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Old 10-03-2007
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2010 Lake Michigan to Florida Keys..then?

Hi friends! I've been lurking around these fourms for the past year or so and after browsing again this morning i thought i'd post this and see if i can't gather some interest.

First of all, for those who don't know me. the name's Tim. I'm still a bit fresh in my years, 25 to be exact; and i've grown up on boats most of my life. Actually i'm one of the few around who can say that i've been at one marina for 23 years! My boating history is condensed into sailboats mostly, with my folks making the switch on the last one to a 42' Sea Ray. Now that i'm able to jump into the sailing life, i sold my Bayliner runabout 2 years ago for a 1980 cutter-rigged 37' Hunter. I've put an awful lot of miles under my belt in the past two years including the run across "the big lake" in pea-soup fog and waves that i'd not soon care to remember (day 3 of owning the boat). Anyway... over the next two years i intend to raise my skill level, and the preparedness of my Hunter to make what i think will be the trip of a lifetime.

I'll be in a situation where i can afford to have the boat paid off and a decent enough "kitty" saved up to take off about 12 months (or so) and take the loop south down to the Florida Keys and ....? I decided to post this hoping to hear some advice from those with more experience as to how i can use the next two years to better prepare myself, knowledge, skill, whatever...wise.

I know one of the first responses will be the ASA/whomever sailing courses. While they may be absolutley wonderful, i am most definatley the guy who hates "school". Perhaps thats best illustrated by the "crash course in sailing" of taking off across Lake Michigan in the remnants of a spring storm just after becoming a "sailboat owner" (one is a sailboat owner until they have properly demonstrated such skill level as to be considered a true "sailor"). I already have planned two trips for next year on the Chicago/Mackinac loop, as it provides the best dry run around here for long-distance openwater sailing. I've made numerous trips up and down the coast of Lake Michigan, probably in the ballpark of 500-700 miles in all kinds of weather except storms. I'm still paranoid about big wind/black skies and i know thats something i'll have to deal with.

I'm going to be singlehanding this "adventure". As i haven't found a woman who i'll give this up for (or one capable enough of coming along!), and i haven't found anyone else that can take the time off. Theres discussion about a couple of capable sailors who will join me at different places for a week or two, but what are some of the subtle nuances of single-handed life that i haven't been able to dream up? Clever docking tips? Etc?

I'm also looking for anyone who has done the trip, or who is thinking about doing it in the timeframe that i'm playing around with. Looking for travelling buddies, etc.

And on that note i'll end with one final lighthearted question. I have most definately been aground in a powerboat (we'll leave the conversation of how amazing i think it is that a Bayliner survived a 45+MPH-to-0 grounding for another time), but i'm curious as if either of the following scenarios qualifys as being "aground" in our world.
#1 - while entering the channel at the marina, found a small area of roughly 4' depth (i draw just over 5'5") and the boat lurched upwards significantly (while throwing me into the helm) and heeled over twoards starboard enough to make me lose my glass sitting on the deck, though we didn't stop, we did come to a rather abrupt slow.
#2 - During my big mechanical breakdown which caused me to ram the rock breakwall at our marina, full throttle reverse, and bend the rudder over itself, not only did we hit the breakwall, but we also wound up on a shoal. Although still bobbing up and down between buoyancy and the bottom, the marina tender was able to pull us into a nearby slip.
So do those qualify as being "aground"? =)

I look forward to your replies!
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Old 10-03-2007
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Maybe PBzeer can help you with the life of a single handed sailor.
He has been cruising for 6 months alone.

My first question would be, what route are you planning.
You do have several choices going South from L Michigan.

The Ten-Tom waterway to the Gulf?
St. Lawrence Seaway to the Atlantic than down the Eastern Seaboard?
Erie Canal to Hudson River and down?

Have you started thinking about that.

Have fun on our Mac cruises, we love getting up into the Manitou's and Beaver Island area.
Don't know what your plans are, but we try to stick with the 50mile a day rule.

Good luck with your plan. Hope it all works out for you.
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Old 10-03-2007
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I have a Cape Dory 28 and if all goes according to the revised plan, I will be doing the trip next year. Late summer or fall.

I am going to take the Erie Canal Hudson River way. In part because I've always wanted to and also because I have a brother in Boston. If I leave early enough, I will swing up around Long Island and the Cape to see the Bro and his family before going south. If too late, a potential routine would be Winter in the Carribean, summer in New England along with 1,000,000 other happy boaters. )

I will keep you posted.

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Work When You're Broke.
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Old 10-04-2007
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Sounds like a plan and a great boat to do it in. You need to get out as early in the summer as you possibly can. New England by August or wait till the following year!
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Old 01-01-2012
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Sorry I see this is pretty old post. However I would like to do the same trip. I'm a expirenced boater on the very inland water, Northern Illinois "the chain". I sold my 265 rinker, this past march. I'm getting the bug to get a 34-40 sail. never sailed, except for hobie cat. I read if you go down the hudson you have to de-mast and re mast is that worth it? whats the cost involved?
But any info would be great!
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Old 01-01-2012
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Either the Hudson, or the Tenn-Tom, from the Great Lakes, you will have to take down your mast.
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Old 01-01-2012
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You will enter the Erie Barge Canal near Niagara Falls. You take the mast down there and built a wooden structure to support it through the canal. Currently the Canal is out of business due to damage to locks etc. caused by heavy rains last fall and may open late in the spring.

You will come out on the Hudson near Albany where you will restep your mast. Cost is not excessive. Have not done it in a few years but probably $300-400 each way.
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Old 01-01-2012
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ffpm... suggest you Google great loop and you'll find plenty of info incdluding the site for the American Great Loop Association. Loads of information available.

Regards and welcome aboard...MGM
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