Wind in Your Kentucky Sails
By Marla Nicole Shivers
With the largest body of water between the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico, it’s no surprise that Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley together create the perfect place for a boatful of water-based activities including the gentle pastime of sailing. In fact, one can sail from Kentucky to the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico, and many sailors have.
Sailing “America’s Great Loop”
America’s Great Loop refers to the circumnavigation of Eastern North America by water; a protected navigable waterway that flows through the eastern portion of North America – including Atlantic and Gulf Intracoastal Waterways, the Great Lakes, the Canadian Heritage Canals, and the inland rivers of America's heartland.
Seasonal Great Loop Map compliments of AGLCA – Colors indicate recommended seasons to cruise portions of the Loop (green is for Spring, red is for Summer and dark blue is for Fall/Winter
America’s Great Loop - Sailing Tips and Kentucky Sites
Discover tips, trip notes, blogs and commentary by many novice and experienced sailors from these informative sources who have completed the Great Circle Route:
- Captain John shares useful details for cruising America’s Great Loop from “boat restrictions, fuel range requirements, routes you can take and side trips you should make.”
- America’s Great Loop Cruisers Association provides information and inspiration because their primary purpose is “to enhance the overall experience of exploring and safely cruising America’s Great Loop”
Those who have completed the entire trek will have cruised some 6,000 miles through 25 states, about 50-60 miles of which pass through Kentucky. Many “loopers” opt out of taking the Mississippi River to the Gulf due to debris, barge traffic and few safe harbors. Better to take the Ohio River from Cairo, Ill., to the Tennessee River at Paducah. Instead of Paducah, some choose to cruise the Cumberland into Lake Barkley and then to the Tennessee River. The Cumberland starts in Harlan County in far southeastern Kentucky between Pine and Cumberland Mountains and flows through southern Kentucky before it crosses into northern Tennessee.