Cruising America's Great Loop
On the cost of cruising America's Great Loop - by Capt. John
"You don't have to be rich & famous to
cruise the Great Loop. One can do this on
a very frugal budget."
Quotes taken from "Once Around Is Not Enough"
- Capt. John
        "Twenty three years, eight trips around the Loop in six different boats; and I've
learned an awful lot about boats, boating, living aboard and long distance cruising.  
I've discovered what is true in life ashore, is much the same as life on a boat. Our needs,
wants, desires and our lifestyle and comfort zones don't change as some might think.
      We all have a way of living 'up to' or 'down to' the size of our income and
pocketbooks. Our background, our parents, our experience and finances all have a way
of dictating our comfort zones, beliefs and lifestyle. If you are accustom to all the finer
things in life, this voyage will cost you much more than it will someone used to making
do with much less. That brand new boat with all those expensive bells & whistles will in
fact cost a small fortune, but if that is your dream and that is required to maintain your
comfort and keep you happy. . . That's what you need to do.
      On the other hand, there are lots of great perfectly safe suitable used boats on the
market that will cost you 'pennies on the dollar' compared to their brand new
counterparts. That's just the way it is.
      Since retirement, my cruising philosophy has been "more fun than fuel". Until
2010, I was always a "Power Boat" enthusiast. That was the year my oldest son (a very
accomplished sailor) came to my aid. In my efforts to find the most economical means of
living aboard and cruising the Loop, my son convinced me a "sailboat" even "motored
around" was the ticket."  

    "At my age, I didn't want to mess with stepping a mast and sailing. I fought the idea at first, but agreed to give
it a try, when my son agreed to "prove his point" by cruising the Great Loop with me. (What Father would refuse to
do that?)
    In our planning this voyage, we also decided to "take it up a notch". Maybe "down" a notch depending on how
you look at it. Since I was frequently getting questions asking "Just how cheap can a couple cruise the Great
Loop?"  We decided to find out for ourselves.
    So, that meant leaving our vessels at home. We searched diligently for an entire month and found a perfectly
good 28' sailboat for only $3,000. We cleaned her out, gave her new paint & polish for another $600; and off we
went. . . "motoring" around on a 6,100 mile year long Great Loop adventure.
    At a time Marine fuel was averaging over $3.00 a gallon, our total fuel cost for the entire voyage was only
$1,300. Compared to my previous voyage in a most economical 32' full displacement hull Trawler with a 135hp  
single engine, and I had a fuel savings of more than $6,000. The time before that - in a 34' semi displacement
'Fast' Trawler with twin engines and my fuel savings was more than $12,000.
    My son proved himself absolutely right!  
    I was convinced!
    While the 28 footer proved an excellent point, it also proved a bit too small for my complete comfort, enjoyment
and liking. So I now cruise in a 36' sailboat with the mast cut off. My last two voyage around the Loop in my 36
footer cost me just shy of $4,000 each in fuel. I spent more than that staying in Marinas. Still, my total "boat &
boat related expenses" which includes all my transportation and lodging for spending 322 days, cruising 6,300
miles around the Great Loop - now averages pennies shy of $22.00 a day. For all the space and comfort I have, it
just doesn't get any better than this for me.  
    I know a few Loopers that have done it for less. I also know a lot more that have done it for an awful lot more.
In fact, I know a few that have spent over $45,000 in fuel alone. I'm not saying do as I do. I'm also not saying one
way is right and one is wrong. I'm saying: the choice is yours. . . It is your lifestyle, your comfort zone and your
pocketbook and your boat. You simply want to make sure you are completely happy with the choice you make.
    Just remember: The very moment you select your boat, is the very same moment you select your cost of cruising
and boat ownership!"
    "Cruising the Loop is much like cruising through the Garden of Eden. That Apple Tree has its branches spread
out all over the Great Loop and all those deliciously tempting apples line the waterways from the Gulf to the Great
Lakes and down the inland rivers.
    'Loopers' have lots of exciting and inviting places to spend money every day. This voyage takes you past a
welcoming mix of quaint seafaring towns and savory seafood. From waterfront restaurants and Tiki Bars to
unspoiled unforgettable landscapes you will cruise right by 122 of the most popular tourist destinations in North
America. From big city lights to small town sights, you will visit some of the most unique and inviting villages with
cobblestone streets so mesmerizing they will have you captive for an entire day of window shopping. . . Be
prepared! I believe it to be impossible to 'window shop' all day without buying something! This all makes up the
wonderful 'on shore' experiences you will have cruising the Loop.  For sure, this 5,600 (plus) mile 'boat ride' is the
cake, your own shore experiences will be the icing.
      Plan on it. Don't miss them!"
"The moment you select your boat - you select your cost of cruising." - Capt. John
For some great pictures taken on the Great Loop - click NEXT PAGE
     Obviously, I can't tell you what this voyage will cost you. I can only tell you what it cost me having done it in six  
different type & size boats. This will give you a good idea of what it might cost you.
    I've known a few 'back packer' types who have made this voyage in under 150 days and under $5,000 for
everything. For them it was simply all about the adventure and the accomplishment. For sure this is a journey that can
be made in style and comfort or in haste. (To each his own. . . )
    For the vast majority of couples, most are cruising the Loop in great used vessels between 32 to 42 feet. Anchoring
out (which is free) in a 36' boat 5 nights a week vs staying in a Marina every night can save you as much as $15,000. I
(for one) only stay & pay for a dock at a Marina on weekends when all the party goers and drinkers are out on the
    The point is. . . You don't have to be rich or famous to make this wonderful journey. Most everyone 'out here' is
much like everyone anywhere else. . . On a budget! We all have our own boats & budgets. Most of us are cruising in
good safe seaworthy vessels that are more humble in nature than expensive in price.
   Today, there are very nice, very wonderful people from all walks, careers and budgets that are cruising the Loop. In
fact "Loopers" are the very friendliest boaters on the water.  
    Do you dream of a "Dream Boat" or do you dream of the voyage & adventure? If you dream of this voyage, you
can't let your "Dream Boat" be your "dream buster". Once I realized my dream was the voyage and not the boat, that's
when everything started falling into place.
        "Some places are best experienced from the water. In fact the only way you can visit Mackinac Island (and
many other places) is by boat. No cars allowed on this Island. It serves as proof, cruising America's Great Loop is
much more than a 5,600 mile boat ride. It is actually your chance to stop & visit some of the most popular tourist
sites and wonderfully interesting places in America. Many of which you will never be so close to again. I spend far
more money ashore, eating out, enjoying the sites, taking in movies, plays, museums, etc., along the way  than I
spend on all my boat and boat related expenses combined."
Anchor Publishing