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Old 05-05-2021, 04:01 PM   #1
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great loop

May daydreams today took me on the US great loop.

As a kid, I spend a few years in Dubuque, IA and also in Owensboro, KY on the Ohio River...
currently have family on the Mississippi in Wisconsin. We have friends in Louisville... My wife went to school in and has friends around St Louis...

I started thinking about what it might be like to do the great loop and detour upstream a bit to visit places and friends... How much fun might extended cruising on the rivers really be?...dirty water and all of that

Then I got to thinking that I have a lot to learn... flood stages, seasons, etc... What sort of marina services there might be in places like that.... etc...
and how much time on the loop can be spent before one really needs to change out the zincs to aluminum or something else?

I've got a lot to learn for that reality!
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Old 05-05-2021, 04:31 PM   #2
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Why not just go to aluminum anodes now? They will work everywhere not just fresh water.
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Old 05-05-2021, 04:40 PM   #3
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You have taken the first and second steps by joining this forum and starting to think about it.

The next step is to join AGCLA (Americas Great Loop Cruising Assoc)

Go for it.

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Old 05-05-2021, 04:47 PM   #4
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Having grown up cruising the Ohio/Tennessee rivers systems, I'd say that it is a piece of cake, mostly, with the possible exception of your first experiences with locking alongside barges and tugs and the like, but there are so many more resources nowadays (Youtube) than my dad had in the [years redacted ] to learn about locking. There are cruising guides to help you with resources such as public docks and marinas in those areas, as well as electronic resources such as ActiveCaptain. This is our thought too, even if we don't end up doing the whole loop for whatever reason (size boat, time available in summers in the northern latitudes) we intend to head up from Mobile to visit places from my youth.
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Old 05-05-2021, 06:48 PM   #5
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For your homework please read, "Honey, Let's Get a Boat... A Cruising Adventure of America's Great Loop" by Eva and Ron Stob.

There will be a test tomorrow.
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Old 05-05-2021, 08:21 PM   #6
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For your homework please read, "Honey, Let's Get a Boat... A Cruising Adventure of America's Great Loop" by Eva and Ron Stob.

There will be a test tomorrow.
And their book Great Loop Side Trips: 20 Cruising Adventures on Eastern North America’s Waterways will also be material for your plans too, sounds like.

The Stobs were the original founders of the AGLCA.
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Old 05-06-2021, 06:38 PM   #7
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Most people who do the loop miss things like the Ohio, Cumberland, Arkansas, Missouri and much of the Tennessee and more. What we suggest is doing the loop but then wintering somewhere near it, perhaps on the TN River or the TN Tom or even Mobile where you can dart back up and do the rivers nearby the next year and more the year after.
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Old 05-07-2021, 05:33 AM   #8
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Most people who do the loop miss things like the Ohio, Cumberland, Arkansas, Missouri and much of the Tennessee and more. What we suggest is doing the loop but then wintering somewhere near it, perhaps on the TN River or the TN Tom or even Mobile where you can dart back up and do the rivers nearby the next year and more the year after.
Same case in the NE sections...
Soo many possibilities for different or side loops.

Lk Champlain, St Lawrence, Rideau, Trent-Severn, Georgian Bay, N Channel... all nice clean fresh water.
Many come back again and/or winter someplace and continue exploring for several years.
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Old 05-07-2021, 10:21 AM   #9
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Having bucked the Mississippi in the wrong direction, my first advice to you is go counterclockwise.

Learn to enjoy locking through and the inherent delays as a result of being the low man on the totem pole for priority and the adverse impact on your supposed "schedule" because if you don't, you are in for frustration PLUS. Take two boat hooks, one for each end of the boat while locking to help fend off since you will usually be attached amidships to a floating bollard. Don't tie up to bollards except at the ends of the lock if you can, more turbulence is often generated in the middle, especially when locking up. Don't take shiny new fenders into the locks. I like big round ball fenders best there.

Learn the air draft restrictions for going all the way west on the Erie Canal and for getting through the Chicago area. Meet those two, and you are good to go whichever direction you want regarding the possibility of veering north to the Trent Severn or running Lake Erie. Having been through the TS and Georgian Bay, I say DO NOT MISS IT.

Skip the Kentucky Lock getting into the Tennessee River and instead go on up the Ohio another few miles and get into Green Turtle Bay via the quieter Barkley Dam/Lock.

