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Old 26-05-2015, 09:21   #1
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Transiting a canal with the mast on deck

Hello fellow forumers. We would like to sail across the Great Lakes from Duluth and go through one of the canals to Albany and then down the ICW to paradise. We will have to ship our boat from Olympia, Wa to Duluth.

I have two questions. Should we leave the mast down and motor to the canal and more importantly what do we need to know about going through a canal, locks and moorages, with 10 feet of mast sticking out from both ends of our boat? Ken and Paula (circumnavigators)
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Old 26-05-2015, 10:33   #2
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Re: Transiting a canal with the mast on deck

I would not sail from Duluth to Buffalo without the stick in. The mast overhangs fore and aft are not a problem. It's not a problem in the locks nor is it a problem when tying up along the many walls in the canal. Just remember you've got ten feet more fore and aft, especially when leaving a wall after spending the night.
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Old 26-05-2015, 10:42   #3
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Re: Transiting a canal with the mast on deck

No worries on the overhang. It's done all the time. There are a couple of good places on the Hudson to put it back up.

Consider doing the Trent Severn waterway through Canada while you are in the area. It was one of the high spots for us. Georgian Bay is great. Midland Ont. Has several full service marinas.
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Old 26-05-2015, 10:59   #4
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Re: Transiting a canal with the mast on deck

Raising and dropping the mast twice instead of once might seem like a needless expense but if you will be staying in marinas, that extra 10' of overhang will probably cost you an extra ten feet on each marina bill. So the cost of putting it up for that part of the trip and dropping it again, may not be as great as you think. Add the convenience factor of having your sails to use...Whatever way that works out for you, is valid for you.
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Old 26-05-2015, 11:14   #5
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Re: Transiting a canal with the mast on deck

Assuming you have a monohull, crossing the big lakes with mast down is not a great idea. The mast provids a lot of the boats stability and taking it down reduces it substantially.

Not to mention, the big lakes come with potential for big waves. It's a bit nerve wracking to be bouncing along with the mast strapped on.

Yes, you do have to be more careful in locks with the mast down. If you get spun by the surge, you can easily hit the sides of the lock with the mast. No need to be paraniod but be prepared so you can control the boat.
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Old 27-05-2015, 08:32   #6
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Re: Transiting a canal with the mast on deck

You have great sailing in the Great Lakes, so leave the mast up until you get to Oswego, NY. YOu can take your mast down there and go through the Erie Canal and then step it in the Hudson River.
PS you can go through the Welland Canal with your mast up.
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Old 27-05-2015, 08:39   #7
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Re: Transiting a canal with the mast on deck

Thanks to all of you for the feedback. It will help us make our decision when the time comes, probably July 1, 2016. Ken and Paula
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Old 27-05-2015, 08:54   #8
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Re: Transiting a canal with the mast on deck

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiva View Post
Hello fellow forumers. We would like to sail across the Great Lakes from Duluth and go through one of the canals to Albany and then down the ICW to paradise. We will have to ship our boat from Olympia, Wa to Duluth.
What? Wait? What now?? Are you suggesting that you would motor your sailboat from the western shores of Lake Superior, down through Huron, Erie and Lake Ontario with a mast tied to your deck? This is a very poor, and potentially dangerous thing to do.

A sailboat without a mast up is going to be more unstable. Your route is measured in the small thousands of nm. The Great Lakes are not to be taken lightly. Continental weather makes them challenging. Wind kicks up steep, tight waves very rapidly. I would not recommend motoring a sailboat with a mast tied to the deck unless you've got a lot of time to pick just the right weather windows.

Besides all this, the Great Lakes are an amazing cruising area. It is paradise . Enjoy it.
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Old 27-05-2015, 08:55   #9
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Re: Transiting a canal with the mast on deck

Been planning this for a long time. We are leaving Racine, Wi on July 5 and taking the Erie Canal. We are sailing a Hunter 45. If you would like to talk about the trip I can be reached by cell after June 1, 815-977-2710. Who knows depending on your arrival in the Buffalo area, we may transit at the same time. We expect to get there mid August depending on weather. Jon Cox
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Old 27-05-2015, 09:27   #10
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Re: Transiting a canal with the mast on deck

We're planning on leaving Waukegan mid June to do the same in a Valiant 42- advise keep mast up for the cruise until you get to NY then have it taken down for the transit through the canal. We were advised by our yard to have the mast shipped to the other side.
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Old 27-05-2015, 09:47   #11
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Re: Transiting a canal with the mast on deck

If you try to motor on a lake of any size with a mast down the probable result is your mast cradle would break and your mast slide over the side of the boat. Our mast moved alarmingly on deck even on tiny Oneida (?) Lake on a only slightly breezy day. So no, I'd definitely leave the stick up until the very last minute.

Other small points to remember: don't let your boat get too far from the lock wall with the mast down, as only a small deviation from being parallel to the lock wall with cause a contact with your mast. And, do take off your wind indicator and VHF antenna from the end of the mast. We didn't, and the wind indicator was kindly removed for us by one of the lock's hanging cables, and dropped into the chamber. :-(

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Old 27-05-2015, 11:11   #12
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Re: Transiting a canal with the mast on deck

TIVA, I would NOT traverse the Lakes with the mast on deck. Unsafe, uncomfortable, and there is a lot of great sailing to do. There's no mention of your vessel's draft, but the Trent-Severn has a few shallow spots, so check the water levels and local knowledge before committing to that route. Erie Canal: I once crewed on a 70 ft. boat with 94 ft. mast on deck. It was easier than it looked to avoid hitting the lock walls. You'll be fine. Don't miss the North Channel in Lake Huron!
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Old 27-05-2015, 11:55   #13
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Re: Transiting a canal with the mast on deck

Why not ship all the way to the East coast. It will be cheaper in the long run and you will avoid the hassle of doing the Erie canal in a sailboat which are probably the worst boats for doing locks. It also avoids a second stepping and unstopping the mast, carrying the mast on deck and considerable time.

For example, the cost difference to ship to Beaufort, NC as opposed to Duluth, Mn. according to Yachtworld estimate is $2800 or to Kemah, Tx is only $1,100.
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Old 27-05-2015, 12:04   #14
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Re: Transiting a canal with the mast on deck

The Erie canal is an experience not to be missed. You can tie up along the bank lots of places at night. The scenery is fantastic. We stepped our mast at Hop-O-Nose marina on the Hudson. Enjoy the trip.
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Old 27-05-2015, 13:38   #15
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Re: Transiting a canal with the mast on deck

ebs001: If you consider taking a sailboat through the Erie Canal a "hassle," you must be an open-ocean, long-distance type cruiser. I respect that a lot; been there too. But the Great Lakes and the rivers and canals that connect to them are cruising destinations in their own right, not unlike European canals. OP said they wanted to cruise the Great Lakes and Erie canal, which are challenging in their own way, as well as being scenic, historic, and full of things to see and do and wonderful people. Why would a serious cruiser skip them by taking interstate highways?
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