If you add them up, the 'official' distance between Buffalo & Chicago is 892-miles. That
however, is far short of the actual 'cruising' distance.  
Our voyage 'near shore' cruising distance from Tonawanda to Chicago is 1,553-miles. That's closer to the
actual 'shore line' distance.
The Great Lakes of course, it the largest body of fresh surface water on earth. From the moon, Astronauts can see the
lakes and recognize each one.
I remember (believe it or not) in 5th grade, our teacher taught us to remember the names of the Great Lakes by
remembering the word "
homes".  The "homes" (or Great Lakes) cover more than 94,000 square miles and drain twice as
much land. These freshwater seas, if drained, would flood the lower 48 states and cover them with almost 10 feet of water.
The channels that connect the Great Lakes are an important part of the system. The St. Marys River is the northernmost
channel, a 60-mile waterway flowing from Lake Superior down to Lake Huron. At the St. Marys rapids, the Soo Locks bypass
the rough waters, providing safe transport for boaters.
The St. Clair and Detroit rivers, and Lake St. Clair between them, form an 89-mile long channel connecting Lake Huron
with Lake Erie. The 35-mile Niagara River links lakes Erie and Ontario, and sends approximately 100,000 cubic feet of water
per second over Niagara Falls.
On each of the Great Lakes, you can boat far enough out from shore, that you will not be able to see any land in any
direction. WOW!  But of course, if you are one that prefers to stick a little closer to shore, you can do that to. One could
probably spend a life time cruising around all the Great Lakes and never see all the wonderful sites or experience all the
incredible adventures this land of lakes has to offer.
The large size of the Great Lakes increases the risk of water travel; storms and reefs are common threats. Historically, many commercial
Merchant ships have successfully crossed oceans only to meet their doom on the Great lakes. Most of the shipwrecks lie near Thunder Bay near
the point where eastbound and westbound shipping lanes converge. "Shipwreck Coast" from Grand Marais, Michigan to Whitefish Point on Lake

The last major ship wreck on the lakes was the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank on November 10, 1975, just over 30 miles (50 km) offshore
from Whitefish Point.  In June 2008 deep sea divers in Lake Ontario found the wreck of the 1780 Royal Navy warship HMS

Now, having said that... It would be OK - if I scared you just a little into always being extra safe. However, the fact is that for the exception of a
couple of boiler explosions and fires in the 1800s, all the ship disasters on the Great Lakes have been a result of early winter storms. So, if you are
voyaging the Loop per "seasons" as we suggest, you will be well off, and far south of the Great Lakes before the early winter storm season.

Besides, with todays technology such as GPS on boats and with accurate weather forecasting on the news and your VHF radio, you have nothing
more to worry about on the Great Lakes as you do in your own Marina.

In fact, the Great Lakes make up what would be the Boating Capital of the World with an estimated 210,000 recreational boats.
Lake Erie:
If you are cruising the Erie Canal, then Lake Erie will be the first of the Great Lakes you will cross. The average depth of Lake Erie is only 62 feet,
but the western basin area averages only 24 feet. It warms quickly in summer, and freezes over quickly in winter.  Lake Erie is 241 miles long. If you
take the US side trip around, your likely stops will be Dunkirk, Erie, Conneaut, Cleveland, Sandusky and Toledo. I enjoy Sandusky Bay and stop at
Famous Dave's restaurant every time I pass by.

After your cruise from Lake Erie through Lake St. Clair, you will enter Lake Huron. Lake Huron is 206 miles long with an
average depth of 195 feet. On the north and eastern shores of Lake Huron, the granite islands (which are typical through out Georgian Bay)
surround the Canada's North Channel. Lake Huron will take you to the Straits of Mackinac. The island of which is one of our favorite stop overs.

Lake Michigan:
From Lake Huron, and the Straits of Mackinac, you will enter Lake Michigan. Traveling south from Milwaukee to Chicago, the western shore is lined
with big city landscapes. This area, combined with the southern shores of Indiana is home to over 10 million people, and a whooping 120,000
registered boats.

Cruising the Great Lakes is fun and easy.  If you go direct you should be able to make it in about 18 days or less, but don't count on it, as there
are lots to see and do on these Lakes. There are just too many interesting places to stop, see, visit and linger for a while. We almost always stay on
the US side, and follow our way-points on the GPS, from one point to the next. Finding safe over-night anchorages or Marinas along the way is not
difficult at all. It is however difficult to decide where you want to stay.

Many of the waterfront areas offer some very tempting sites to visit.
::   The Great Lakes   ::
::   Cruising the Great Lakes   ::
You will boat right beside Navy Pier, in Chicago
© 1993 - 2019 captainjohn.org
Mackinac Island is one of my favorites. No cars, just horse drawn buggies & bicycles and lots
being made. Truly, don’t cruise by this place and not stop! It is a must see & do in our book.
As a footnote: The Hotel requires a coat & tie in the dinning room after 6pm.
More on cruising the Great Lakes - click NEXT
www.captainjohn.org                                                                      - Cruising America's Great Loop - Once Around Is Not Enough -
America's Great Loop