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Old 13-09-2003, 11:20   #16
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Old 20-10-2003, 15:38   #17
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Barge Canal

Made the run from Charleston to Toronto via the barge canal two years ago and it was a good trip. The passage from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario will put you into the Barge canal without actually having to head out on to Ontario. The facilities to step/unstep the mast at Oswego are expensive as it is the only game in town and they know it. You will need at least one other person on the boat to make the lock transits in good form. Some of the lifts are up to 40 feet, and can be a little tricky depending on the mood of the lockmaster. Good supplies on the trip and lots of places to tie along the lockwall approaches without charge. There is a boat club just south of Albany with a manual gin pole to restep your mast, only $50.00 Usually lots of other cruisers there to lend a hand, and far less expensive than having a yard do the job. We used it both directions and had no problems on a 45 with a 50' stick. Cant remember the name, but if you need it, I will check the logs and get it back to you. Good luck, and a pleseant voyage
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Old 20-10-2003, 19:16   #18
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Obviously, it's been done but few have done it with s/v's as large as your own. I'm sure you'll be draft challenged, the lock & dam system "assures" (wink, wink, cough) a 9' channel. Considering the water you must draw, you'll want pay particular attention to holding a sailing line (marked on the charts). Even then, your options for putting her anywhere off the channel overnight will be severely restricted.

As mentioned elsewhere, you'll have to drop your mast, what else ... current. The Mississippi is one big river and drains a huge landmass. The current is formidable. The Ohio less so but the Ohio Valley is still a substantial drainage & the river runs with deceptive power. You might also be surprised by how much junk you’ll find in the rivers, fast moving & massive junk like trees. Six foot + diameter, 4 & 5 bladed towboat props can eat them whole but the pieces they spit out could well sink you. A whole trunk in immediate proximity to your ketch requires little speculation. If you do the Tenn-Tom your jog up the Ohio, against the current, should be your worst exposure to flotsam.

You are talking about the busiest commercial waterway in the country, & not just the Mississippi. The Ohio moves considerable freight & the Tenn-Tom does as well. Though I don't have that much trouble with tows & their crews (they're great people, mariners no less) they do get priority at the locks & you'll do some waiting on the Illinois Waterway in particular.

Once out into the Mississippi you’ll generally be able to give them a wide berth & stay out of their way but you’ll be more restricted on the Illinois WW, the Ohio & the Tenn-Tom. The up side, the tows typically move very, very slowly … the pilots are well aware of how long it takes to stop or redirect that kind of tonnage. I have on occasion seen a tow make some wake but it’s far more typical for them to be moving at an almost imperceptible speed.

The trick is to stay clear of them as much as possible & avoid their sterns at all costs … those towboats are powerful, powerful boats. One of the ugliest things I’ve ever seen was what happened to a bass boat that crept in too close for a look … the tow was pointed downstream but holding against the current, effectively backing down at about six knots. The bass boat driver apparently just never thought about what was happening under that towboat’s stern, she was just sitting there (with 15 loaded barges) … right ? Wrong.

Even so, you would love the proposed trip, or I at least hope you would. I’m not sure you want to do it in your ketch, though. I have a hunch that caring for a boat so not appropriate to these waters would take all the fun out of it. Add to that your boat’s “one of a kind in the world” status & I simply wouldn’t do it.

If you do decide to go for it, by all means enjoy the heartland. Consider a guide as an aid to enjoying the experience, somebody that knows the route & knows it well, knows moving water (fast & forceful moving water), locking through, etc.

Let me emphasize though, you’re talking about my own cruising grounds & I do love it here. I would also like nothing more than to find a sailboat like your own & put my own back into her knowing that she’s unique & beautiful & well worth it. If/when I do make that happen I won’t even consider bringing her up the Mississippi or the Tenn-Tom, it just won’t happen.

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Old 18-03-2004, 01:23   #19
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I don't know if you have decided on your route yet but I have done both the Mississippi route and the Erie Canal.

