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Discussion Starter #1
I am looking to sail out of Lake Champlain, headed to Florida. No Floatilla, No children, send Rum!

Really, looking for advice from who has done this. Canal passages, best time of year, and a rough timeline. Can I get that done in 2 months? 30 foot Cheoy Lee Bermuda ketch, and I got years of money-wasting sailing experience. I'll be droppin a new diesel in before I leave. Take a week on the lake to work out all the travel-demons before heading North.

Thanks in advance
Paul G
 

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Two months is a bit tight on time for that trip IMHO, especially since you have to unstep and restep the masts in order to do the canal section of the trip.
 

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sailingdog, you are a buzz kill. 2 Months would be leisurely. He is only 200 miles from open water. Even if that took a week he then has only about 900 miles to go. I covered 800 miles of BC & Alaska inside passage, running dawn till dusk, in 9 days. San Diego to Vancouver (1,300 Nmi), with a headwind and current for most of the trip, took just over three weeks total running time in an equally slow boat. If Paul goes offshore, even for a day or two he can cut huge chunks of time out of the trip. If my slow boat can go 2,100 miles, mostly against the current and wind, in just over a month running time I am pretty sure Paul can go 1100 miles south in two months :) Sounds like a good time.
 

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Sailboy-

He's taking the first week to prep the boat, at least from what I read in the Opening Post. Chances are pretty good that will actually take two weeks, especially considering that the boat is getting a new diesel during this time.

Then he has to do the canal portion of the trip, which requires unstepping the masts, traveling through the Erie Canal, and then re-stepping the masts. He may not be able to get the masts unstepped and stepped immediately, so figure two days for unstepping the mast, and two more for stepping the masts again.

You also have to figure that he will be motoring for most of this trip, and travelling only during the day, stopping at night, as that is typically what sailboats do on rivers and canals. Motoring in a 30' boat, he's probably going to be doing 6 knots or so on average, so an average day's run might be 50-60 nm., running 8-10 hours per day.

Getting to New York harbor might take three weeks of his eight. Then much of the trip, if he goes outside, is going to be against the prevailing winds, which are often out of the southwest for a good part of his trip.

If he is doing this during the summer months, rather than April and May, he does run a small risk of an early tropical storm causing problems. Of course, the summer months have the advantage of warmer weather and longer days.

Also, if he is planning on going the Northern route, via the St. Lawrence, he's looking at another 1700 NM or so... So, exactly how am I being a killjoy?? ... I'm being fairly realistic. It would be a very different thing if the boat was in ready-to-go shape, and not being re-powered just before he starts out, but he is re-powering the boat, and that will generally take a while to get into running order, unless he is very, very lucky.
 

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It took me 4 weeks to get from St.Lucie Fl to NYC NY. Solo. All day trips, most of them inside on ICW, some outside, some sailing, most motoring. Small 28 ft boat.

8 weeks is good gestimate for the trip from lake Champlain to Keys, with plenty spare time.
 

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Not quite the same thing... since if you went outside, you'd probably be able to sail on a reach or run...rather than beating... Going from NY to Maine is far easier and faster than generally going from Maine to NY... and going from Florida to NY is probably going to have much the same advantages compared to going from NY to Florida.

It took me 4 weeks to get from St.Lucie Fl to NYC NY. Solo. All day trips, most of them inside on ICW, some outside, some sailing, most motoring. Small 28 ft boat.

8 weeks is good gestimate for the trip from lake Champlain to Keys, with plenty spare time.
 

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I went on outside along DelMarVa and NJ coast. Taking Chesapeake Bay route will add another 3-4 days.
If he leaves anytime between late fall to mid spring most likely he will have downwind sail since it is a time for cold fronts and corresponding Northerly winds 2/3 of time.

Catching a front and riding with a flow may be very fast since boat moves with the front, never running out of favorable winds.

His primiry challenge is canal's schedule. Most of them are not operate untill late april
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Hey Cruiserwannabe,

Paydirt! Thanks for the link to s/v Pelican's blog. This was exactly the sort of info I was after.

To everyone else,

Thanks for the spirited discussion. I plan on spending a week on the lake working out any kinks. I'll be handstepping the masts while drunk before I hit the canal just to make sure I can do it under real-world conditions. If I find I need anything I'll make a left coming out of the canal and grab what I need in montreal.
 

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Chopsy - feel free to PM me if you'd like. We have done the trip down the canal a couple of times, and have brought Pelican to Annapolis. We're leaving next week to take a slightly leisurely trip (read: slow due to the ICW portions and short days) to Florida. We'll be going outside when weather permits.

