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Anyone done the Great Lakes loop?

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Old 01-07-2018, 02:15 PM
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Default Anyone done the Great Lakes loop?

I have talked about doing a trip to go through all 5 of the lakes and fully plan to do it in a couple of years after I retire. Has anyone done a trip like this? If so I have lots of questions I would like to ask you.
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Old 01-08-2018, 08:31 AM
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The first issue I see is that the only "loop" in the great lakes doesn't include Michigan and Superior. From a home port in Lake Erie, hitting all 5 lakes is more of a "star" than a loop. That means there's a lot of back-tracking and looong runs for the sake of a bucket list.

I prefer individual trips:

You could loop through the Welland to Toronto, up to 1000 Isands, back through the Trent Severn and back home.

Another trip could be dedicated to the North Channel, and then another for Mackinac, and into Lake Michigan. There are some great ports on the southern end of Michigan, but I'd rather drive to them - including Chicago. Friends of mine at Cedar Point moved to downtown Chicago. They sold the boat a few years later.

I've never been drawn to Superior from a boating perspective. I have friends who negotiated the locks, went into the lake, turned around and came back just to say they've done it... It's a beautiful, incredible body of water, but it's one of the few that I'm ok looking at from ashore.
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Old 01-08-2018, 05:57 PM
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Thanks for the info. . Looks like I will need to put a different plan together.
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Old 01-08-2018, 08:23 PM
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There is quite a number of people doing the Great Loop. Many start at Joe Wheeler State Park on the Tennessee River and head south through the Tennessee--Tombigbee Waterway toward Mobile.

Many Loopers have posted travel diaries online, and it is simply an incredible 5000 mile boating experience.I

The perfect boat for the trip is a 36-39 foot trawler with a single diesel. Due to a couple of bridges around Chicago, the boats cannot be too high.

I was out riding my Waverunner last Summer and ran into a couple doing the loop. They were 850 miles from their Iowa home, and having a ball in their Mainship trawler.
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Old 01-09-2018, 05:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Bamaman View Post
There is quite a number of people doing the Great Loop.
For sure. There's practically an entire culture of "loopers" who circumnavigate the eastern 3rd (or so) portion of the country.

Russ mentioned a Great Lakes Loop though, and that's tougher to define. Two of the 5 lakes, Michigan and Superior, only connect to another lake at 1 point.

That's hardly a flaw in the Great Lakes though. Every looper I've ever spoken to will say that there's more to see and do in any ONE great lake then there is on the entire inland journey of the Great Loop.

Russ, if you're serious about a trip that includes no back-tracking, the Welland Canal and Trent Severn are waiting for you. Go for it!
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Old 01-09-2018, 09:45 AM
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Russ, What kind of boat are you thinking about doing this trip in? Just curious.
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Old 01-09-2018, 10:50 AM
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Besides make and size of boat, do you have a starting point?
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Old 01-09-2018, 08:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Northshore60 View Post
Russ, What kind of boat are you thinking about doing this trip in? Just curious.
28' Baha hard top.

Originally Posted by just cruisin View Post
Besides make and size of boat, do you have a starting point?
My marina in East Harbor on Lake Erie.
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Old 01-10-2018, 07:43 AM
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I"ve been to Georgian Bay and the North Channel on Lake Huron. Also did a trip down the St. Lawrence to Montreal then back up the Ottawa River to Ottawa and then down to Kingston Ontario thru the Rideau Waterway (60 some locks, most hand operated)

That was 20 years ago or so. Gas in Canada is insanely priced especially at Marina's so doubt I'll ever make the trip again although it is beautiful.

Russ, you should trade your Baja in on a Blow boat. Much more economical and more amenities if you get a decent sized one

P.S. You really need to get a job too so you can save up enough bucks for a trip like that , lol
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Old 01-10-2018, 08:06 AM
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You are in a great location to start. Post #2 laid out a great plan as doing all the lakes in one season could be a challenge.
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Old 01-10-2018, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Boataholic View Post
Gas in Canada is insanely priced especially at Marina's so doubt I'll ever make the trip again although it is beautiful.
I pulled-up to the fuel pier in Gore Bay (on Manitoulin Island) years ago. Winds were high. Somehow the dockhand cleated the bow line OVER his hand on the pier cleat! He extracted it before it tightened up, but it freaked us out in an already tense situation.

He started the fuel pumps as we mentally calculated how much we'd need to get to Mackinac. Liters to gallons, CAD to USD...

It came about to about $6 per gallon. We started yelling STOP THE PUMPS! STOP THE PUMPS! lol

yeah, a blowboat would come in handy.
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Old 01-10-2018, 08:20 AM
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Superior would be the tough one. Being so larger and having ports distant from one to another would make it a challenge. Unless you were in a pretty seaworthy boat you'd also have to pick the right days to make the long treks. Very cool scenery though and it would be more like an ocean trip than a lake trip.

