Curious minds want to know, and one of the first things we wanted to know after reading
Capt. John's "Once Around Is Not Enough" was just who or what and when started this
interest in cruising America's Great Loop?
While we could not find any records of who the first official recreational boater or boaters
were to make this journey, there is a mention of three boys completing the Loop in a sailboat as
early as the 1890s. Since the Erie Canal was completed in 1825 and the Illinois and Michigan
Canal was opened in 1848, it is likely that three boys did indeed complete the Loop in the 1890s.
We have no idea however, and couldn't find records of any 'named' individuals completing
the Loop until 1971. It is however a reasonable estimate that several hundred or even a few
thousand may have made this journey between 1848 when the Illinois and Michigan Canal
opened, and the 1971 documented voyage by John Wright and Terry Richards in a 27 foot
single engine Chris Craft Cavalier.
John Wright, now known as Capt. John, and Terry Richards voyage is documented in an
article that appears in a Galveston Daily News. Another article appears when these two friends
did it again, completing the Loop in January of 1993.
Our curiosity however, was not so much who did this first, as who is responsible for
making it so popular? For that, the "Great Loop Academy Award" must be shared. We feel two
principles share in this award.
First: Capt. John's > www.captainjohn.org < website went live in 1993 and in past 24
years has slowly accumulated over 4 million visitors making it undoubtedly the first and original
"Great Loop Website" on the Internet. It was Capt. John therefore who originally put the Great
Loop map on the minds of boaters all across the county.
"My first voyage around the Great Loop
was in 1971. I remember the Old Salts
arguing if it could even be done."
|WHO STARTED WHAT & WHEN ?
- Capt. John
"Our first voyage around the Loop was in 1971. That was before the Internet. There were no books or blogs or
anything about what we now know as the 'Great Loop'. Back then, one had only the resources of a local Library. In fact, I
remember the Old Salts at the Marina arguing about whether or not it could be done. Some thought it could, some had
heard of others doing it, and some were trying to take bets we would turn around and be back within a week.
"When one of them told us, 'if anyone knew it would be Bill Travis' we went searching for Mr. Travis. It was a good
thing we did. He prepared us for the Gulf crossing, going out from the Delaware River to New York's harbor, as well as
the Illinois Michigan Canal to get from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi river."
"So, in April of 1971, Terry & I headed out on our voyage in a 27 foot 1966 Chris Craft Cavalier with a single 327
V8 engine, a VHF radio, a depth finder - and (can you believe this . . . a sextant!). We also had enough peanut butter,
and canned Spam to last forever and a day."
"That first voyage, as incredible and fun as it was, was also miserable and often a fearful adventure. In the end, it
proved to be the unknown we feared the most. We even had visions of getting caught in the current of the Niagara River
and being washed over Niagara Falls. I'm telling you, we imagined an enormous BIG BAD WOLF that turned out to be a
lovable puppy. It was all because we simply had no idea what to expect. It proved to me; beyond doubt, cruising far from
home through unknown and unfamiliar waters requires a lot more faith than finances!"
"Of all the things we feared, only the fear of not having enough money remained with us until we reached Chicago. In
fact we were not comfortable with spending a dime on anything but fuel until then. At that point, we ditched our diet of
living off the fish we caught, peanut butter sandwiches and canned Spam, and began splurging on 'real food' the rest of
our way home."
"Funny, one thing I remember most about that first trip, and I hate to admit it; was stopping to ask for directions! Can
you believe that? It was probably the most embarrassing thing I've ever done in my life. People must have thought those
two Texans were absolute idiots!"
"Our supreme goal on that voyage was simply to do it and return all in one piece. It was that simple! It took us the best
part of 5 months - and I'm not sure we began to really enjoy 'the cruise' until we realized we had enough money and we
had a good solid safe boat. Once we crossed Albemarle Sound, we were convinced neither Mother Nature or Neptune
could throw anything at us we couldn't handle."
The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway was not even under construction in 1971. On my third voyage, I witnessed how
the 1993 flood along the Mississippi River had wiped out all the more enjoyable convenient places for boaters to stop. So
I abandoned the Mississippi for the Tenn-Tom route and haven't returned to it since."
With the opening of the Tenn-Tom, and the opportunity to explore the waters of America's Heartland, Kentucky Lake,
the Tennessee & Cumberland Rivers, my passion for cruising the Loop became supercharged all over again and sharing
this wonderful adventure with ever American boater in the country became my passionate devotion. I felt (and still do),
every American Boater should experience this incredible adventure."
