Every boat comes with two (yes 2) PRICE TAGS!
One - is the Purchase Price.
The second - is your ongoing cost of cruising!
America's Great Loop
The COST of cruising the Loop
© 1993 - 2017 CaptainJohn.org
  Yes, every boat has two price tags. Here's a look at the second or hidden one:
       Indeed, the very moment you select your boat, you select your long-term cruising costs. For most of us on a budget, it is a choice between more
dollars for fun or more dollars for fuel. . . Sadly, not everyone realizes this until after the fact. In many cases, the wrong boat ends up as a vessel of
burden rather than a vessel of fun & freedom.
       It happens, especially when it comes to "long distance" cruising as in the case of America's Great Loop, This is just one of the reasons your
boat needs to fit your lifestyle and pocketbook like a
good old pair of your most comfortable shoes. It can't be too big or too small.
  Here are some actual "cost of fuel" figures on previous Loops when Marine fuel was bouncing between
$3.50 to $4.25:
1. 40' twin engine, semi-displacement Trawler cruised 6,210 miles - fuel alone total: $39,990
2. 38' twin engine, semi-displacement Trawler cruised 6,100 miles - fuel alone total: $34,330.
3. 34' single engine, semi-displacement Trawler cruised 6,318 miles - fuel alone cost: $23,031
4. 36' single engine, full-displacement Trawler cruised 6,232 miles. Total fuel cost: $7,285*.
5. 34' single engine, full displacement Trawler cruised 6200 miles. Total fuel cost $4,300.
6. 36' sailboat, mast off, motored around 6,310 miles around the Loop. Fuel total: $3,600*  
7. 28' sailboat, motored the entire way around the Loop. Fuel total: $1,300*
  So you know, vessels # 4, 5
6 and 7 above were me and my son. Vessel # 3 was a good friend, and vessels # 1 and 2 expenses were provided to
us by readers. Obviously, boat size, number of engines, engine size, and hull type along with average speed, how well maintained, wind, tides, etc.,
all affect your fuel economy.
  This should give you a good idea of what your boat "type" choices should be based on your budget.
  From the above, we can see a dramatic difference in fuel between the two twin engine 40 footer and a 36 footer. We see another substantial
difference between the twin engine "semi-displacement and full-displacement hulls. Now notice the huge difference between the single engine full
displacement (#3) and the single engine semi-displacement (#4).
  A "frugal voyager" will do well to consider either a single engine, full-displacement Trawler or a comfortable size sailboat even "motored around".
Both vessels (depending on your lifestyle and comfort zone) will make extremely good fuel efficient and comfortable live aboard long distance vessels.
  Frugal Voyaging is a philosophy.  It is one that demands your boat is safe, solid, seaworthy and maintained in ship shape. Your boat
and everything on it needs to be kept simple. Remember, the goal here is fun! You want carefree, stress free, trouble free cruising!
  While some might have you believe a good live aboard boat for cruising the Loop will cost you upwards of $350,000, I'm telling you that believing
that is your only
(or even best) option is nonsense.
  There are great safe seaworthy vessels on the market for $100,000 and less. In fact, I've never paid more than $
35,000 and I paid only $3,000 for
a sailboat experiment my son and I took around the Loop. Sure, such a vessel will need some varying levels of TLC in the form of repairs and
replacements. A new paint and polish job will also be in your future, but if you take your time, search diligently, there are some great deals on the
Used Boat Market. Surprisingly, if you look hard enough, you can find a great boat for most any reasonable budget.
  I know, because my son make
s a career out of finding them. My most recent boat was found in Stuart, FL. It is almost 50 years old and (for it's
age) in great condition. So far, it is the only boat I've taken around the Loop twice. My son
s have purchased dozens of great used boats under
5,000 over the years and sailed a few of them all around the Caribbean and other parts of the world as well as the Great Loop.
       According to recent USCG statistics their are around a million fewer boats registered this year compared to last year. So where are they? For
Sale! That's where they are
! And you can find them all along the Great Loop route.
       Not long ago my oldest son found a 30 year old Cal 27'. He paid $7,000 for it and took her from the seller's dock through the Caribbean to
Venezuela and back without doing anything to her. When he returned home, he stayed just long enough to add a few improvements and took off
      Bottom line. . . Believing one has to be rich to cruise the Loop is a myth. Indeed, most experienced cruisers have purchased good used boats
36 feet and under, costing $50,000 or less, and believe me, they are having the time of their lives.