Huron would be easy... a lot of ports on both sides and you could spend a whole summer in Georgian Bay. Michigan wouldn't be too bad either, taking a whole summer to hit all the ports from Mackinaw to Chicago on either side of the lake.
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Old 01-10-2018, 11:19 AM
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Russ,

Check out The Great Lakes Cruising Club (http://www.glcclub.com/). I met them at the Cleveland Boat Show a few year back. If you go this year it might be worth your time to see if they are there. They were great to talk to and I plan to utlize them when I hit the point I can start doing 3-4 week trips.
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Old 01-10-2018, 01:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Silverton42C View Post
Russ,

Check out The Great Lakes Cruising Club (http://www.glcclub.com/). I met them at the Cleveland Boat Show a few year back. If you go this year it might be worth your time to see if they are there. They were great to talk to and I plan to utlize them when I hit the point I can start doing 3-4 week trips.
Thanks for the link, I will check it out.

Originally Posted by Boataholic View Post
I"ve been to Georgian Bay and the North Channel on Lake Huron. Also did a trip down the St. Lawrence to Montreal then back up the Ottawa River to Ottawa and then down to Kingston Ontario thru the Rideau Waterway (60 some locks, most hand operated)

That was 20 years ago or so. Gas in Canada is insanely priced especially at Marina's so doubt I'll ever make the trip again although it is beautiful.

Russ, you should trade your Baja in on a Blow boat. Much more economical and more amenities if you get a decent sized one

P.S. You really need to get a job too so you can save up enough bucks for a trip like that , lol
I got more serious about looking for a job last week, nothing yet. There is no way I will ever own a sailboat. I don't have the patience and I use my boat for fishing, sailboat wouldn't work for me.
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Old 01-10-2018, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by RussH View Post
Thanks for the link, I will check it out.



I got more serious about looking for a job last week, nothing yet. There is no way I will ever own a sailboat. I don't have the patience and I use my boat for fishing, sailboat wouldn't work for me.
Personally, I'd screw the loop and go directly to the North Channel area.

Stopping in the Les Cheneauxs/Hessel of course.
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Old 01-10-2018, 06:10 PM
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This is a local PBS show. Not boating per se, but he seems to really focus on Michigan's east coast as well as the Canada side of lake Huron. Whether snowmobile touring, color tours, etc., he hits a lot of port towns from Tawas to the Bruce Peninsula. Good regional information and trip planning. You can browse titles of his archives and they are on YouTube to view.

http://www.greatgetaways.tv/schedule.html
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Old 01-11-2018, 05:20 AM
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Russ, have you read through my friend Tim's cruising blog? I've posted it a few times here. It's not only relevant to this discussion, but last week was the 3rd anniversary of his sudden passing. Gina and I are committed to keeping his blog online as part of his legacy.

It's a great way to pass an ugly Ohio wkd. If you like cigars and vodka, even better: light one up, get comfortable and let Tim inspire you to plan a vacation that could be a lifetime memory. (who knows, yours too could last more than a lifetime)

Crap. Don't ya hate it when you tear up on a random Thursday morning?

www.timandgina.net
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Old 01-12-2018, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by RollerCoastr View Post
Russ, have you read through my friend Tim's cruising blog? I've posted it a few times here. It's not only relevant to this discussion, but last week was the 3rd anniversary of his sudden passing. Gina and I are committed to keeping his blog online as part of his legacy.

It's a great way to pass an ugly Ohio wkd. If you like cigars and vodka, even better: light one up, get comfortable and let Tim inspire you to plan a vacation that could be a lifetime memory. (who knows, yours too could last more than a lifetime)

Crap. Don't ya hate it when you tear up on a random Thursday morning?

www.timandgina.net
I did read the blog but didn't think of it. Thanks for the link, I will read it again while we are getting a plan together.
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Old 01-14-2018, 12:32 PM
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I've hit about every area of the Great Lakes at some point in my life except Lk Ontario and Chicago area. Did the Trent Severn twice, Georgian Bay and NC a half dozen times, Lk Huron, St Clair, even 2 trips in Lk Superior from Copper Harbor to Isle Royal and Grand Portage to Isle Royal, Apostle Islands... and more.,

I would think you could do loops from your home port for all but Lk Superior. For up there, I would trailer as it would be a tough loop in your boat. It would take a lot of time, and that lake is not forgiving, seems either rough or heavy fog from what I remember.
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Old 01-18-2018, 09:02 AM
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Russ,
you plan on taking the little woman with ya? What are you gonna do about meals and such? No electric on your boat?
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