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Anyone taking a yacht up to the Great Lakes this season; plans? route?

Discussion in 'General Yachting Discussion' started by Capt J, May 4, 2020.

  1. Freebird

    Freebird Member

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    Locks are a piece of cake to single hand, especially with a Hatteras MY with pocket doors which give you easy access to the midship cleat. One loop around the floating bit, pull tight, and tie it off. Done. I watch people struggle with spring lines etc. and just sort of giggle.

    I’ll set my fenders when I’m at the dock. If the current/wind is really bad, I just let them dangle. Otherwise, I’ll leave them on deck and toss them over when I get close. This boat has a bow thruster, which I consider cheating, but it adds to the easy factor.

    I took my own 58TC up the Tenn-Tom to Chattanooga by myself... on one engine. No thruster. Since then I’ve moved several boats through there by myself. Not bragging or trying to prove anything, it’s just something I’ve been doing for 40+ years.

    Let me add one thing. Locks where there are no floating bits/bollards are a bit more challenging, but still no big deal. Just tie one line to the forward spring, and keep the outboard engine in reverse until it’s done. Been there done that too. None of those type locks on the Illinois.
    Last edited: May 23, 2020
  2. Freebird

    Freebird Member

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    This is where a like button is needed. Thanks for the sentiment.
  3. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    How do you fit under that railroad bridge 30 miles from Chicago that's 19'6 at flood, if the water levels are several feet above flood? That is our issue, once we take the mast head down and bimini, I imagine we're still at 18'X.

    Did you make it to Polestar?
  4. Freebird

    Freebird Member

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    Dave moved the boat to Polestar as the water in Grafton was getting iffy. At present, there is over 20’ at the railroad bridge which is located between two locks. They regulate that section.

    We’ll be removing the arch at some point before we reach the bridge.
  5. Freebird

    Freebird Member

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    Oh yeah, I just realized I haven’t mentioned the fact I’m still in Tennessee. I’ll be heading back on Monday, and we’ll resume the trip at first light on Tuesday.
  6. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    Not saying it can't be done, but that it shouldn't. I once lost an engine coming out of the Shinnecock locks with a 5 kt current behind me. The boat would have been destroyed were it not for having a deck hand who had to jump off the boat and secure a line to the bumper on a CG truck that happened to be there. Tying off in a lock is another thing that shouldn't be done. I've seen knots jam when the water went down and the result isn't pretty. In places like the Welland Canal they actually require 3 deckhands. But good luck. Hope you have a safe voyage.
  7. Freebird

    Freebird Member

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    Cleat hitches are not knots, and the Welland Canal is nothing like the locks on the Illinois.

    Not sure how losing an engine coming out of a lock could put you into such peril, but I’m glad it all worked out. I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around your deck hand jumping in the water and tying off to a truck bumper, but it seems to me that would be a guaranteed way to put your boat on the bank.
  8. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    Not into the water, onto the seawall where there is nothing to tie off to (except the CG truck that day) just before we'd have hit the 2 whirlpools that would have sent the boat pin-balling down the seawalls. Watch the current in this video, especially as it comes out of the locks and just south of the RR bridge. The CG truck was parked under that RR bridge.
    Last edited: May 23, 2020
  9. Freebird

    Freebird Member

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    Not trying to be argumentative, but that’s an apple and watermelon comparison.
  10. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    No comparison to anything, and not saying you're wrong. Just showing why I like to have a mate in high current waters.
  11. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    I agree with NYCAP, I would NEVER move a 60' yacht single handed. I've had so many different issues arrise over the years from fire, to mechanical failures (steering, engine, controls), that I just wouldn't take the risk. It's just not worth it.
  12. Freebird

    Freebird Member

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    And what would the difference be with any of those scenarios if it were a 30’ boat being single handed?

