|Our groups 2018 "boat related' cruising costs:
|© 1993 - 2019 captainjohn.org
"More Fun than Fuel" means more FUN, less FUEL - but not necessarily less money!
Capt. John's Looping philosophy is simple. It demands a safe, suitable, seaworthy vessel, well maintained and kept in ship shape. That's not
cheap! It is about keeping your boat and everything on it simple. It demands a fuel efficient smaller, but comfortable boat. Remember, the goal here
is being able to spend the bulk of your Cruising Kitty on yourself having fun vs spending the lion's share on Marina Dock slips and pouring it all
down your fuel tank(s). You want carefree, stress free, trouble free cruising with very EASILY AFFORDABLE "boat related" expenses.
Voyaging on a frugal boat & budget is NOT about having enough money. It is about how we chose to spend it.
While some might have you believe a good live aboard boat for cruising the Loop will cost you upwards of $250,000, We're here to let you know, no
one in our little group has ever paid more than $60,000. Capt. John who has made this voyage in 7 different boats, says he's never paid more than
$30,000 and 3 of them were purchased for less than $10,000. One in fact was purchased for $3,000.
Believing one has to be "rich" to cruise the Loop is a myth. One simply needs to be financially healthy. Indeed, most of us with the most
experience purchase good used boats near 36-feet, costing $50,000 or less, and we are having the time of their lives.
|When cruising America's Great Loop - Your major expenses will be:
Long after your vessel is paid for, your boat choice epoxied your cost of cruising to your budget. Won't matter if you paid $300,000, $30,000
or even $3,000 for your boat, once it is paid for, your on going cost of cruising & ownership will last forever!
Believe it or not. . . There are boats 'out there' on the market that even if they were FREE - most of us could not afford the fuel and marina
expenses required to take us around the Loop. I'm speaking of some 42-plus size footers with twin engines that burn fuel at a rate of 10 gallons an
hour at 12 knots and 50 gallons an hour at 15 knots. They are out there! Many of them are also for sale - cheap! Well, cheap enough to convince
some of us they are extremely "good deals". Some of them will be competitively priced to that of a much smaller boat. When we compare (for
example) a 36-footer to a 46-footer - Oh! All that additional space for the same price! Bingo! Boat sold! Your long distance cruising budget just
For this reason, it is so important to remember, the very moment you select your boat, is the very moment you select
your long distance cost of cruising!
Believe it or not, your "lifestyle" may be your single major expense cruising the Loop. My lifestyle is certainly the cause of my expenses.
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. This is part of your "lifestyle" which includes everything from your favorite food, favorite
beverage, entertainment, Computers, TV, going to the movies, the clothes you wear and places you shop. . . So be aware, what you want and need
on land to keep you happy, wont change when on your boat. Thinking you will need less when 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.
The main reason we encourage an economical boat is because over the years we have met and cruised the Loop along side many wonderful
people. Many with bigger, newer, more expensive boats than ours. Many of them are burning 5x the fuel and paying to stay in marinas every single
night they possibly can. That's great for those that can afford it. Sadly however, as a result of their "boat, marina, fuel and boat related expenses"
most of them end up with very restrictive budgets when it comes to on shore excursions and activities.
This is our caution to everyone planning to cruise America's Great Loop.
We are all different. I suppose if I purchased a $350,000-boat, I would be so proud of it I might never get off of it, but the issue here is having the
freedom of choice. There is a huge difference between staying on your boat because you want to, vs remaining on your boat because you can't
afford to do anything else. Still, when a great group of Loopers meet and decide to go out to eat, and the social butterflies in the big gas guzzling
57-foot dragon suddenly go silent and return to their boat. . . It is easy to assume why.
My Looping philosophy of "More fun than fuel" is reflected in my choice of boat. I'm currently cruising in a 36' sailboat with no mast. I "motor
around" the entire Loop averaging 7 knots, burning fuel at a rate of 1-gph. For the amount of comfort I have, it doesn't get much better than that "for
me". My son is now cruising the Loop in a 26-foot C-Dory with a 90-hp outboard. He and his S/O love it. They have less than a 2-foot draft, can
speed along at times, and average only 2-gph. The little more he spends in fuel, he more than saves in marina fees.
Point is, there are many ways and vessels to cruise the Loop. Make sure your way gives you total financial freedom to do whatever you want all
the way around the Loop. Eating out at all the best restaurants, visiting all the great attractions, being able to rent a car, fly home, all these things
should be considered.
On our last voyage, (2018), my son, now has a 26' C-Dory, made this voyage on less than $4,000 in fuel. He cruises at "Looper Speed" but also
has the ability to put it on plane and zoom right along up to about 20-mph. He uses just a little bit of extra fuel, but has a sweet ride with plenty of
comfort for two, plus speed and economy.
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 is a 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 - as long as they have that much or more to
spend on themselves along the way.
Obviously, a solo voyager or two adventurous souls that are simply out for 'the adventure', and have no desire to spend a dime more than they
have to, can find tons of free and interesting things to do and see all along the way. Doing so, in the right type and size vessel, can also make this
voyage extremely affordable for most anyone.
So. . . Before we go any farther, let me just remind you - None of the above is right or wrong. They are options that various Loopers have made
based on their own lifestyle, philosophy and pocketbook. You must do the same. My only real caution is simply be aware, you will be tempted all
along the way on this voyage, to stop, shop, stay and linger at some incredible destinations.
When someone asks me; "What does it cost to cruise the Great Loop?" My immediate thought is "What's in your
On a more serious note, the question really is; "What does it cost you to maintain your lifestyle and be happy?" And the fact really is, this voyage
can be affordable by almost anyone. There are many different lifestyles, boats and ways one can cruise America's Great Loop.