In Chicago do alot of calling around to see who can pull your mast. We had some trouble and a friend with a 56 foot sloop and deep (7.5) draft had serious problems.
We entered further south in the Calumet River and our friend took the northern Chicago River entrance. The only tricky stretch is about 35 miles in where the two come together. For about 5 miles there is a barge marshalling yard, it is busy with barges tied up on both sides and coming and going. You may want to time it to get past this area on your first day. If not there are a few places on the Calumet to spend the night before this area. The Illinios is a piece of cake once past this area and we had no problem with the barge tows. They have priority and we did wait an hour or two at some locks. For one day we actually traveled in company with a tow who only was two wide. Once he was in the lock we would go in and tie up to the front barge, up we went. We would head out first and slip over to the side to let him get ahead and follow on to the next lock like a little duckling.
Once in the Mississippi the current picks up below St Louis. The current gets too swift, the barges too big, and to much debris so the best option is to take the Tenn Tom.

The biggest problem you will have on the whole trip is getting into marinas or town docks for supplies and fuel. My friend went about one month before me when the water was near normal levels and had problems. When I went the level had dropped dramaticly and with my 3.5 ft draft we were scrapping bottom in some marinas or town docks. Be prepared to jerry jug fuel in the dinghy depending on your draft and the water level. You will always have plenty of water in the channel but everywhere else is just a guess. The water is to murky for eyeballing depth. The bottom is mud or sand so unless you run her ashore at full throttle it should present little problem in backing off.

It really was not that difficult though I worried myself sick beforehand. I did this in a 24 foot wide trimaran with 17 hp diesel.
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Old 18-03-2004, 18:12   #20
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I did not think about all the junk floating around. I'm still not sure what way we will take to get off the lakes. But we must get off the lakes with this boat. Our boat draws 8' so I;m sure that will be somewhat of a problem. At this time coming out in Mobil Al is my first choice. Thanks for the help, please feel free to add ideas.
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Old 18-03-2004, 19:11   #21
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So, how'd they get it in there? That would be the first question!
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Old 18-03-2004, 19:43   #22
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The guy I bought it from bought it in Florida and brought it up through the St. Lawrance seaway. I want it get south as fast as I can so the ten tom is my likely route.
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Old 21-03-2004, 00:08   #23
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Keep in touch with the Army Corp of Engineers. They can keep you informed about water levels. If we end up with low rainfall/drought conditions it could make it difficult with that deep of draft. The Illinios was very low late last summer when I went through. The barges were running at about 9 feet. Even at "normal" levels you will have a hard time getting into most marinas or fuel docks. They are set up for houseboats,powerboats ,and fishing skiffs. You will see many listing 4,5,or6 foot deep entrances. About 25% will have diesel at the dock, some places will have it if you call ahead and have it deliverd by truck with a 100 or 200 gallon minimum. Carry as much extra fuel as you can and provision well to keep your supply stops to a minimum.

Hammond Marina may be a good choice to pull your stick. They only do it about 3 days a week and at certain times so call ahead. If you do it at Hammond you are down at the south end so take the Calumet entrance. Belmount Harbor may also be a possibilty. Don't call Montrose Harbor.
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Old 21-03-2004, 06:33   #24
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If we decide to go out through Chicago , we will pull the sticks here in holland mi. It is only 70 miles or so to Chicago and we can motor the extra miles and not need to worry about doing in a unfamilar place.
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Old 27-04-2004, 12:59   #25
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Now that I am planning to take the boat to the palm beach area in Florida I have been thinking more about taking the erie canal. Did I understand right the the bridge height is 10'? If so I'm in big trouble. My bow sprit is 7' off the water, then there is the \railing and cabin top not to mention the mast on the deck. Please say it ain't so.
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Old 27-04-2004, 13:28   #26
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GordMay,

Just a note re heights on the N.Y. Barge Canal. The min height if you enter at Buffalo is 15 1/2 feet. If you enter at Oswego it's 20 feet. Early in the season if the runoff is heavy it might be a bit less but if you leave in the fall those are the heights unless something like Hurricane Floyd dumps a foot of rain like it did a few years ago.
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