    The only real issue I see would be a medical emergency which would leave the operator incapacitated.
  13. Freebird

    Freebird Member

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    These waters and currents are nothing like those. That was my only point.
  14. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    A 30' vessel, you are a hell of a lot closer to everything. The engine room, very easy to go from helm to engine room and back and forth. Look at the time it takes to go from the helm to the engine room and back in a 60'. A 30' boat 1 person can actually push off of boats, or pull it somewhere with a line attached to something. 30' a lot easier to anchor by yourself. A 30' does very little damage to something else if it drifts into something.......you're kind of comparing a moped doing 30 mph without brakes and a Ford F 350 doing 30 mph without brakes. Everything is multiplied 10x due to the extra weight and windage. While not wise to run any vessel by yourself, you can get away with a hell of a lot more issues on a 30' by yourself, meaning they're manageable. My biggest concern as a Captain is risk mitigation and the safety of the vessel, crew, passengers and others.

    The currents can be like those with everything flooded.
  15. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    A 60' would have taken the truck with us (I was on a 38'), and yes the smaller the boat the easier it is to single hand. On Valhalla the aft deck was enclosed and in a current you might get away with one of the mid-ship cleats but you needed a line on the up-current end to keep it in.
  16. Freebird

    Freebird Member

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    Well, when you’re single handing, you don’t have to worry about the safety of the crew, passengers and others.

    Yes, I’m breaking your balls a bit, but the contingencies you mentioned in your other post are what I wanted you to address. It’s all good, and it may or may not come down to a decision of me making the final few days of this trip solo if Dave runs out of time. It’s simply an option that wouldn’t concern me in the least.
  17. cleanslate

    cleanslate Senior Member

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    I went through that canal two years ago with my 42' Ocean . First trip through heading north bound . It was fine till you got to that first bridge then holy crap ! After that it was like white water rafting in my boat ! It was nuts going through the narrow lock its self had my Detriots at 1400 RPM just to keep forward movement around 4 knots .
    Second trip through was not as bad , but had to go through the really narrow side of the lock. Anyway, it was not much fun to go through.
    Last edited: May 24, 2020
  18. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    Northbound is the easy way. Once you pass the restaurant "F" the 5 mph speed limit. Peddle to the metal until you get to the Sunrise Hwy bridge after the lock, but then PLEASE knock the speed back before the marina. Southbound when the gates are open is the blood pressure stress test. It's like shooting through a fire hose. When you get to the opening of the west lock you get about a 5 kt kick in the butt that wants to turn you sideways (and it's happened several times not to mention the boats that bounce off the sides). When you hit it it's WOT and turn your knuckles white to stay ahead of the current and centered. Often with larger boats I'd call the locks and request they reverse the lights, announce a security and go southbound through the wider north bound side. That's what I did that day but it requires you to then turn to starboard and then port when you come out to avoid a concrete wall. I made the starboard turn, but when I went to turn to port there was no starboard motor. That's when the spin started. Of course it's best to time your lock through for when the locks are closed. The problem when southbound is that Shinnecock and Moriches bays are shallow and larger boats have to hit them on the rising tide.
  19. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    How long do you think it will take all of the stacked up tows to get through the illinois waterway before traffic returns to normal? The locks to open?

    The owner wanted to be home for Memorial Day weekend with his family, so we all flew home and he may not fly back for the remainder of the trip but may send someone to be my mate.

    I knew there was an issue heading up to Polestar as I saw 2 dozen tows just sitting there with their bow pushed up on the bank waiting for something, just South of the 2 locks South of St. Louis.

    The Shinnecock sounds like a real disaster. LOL
  20. cleanslate

    cleanslate Senior Member

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    If you are on the African Queen and Bogart is at the helm, then Shinnecock canal is no problem! Lol

    Also make sure your vessel is under 21' clearance before you enter! It is very ,very hard to stop your boat at the bridge and turn around in that SOB canal .

    Also the lock tender was useless on my trip. They never replied to me my first pass through. And my second pass through was basically the same.