Midwesterner cruising, is it possible? - SailNet Community
 
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post #1 of 10 Old 12-18-2019 Thread Starter
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Midwesterner cruising, is it possible?

Iím hoping the community can provide some insight/feedback on my and my wifeís plans for the next few years. We live in central Michigan, fifty miles from the Saginaw Bay (which for those of you who donít know, connects to Lake Huron). Please ignore the ďexperienceĒ questions/comments as we believe we have that area adequately addressed.

Hereís the issue Iím asking your comments on: Our goal is to leave our home in Michigan and sail in warm waters (the Keys or Bahamas) for December through April. We would spend the remaining months back on the farm. Our intention is do this on a sailboat in the 36 or 38 foot range.

It appears there are two ways to do this. If you have an alternative idea please sing out! I can see advantages and disadvantages with both ideas below. Iím sure there are significant things Iíve not considered. But, in short, the real question is how does a Midwesterner cruise in the winter and live at home in the summer?

Alternative 1:

Buy a freshwater Great Lakes boat in the coming spring. This has the benefit of allowing us to access our workshop, tools, etc. in prepping the boat for a journey. It also allows us to move the boat through the Eire Canal to the Hudson, something weíve always wanted to see and do. In mid to late summer we would move that boat across the Lakes to New York, across the Canal, down the ICW to South Carolina or thereabout. We would store it there for a month or two and return about 1 December. From there we would meander south, returning a bit north to a safe place to store the boat for the hurricane season about 1 May. We would return to MI, leaving the boat behind. Then, on 1 Dec return to the boat, sail southÖrinse and repeat.

Alternative 2:

Move the boat out of the Great Lakes in late summer. Store in the south until 1 Dec then sail as in alternative 1. But, when the winter ends, instead of storing in the south for the subsequent spring and summer simply move up the ICW, across NY and keep the boat in MI for the summer. (how long would that trip take?) Then in the late summer/early fall move the boat back south. We would store it for a month or so, until 1 Dec then return and spend the winter. Rinse and repeat. This has the concern of exactly how much time does it take to go from Saginaw Bay, across Lake Erie, then Lake Ontario, then the Erie Canal to the Hudson, then down the ICW to the cruising waters, back and forth.

I donít see an easy solution. Not that this is all bad but each has separate issues. Your thoughtful comments are appreciated.
Thanks for your thoughts and input and MERRY CHRISTMAS!
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post #2 of 10 Old 12-18-2019
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Re: Midwesterner cruising, is it possible?

You are talking about moving around on the northern and eastern portions of what is often called the Great Loop.
Here are two websites that will provide answers:


https://www.greatloop.org/

https://www.captainjohn.org/
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post #3 of 10 Old 12-18-2019 Thread Starter
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Re: Midwesterner cruising, is it possible?

Thanks, but a bit of a clarification. Iím asking about location of the boat ON the Loop and plans for where and when to move it. Most looper are either full time or live somewhere on the ICW.
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Re: Midwesterner cruising, is it possible?

We are located about 90 miles from Lake Michigan, and have entertained the same thoughts. I haven't looked into it enough to make any choices, but, my assumption would be that the trip all the way back to the Midwest would get a bit old after the first time, and would put a lot of hours on an engine. It also would cost enough (mast lowering/raising, fuel...) that it may make storage in the south competitive in terms of money.

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Re: Midwesterner cruising, is it possible?

I took a boat from Muskeogan, Lake Michigan to Nova Scotia in spring a fair few years back.

It was easy.

From there you look towards the sun and sail there. Easy.

This sailing stuff isn't all that difficult. Even the Vikings could do it.

If you want the boat back north every year you will do a lot of miles.

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Re: Midwesterner cruising, is it possible?

Folks, which choice? 1, 2 or something else? Why?
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Re: Midwesterner cruising, is it possible?

I say Alt 1. NYC to Buffalo alone is going to take two weeks and that assumes the Erie canal is open, when you need it. There are routine closures for weather or maintenance. This leg could be shorter, but you need to stop at each end of the canal to remove, then restep and tune your mast. I did it once. The yards donít drop what theyíre doing, just because youíre on a schedule. Add weather delays, short days to see something or take a break from weeks of delivery, etc. Crossing two Great Lakes has to be time consuming.

Iím sure itís done. It would eat a lot of cruising time down south. Leave the boat down there, or in a safe harbor on the east coast.


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Re: Midwesterner cruising, is it possible?

# 1 Get it down there, that satisfies your desire to do the canal/ICW etc. and then fly/drive to and from in the winter. Where best to leave it, can be discussed once you decide which plan.

# 3 Buy a boat in Florida. ;-)
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post #9 of 10 Old 12-19-2019
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Re: Midwesterner cruising, is it possible?

If you choose option 1 would recommend that you find a place where you can store the boat on the hard from May to Dec. You could check for yards in Beaufort SC and Brunswick GA or maybe even Fernandina FL.
Another option you might want to entertain is to do the Great Loop Western Section one year leaving the boat in L.A. (lower Alabama)or Florida's left coast. Do the Keys and the Bahama's over the winter and then do the return trip up the East coast over the Spring and Summer of the following year. You will have the Gulf Stream to help you along on the return trip if you want to do portions on the outside. Sounds like an amazing experience either way you decide to go.
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post #10 of 10 Old 12-19-2019
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Re: Midwesterner cruising, is it possible?

Green Cove Springs is another option for storing a boat on the hard in FL. There are a couple of good yards over there.
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