Learn about wing dams on the Mississippi, or just stay the heck in the middle.

Learn to use the numerous Corps of Engineers websites to watch lock status reports and get a feel for using the water level charts. Lock closures for major maintenance are publicized well in advance, but it pays to check lock status frequently as "stuff" happens requiring short term closures.

I never found any place where there is a current meter in the rivers, but through dint of much research did find a way to figure MPH of the flow in the St Louis area based on river level - not really a big deal if you are going down river but was for me going north. Watch major storm systems that dump a lot of water in the area and be prepared for the surges that follow.

Although I am ok with AIS receive-only here locally, I would not begin the loop without an AIS transponder. I did half of a trip from the Gulf Coast to Lake Michigan without and the other half with. What a huge difference!

As you travel the system, keep in mind that you may well not make the distance you intended for the day, and alternate overnight locations must be kept in mind. NO NIGHTTIME TRAVEL is advised - ok, yes, I have done it for a short distance to finish the day or start the day with a short run to the first lock before dawn. If I had the monster sun-like spotlights the tugs carry, I'd run some at night, but nothing you will carry would be sufficient for safety.

On one trip up the Tenn-Tom, we were treated day after day to thick morning fog, and we were thankful for our radar. That was before AIS which would have made a big difference being used in combo with the radar. GPS kept us in the middle, and radar told us something (not who) was coming our way.

Always agree with tows about the passing/overtaking side before actually doing it.
They speak "one whistle/two whistle all the time, but you need to come back with something like, roger one whistle, my port to your port. Never, never take the outside of a turn around a tow. If his stern clips the bank and he trips, that bunch of barges with swing like a barn door and crush you like a egg against the outside shoreline.

OK, got that? Now go have fun cuz it is.
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Old 05-07-2021, 11:00 AM   #10
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wow...that's a lot to digest.
but it's got me even more excited about the possibility. I love the idea of doing an extended counterclockwise loop attempt...enjoying lots of side trips exploring New England and maybe even up through New Brunswick and PEI and down the St Lawrence....lots of places in the great lakes region I wouldn't mind seeing more of....then once in the Mississippi heading up stream a bit before heading up part of the ohio maybe even up to Louisville. It never dawned on my to get into the KY and Barkley lakes.

I guess it makes sense that it would be necessary to make it through the great lakes and Northern Mississippi stretches all in one season.... seems like way too much to do there is a single summer...but I imagine haul out opportunities for larger boats are slim.... and flipping South and back North backwards probably wouldn't' make a lot of sense either.... how to folks do it all, just plan to skip a lot?

My dad was chief of a USCG bouy tender Wyaconda out of Dubuque for a few years when I was in grade school, early to mid 1970's. He was on another larger one (Sumac) before that one was stationed there, and he actually brought the Wyaconda there from I think St Louis. I actually got to helm it once for a few miles on a family day trip. I see online that she's still based out of Dubuque all of these years later....
We used to pleasure boat on the mississippi quite a bit in the summers, camping and playing on some of the islands in the area and us kids enjoyed playing in the wake of passing tow boats. Good times.