"If one takes the Canadian route, this voyage will be a whopping 2,000 miles longer than the Nile. It is in our own
back yard! What American boater would not dream of experiencing that?"
"Since the popularity of the Great Loop and the Internet with its boaters blogs, forums and websites, my focus has
been on the practical aspects of living aboard and cruising versus what many others would have us all believe. I've made
this my retirement lifestyle and I know there is a wide range of 'affordable' ways to make this voyage. Neither the boat,
the fuel or the adventure has to be near as expensive as many claim."
|The Great Loop - How it became a Recreational Boaters' Dream!
|For some great pictures taken on the Great Loop - click NEXT PAGE
|"ONCE AROUND IS NOT ENOUGH"
At Anchor Publishing, we know that no one is going to get rich writing a book in the non fiction sector of the Nautical
Market. We are fully aware of exactly how small of a fraction the Nautical Market is when compared to other genres.
When you separate the Nautical Market between fiction and non fiction, the non-fiction nautical genre is but a fraction of
its fictional big brother. It's simple, books like Moby Dick or The Perfect Storm sell in the millions. Books like "Keeping
your Bilge Clean" and "Cruising the Great Loop" not so much. No author is going to get rich selling books in this genre. It
simply does not happen. The market is too small. We call it a "Niche" market for good reason. Additionally, it is a very
tough market to penetrate. In the U.S., selling 5,000 books in this market is extremely rare. Selling 10,000 is almost
unheard of and selling 50,000 is record breaking and that's what Capt. John has done.
Still, by no means is he getting rich, but he is getting is popular. His experience cruising the Great Loop has made his
the most popular name associated with cruising America's Great Loop.
In 2016, Capt. John was awarded Author of the Year in this tiny little and tough "niche" Nautical Market. Our
January 2016 release of "Once Around Is Not Enough" became the #1 BEST SELLER after only 60 days on the market.
By July it was a shoe in for the 2016 BOOK of the YEAR. In fact, it not only out sold the competition, it out sold "all" the
It is proof positive in the power of the Internet and specifically his website. A website on which he refuses to sell
advertising. With the combined popularity and history on the Internet, www.captainjohn.org is consistently at the forefront
of search engines. It is also referenced, recommended and linked by many other popular Boating, Cruising, Voyaging and
Looping websites. When "Once Around Was Not Enough" was released, www.captainjohn had 4 million visitors and over
6,000 registered subscribers to his free monthly newsletter. Without doubt, the major reason for his book sales and his
popularity among those that dream of cruising America's Great Loop.
Capt. John has been publicly referred to as "the expert, the Veteran, the single source, and the authority" for
information about cruising the Great Loop. He's also been called a few 'not so complimentary' names. Names like
"minimalist, crazy and cheap".
"I may be crazy, but I'm certainly not a minimalist or cheap." Says Capt. John. "I simply preach the more practical
side of cruising vs the panache. That's all! Being a frugal voyager has nothing at all to do with being a minimalist, crazy or
cheap. I also has nothing to do with not having enough money. It has everything to do with how you choose to spend your
"It is not a question of one way is right or wrong, it is just a matter of an individual's choice. I simply want boaters to
know they have a choice. I personally choose 'not' to spend $35,000 a year pouring fuel down my fuel tanks. Instead, I
spend $4,000 on fuel so that I can spend the balance on eating out and seeing the sights, etc., doing the fun and enjoyable
things I like to do along the way! Problem is, when I tell people they do not have to spend $350,000 or more for a "Perfect
Great Loop Boat" that sucks up $35,000 (or more) in fuel. I am inherently going to offend some of those that did exactly
that, and those trying to sell the boats that do it." Said Capt. John.
What about the AGLCA? What's the difference? Why don't you charge a membership fee? We asked Capt. John.
"The AGLCA is not completion." Capt. John says. "In fact, I love Janice Kromer and the whole bunch of 'em at the
AGLCA. I am in fact, a Life Member! I've wanted them to succeed beyond their wildest dreams since the get go. It
benefits everyone, especially future Loopers. We have a very common goal." said Capt. John. "We are both promoting
America's Great Loop. The more that join us, the better it gets for everyone."
"The difference between them and me is they have a business to run. I don't. There is no competition in that? While
their goal was to start and grow a business. My goal was to get out of business, move onto my boat and go cruising."
"While I believe AGLCA started to have fun, they now have to make money. They are obligated to their Membership as
well as their Corporate Sponsors, Advertisers, Bankers, Lawyers and Accountants. . . They have overheard and bills to
pay. I'm obligated to no one! I'm cruising the Loop, they're stuck in the office."