When cruising America's Great Loop - Your major expenses will be:
The Frugal voyager (continued) - click NEXT
Don't forget the
If you like this website, it
contains about 50
pages, about one-third
of the essential
information in the book.
The Book has over 300
pages and simply a ton
of answers, tips,
suggestions and
complete information on
"how to" cruise the
Loop safely.
        Long after your vessel is paid for, your initial boat choice epoxied your cost of cruising and ownership to your bank account. Won't
matter if you paid $300,000, $30,000 or even $13,000 for your boat, once you pay it off, that on going cost of cruising will be with you forever!
       Believe it or not. . . There are boats 'out there' that if they were FREE - most of us could not afford the fuel required to take them around the
Loop. I'm talking 50 foot plus twin engine
'fast' vessels that burn 10 gallons an hour at 12 knots and 50 gallons an hour at 17 knots. So figure that
fuel bill for a 700 or 800 engine hour
s cruising the Great Loop! Ouch! I can't even begin to remember the number of times I've had offers and
opportunities to obtain real first class vessels in pristine condition at a giveaway prices - simply because the seller (and most buyers) were not willing
or able
to pay fuel bill to go cruising in it.
                                 So remember, the moment you select your boat, you select your long distance cost of cruising!
2. Your Lifestyle: Believe it or not, maintaining your "lifestyle" may be your single major expense cruising the Loop. My lifestyle is my #1
expense item
cruising the Loop. This has always been my "boating philosophy". I refer to it as having "More Fun than Fuel".
  We all have certain things we are accustom to.
If you are in the habit of eating out at nice restaurants two, three or more times a week, you
will miss it terribly if you can't do it when cruising the Loop. Yes, this is part of your "lifestyle" which includes everything from your favorite food,
favorite beverage, entertainment, Computers, TV, going to the movies, the brand clothes you wear and places you shop. . . So be aware, what you
want and need on land to keep you happy, wont change when you move on to your boat. Thinking you will need less living on your boat is a
common mistake many first time
"long distance" cruisers make.
 When cruising the Loop, you will discover unspoiled unforgettable dramatic landscapes and shorelines, quaint seafaring villages and
waterfront restaurants with savory seafood and
delicious regional favorites. The entire journey overflows with picturesque sights and historic
landmarks. You will find tourist attractions all along the way. Add to that, in each area you cruise you will find shrimp festivals, catfish festivals,
antique shows, flea markets, farmers markets, and all kinds of tempting things to do and sites to see - there is even a Pearl farm!
       Even when you get 'to the top' of the Loop - Mackinac Island's Grand Hotel and all the homemade fudge, chocolate, ice cream, and souvenir
shops are about as wonderful and tempting as you will ever see. Then there is Traverse City and Leeland or Fishtown and it starts all over again.
      Most of us simply can't "do it all" in one voyage
, so choosing what we want to do the most can be a very difficult decision, and that's the whole
point. Your choice of boat might make the difference between what you can and cannot afford
to do along the way. If you have to pass up the things
you enjoy most for keeping fuel in your tanks, you are not going to be a happy Looper.
       Cruising the Loop is a marvelously fantastic safe voyage of discovery and adventure. Stopping, shopping, meeting the local natives,
experiencing the people the places, the regional foods, stretching your legs at a Shrimp Festival or a quaint Village Farmers' Market, strolling the
beach, having an ice cream - all while learning about each area's geography and history. . .  This kind of freedom indeed, is what makes this country
great, and when cruising the Loop, you will experience America greatness first hand.
      * I have met and cruised the Loop along side many wonderful people. Many with bigger, newer, more expensive boats than mine, burning lots
more fuel. Sadly, most of them have ended up with very restrictive budgets when it comes to on shore excursions.
3. Your Fuel requirements:  My 'boating philosophy' of "More fun than fuel" is reflected in my choice of boat. I'm currently cruising in a 36'
sailboat in which I
"motor around" the entire Loop averaging 7 knots, burning 900 gallons of fuel which takes me around a 6,300 mile Loop safely
very comfortably. It doesn't get any better than this for me.
      My son's 34' refurbished "True" (single engine full displacement hull)Trawler in which he is now cruising the Loop
a second time with a friend,
tells me he is
averaging less than 2 gallons per hour and will make this voyage on less than 1,300 gallons of fuel. He is traveling about 2 knots faster
than me, so while his fuel burn rate is a bit higher, his engine hours are a bit less. A
the little bit of extra fuel for the extra room and comfort of a
- it is a sweet trade off. If I were cruising with a spouse, I'd make that trade in a New York minute!      
