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The Great Circle Trip - 1999

 Last Updated March 10, 2007

During 1999 Jan and Bill Haueisen completed a 7,500 mile circular trip around the eastern half of the United States aboard their motor yacht Interlude.  This web site is a chronicle of their adventure in text and photos.

What is The Great Circle Route?  

For those of you who are not familiar with the term "Great Circle Route", please read on.  For those of you who simply what to follow our journey, check out the "Trip Diary" or the "Trip Photos" pages.  You can find these pages in our web site by clicking on the key words in the left margin of your screen. 

The Great Circle Route is a navigable water route around the eastern half of the United States that, for the most part, is in protected waters so that it is safe for small boats.   All in all, in encompasses more than 6,000 statute miles; oceans, lakes, rivers, and canals; dozens of locks;  and requires about six months for most passage makers to complete. Our trip began on 13 April 1999 and ended just before Thanksgiving on 22 November 1999.

The Interlude

Our boat, the Interlude, is a 70' 1989 Hatteras motor yacht.  We took no crew.  The two of us, Jan and Bill, operated the boat, did the chores, and kept everything shipshape.  We were joined along the way by family and friends.  On other pages in this web site there is a complete description of the Interlude.

Our Trip

We divided the trip into 14 sections or segments to make access via the web pages easier.  The sections are listed below.

Section 1: St. Petersburg to Melbourne Florida

We leave from St. Petersburg, on the west coast of Florida; go south to Ft. Myers, up the Caloosohatchee River to Lake Okeechobee to the St Lucie waterway to Stuart, Florida.   Then north to Melbourne.

Section 2: Melbourne Florida to Chesapeake Bay

From Melbourne we will follow the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) north to Chesapeake Bay,   We hope to spend time in the Chesapeake Bay area visiting friends, the Berkeys as well as others,  and seeing this historic part of the country.  

Section 3: Chesapeake Bay to New York

Then we continue north still to the Hudson River at New York City. 

Section 4: The Hudson River from New York to Troy

We will travel up the historic Hudson Valley to Troy, New York, near Albany, where we will enter the Erie Barge Canal.  The Hudson River valley has played an important part in America's founding and history and we look forward to experiencing the River and the history first-hand.

Section 5: The Erie Barge Canal and the Oswego Canal

The Erie Canal has also been an important contributor to American history and the development of the west.  Through a series of locks we'll traverse upstate New York.   From the Erie Canal we will divert into the Oswego Canal and from there into Lake Ontario at Oswego, New York.

Section 6: Lake Ontario and the Welland Canal

From the Oswego Canal, we will turn west and run the length of Lake Ontario toward Niagara and Niagara Falls.  Before we try to climb the falls, we will divert into the Welland Canal where through a series of locks we will adjust our elevation to that of Lake Erie.  The Welland Canal will take us from Lake Ontario into Lake Erie.

Section 7: Lake Erie

Lake Erie is as near as we can get to our Ohio roots.  In Lake Erie, we're in our old stomping grounds where we sailed the "Sun Bum" on countless weekends when Lisa was a toddler.   The Sun Bum was our 27' Paceship sailboat which we kept in Port Clinton.  While we're passing through, we hope to meet Jan's brothers: John and his family, Wayne and his family, and Paul and his family, plus other friends. 

Section 8: Lake Huron

Then we will head North into Lake Huron with the Ferne cottage in the Les Chaneux Islands as our destination.  As we pass Saginaw we hope to see Jan's fourth brother, Richard,  and his family.  With the cottage as a base,  we plan to explore the North Channel, Georgian Bay, Mackinaw Island, and perhaps take a side trip through the Sault Ste Marie locks in the St. Mary's River into Lake Superior.  

Section 9: Lake Michigan

Returning to Lake Huron we will pass under the great Mackinaw bridge into Lake Michigan, the fourth or perhaps fifth of the Great Lakes on our visit.  There are many stops in Lake Michigan we want to visit from Harbor Springs and Traverse Bay  to the Lutheran camp at Stony Lake where both of us worked as college students.  Our destination is Chicago, at the far southern tip of Lake Michigan.

Section 10: From Chicago to the Mississippi River

At Chicago, we will enter the Calumet Sanitary Bypass which connects Lake Michigan with the Illinois River.  We have many friends in the Chicago area including the Kelly's whom we hope to see.  The Illinois will lead us to the Mississippi River just north of St. Louis.  As the backbone waterway of America, it will be exciting to transverse a portion of the Mighty Mississippi.

Section 11:  From the Mississippi to the Ohio to the Cumberland River

At Cairo, Illinois  we will leave the Mississippi and enter the Ohio River for a short run north and east.  We will divert into the Cumberland River at Smithfield, Kentucky which eventually connects us with Kentucky Lake.

Section 12: Kentucky Lake and the Tennessee River

Kentucky Lake is a wonderful cruising area and has been a destination for Midwesterners for a long time.  Jan's brother, Wayne, and his family have vacationed on a friend's houseboat in the area, and reports that it is a wonderful destination in its own right.  Kentucky Lake is the Tennesse River and the northern most of the lakes behind the  dams on the Tennessee.

Section 13: The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway to the Gulf of Mexico

The Tennessee River has been connected to the Tombigbee River by the mammoth public works project called the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, or Ten-Tom, as it is called.  The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway is an alternative route from the Mississippi River in the vicinity of St. Louis to the Gulf of Mexico.  Taking the Mississippi all the way to the Gulf is less desirable because there is heavy commercial traffic on the "lower Mississippi" and reasonably few marinas for recreational boating.  The Tennessee-Tombigbee, on the other hand, is used extensively by recreational boaters and there are more marinas and boat service along the way.  The Tennessee-Tombigbee project required moving more earth than did the Panama Canal, and includes a series of locks, one lifting boats more than 80 feet.   The Tombigbee River joins the Mobile River and the Mobile River empties into Mobile Bay which in turn opens to the Gulf of Mexico at Mobile, Alabama. 

Section 14:  The Gulf of Mexico to St. Petersburg

From Mobile, we'll follow a section of the ICW eastward and eventually make a run across the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico with Clearwater as our destination.  At Clearwater we'll again enter the ICW for a short run of 30 miles home to St. Petersburg. The total trip is more than 5,000 miles, and we plan to spend at least six months making the trip.

What to do next...

Go to the top of this page and click any of the categories to the left.   The Trip Photos show the photos we've taken along the way. Or go to the Trip Diary and see a day-by-day account of our trip in narrative form.  Or visit the Maps page to see visually where we went.  The Log page contains a listing of the miles we've traveled and where we've stayed.  The Interlude page contains a description of the boat.  The Schedule page contains a rough plan for our Great Circle Trip.   The Features page contains a summary of   features on Interlude that we found especially useful, or changes we would have made to Interlude to make it more useful.  Guides and Charts is a listing of all the paper and electronic books, charts and guides we used. The choice is up to you...