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Old 09-04-2013
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Stepping mast in Chicago

We will be taking our 37' Endeavour south to be our winter home and will be going down the Great Loop via Chicago. When we get to Chicago the mast will need to be stepped, seeking info on where to get it done. Also have heard some ship the mast to Mobil looking for cost on that and any other advice anyone may have
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Re: Stepping mast in Chicago

I am sure you will get advise from others that have done the trip, but xort, who sometimes frequents here and Anything-Sailing.com did the trip last year in their Endeavor 42. They should have lots of advise for you, one of which is get going as it will get cold before you get there.

They have a blog. I think it is Freedom-Sailing.blogspot.com, but if not just google Sailing aboard Freedom and you will find it.
Where is northern Michigan? They seem to love it so far and I am sure they will give you any advise they can.

Oh, he is a Wings fan so don't say anything bad about them or you might be taking a wrong turn!
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Last edited by tomandchris; 09-04-2013 at 08:00 PM.
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Re: Stepping mast in Chicago

Skyway yacht works is just inside the Mouth of the Calumet river, very friendly staff and reasonable. Keep my boat there in the winter.
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Crowley's Yacht Yard did ours. They let me stay at their working dock for a few days while I prepped everything. When they pulled the mast, I couldn't believe how fast and efficient they were. Call ahead, they get busy.

Cost to ship our mast was going to be $3000. We lucked out when we heard of a group of 7 boats all shipping masts together. We jumped on that one! Saved a bundle. Found them on the AGLCA website.

Crowleys put my mast in their storage bldg where I could prep it. If you truck it, pad everything WELL! Dirt, road grime, diesel soot, gravel, everything will attack it.

You can carry the mast on board but I would not extend more than 10' over the bow and stern, and I think that is a bit much. Maybe 10' bow and 5' stern. If your mast is longer...

Our biggest issue was finding anchorage spots out of the channels. Do your homework and have guide books along. Internet will be spotty.
Check the current status on Hoppies on the Mississippi. They are having shoaling issues. They are the last stop for fuel for 250 miles. If you can't stop there then you'll have a much longer run between fuel stops plus I don't know where you'd stop for the night in place of their 'marina'.

Turner Marine in Mobile is great. Please say hi to Christie and Roger for us.

And last...we LOVED the trip.
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Re: Stepping mast in Chicago

Can't afford 3 grand to ship my mast but don't want a jousting pole either. We will look for others shipping and see if we can afford that thanks for the input. Keep the advice coming
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Re: Stepping mast in Chicago

We got the mast situation all figured out but would like more advice from anybody that has done the Chicago to Mobile route. Good stops what to expect on the rivers , dangers ECT. Keep the advice coming
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The main channel is minimum 9'. Its the anchorages that get difficult. There are many stretches with no good marinas.
Have you checked with Hoppies on the Mississippi? You MUST verify they have the depth to accommodate you. From Hoppies its 250 miles to the next stop. Without them it will be much much longer. Do you have capacity to make 250 miles? There are no fuel stops in that stretch.

Most of the locks have floating bollards. They make life very easy if you have a mid ship cleat. Pull into the lock, loosely tie one line around the bollard from the mid ship cleat. Send one person fore and one aft to lightly fend off. Very easy once you get the hang of it. Be mindful that the bollard can get stuck! You'll need to untie FAST if that happens!

2 vhf radios are nice. Ch 13 to talk to the tows and 9 to talk to the locks. Sometimes you will be doing both. Learn the lingo of the tows and they will be very helpful. Speak 'english' and they'll ignore you!! This is important.

You need army chart books for the rivers.

Have you looked into the aglca? You will find much more info there than here. Any Great Loop resources will be good. Also mtoa.
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Re: Stepping mast in Chicago

I would also read Freedoms blog as I remember it had a lot of detail and value in it. I assume it is all still there if you look.\
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Re: Stepping mast in Chicago

If your mast height is less than 50 feet above the water; you can have the mast up, once you get to St. Louis. It's a lot more pleasant without the mast in the way. You can also sail in some of the lakes on the way.

I've gone from Kentucky Lake Dam to Mobile twice in the last few years. You shouldn't have any trouble with your boat if you stay in the channel. There are a couple marinas along the way that you won't be able to get to with your 4 1/2' draft, unless they have dredged the channels. Call ahead and check.

I had to anchor just outside the channel a couple times, because I motored an average of 12 hours a day, and couldn't make it to the next lake. You can usually plan ahead, though, and find good anchorages. You'll need a good stern anchor as well as bow anchor. I always anchored bow and stern in line with the current, so I didn't swing into the shallows. Be sure your depth gauge works well and is accurate.

I have a few videos posted from my last trip.
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Old 09-11-2013
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Re: Stepping mast in Chicago

Just wondering where to purchase the army maps of the the river I have a good electronic chart of the rivers but would like a paper charts as well.
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