|© 1993 - 2015 CaptainJohn.org
|Whether you are cruising America's Great Loop or sailing the seven seas, the type
and size of boat, the distance traveled, the time it takes, the amenities on board, and the final
cost, always boil down to your own individual lifestyle, philosophy, and pocket book.
My philosophy: The entire purpose for my boat is to get me safely where I want to go and
back again. It is not to show the world how far I've come. As a result, going small, going now,
staying out longer has become my way of life. Truth is, I could never afforded the cost of living
my dream as I dreamed it, had I not decided to fit the size of my dream into the size of my
When you think about a boat and budget for living a-board and cruising the Great Loop,
you must think first about what it takes for you to be comfortable and happy. For sure, the
boats that are great for over-night or long weekends, simply won't work over the long haul for a
cruising couple on the Great Loop.
Some years ago I met a Looper that 'bragged' about how his boat cost $125,000 to
purchase, and his trip around the "Great Loop" cost him another $125,000. I met him again
several years later living on his boat at a Marina just off the Gulf ICW. He (and his boat) then
appeared to be penny less. Now, when I stop at that Marina, I always look over to see if he is
still there. He is. Each year, his boat looks worse then the year before.
Indeed, the very day you purchase your boat, you predetermine your on-going fixed
long-term cruising expenses. If you choose the right boat, then your individual choices in
lifestyle will be the majority of your cruising cost. This means you can spend the majority of
your budget on yourself and on what makes you happy, rather then on your boat, fuel and
boat related expenses.
Choose the wrong boat, in many cases, the wrong boat ends up as a vessel of burden,
rather than a vessel of freedom and pleasure. In all areas along the way, we have come
across "Looper boats" that are for sale, simply because the boat proved too expensive to
cruise on, and remain unsold for that very same reason.
|:: The Popular Trawler ::
|For special sailboat considerations - click NEXT
|:: Capt John's America's Great Loop ::
|The "Trawler" is by far the most popular boat on the Great Loop. For sure the main reason is
space. For its length, the Trawler offers more interior live a-board space than any other the
market - and one is not really a "trawler" at all - it just looks like one.
The "true" pleasure boat trawler:
The 'true' pleasure boat trawler has a full-displacement hull with a long deep keel, a single
engine, and a top cruising speed of about 10 knots. Displacement hulls are a trademark of
ocean capable vessels. These hulls can carry more payloads due to their design. The hulls do
not plane and all the power, power train, and hulls are all designed and engineered to simply
push the hull through the water.
The other type of pleasure boat "Trawler" (which is not a 'true' trawler, but looks like one
above the water) sports a semi-displacement hull. The semi-displacement hull is designed to
provide lift and therefore partially raise the vessel out of the water. These vessels most often
have twin engines and offer more speed (typically 24 knots), and they do so at the sacrifice
Typically trawlers have a large fuel and water capacity to enable extended cruising and
offers interior live a-board space and creature comforts that are simply unmatched by any
other type pleasure vessel afloat.
What the difference means to you:
1.) The full-displacement trawler is designed to direct all its power to pushing your vessel
forward through the water.
2.) The semi-displacement trawler is designed to lift as well as push your vessel through
the water. Therefore, much of vessels fuel economy is lost (even at very low speed) in trying to
lift the vessel out of the water rather than move it smoothly forward.
3. ) The semi-displacement trawler's fuel economy is much the same as Cabin Cruisers
and Motoryachts. These vessels were engineered for more speed, and simply not designed
for fuel economy.
4.) The full-displacement trawler is built for 8-10 knots sustained cruising speed. It will burn
much less fuel at its designed cruising speed, than a semi-displacement trawler will burn at a
near idle speed.
5. ) The semi-displacement trawler, along with cabin cruisers were designed for higher
cruising speeds in the 17-24 knot sustained cruising range, and have a very poor (make that
terrible) fuel economy.
Trawlers in the 28 - 35 foot range: make excellent live a-board vessels for a cruising
couple. They typically have one head and shower (smart) and make for a great long-term and
long-distance cruising vessel.
