This is a niche topic. If you look at the venn diagram that shows the intersection of ‘people who read the blog’ (about 4 people) and ‘people planning on doing the loop in a sailboat’ (more than 4), the intersection is not many.

But we are heading south from Sheboygan to Milwaukee on a 40+mile trip with eight hours of time, the day is sunny, the lake is not busy and Jan scanning the horizon, so I have time. And time and a computer are dangerous things.

When we get to Chicago, we have to put our mast back down. There is a fixed bridge that can’t open that limits the height of all boats heading south to something under 20’. Much too low for our 47’ clearance. And once the mast comes down, there are two options. You can ship your mast to Alabama and it will be waiting for you when you finish the rivers, or you can put it on your deck and after you pass through the low bridges, find a place to step the mast (or do it yourself). Most (though not all; see ‘Endeavor’ who went down rivers with their mast up) sailboats have the mast taken off and shipped south and that is what we are going to do; our experience of the mast on the deck in Canada was not particularly enjoyable. We could have made it less stressful if we had put some forethought into the cradle for the mast, but given our timeline, that was a low priority. And the cradle worked. Just limited the time and the conditions that we could venture out under way. And for the rivers, it is over 1,000 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. So shipping (for a price) is our way ahead.

There is a lot of information on the AGLCA web site but it was tough to figure out what needs to happen from end to end. So this is what we did and the different people/places you need to contact. I started at the end and worked my way backwards to Chicago which is how this is laid out.

1. Mobile Alabama. Where we end our river adventure and get ready to head out into the Gulf of Mexico. Turner Marine is where we will ship our mast. Talked to Christie Turner and she said that they work with Albert Logistics for shipment of masts. They (Turner) will receive the mast and store it for us until we arrive. They will step the mast and do any work we would like them to do.


Off load and put mast in yard:  $75.00

Off load and put mast in yard:  $75.00

Mast storage:  $50/month

Step Mast:  $10.50 per boat foot for single mast ($378 for our boat)

Prep mast for stepping, replacement of electronics, troubleshooting systems, tuning of rigging:  Owner can do this or $90/hour for Turner Marine to do it.

2. Albert Logistics: Talked to Ted from Albert Logistics; they ship mast for loopers from one of three marinas in the Chicago area down to Turner Marine. They will pickup the masts in a window around the end of September and have them to Alabama by the first of November. Cost for shipment from Chicago is $850. We looked at the three marinas and started calling. The first one in Kenosha was our initial thought–it was right on the way to Chicago, but they couldn’t handle the beam on our cat. So Crowley’s in Chicago is the yard we will use.

3. Crowleys Yacht Yard. Crowley’s will prep the mast for shipment but does not arrange for travel/transportation. We arranged for our mast to be unstepped on 7 Sep. We need to take our sails off before we arrive, find a marina that is close to Crowleys and be there bright and early on the 7th. To de-rig the mast is costs $165 (for our size boat) and to unstep is $18/boat foot (+$20 for materials). And to pack mast for shipping it is $26/boat foot. Or $1604.

This isn’t cheap. Somewhere north of $3K by the time we are done. I’m thinking that Capt John has it right. Put on a stub mast and use it on the entire loop and be done with it! Or perhaps find a boat that is easy to step/unstep. And that really leads to the final point. This is how we are doing this but you can do some/part or very little of the above depending on the boat. Obviously the mast has to come down, but it can go back up on the rivers and you can do it yourself.IMG_6668