       Still, there are a good number of Loopers (some happily, some complaining) that are spending a wide range of money on fuel. A typical 'fast'
average size 36' Trawler for cruising the Loop may take you around on as little as 2,000 gallons or as much as 5,000 gallons (or more) depending
on how well you keep your speed in check.
  There in fact is a "Beneteau 34 Swift Trawler" article that documents one 6,000 mile Loop burning a total of 5,000 gallons of fuel. In my mind, that's
nothing to brag about. But for someone who can afford the boat, I presume spending $20,000 on fuel is no big deal.
  So. . . Before we go any farther, let me just remind you - None of the above is right or wrong. They are all options that various Loopers have made
based on their own lifestyle, philosophy and pocketbook. You have to do the same.
When someone asks me; "What does it cost to cruise the Great Loop?" My immediate
thought is
"What's in your wallet?"
On a more serious note, the question really is; "What does it cost you to maintain your lifestyle and be happy?"
Possibly, the biggest mistakes first time Loopers make on this voyage is planning for a 5,600 mile boat ride. Fact is,
this voyage is so much more than a 'boat ride' words fail miserably at describing it. This is a year long vacation! Just like
any vacation, we all either spend a more money than we initially planned
, or (if we don't have it), we end up cutting our
vacation short.
You don't want to let that happen to you!
       With so many wonderful, popular and famous destinations on the Great Loop route, one needs to think of their boat
as their transportation and lodging. All along the way, you will need to be comfortable and happy. Whatever it takes
to keep you happy on shore won't change when you move onto your boat.
You might think it will, but it won't! Fact is your
current existing lifestyle will be the single biggest influence on your choice of boat. It will determine your boat's age, (new vs
used), size and type. It will also dictate the equipment and amenities you put on it
and the amount of fuel it requires.
Yes, just as there are many ways to skin a cat, there are many ways to cruise the Great Loop. Some younger solo
adventurers and back-pack type young couples) make this voyage in small sailboats, anchoring out most every night while
eating rice, beans, PB&J sandwiches and the fish they catch. As a result, they have a great adventure on an absolute
minimum amount of funds.

       However. . . If you are accustom to the finer things in life, that method of cruising isn't going to make or keep you
happy; and you will be miserable.
- Capt John
Don't be mislead. . .   This voyage is NOT cheap!
       This voyage should NEVER be attempted under any type or kind of bad or improvised financial condition or hardship. This voyage is
absolutely NOT something one can accomplish without an extremely safe, solid and seaworthy vessel
, kept in good seaworthy condition, or without
a substantial amount of money in the form of regular income or savings.

      While I provide safe options and alternatives to dispel the myth that you don't have to be "rich wealthy" - I am NOT in any way inferring that this
voyage is "cheap".  It is NOT!!!
 One simply CANNOT enjoy or make this voyage safely without a respectable source of finances and a safe, solid,
seaworthy vessel.
www.captainjohn.org                                                                      - Cruising America's Great Loop - Once Around Is Not Enough -
       Most of us Baby Boomers need much bigger more comfortable boats with all the bells & whistles. We like to stop and eat out at nice restaurants,
take in the sights, rent a car
at some destinations, go shopping, buy souvenirs and make a restful romantic total escape out of this adventure. This of
course, means
a bigger boat and bigger expenses.
       Some "Loopers" are cruising in 46 foot plus vessels that burn more fuel than many of us will spend on for everything on this entire voyage. Most
however will be cruising in humble vessels, purchased used, that get us around the Loop safely, comfortably and on a reasonable budget that is
more easily attainable and affordable.
What is important for you to keep in mind, is that none of the above is right or wrong. Certainly one method of
cruising the Loop will more closely resembl
e your lifestyle, comfort zone, boating philosophy and pocketbook than the other. If I've done my job, you
will have a good idea of what this voyage might cost you
before you finish this website!
1. Your boat choice:  Every boat comes with two price tags! Absolutely! Forget the
initial purchase price for a moment. It is imperative that you understand the very moment you
select your boat - you predetermine your long term cost of cruising and boat ownership.
 The purchase price is one thing. The other and possibly the most important, is your long
distance cost of cruising
and on going cost of boat ownership.