Yesterday we ran the final leg of our odyssey and headed northwest across Lake Erie and up the Detroit River back to our home port. Honestly, the trip was a bit melancholy for both of us; while we were looking forward to seeing our friends again, we were also a bit saddened thinking that a trip we had planned for for over a year (maybe longer) was actually coming to an end. We tweaked our thoughts about it as we got closer to home and changed from calling it the “end our trip”, to the “end of the first leg of our trip”, that will hopefully span several years to come. Now, that’s much better!
So some retrospective about this part of our trip.
Would we do it again? Absolutely. The scenery is really quite beautiful, and ever-changing as one travels from North to South then West as we did. Through the
entire trip we had a terrific time with navigation – which we both enjoy doing, and we met a lot of wonderful people along the way and were able to share stories with them and listen to some pretty cool trips and lifestyles that they were living. One thing for sure is that we are not alone on doing this kind of trip. There are a lot of people out there doing what we are, and definitely beyond. So our trip is just one of several we could do in the future.
We also heard about a number of alternatives to the Great Loop which I think are worth considering, for example, one being taking the Rideau and crossing the St. Lawrence, through lake Champlain, then down the Hudson to the Intercoastal – running south and then north, making stops in different locations on both legs. We might consider that over the traditional Great Loop trip of going to Chicago then down the rivers to the Gulf. Then on the other hand, we have a great boat to do the traditional “Loop” so why not?! More thinking to do on that.
We did decide that if when do it again we will plan on a fender along each side every 8 feet, and some large ball fenders under the port and starboard bow flare. While we didn’t encounter any issues with the 72 lock-throughs, we think that an extra level of comfort would be added with this approach. Sometimes wind and or current can make the stern swing leaving the bow vulnerable, the large ball fenders will address this potential issue. When you read the various guidebooks they can make you a bit nervous, about locks, about currents, etc. My take is that they are good to take note of and be prepared for, but if you are cautious and know your boat, you should not be overly concerned.
Comparison of Trent-Severn locks to Erie Canal locks: Trent-Severn are definitely easier to manage, mainly because the method to secure the boat is fixed at both the top and bottom of the lock where on the Erie they are typically not fixed on the bottom which can be a challenge to keep the boat from swinging away from the wall. The Trent-Severn locks are also in much better state of repair than many on the Erie Canal. They do fill and drain the locks more quickly on the Erie Canal system, that’s nice as there is less time in the lock, just need to be prepared for a little extra sway on the boat with quicker water movement. That being said, the people working both lock systems were great.
The Back Cove 37. Now that we have made an extended trip with the boat, I find that it has proven to be the perfect boat for us. First of all, it performed very well in all types of weather and wave conditions we encountered, without any feeling of discomfort or concern. Second, given the need for extended no-wake cruising in the canals and then fast runs on the lakes, the diesel and the BC37 hull design seems to pair very well, as we could “canal it” relatively fast without plowing and causing wake issues while the Cummins diesel just idled along – a very relaxing and quiet ride. When we did get on the lakes, we could transition to pretty much any planing speed we wanted, which made it fit our wants for that moment. In 3 – 5 on the bow we actually had a very comfortable 17 knot cruise.
The long trip had us tailor our storage locations on the boat a bit, and as such the fine tuning we did along the way made things a lot more accessible. We ran a lot with the back seating cushions tucked away in the Starboard stateroom, which allowed them to stay clean when you encountered lock demetrius, or “insect heavy” dockage. We had more than enough space for our provisions for an 8 week trip, and did not find us stepping on each other at all. We never felt claustrophobic as the topside lounge area provided great visibility, even during inclement weather.
No…this isn’t a paid endorsement by Back Cove! The boat just really fits our boating needs and desires. It was nice to have that confirmed on this extended trip.
Now…lets start planning the next trip…