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« Maffi Dredd: I am the canal Law | Main | CutConnect »

Friday, 18 June 2010


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Andrew Denny

Richard, I was told 'The Great Loop' is called 'The Great Circle', and I wrote about it 4 years ago here:



The Erie Canal is a delightful ride and is what makes what is known as "The Great Loop" voyage possible. When one does the Great Loop they have effectively circumnavigated the eastern half of the United States.

I did the Loop in two stages in 1974 and 75. In the first stage I left Burnham Harbor Chicago in a 42' Hatteras tri-cabin motor yacht, my first captain's position. We went the lengths of lakes Michigan, Huron and Erie and entered the canal at Tonawonda and exited at Waterford near Albany. The western third of the canal is not an interesting ride. A straight, boring land cut, but once you enter the Finger Lakes region and the Mohawk River it's glorious. There is a height restriction on the canal of 15 or 16 feet because of bridges and speed is strictly controlled. Six mph on the land cut section and 10 mph thereafter. The way it is controlled is that when you leave one lock they phone ahead to the next lock telling them of your departure. It's simple math to know when you should arrive. If you've been speeding they won't open the lock until your scheduled time and give you a warning. The second time they will not allow you into the lock for several hours as a penalty and too many violations and they will hold you up for a day or two before allowing you to proceed.

The Hudson River, too, is magnificent all the way down to New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty.

You then must take an outside ocean route down at least to the Delaware Bay. You can then run up that bay, take a short, lock free canal ride to the head of the Chesapeake Bay on down to Norfolk, Virginia where you pick up the Intracoastal Waterway riding in protected waters all the way down south of Miami, Florida.

The next year I left Burnham Harbor again, this time on a Morgan Out Island 51 and proceeded down the Illinois River to the mighty Mississippi and thence down to New Orleans. From there you cross the Gulf of Mexico, around the Florida Keys and I docked at the same fuel dock I had the year before thus closing the loop.

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