Boat shopping, need some tips for Great Lakes boat moving (Ontario\Erie to Huron) - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 8 Old 12-28-2017 Thread Starter
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Boat shopping, need some tips for Great Lakes boat moving (Ontario\Erie to Huron)

Morning everyone,

So my wife and I are shopping through Great Lakes boats currently (Canadian side primarily). We are looking at 33-35 ft boats and am currently eyeing up a couple CS 33's and C&C 35's on the Lake Ontario and Lake Erie side of the province. We sail the North Channel of Lake Huron so it would be a bit of a trek to get a boat like those home.

Since we aren't a retired couple with time in the world to spare it would be a motor sail home (most likely?) in order to not miss too much work. We plan to use the Thessalon Marina to accommodate the deeper draft compared to our current Tanzer 7.5 shoal stored in Bruce Mines.

1) We've heard of people shipping via tractor trailer\transport truck from the Eastern lakes over to Huron. Is that possible with a 35' vessel with a fin keel? It seems like alot of boat to throw on a truck. Has anyone done, or would recommend this? Price ideas?

2) Odds are we would motor sail it home on a schedule. How is it\what's involved with getting a boat from Lake Erie (for example) over to the Huron side? Are there many bridges that may pose problems? Loch scheduling that makes it difficult? We'eve never sailed any further than about 20nm south of Manitoulin Island.

Once in Huron we would head North through Georgian Bay most likely (to stay close to help should an issue arise) and swing through Little Current. I know the swing bridge there and it's schedule is simple enough. We'd love to do the whole trip at once but other than bad weather windows wouldn't know how long it may take to get home. Odds are we would have to leave her tied up at a transient dock for a week and come back down on other days off to finish the trip.

Anyone who's done the Huron to Erie (or Ontario) trips or vise versa who could give us some info would be great. Thanks!!

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post #2 of 8 Old 12-28-2017
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Re: Boat shopping, need some tips for Great Lakes boat moving (Ontario\Erie to Huron)

I have done both trips more than once. I would think if you hussle two weeks might be adequate for either trip.

Lake Erie is probably the easier one;
-From Port Dover to Thessalon you are looking at about 500 miles made good. Its a long way. There are no bridges and no locks for the entire distance.
-The route I would take is Lake Erie>Detroit River>Lake St Claire>St Clair River>Lake Huron direct to North Channel.
-Lake Erie, depending on where you start can be a grueling 240 mile beat to windward against the prevailing wind.
-Detroit River is an easy 26 mile motor.
-Lake St Claire is an easy 21 mile motor sail.
-The St Clair River is an easy motor but bucking some fairly strong currents, so your speed will be hampered. About 35 miles.
-Lake Huron, should be a beam reach assuming prevailing westerlies. I would aim for overnight sailing on Lake Huron because the Lakes girth can add a huge amount of distance to your trip. If You have a crew who can stand watches, you should be able to get across Huron in a couple of days. Hopping port to port- at least 4 or 5 days.

Lake Ontario to Thessalon I would do a totally different approach.
-Mast down and Motor the Trent Severn canal. The canal is only open 9-5 ish, so figure 30 miles a day for 8 days. Its long, but it is a beautiful trip.
-Now You are in Southern Georgian Bay. Figure 175 mile close reach to Thessalon. Georgian Bay is much narrower than Huron though, so stopping at night is less of a burden.
-There are 44 locks and 39 swing bridges on this route.

Trucking is an option, big load and long distance, you can get quotes from trucking companies. I am guessing north of $3000, but I don't know how far north.

Last edited by Arcb; 12-28-2017 at 11:16 AM.
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Re: Boat shopping, need some tips for Great Lakes boat moving (Ontario\Erie to Huron)

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I have done both trips more than once. I would think if you hussle two weeks might be adequate for either trip.

Lake Erie is probably the easier one;
-From Port Dover to Thessalon you are looking at about 500 miles made good. Its a long way. There are no bridges and no locks for the entire distance.
-The route I would take is Lake Erie>Detroit River>Lake St Claire>St Clair River>Lake Huron direct to North Channel.
-Lake Erie, depending on where you start can be a grueling 240 mile beat to windward against the prevailing wind.
-Detroit River is an easy 26 mile motor.
-Lake St Claire is an easy 21 mile motor sail.
-The St Clair River is an easy motor but bucking some fairly strong currents, so your speed will be hampered. About 35 miles.
-Lake Huron, should be a beam reach assuming prevailing westerlies. I would aim for overnight sailing on Lake Huron because the Lakes girth can add a huge amount of distance to your trip. If You have a crew who can stand watches, you should be able to get across Huron in a couple of days. Hopping port to port- at least 4 or 5 days.

Lake Ontario to Thessalon I would do a totally different approach.
-Mast down and Motor the Trent Severn canal. The canal is only open 9-5 ish, so figure 30 miles a day for 8 days. Its long, but it is a beautiful trip.
-Now You are in Southern Georgian Bay. Figure 175 mile close reach to Thessalon. Georgian Bay is much narrower than Huron though, so stopping at night is less of a burden.
-There are 44 locks and 39 swing bridges on this route.