Trawlers in the 32 - 36 foot range: are easy for a couple to handle and very comfortable for
long-distance cruising. They often have two heads and showers (dumb) but they are plenty
large, comfortable, and can accommodate guests for longer stays. By the time most "Looping
couples" are halfway into their voyage, they have already converted the 2nd head & shower in
these vessels into additional closet and storage space.
Engines 1 or 2:
Both full and semi-displacement Trawlers can be found with both single and twin engine
configurations. Most true full-displacement Trawlers however will only have one relatively small
The primary advantages to twins is maneuvering at close quarters (I love it). The
disadvantage in twin engines is twice the cost to maintain two of everything, and twice the fuel
consumption (I hate that).
That's right! Don't let any boat salesperson try to convince you that two engines won't
burn twice the fuel as one. It simply is not true - they will! Small single engines offer much
lower fuel consumption but are truthfully more difficult to handle in close quarters. The other
advantage of a single engine is easier access and engine maintenance due to more room in
the engine compartment.
|:: The Great Loop Boat - Part 3 ::
|:: Planing hull power boats ::
|Few of us have money to burn. And burning money (in the form of fuel) is exactly what a
30' plus (whatever) Cabin Cruiser or planning hull live a-aboard size vessel will do. In today's
economy, as we sit here facing $5.00 a gallon fuel prices at the Marina - it simply is not a
good time to even think about cruising the loop in a fuel inhaling, fire breathing dragon of a
It is great for those that no concern over a budget. For most of us however, we have to
operate within a budget, even through they may greatly vary, in some way or another, we
have to plan ahead, and have a limit to our expenses.
For that reason, and due to the fact that our experience has taught us that cruising the
Loop can be done safely and comfortably on a very frugal budget, we simply do not
recommend cruising the Loop in a live a-board size, planning hull vessel with twin engines.
If however, you have a small vessel with a single engine or outboard and a bimini top,
you can certainly cruise the Loop in good fashion.
|Trawlers and Trawlering (for example) not long ago featured an article on "The Great Loop's Ideal Boat" wherein, they
outlined all the wonderful features of a Trawler - and indeed, they are wonderful features. What they fail to mention
however, is that this cruise (at today's fuel prices) would cost you $40,000 in fuel alone. Here are the 36' vessel's actual final
stats for cruising America's Great Loop: Average number of miles traveled on cruising days = 41 miles - Total fuel consumed
(gallons): (gas) = 8,724 gallons - Average cost of fuel (at today's prices) = $4.17 per gallon - Total cost of fuel = $36,370.00
Of course, I enjoy reading Trawler and Trawlering Magazine and this should be no reflection on them, fact is however, they are
certainly can't be expected to offend their primary advertisers who want to sell you a Trawler. . . But we don't have a problem
offending their advertisers. So, if you think spending $40,000 for fuel is NBD (No Big Deal) go right ahead and buy that
trawler. I assure you, they make wonderful live a-boards. In fact, I don't think you will find one better.
However: It is articles like this, along with many Great Loop "Looper blogs" that fuel my fire to keep this website going. . . As
many Loopers would have you believe it takes $150,000 plus to purchase a "Looper" boat, another $20,000 or so to properly
outfit her, $40,000 in fuel, as well as spending 220 nights (or so) in Marinas for an additional $10,000 in Marina fees - when the
fact is, you don't have to do that. It is a matter of choice - not a matter of "have to" or requirements.
Just a year ago: I cruised into a marina, docked, and on my way to the Marina office stumbled into a small group of about 30
people seated auditorium style by the pool listening to a man speaking from a podium about "CRUISING THE GREAT LOOP"
(this, of all things for me to stumble upon - lol). So of course, I had to pause and listen.
Within minutes, he was either consciously or unconsciously bragging about how much he spent to cruising America's Great
Loop - making it sound like it was a requirement. Never once, mentioning his boat, his nights spent in Marinas were 'his choice'.
All I could do, was think about how many potential Loopers walked away from his "seminar" with a shattered dream.
|If you plan to go cruising on a frugal budget:
Then the problem with Trawlers is that
there is not a problem. . .