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Old 07-07-2020, 06:44 AM   #1
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The Great Loop

When we were searching for our retirement boat we had the Great Loop in mind. Sonas has a folding radar arch which allows us to get under that bridge in Chicago.

However we have resisted planning it due to one main reason. We feel that it will require at least two years to do it properly. So starting off from Florida in the spring that means we will be in the northern climes come late fall/winter and will have to have the boat hauled or otherwise secured for the winter in a slip with bubbler etc. This would mean that we would not have Sonas here in Florida for the best part of tbe boating season - say October through March/April.

So we haven't progressed plans.

With the COVID shutdown, especially impacting travel abroad, we are considering it again. A question for those from the south that have completed it. Did you complete it in a year so had your boat available all year, or did you leave it up north for the winter?
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Old 07-07-2020, 07:11 AM   #2
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I wished we had left it in Canada for the winter to give us more time in the Trent Severn and North Channel. Doing the loop in a year is almost rushing.
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Old 07-07-2020, 07:16 AM   #3
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Rush through the parts you have done or plan to do but not another whole loop. Just focus on say NYC to the TennTom.
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Old 07-07-2020, 07:23 AM   #4
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We left Florida in March, did the Erie Canal and cleared customs leaving Canada thru the Georgian Bay North Channel route one week prior to Labor Day. which is recommended. We only met one boat that was winterizing but they planned a five year loop. We anchored 60%of the time and stayed weeks in many places never feeling like we had a schedule and traveled with the seasonal weather.
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Old 07-07-2020, 07:31 AM   #5
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We left Florida in March, did the Erie Canal and cleared customs leaving Canada thru the Georgian Bay North Channel route one week prior to Labor Day. which is recommended. We only met one boat that was winterizing but they planned a five year loop. We anchored 60%of the time and stayed weeks in many places never feeling like we had a schedule and traveled with the seasonal weather.
So you did it in one year? Did you feel you missed a lot?
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Old 07-07-2020, 07:31 AM   #6
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Rush through the parts you have done or plan to do but not another whole loop. Just focus on say NYC to the TennTom.
Certainly a thought - say start at the C-D canal.
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Old 07-07-2020, 07:52 AM   #7
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Or as many suggest, just pop out at Norfolk and go straight to NYC if overnighters are OK. That would be less complicated and shorter....but the upper Chessie is easy and cool for a couple days.

Your boat could probably make Atlantic City easy from the Nothern Chesapeake.
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Old 07-07-2020, 08:04 AM   #8
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I did it in one year.

Left April 1st and dashed to the Chesapeake where I haulout. All that part was familiar to me (and you). IMO, you could skip everything up to the Hudson river as you could do that in another year going toward New England.

Memorial day I was on the Erie Canal and went all the way across to Tonawanda (Niagara River). You may have to go up Oswego canal because of bridge clearance.

Independence Day I was in Marquette, MI (Lake Superior). I spent 6 weeks in Lake Superior, but obviously your route would be different. Probably want to be heading down the coast of Lake Michigan the last 2 weeks of August. They say you want to be off the Lakes by Labor Day, and they are correct. Had to wait 5 days for the seas to subside enough to get from Portage, IN to Chicago.

Labor day found me in Portage, IN.

Once off the Lakes, time and season really isn't important as it's inland cruising with the exception of crossing from Carrabelle, FL to Tarpon Springs, FL.

I was back to Fort Myers just before Thanksgiving.

IMO, you could spend years exploring the Great Lakes region. One trip from Chicago to the Tennessee river is probably enough. I would like to explore the Tennessee and the Ohio rivers more. Gulf coast is doable from Fort Myers. I plan to do 2 or 3 more trips to the Great Lakes and come back each fall down the East Coast.

For me, leaving the boat up North for 6 to 8 months wasn't a viable option. If you choose to do it, check state laws where you would leave it. Some may want a fee equivalent to sales tax for residing in their state 6 months.

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Old 07-07-2020, 08:08 AM   #9
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When we were searching for our retirement boat we had the Great Loop in mind. Sonas has a folding radar arch which allows us to get under that bridge in Chicago.

However we have resisted planning it due to one main reason. We feel that it will require at least two years to do it properly. So starting off from Florida in the spring that means we will be in the northern climes come late fall/winter and will have to have the boat hauled or otherwise secured for the winter in a slip with bubbler etc. This would mean that we would not have Sonas here in Florida for the best part of tbe boating season - say October through March/April.