I've often dreamed of renting a houseboat for a week or so vacation up there someplace.... but this idea of getting a seaworthy trawler & doing an extended great loop is even more appealing to daydream about!
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Old 05-07-2021, 11:19 AM   #11
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Plus, aluminum anodes last longer.
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Why not just go to aluminum anodes now? They will work everywhere not just fresh water.
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Old 05-07-2021, 11:20 AM   #12
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You may not ever have to lock thru with a tug and tow. We never had to do that in any lock on the loop.
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Having grown up cruising the Ohio/Tennessee rivers systems, I'd say that it is a piece of cake, mostly, with the possible exception of your first experiences with locking alongside barges and tugs and the like, but there are so many more resources nowadays (Youtube) than my dad had in the [years redacted ] to learn about locking. There are cruising guides to help you with resources such as public docks and marinas in those areas, as well as electronic resources such as ActiveCaptain. This is our thought too, even if we don't end up doing the whole loop for whatever reason (size boat, time available in summers in the northern latitudes) we intend to head up from Mobile to visit places from my youth.
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Old 05-07-2021, 11:22 AM   #13
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This is really good advice if you have the time. The inland rivers offer so much. They beat hell out of the ICW.
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Most people who do the loop miss things like the Ohio, Cumberland, Arkansas, Missouri and much of the Tennessee and more. What we suggest is doing the loop but then wintering somewhere near it, perhaps on the TN River or the TN Tom or even Mobile where you can dart back up and do the rivers nearby the next year and more the year after.
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Old 05-07-2021, 11:40 AM   #14
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You may not ever have to lock thru with a tug and tow. We never had to do that in any lock on the loop.
Locking through with a tug in the chamber is at the discretion of the tug master, not the lock keeper. Only did it once with a small tug with a single barge, Most others are just too big.
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Old 05-07-2021, 11:42 AM   #15
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Once you leave St Louis, I would say there is no going back north; so do all you want up there before heading south of SL. You can always leave the boat in the water for winter in Green Turtle.
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Old 05-07-2021, 12:05 PM   #16
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Once you leave St Louis, I would say there is no going back north; so do all you want up there before heading south of SL. You can always leave the boat in the water for winter in Green Turtle.
We kept ours in Aqua Yacht Harbor for winter. Considerably warmer than Green Turtle. But then Demopolis would be far warmer.
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Old 05-07-2021, 12:14 PM   #17
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You may not ever have to lock thru with a tug and tow. We never had to do that in any lock on the loop.
I mentioned it because of his thoughts about going further afield on the Ohio River and the Tennessee or maybe Cumberland River systems. For us it was common, or at least my memory of that time makes it seem so.
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Old 05-07-2021, 12:17 PM   #18
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I mentioned it because of his thoughts about going further afield on the Ohio River and the Tennessee or maybe Cumberland River systems. For us it was common, or at least my memory of that time makes it seem so.
Very common for smaller boats and some medium sized on the TN Tom and on the TN River. Great way to lock is when tied to a tow.
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Old 05-10-2021, 02:22 PM   #19
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After a three year continuous great loop cruise, we crossed our wake 2012 in Green Turtle Bay marina onboard our DeFever 49 CPMY (Spirit Dancer). Wow, what a trip.

Hit the rendezvous in Joe Wheeler a couple times. Afterwards, we hit the second floor and sing songs with Eva and Ron Stob and fellow loopers. My wife and I wrote and performed the "Great Loop Song." Ron asked me to sing it again and again.

Had some fun going back to the dock at Choctaw point in Mobile AL where I served in the Coast Guard onboard my first duty station, the CG Cutter Rambler - 100 foot flat bottom Buoy tender. After my time, the Rambler went up river to set the buoys on TennTom.

Since we owned a training company, we had to transitioned it from classroom to web-based training. Took several years, but worth it. Added a cell phone booster antenna to kick up our connection from 5 miles to 50 miles. Also, added a WiFi booster antenna that gave us eight mile range. Hung on a mooring ball across from the Thunderball Grotto (James Bond) off the Staniel Key Yacht Club, Bahamas, for almost a month while I re-wrote and uploaded ten customer service training courses.

Take your time, take the side trips - especially DC (dock within walking distance of the capital), stay in NY for at least a couple of weeks. Unless you can handle the wakes, the 79th street boat basin is not for you. Spent a month over July and blew out a ball fender there. Awesome location though.

Take the Cumberland River to Nashville and the Tennessee River to Chattanooga. Both have docks downtown.

Many marinas will have a courtesy car or van you can borrow to pick up provisions and visit the ever present West Marine. LOL.

Join GreatLoop.org. If you're going Solo, be sure to join that forum as well as the general one. Go to the rendezvous near you (3 per year), take the "lifestyle" track.

You'll follow the seasons around the loop. There will always be other loopers within hollering distance, and you'll make friends for life.

We're planning our next loop, perhaps as early as 2022.

Bob
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Old 05-10-2021, 02:40 PM   #20
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wow, sounds like you did it right, and enjoyed the side trips and took your time in spots. I was considering that it would be close for a side trip off boat to Nashville, but I never looked close enough to realize you can go all the way there! And Chattanooga!

I'm very curious, since you took 3 years continuous to do the loop....
and considering the general idea is to rotate with the seasons....spring Northbound, Summer great lakes, fall down river, and winter rounding out the bottom....
How did you trip work? I'd love to read an outline synopsis of your itinerary by rough amount of time spent at major stops.... or by season.

I'm also curious about your CG service.... I'm a USCG Brat. Dad was in from 1957 to 1979, spent a lot of that time on bouy tenders. Never Mobile though....
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