bridge clearance to allow the mast to stay up while no other route does. But it is a utilitarian route rather than a recreational one.

Keeping the mast up rules out various worthwhile side journeys that would otherwise be possible, particularly the Rideau Canal, Lake Champlain, and some of the lakes and rivers in and around Tennessee.

It occurs to me that it would be possible to leave the cruising boat on a mooring ball for a month and rent a power boat for some of these side trips for the cost of having the mast unstepped and stepped.

Guidance? Ideas?
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Old 10-12-2017, 08:08   #2
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Re: Great Loop vs. Welland Canal and a U-turn

Once you get used to whatever boat you end up with you will find stepping and un-stepping a mast is no big deal. Most of the Great Lakes sailors do it annually and those of us who have been through the N.Y. Canal system sometimes have done it four times in a year. You will build crutches for the mast and it is a fairly simple process. At most yards on the way the cost for a boat under 40 feet would be less than $300.

Travelling with the mast on deck is usually done in the canals, you will get used to the overhangs and the waters are usually calm with the exception of Lake Oneida but you can wait for weather at either end.

As for the Rideau Canal draft is the factor that you should worry about. The routes you take will depend on time available. I have never done the Great Loop. Most cruisers I know get in and out of the Great Lakes via the N.Y. State canal system.

By the sounds of what you want to do a trailer sailor would be your best bet.
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Old 10-12-2017, 14:49   #3
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Re: Great Loop vs. Welland Canal and a U-turn

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vasco View Post
Once you get used to whatever boat you end up with you will find stepping and un-stepping a mast is no big deal....
Thanks for the insight.

Quote:
As for the Rideau Canal draft is the factor that you should worry about.
I'm aware of the draft limitation. The boats I'm looking at draw more than I might like but are still workable there.

Quote:
The routes you take will depend on time available. I have never done the Great Loop. Most cruisers I know get in and out of the Great Lakes via the N.Y. State canal system.
..nod..

Quote:
By the sounds of what you want to do a trailer sailor would be your best bet.
My boating life has been primarily power and paddle. I've laid serious plans to get a trailer sailor this spring and using it to explore some isolated waters where there are no marinas that can be counted upon to assist with launching, stepping, unstepping, and retrieval. These include Minnetonka, Vermilion, and Lake of the Woods. This will be a ~24' vessel with a swing keel and 24" or less minimum draft and a tabernacle mast. And an outboard motor.

That's too small for serious cruising. There will be a next boat in preparation for the time when I'm less tied to this area.

I've looked at larger trailer sailors and have thought seriously about the Pacific Seacraft Orion. I believe they're 27' on deck. There's one for sale near me that comes with a trailer. Not really a trailer sailor, though -- too large for trailer launch unassisted, and too small for couples cruising. IMO. If I were solo it would be perfect.
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