Superior to Champlain - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 9 Old 01-16-2014 Thread Starter
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Superior to Champlain

Hello,

Long time lurker on this website but first post. My goal for the summer of 2014 is to relocate my boat from Bayfield, WI (Apostle Islands) to Plattsburgh (Lake Champlain). I have a window of June 1st (potentially a week earlier) to August 15th. I have a couple questions and concerns before I start actually planning. I will be sailing solo the majority of the trip in a 24 foot s2 7.3 with a shoal draft (3 ft). I have no experience navigating lock waterways, but I will be able to easily drop my mast and store it on the boat. I have a reliable 7.5 HP outboard.

Ideally I would like to avoid sailing overnight due to overnight inexperience solo'ing. I understand this will keep me hugging the shores. I have the budget to stay at marinas - and I have adequate anchoring experience if I can find good anchorages. Will this time frame work? I tried to map out the nautical miles and calculate time but with weather and time needed for locks I am unsure what time frame I am looking at. I am willing to motor in light wind days.

Another question is whether to go up St. Lawrence and then down into Lake Champlain or to enter from the south - Champlain canal. My concern with the St. Lawrence is the tide - having most my sailing experience on Superior. Also how difficult would navigating the canals solo be?

I have been trying to search blogs for similar trips. Maybe departing more popular cities (Chicago, Detroit). Does anyone know of such blogs or web postings?

Thanks
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post #2 of 9 Old 01-16-2014
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Re: Superior to Champlain

Hi s2MNsailor, that's a huge adventure you have planned. I sail Lake Superior, and have traversed through the St. Mary's locks. In addition, my partner and I are planning to sail to Lake Ontario, perhaps as far as Montreal, this year, so I've spent some time looking at the routes beyond Huron.

First off, June 1 on Superior is going to be iffy. Could be lovely, or it could be hell on earth. I've sailed a boat from Bayfield to Thunder Bay at the beginning of May. It was cold but wonderful. Last year, however, there was a fellow sailor who found he couldn't leave your area due to storms and ice well into June. You just never know. One thing for certain is that June will be cold and foggy on Superior. So be prepared for that.

You will require assistance going through the locks at St. Mary's. I think they demand a minimum crew of two for down-locking. So does the Welland Canal. Of course, with your draft, you might choose the Trent-Severen locks (all ~50 of them). Not sure if they demand two crew; you should check.

Tides won't become much of an issue until you get well past Montreal. As you get closer to Quebec City they will become a significant factor, but you'll read the tide tables and move appropriately. I suspect your best option is the Oswego Canal route, but I've never done it.

Personally, I would not undertake the trip you're planning. The boat is too small, and I would not do it alone. How much sailing and cruising experience have you got? A lot, I hope...

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Last edited by MikeOReilly; 01-16-2014 at 11:52 PM.
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post #3 of 9 Old 01-16-2014
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Re: Superior to Champlain

A crew of two, downbound through the Welland is not technically mandatory but if they feel you are not up to it they will insist. A crew of two is mandatory downbound in the St.Lawrence locks.

There is no sailing in the canals and adequate engine power is required. They get to decide what is adequate, not sure 7.5hp will cut it.

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post #4 of 9 Old 01-16-2014
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Re: Superior to Champlain

have you looked at a map? twenty-five hundred miles plus in fourty five days? at (a max of) five mph, yer lookin at near ta sixty two days at eight hrs solid per, or fifty d@ ten per.

take a week plu and trailer it....spend rest of two plus mo. sailing champlain!

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post #5 of 9 Old 01-17-2014 Thread Starter
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Re: Superior to Champlain

Thanks for the replies. @mikeO, I appreciate the honesty and I will have to take a look at the waterways mentioned. The uncertainty of June was something that I was heavily weighing with my time period. @deltaten.. It would be 75 days if June was favorable, but I do agree with you that it might be worth it to trailer and enjoy the weather in Champlain. I have a double axel with new brakes, wheels and bearings that would be up to the trip. I have a lot of experience sailing Apostle Islands and North Shore of Minnesota, but have not really diversified outside of that besides a week crew in the BVIs.
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post #6 of 9 Old 01-17-2014
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Re: Superior to Champlain

If you have a trailer already, this is a no-brainer. That's 18 hours of driving, more if you have to go south of the lakes, but still. Seems like you may have been looking for the adventure, but there will be plenty of ways to adventure once you get her to Plattsburgh and still have 72 days left on your hands to do it. Explore the lake, poke through the southern Champlain canal locks and down the Hudson. I dare say, you could get to NYC and back in less time than it would take to get from WI to NY. The Hudson, once south of Albany is one of the most beautiful rivers in the world, especially once you get to the Hudson Highlands (+/- 20 miles of West Point). Not always easy to get a good sailing tack, but easier in a small boat with good draft.

Best of luck with the trip.


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post #7 of 9 Old 01-17-2014
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Re: Superior to Champlain

Thats an advantage of a 24 foot shoal draft boat - you can trailer it!

Then spend the weeks saved sailing in Lake Champlain. Its a no brainer.

In fact - spend a week or two on Lake George. The most beautiful lake I have ever seen.

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post #8 of 9 Old 01-17-2014
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Re: Superior to Champlain

I think I'd consider a compromise.
Trailer the boat to Oswego, say, put into the NY State canal system and enjoy the couple of weeks meandering back to L. Champlain.
Of course, you'd need someone to drive your trailer from Oswego...

All that Big Lake sailing would eat up most of your summer and you'd be on a tight schedule, which is not good.
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post #9 of 9 Old 01-18-2014
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Re: Superior to Champlain

I agree.. that tight schedule might prompt you to take unnecessary chances that could endanger you or your boat. Cruise Upwind at 65mph and be safe

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