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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest > General Discussion (sailing related) > Great Lakes to the Caribbean (route review)
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Topic Review (Newest First)
03-08-2012 01:52 PM
SantoJorge
Re: Great Lakes to the Caribbean (route review)

I've often thought about making this voyage myself. I've sailed Puget Sound in the NW and around the lakes in Seattle as well as Lake Superior. I'll be working in Bayfield, WI from May to August this summer if you'd like someone to join you as crew, feel free to stop by and pick me up or I'll happily meet you in Michigan!
02-27-2012 11:38 PM
svzephyr44
Quote:
Originally Posted by neverknow View Post
I have not been to CA since they changed the rules. I know now you have to have a passport just to visit. Wasn't sure what else has changed?
Canada is easy - boat papers - passport - they will give you a clearance number. Make sure you stop at the US Customs (usually at the nearest international airport) to get a "courtesy clearance" out of the US. This makes it easier to get into Canada. Also, expect to be inspected - particularly for smokes and booze on the first time in. If you go in and out (such as going into Miquelon) the Canadians will most likely clear you back in by telephone.

Miquelon is even easier. The islands live on the tourist trade. When I checked in the customs person was at the airport. The Immigration person told me to have a nice dinner and the customs person would stop by in the morning. Very low key.

If you do go to Newfoundland come down through the Cabot Straight. Going over the top is for very experienced sailors as the ports are few and the weather can be brutal. If you are that good go do it, you will pull into towns that have not seen another sailboat for 5 years or more. You will enjoy the welcome.
02-27-2012 11:31 PM
svzephyr44 Sorry about that, was having browser problems.

I loved Newfoundland - Nova Scotia was nice, but Newfoundland was great. The problems are:
1. Heavy fog
2. Very changeable weather
3. Strong winds 35 knots is not uncommon
4. The water depth is 200 feet 2 feet from shore - lots of boats get in trouble.

If you choose to go this way leave me a PM and I will chat with you about it on the phone. If I was not planning on crossing the pond this May I would go back to Newfoundland, I liked it that much.

If you do go, make sure you also plan to stop at St. Pierre and Miquelon. These are French (not French Canadian) islands off the southwest coast of Newfoundland. You will anyway as you will see when you do route planning.

As far as the Mississippi River is concerned it is pretty much a bummer for a sailboat. Unless you want to take the stick up and down a couple of times you will drop it in Chicago and put it back up in the Gulf of Mexico. Motor, motor, motor. Once you arrive in the Gulf you then need to get somewhere fun - that means crossing the Gulf to Key West. (I have done Mexico, Belize and Guatemala but again you need to have some significant cruising experience to deal with the adverse currents and the fact that the entire trip is on a lee shore. The political situation in these places is not very reassuring either.)
02-27-2012 11:15 PM
svzephyr44 Excellent advice. I made the trip from Lake Michigan (Milwaukee) via Michigan, Huron and Erie. Entered the Erie Canal at North Tonawanda (Buffalo) Long trip on the canal but lots of nice towns at night. Put the stick back up at New Castle on the Hudson. Trip down the Hudson is OK, not lots of places to stop. New York City very expensive but some marinas will deal for a stay of a month or more. I stayed in Wehawken NJ opposite 40th street in NYC. Good ferry access to NYC. Very rolly marina. $1800 for the month. That was, compared to everyone else - cheap.

Met several boats that had done the St. Lawrence route. They enjoyed it but didn't have much specific advice.

Let me emphasize that if you can go early enough in the season go to Newfoundland if you are an experienced sailor.
02-27-2012 11:00 PM
CalebD Nice blog covering all the routes. Well done!

Since I can't add anything more about the routes I caught a type oh or typo or two.
At the end of route 1:
"Congratulations, you mad it to the Atlantic Ocean!"
mad = made?
At the end of route 2:
"As a nice ring to the wilderness yang of the Gulf of St. Lawrence described in the first route above, the New York skyline and all of Manhattan will be on your port beam as you finally exit the Hudson River."
Yin and yang?