Trucking is an option, big load and long distance, you can get quotes from trucking companies. I am guessing north of $3000, but I don't know how far north.
Geat info ArcB, I like your youtube videos too. Most of the boats we are looking at have keel stepped masts so I think any direction we go would have the mast stepped. Plus having motored my 7.5m boat around with the mast laid down over the center line was a bear (no good way to helm the boat with a big aluminum stick in your face). That tells me ideally do not purchase a boat on Lake Ontario unless I want to ship it or take a long way home. I did not realize the Erie to Huron route had no locks or bridges, I guess I just assumed there would be some along the rivers that connect though, great info! Overnight sailing would be a great option depending on what happens along the way in the form of breakdowns or scares lol.
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Re: Boat shopping, need some tips for Great Lakes boat moving (Ontario\Erie to Huron)

Thanks Guy, I'd like to get up into your neck of the woods to shoot some trailer sailor vids one of these days. Beautiful.

You don't have to take the Trent Severn from Lake Ontario. You can take the Well and Canal instead. There are no low bridges and 8 big locks, this is the Niagara Falls bipass for ocean going ships. The locks can be a bit intimidating, but at least you don't have to take your mast down.

Assuming this boat is in Toronto, the route is identical to the Lake Erie route above +2 days.

The other option I would consider for Toronto, is have the boat trucked from Toronto to Midland, then sail the rest of the way. It's only a couple hundred km, so it wouldn't be nearly as much money as shipping all the way north. You could do the same thing from Lake Erie.
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Re: Boat shopping, need some tips for Great Lakes boat moving (Ontario\Erie to Huron)

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Thanks Guy, I'd like to get up into your neck of the woods to shoot some trailer sailor vids one of these days. Beautiful.

You don't have to take the Trent Severn from Lake Ontario. You can take the Well and Canal instead. There are no low bridges and 8 big locks, this is the Niagara Falls bipass for ocean going ships. The locks can be a bit intimidating, but at least you don't have to take your mast down.

Assuming this boat is in Toronto, the route is identical to the Lake Erie route above +2 days.

The other option I would consider for Toronto, is have the boat trucked from Toronto to Midland, then sail the rest of the way. It's only a couple hundred km, so it wouldn't be nearly as much money as shipping all the way north. You could do the same thing from Lake Erie.
Awesome, thanks again. Don't be a stranger, if you are ever up my way send a PM. Until I buy a new boat Breezy will be in Bruce Mines spring\summer\fall and I sail her every set of days off I get. I know all the islands, beaches, and hidey-holes. There's virtually zero boat traffic (other than the odd load of traprock shipping from Bruce to the US) and anchorages are dead empty. I've -never- run into another sailboat at a beach unless I brought them with me.
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Re: Boat shopping, need some tips for Great Lakes boat moving (Ontario\Erie to Huron)

Previous advice looks good to me. Other possibilities...

You asked about trucking. When we moved our 26 foot boat from Georgian Bay to the west coast we used Can Am Trucking. I had to chuckle at our little vessel sitting on the back of the tractor, there was a 45 or 50 foot Jeuneau on the trailer. This was 15 years ago but at that time their rates were considerably less than the competitors and the driver was very professional.

Also, when we boated on Georgian Bay, there always seemed to be lots of boats for sale in the Midland and Lake Huron area, have you exhausted those possibilities?
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Re: Boat shopping, need some tips for Great Lakes boat moving (Ontario\Erie to Huron)

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Previous advice looks good to me. Other possibilities...

You asked about trucking. When we moved our 26 foot boat from Georgian Bay to the west coast we used Can Am Trucking. I had to chuckle at our little vessel sitting on the back of the tractor, there was a 45 or 50 foot Jeuneau on the trailer. This was 15 years ago but at that time their rates were considerably less than the competitors and the driver was very professional.

Also, when we boated on Georgian Bay, there always seemed to be lots of boats for sale in the Midland and Lake Huron area, have you exhausted those possibilities?
Well if a 45ft+ boat can fit I'm sure a sub 36ft would then, good to know. I was worrying picturing highways being shut down and escort vehicles slowing traffic moving a 35ft boat like when they ship houses, and I figured the price tag would be scary lol.

I've searched all over and definitely prefer boats on the Huron side. Either they aren't listed or aren't worth considering. I did check out a CS33 earlier this winter that ticked all the boxes EXCEPT it had rod rigging and was (as far as they can tell me) original. If rod rigging was easily switched out part for part I'd just change it to 1x19 but it sounds alot more complex that that. Also there are no riggers in my area that I'm aware of which adds to the complexity since changing rod rigging is not something I can do (whereas 1x19 IS something I can do). Also the flat out cost of just paying someone to replace the rod rigging, on a boat that was already the top of my price range, just wasn't feasible.

Anyways! I'm definitely interested in easier access boats, but the options on Erie seem more plentiful in my range.

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Re: Boat shopping, need some tips for Great Lakes boat moving (Ontario\Erie to Huron)

There is a youtube guy who recently posted his trip from Lake Erie to Lake Huron and back via the St Clair river.

His channel is guazutembo.
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