Has any one here done the "Great Loop" from Chicago to Florida and back up the east coast? I'm looking for information on getting down to the Gulf from Chicago using the Tenn- Tom waterway. Can anyone help?

Dave & Traci

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Haven't made the trip, but I have studied it quite a bit a few years ago. My first suggestion would be to get a copy of the Cruising Guide to the Tennessee RIver, Ten-Tom Waterway, and Tombigbee River by the Rumseys. Excellent book that will take you step by step from the Ohio River to the Gulf of Mexico at Mobile.

You have to unstep your mast going through Illinois, but to my knowledge, once you restep your mast at the Mississippi RIver, minimum bridge clearance is 51 feet. There are numereous locks to transit, mostly on the Ten-Tom. Also, if transiting during the spring, debris can be a problem.

Once you reach the Gulf you have a variety of options.Following the ICW across and then south, or going open water to the Keys or the West Coast of Florida. Unless weather doesn't allow, I pretty much stay in open water from southern Florida, up to the Beaufort Inlet in North Carolina. From there you can take the ICW to the Chesapeake (avoiding Cape Hatteras) and then either go up the Chessie, cut across to the Delware, then up the Jersey coast to the Hudson River. Going outside from Norfolk is also an option.

Once to the Hudson, you go up to Albany and unstep your mast for the trip through the Erie Canal.

There is a website dedicated to the trip, though I forget if it's the Great Loop or Circle Cruisers Assoc.

Best of luck with the trip if you do it.

Aboard S/;V Aria
check out " for lots of info. on the loop. We're starting it in two weeks.
A friend from Amherstburg, Ontario became the first woman to complete The Great Loop solo in a sailboat. She did the entire trip alone aboard a 24' Tanzer sloop. She just finished her trip in June.

There are a lot of "Loop" websites out there, but I'll pass your link on to her.
Nice trip but very few really good anchorages, have to anchor off the main channel best to use two anchors low clearance if under 50 ft should be able to make from Kentucky lake to Mobile
Richard said:
I did the loop, but in an unusual fashion...

In 1974 I was living in Chicago and had gotten my first skipper's gig on a 42' Hatteras Tri-cabin., and if there's ever a thread about boats that are "slugs" I'd put this at the head of the column. Nevertheless, we left Burnham Harbor and proceeded across the Lake to Holland, MI and up the coast to Macinaw, then down Lake Huron and the length of Erie. Out through the Canal and down the Hudson. I made the run inside on the ICW single handed and arrived at Bahia Mar in Ft. Lauderdale. (BTW running the Erie Canal from west to east is a cinch since all but three of the locks are DOWN locks.)

Then in 1975 a young couple hired me to help them bring their Out Island (Out House) 51 down to Ft. Lauderdale the river route. We left, again, from Burnham Harbor and crossed the previous year's starting point. The Illinois River was a pretty ride, but the Mississippi was a bore! Everything hidden behind levees. Nothing to see. We ended up, once again, at Bahia Mar thus completing the circle.


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