As you were.
02-27-2012 10:48 PM
neverknow
Quote:
Originally Posted by killarney_sailor View Post
Yes, I think yo do, but it is not hard to do
I have not been to CA since they changed the rules. I know now you have to have a passport just to visit. Wasn't sure what else has changed?
02-27-2012 10:28 PM
killarney_sailor Yes, I think yo do, but it is not hard to do
02-27-2012 10:22 PM
neverknow This thread is perfect timing. I just got out my book "The Great Circle Route" last night. We are considering taking our Carver to the east coast next year if we can't get it sold before we retire.

I do have a question. If we go the welland route do we have to check into Canada and than check back into the USA after we make the trip through the canal?

Anyone know?
02-27-2012 09:59 PM
killarney_sailor Forgot a couple of things.
1 I have done part of the Trent-Severn in a powerboat only, but have talked to people who have done it in a sailboat. It is nominally good to 5' and they both had that draft but hit things in the channel several times, including things more solid than mud. I would likely not choose that route with most cruising sailboats unless draft was closer to 4'

2. The route you pick should be related to where you want to go once you reach the ocean. If you want to get to eastern Caribbean (BVIs down to Grenada), you are either doing the ICW all the way south and then the Thorny Path or you are going offshore from the Chesapeake or somewhere else. If the latter, the Mississippi route makes no sense. If you were going to the western Caribbean, the Mississippi route makes a lot more sense.
02-27-2012 09:39 PM
killarney_sailor I have done it through the Oswego Canal, Champlain route (when the Erie was closed), and have gone up the St Lawrence and done Welland several times (both ways). Know nothing about the Mississippl route other than that it is there.

Comments:
1. Going down the Welland or the St Lawrence locks is quite easy. You can do it with two people and it is snap with three. Really not a big deal at all.

2. The distance from Whitby (just east of Toronto) to Albany (where the canals end and you can start to think about putting the stick up) is, to the mile, twice as far going the the Champlain route rather than the Erie Canal route. We had to go via the Champlain route because of flooding on the Erie so it is perfectly doable, but I don't see any advantage to it.

Both canal routes are quite pleasant and not too long so you get bored with the motoring. The latter might be an issue if you entered the Erie Canal in Buffalo. We had nice weather for crossing Lake Champlain with the mast down. I imagine that this might be a problem if the weather is unsettled. There is even a nasty, shallow lake on the Erie Canal (Lake Oneida). It is only a couple of miles wide but about 20 miles long and kicks up a nasty, short chop easily. Make sure the mast is very well-secured before you cross it and don't cross if the forecast is not good. Might want to go at first light before the wind comes up.

3. If you go this way you can put your own mast up at the Castleton BC just south of Albany. They have an excellent crane that was $1/ft a few years ago (sometimes they charge by boat length and sometimes by mast length). Best to avoid weekends since the crane site is exposed to wakes. If you are going south for a year or two and coming back you can mark your mast supports and leave them at Castleton for your return. (They may be there)

4. The St Lawrence route gives you access to some spectacular cruising grounds. I cannot recommend the south coast of Newfoundland too highly. Spectacular scenery, whales, friendly people, remoteness - even icebergs if you go a little further. You need to be self-contained going this way. There are not marinas and you have to be careful with fuel usage in places but it is worth it. It will not be very warm so you need some warm clothes. Radar is pretty much an essential until you get well into New England. You don't really go near the Bay of Fundy unless you want to, but there are tides (17' at Quebec City as I remember - the marina has a lock entrance) and you will go very fast downstream with the current and tides. Highlights are (in order of when you visit them): Quebec City, Gaspe, Magadlen Islands, Newfoundland, St Pierre (part of France), Bras d'Or Lakes. Maine, and then you catch up with the canal folks in NYC.

If you have any questions let me know.
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