So we haven't progressed plans.

With the COVID shutdown, especially impacting travel abroad, we are considering it again. A question for those from the south that have completed it. Did you complete it in a year so had your boat available all year, or did you leave it up north for the winter?
Wifey B: I ain't leavin' my boat up there all alone in the cold frozen tundraqua.

Ok, you can do the east coast anytime. You can do the gulf of Mexico anytime. You can do the Bahamas anytime. So what does that leave? It leaves NYC to Mobile.

Now the problem is they're making the opening of the Erie later and later but let's assume a normal year if we ever have one again and Erie opens May 15. You want to be there ready to go. So ease up the East Coast in April and in in NYC by May 15. Now, your next key time is south from Chicago. Most say you need to go by September 30 but you really have until around October 15 which is when in normal years the Chicago marinas close. That leaves you 5 months for NYC to Chicago. You can't see everything but don't act like it's the only time you can ever do it. Head down to the TN in October and then on down to Mobile. Or you can dock on Pickwick or in Demopolis and then spend a couple of years cruising on the TN River, the Cumberland, the Ohio, the Arkansas, the Missouri, the Mississippi, and then the TN Tom.

We did the May 1 to October 15 run and then we docked in Iuka and cruised the TN and the Cumberland. Next time we intend to get the Ohio, Missouri and others. You can get a lot of cruising in five months in the area from NYC to Chicago.
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Old 07-07-2020, 08:54 AM   #10
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As others have done...some do it in a year and yawn totally underwhelmed.

Some do it in a year so impressed, they repeat till they feel like they have seen what they want by stopping new places every new loop.

Some describe staying in places and renting a car to go far and wide....while a concept, if land associated places become a desire....my philosophy is do the boat stuff the do it by RV.
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Old 07-07-2020, 10:48 AM   #11
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We did not do the complete loop. Rather we cruised for 2 summers in the NY canal system and the Canadian canals.
One year the Trent/Severn and into the north channel of Lake Huron and back to CT.
The next year the Champlain canal and the Rideau section, then again back to CT.
We met many along the way who said those were the best cruising and they had come back to experience that again because they rushed thru it initially.

We had no schedule so many days we did not move.
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Old 07-07-2020, 11:56 AM   #12
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I did it in '06 on a calendar year basis and enjoyed the process. We're planning on doing it again next year, also on a calendar year basis. I'll probly start heading north from Florida as soon as the weather is decent, I don't want to get a head start badly enough to head up the east coast when it's still cold!
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Old 07-07-2020, 12:47 PM   #13
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I did the Loop in 8 months and was pretty good, but 9 would have been much better.



Left Florida on April 10th and felt rushed the first month. One issue was I planned on making the Norfolk Rendezvous and ended up driving the last 150 miles. Had I left a few weeks earlier would have been much better.


As for leaving the boat on the hard for the winter, I really didn't want to do that. Besides being without the boat for almost 6 months, the cost was more than the cost of fuel to just bring it home.


Now, there could be an argument to leave the boat somewhere on the Kentucky lakes where it could be left in the water. That would be a lot less expensive and a much shorter period so I could explore the lakes and the inland rivers and extra runs to other places over the next year. However, I'd be a tad nervous on leaving it in the water without someone watching it on a regular basis.