"On the other side of the spectrum, I believe certain things should be free. Water for example. I was also Lobbying to
keep the Internet free long before Al Gore claimed he invented it. I think information should be free. I also believe in giving
everyone all their "options". Whether it be a big, medium or small boat, new or used boat, there are plenty of safe
seaworthy options when it comes to cruising the Loop. I cruise on a frugal boat. I bought it used. It is a 36 footer and so
comfortable it is the only boat I've taken around the Loop twice. On my last two adventures around the Loop I averaged
spending just shy of $4,000 each on fuel. It is all about 'More Fun than Fuel' for me; and I tell everyone I possibly can,
they can do this too if they so wish."
"I believe the AGLCA eliminates a giant portion of 'renewal' memberships because of the membership fee. Some just
don't want to pay and others don't see enough benefit in renewing their membership just to access Member forums,
Articles and Seminars that speak and promote vessels they cannot afford the fuel for, much less the boat."
"While I understand the Membership Fee "qualifies" the more serious prospects for their 'Yacht Club' Sponsors,
Advertisers and Boat Brokers, regrettably, the AGLCA is turning into an exclusive Yacht Club."
"It originally wasn't like that. Originally they would not let advertisers on the Members Only Forum. Now you can't tell a
member simply giving advice from an advertiser trying to sell something. My guess is, most of their 'renewal' memberships
are either future Loopers or those wanting to sell something to future Loopers. Those that have already cruised the Loop
have no incentive to remain members - and their experience is the most valuable resource AGLCA has to offer new
"There is a simple reason why my Website and News Letter subscriptions have such bigger numbers. It is all free!
AGLCA wants more paying members. I want more people cruising the Loop. It is that simple."
"I briefly heard a man at the Marina bragging he had done it. I don't know if he really did or
if he just had too many beers; but I couldn't get the idea of it out of my mind. Days later, I
asked about it and one of the Old Salts at my Marina directed me to Bill Travis who was the
USCG Auxiliary Commander in Beaumont, Texas."
"When I met Bill Travis, he himself had not cruised "the Loop", but he sure knew all about it.
He had the dream and the plan, but he also had a family to take care of. He had all his plans
mapped out and he was ready to cruise the Loop as soon as he retired. He also knew about
others having done it."
Bill Travis was very encouraging. He was a tremendous resource of information and
gave us maps to use on our first voyage around the Great Loop."
Rob and Eva have long passed on the torch to the current AGLCA owners, today the AGLCA claims nearly 3,000
members and reports 127 of their members completed the Great Loop in 2016. The AGLCA has played a very important
role in the promotion and growing popularity of cruising America's Great Loop.
While Capt. John and Terry's first Loop voyage was 26 years before Rob & Eva Stobs' voyage, and their 2nd Loop
already completed a year before the Stobs began their 1st voyage; Capt. John says, "It is not at all a competition thing and
never has been".
"I never viewed my experience cruising the Loop with a profit motive or potential. My motivation was just to cruise
the Loop for the sake of the adventure. After the second voyage, the motivation behind my website, was simply to spread
the word about this wonderful attainable and affordable adventure."
No doubt, Capt. John has been tremendously successful at that!
Since John and Terry completed the Great Loop twice before the Stobs began their voyage, the question becomes; Who
inspired Capt. John?
|AGLCA Founders - Rob & Eva Stob
| Second: Rob & Eva Stob must be recognized as equally important individuals for creating awareness of America's
Great Loop. In fact, they get credit for the journey's name, referring to is as "America's Great Loop" in their book and in
As a traveling couple as well as a professional writer and photographer, Rob and Eva cruised the Great Loop in 1994.
Then, on the heals of "Honey I shrunk the Kids", they wrote and published the book "Honey, Lets Get A Boat". The book,
published in 1999 based on their 1994 voyage was a bit hit and became a Best Seller.
In their marketing efforts promoting their book, the Stobs started the Rave Publishing and also held seminars about
their Great Loop adventure for the purpose of selling their book. As a result, they ended up as Founders of the "America's
Great Loop Cruising Association" or AGLCA.
Unlike Capt. John however, the AGLCA took their passion for cruising the Great Loop and turned it into a profitable
business. Their Organization offers a $64 annual "Membership" to gain access to Great Loop information that includes a
boaters' or Loopers' Forum as well as daily email updates and a monthly news letter. They also have some big boat Dealers,
Brokers & Marinas as Sponsors and Advertisers on their website and at their Seminars.