With regards to the canal, you can go from Lock 12 to Catskill in 2 days if you don't mind traveling in the dark once you get through the Federal Lock. When the days get longer, it would actually be light the entire time. We had our mast stepped in Shelburne (most expensive but do GREAT and EFFICIENT work, including building supports if you want [we built our own]). We left Shelburne at noon and made it to Champlain Bridge Marina. We then went from there to Lock 5. Day three was Lock 5 to Albany, but we could have made it to Catskill if we chose. Our mast went back up in Catskill at Riverview, but there's also Hop-O-Nose. Both are very experienced, but Riverview was less expensive for us. We spent an extra day in Catskill putting our boat back together - this is far more time consuming than taking it apart. Our next hop, with the current, was to Haverstraw, and then from Haverstraw to Liberty Landing Marina (across from NYC - expensive marina, but good protection from NYC wake) on the next day. So basically, you can make it from mid lake to Catskill in 4 days, and add another 2-3 to make it to NYC. This is without sightseeing.

NYC to Annapolis is a 2-3 day run, sailing through the night, weather permitting. The New Jersey coast is not a forgiving place, so try to do it in as benign conditions as possible. We got slammed, every step of the way, in November.

By the way, the Champlain Canal is usually open the first or second week of may (once the Winter flooding subsides) and closes at the beginning of November. More information on the system is available at The New York State Canal System - Erie, Champlain, Oswego and Cayuga Seneca Canals. It's not a big deal but it's not a lot of fun. Just call it an experience. Dirty water, lots of waiting, slimy lines, etc. There are some fairly beautiful parts though, and it's cheap ($25 I believe) to transit the entire system.

We'll have details of our trip south available on our blog as we do it. Feel free to ask any questions you want!

Chris
 

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SD - The Summer months also are fairly windless off of the NJ coast. Expect to motor a good portion of the way. Spring or Fall are better from a wind perspective, although not always favorably so.
 

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Hey Cruiserwannabe,

. If I find I need anything I'll make a left coming out of the canal and grab what I need in montreal.
Ops, are you going to take St.Lawrence river all way to coast? Two months are not enougth then... we were talking about going south. If you try to find Florida up north be aware about big white solid field there...
 

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CrazyRu - Good catch. I assumed he was looking to head south through the Champlain Canal. Chopsy - what kind of boat do you have? There are draft issues going up the Richelieu canal - 5 foot max with a 22.5' overhead clearance. You'll still have to drop your mast to make it through. Also, from what I understand, currents in the St. Lawrence, especially around Quebec and Montreal, can be significant - 4-6 kts - and tides can be huge, so timing is important. The northern portion of the St. Lawrence is somewhat barren. On the other hand, I hear it is beautiful and a good experience, and you get to exit the St. Lawrence right by Nova Scotia which is supposed to be breathtaking. We're hoping to head up that way in the Summer. It will take significantly (weeks if not more than an additional month) to go to Florida this way. If you are looking to head south quickly, the Champlain Canal is the way to go.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Labatt,

Whoops! Shows what I know. After reading the Pelican blog, I see that there IS a Canal going south. See, paydirt! Do the Prospector Dance. I checked all of the canal in Google Earth and it does look great. I'll be going that way. I admit, I am a little bummed that I am not "Forced" to go north on which would be a more spectacular trip, but practicality is my goal this time. (300 miles to Sandy Hook vs. 1600+ going North) I'll feel good about a new diesel for the canal and the warrranty that goes with it. A good break in trip for it.

All such excellent advice! Thanks!
Paul
 

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I know this post is 4 days old and I'm well-behind the curve, but is it only me who's noticed that something about Chopsy's posts seem strange?

In his first post he mentions going north. In his last post he mentions taking a left to Montreal. This would indicate that he's heading north to the St. Lawrence, via the Richleu Canal. Ain't no way he'll reach Florida in 2 months, let alone 2 weeks, even if were spring/summer.

Sounds like it's time to review the cruising plan.
 

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Alan - he wasn't aware of the Champlain Canal. Now he is, and that will hopefully significantly shorten his trip. By the way, a lot of information is also available on ActiveCaptain (I'm not related but I've posted a number of canal stops and info up there).
 

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Labatt-

If it doesn't, he's doing something dreadfully wrong. :)
Alan - he wasn't aware of the Champlain Canal. Now he is, and that will hopefully significantly shorten his trip. By the way, a lot of information is also available on ActiveCaptain (I'm not related but I've posted a number of canal stops and info up there).
 

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Hey Chops
I'll be "chasing" you, but turning E at NYC and going up the coast of New England. Also solo. One of the oddball things I'm thinking of is hauling my 35' mast & rigging via truck & trailer to some point S of Albany to re-step. Should make the trip a little roomier.
 

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MisterBilge - hauling is mighty expensive. We had a quote for our 56' mast from Albany to Willsboro on Champlain and it was about $1,300. It's really not a big deal to strap it to supports on deck, and most of the places that step masts for canal transit will help you build the supports, or may even have supports available (northbound/southbound cruisers will often leave their supports behind for other boats to use).
 
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