I'm planning on another Loop, or at least part of it. Will leave a bit earlier and try to spend more time on the Erie, Thousand islands and Canada. Those are the really fun places.
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Old 07-07-2020, 01:45 PM   #14
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I am just posting on this thread to subscribe. This is something we are thinking about doing from Florida this coming winter if Covid still has the world shut down. It is great to read the opinions of people who have actually done it. Consider y'all thanked!
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Old 07-07-2020, 02:06 PM   #15
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So you did it in one year? Did you feel you missed a lot?
Yes, but at that time we lived aboard and cruised ahead of the cold weather. We choose not to do the Rideau Canal or the west side of Lake Michigan. We did a week in Myrtle Beach, Annapolis and Baltimore. In Baltimore we took the commuters train into the capital and also visited New York city by train from Terri-town on the Hudson river. We visited both the Naval Academy and West Point. We also spent several weeks on the Erie And Trent Severn Canals. We visited Mackinaw Island, my wife said the Grand Hotel was a must see. We visited Chicago with friends who lived near a marina we stayed at on the Illinois river. Seeing it all for us would have been to busy. As I mentioned are only schedule was to be off the Great Lakes by Labor Day because of the usual bad weather that comes in each year at that time. It was for us a relaxed pace, we collected about fifty boat cards from fellow loopers, several we still corespondent with.
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Old 07-07-2020, 02:16 PM   #16
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I am just posting on this thread to subscribe. This is something we are thinking about doing from Florida this coming winter if Covid still has the world shut down. It is great to read the opinions of people who have actually done it. Consider y'all thanked!
Wifey B: The loop is a wonderful experience and so many different ways to do it. On top of that there are incredible inland rivers to explore. I want to go up the Ohio to Three Rivers and then explore the Allegheny and the Monongahela. I do advise not to try to see so much that you see very little. Now, I'll try to explain what I mean. If on a section of the loop you decide you want to to to 10 ports or waterfront towns and it only gives you a little time in the afternoon for each when you could have selected 5 or 6 and really enjoyed them, found out what they were about, and had a much more restful cruise. It's fine to have places remaining for next time.

Also, it's legal to the best of my knowledge to not do it all at once but do bits and pieces here and there until you've done it all. We didn't try to cover the East Coast, to enjoy the Chesapeake, to go up the Potomac, to go up the Delaware, to go to Cape Cod or Boston or Limerick City, otherwise known as Nantucket. We've done those at different times. We did focus on what we could do in the time sensitive period of May to October.

I just looked and this might be an interesting statistic of how we did things. We only cruised the second or third day in a row 24 times between NYC and Pickwick Lake on the TN River. Most of the time we'd arrive somewhere in the afternoon and spend the entire next day there. And when we had those 24 second and third days, more often it was arriving somewhere in the morning and enjoying the afternoon, then leaving the next morning.
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Old 07-07-2020, 06:50 PM   #17
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I think many loopers leave Lake Huron for Chicago far too early. Late August and early September can be beautiful up north, and the crowds disappear.

If your tolerance for cooler weather is good you could be on the Hudson when the Erie opens mid-May and leaving Chicago mid-October. Sprint down to the Tennessee River and then get back to FL at your leisure.
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Old 07-07-2020, 07:27 PM   #18
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I think many loopers leave Lake Huron for Chicago far too early. Late August and early September can be beautiful up north, and the crowds disappear.

If your tolerance for cooler weather is good you could be on the Hudson when the Erie opens mid-May and leaving Chicago mid-October. Sprint down to the Tennessee River and then get back to FL at your leisure.
Wifey B: We didn't leave Chicago until October 15 as the trip down the Illinois and Mississippi were not the more pleasurable parts of the trip so not something that was really impacted if it was a bit colder.
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Old 07-08-2020, 06:46 AM   #19
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Like Jay, we spent 2 summers cruising the triangle loop as well as lakes Huron Ontario, Erie TSW & the North Channel. These for us were the best cruises. Limited to 5 max draft for Rideau, and 17 air draft for Champlain canal, <16 for Western Erie.

We stored in Brewerton NY - 1 days run from Oswego. Winter Harbor inside heated storage, Very professional yard, not cheap but no winterization except empty the water tanks & pump out.
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Old 07-09-2020, 06:29 AM   #20
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When we were searching for our retirement boat we had the Great Loop in mind. Sonas has a folding radar arch which allows us to get under that bridge in Chicago.

However we have resisted planning it due to one main reason. We feel that it will require at least two years to do it properly.....
Menzies, although we started on KY Lake, we felt the same way. One year seemed too fast to cover it. The lock closures in IL in 2020 were kind of a blessing to us. It made us consider taking more time to do it.
We left KY Lake in Oct 2019. We are now thinking we will work our way up the east coast slowly (as we are doing now) and just get as far north as we get. We don't really care how far. Then we will turn around before it gets cold and head back south to stay warm all winter.

Then next spring we can begin heading north again and move faster through the east coast area we have seen in 2020, and slow down again when we get into new territory. Then we can make a choice of either "closing" the loop by coming down the rivers, or just come back down the east coast side again in the fall. The section between Chicago and KY Lake is a part we may never actually do.

That is our plan, but all subject to change. My point is the 2 year plan seemed more like our speed. We have no goal of checking the box that says we completed the loop. We may do some of it 3 or 4 times and there may be a small stretch we never do.
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