Possibly, the biggest mistakes first time Loopers make on this voyage is planning for a 5,429-mile plus boat ride. This voyage is much more than
a boat ride. It is much more like a year long vacation! Just like any vacation, we spend more money than we initially planned.
With so many wonderful, popular and famous destinations on the Great Loop route, we strongly suggest one think of their boat more as
transportation and lodging vs a home on the water. All along the way, you will need to be comfortable and happy - and your comfort on this voyage
has as much to do with financial comfort as it does physical comfort. Whatever it takes to keep you happy on shore won't change when you move onto
Most of us Baby Boomers need a bit bigger and more comfortable boat. We also like to stop and eat out at nice restaurants, take in the sights,
rent a car, visit museums, go window shopping, buy souvenirs and make the very best of this adventure. This of course, means a little bigger budget
and boat. We worked hard and saved long our entire lives for this type of freedom and adventure. As a result, most of us are cruising the Loop in
humble vessels, purchased on the used market. It get us around the Loop safely, comfortably and on a reasonable budget.
Additionally, many more "adventurous" individuals can cruise the Loop the smallest most fuel efficient vessels and make this voyage on an
extremely affordable boat and budget.
|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 we provide safe options and alternatives to dispel the myth that you don't have to be "rich & famous" - We are 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, a safe, solid,
seaworthy boat, and plenty of back-up funds for emergencies. Don't forget, most of us spend more money for food, beverages, eating out, and being a
tourist, than we do on fuel, marina fees and boat related expenses.
|1. Your lifestyle: It should come as no surprise that your current lifestyle & comfort zone will consciously or unconsciously dictate your
choice of boat. That includes: new vs used, type, size, number of engines, cruising speed and on-board equipment and amenities. Nothing wrong
with any of that, we all need to remain in our comfort zone on this voyage. It is just that for some of us, maintaining our lifestyle can be very
expensive. Others, not so much.
2. Your boat choice: Every boat comes with two price tags! 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 most important price is your long distance cost of cruising. Believe us, we personally know of more
than one 'Looper' that had to stop along the way to sell their boat to buy another, simply because their fuel & cost of cruising was tons more
expensive than anticipated.
|What does it cost, really?
|Every boat comes with two (yes 2) PRICE TAGS!
One is the Purchase Price.
The other is your cost of cruising!
|In 2018, Wall Street Financial, reported the TOP TEN worst financial things to waste your money on.
A "new boat" was #1 on the list.
In 2018, our small 'super-Looper' group set out on another voyage around America's Great Loop. This was the first time all 11 friends (in 6 boats),
made this voyage together. All 6 cruised the same routes. 1 boat had to leave a month early to spend a month with relatives, and met up with the
rest of us on the Erie Canal. We only split up to stay in different nearby Marinas and anchorages for comparison purposes. Three vessels took the
Canadian route across the Trent Severn. Three others remained on the US side cruising the shores of the Great Lakes. We separated at 3-Rivers
junction at the Erie/Oswego Canal, and we met up again on Mackinac Island.
Here are the "boat & boat related" expenses for our 2018 - 5,429-mile voyage:
Capt. John made this voyage in his 29-year old classic "mast-less" 36’ sailboat, “Sweet Chariot”. He motored all the way around. He spent
$2,325 for 855-gallons of diesel fuel. His total expenses with Marina slip fees, hook-up fees and Canal fees, cruising Canada totalled $12,549.
Also cruising in our group was Capt. John's son John. John took this voyage in his ‘new to him’ 26’ C-Dory “Blue Genes”. He left us at 3-Rivers
Junction and took the Great Lakes route. John’s 26’ C-Dory had a 90-hp gasoline outboard motor with a 2.5-hp kicker (emergency get home motor),
and a built in 100-gallon fuel tank which gave him an easy 300-plus mile fuel range at Looper speed. John spent $3,790 for 1,085-gallons of
gasoline with a burn rate of just 1.3-gph cruising at Looper speed. Because his vessel was only 26’ and 10’ shorter Capt. John's, he only spent
$7,384 (saving $2,840 compared to the rest of us in 36' vessels) in Marina fees. So, his “boat & boat related” expenses totaled $11,174.
Jim and his wife in their 36’ ‘true’ Trawler, spent $4,292 for 1,709-gallons of fuel and led our little group most of the way maintaining (best he
could) a consistent 7- to 8-mph Looper speed, while keeping a watch trying not to get too far ahead of the rest of us. Jim’s total “boat & boat related”
cost of cruising totaled $14,516.
Terry and his wife were in their twin engine 36’ swift Trawler. Even maintaining a slow speed, they used 3,249-gallons of fuel costing $7,314.
Terry’s final “boat and boat related expenses totaled $17,538. While Terry’s expenses were the highest, it still worked out to be only $52.50 a day
for the 334 nights they spent on the Loop. One can’t even stay a night in a cheapest of Motels for that price.
Mr. P made this voyage in a 48' twin engine cruiser. He cruised the same route, but took off a month early to visit relatives. His voyage was the
most expensive of all. The 36-footers in our group averaged paying $10,224 in Marina fees for docking & hook-ups. My P in his 49-footer averaged
paying $108.00 a night for a slip in a Marina with 50-Amp electric. He spent 309-nights in a marina at a cost exceeding $ 33,000. He also spent
$14,412 for fuel. His expenses averaged out to be $155.00 a day for 309 days on the Loop. (But, he can comfortably afford it and still have plenty of
fun all the way the around the Loop!)
James and son Allen, made this voyage in a 27' Tug. They burned 1,153 gallons of fuel cruising most of the way at 8-mph. As a result, they
spent a total of $3,136 for fuel and another $7,839 in marina and hook-up frees for total "boat & boat related" expenses of $11,985. They made this
voyage in a very nice comfortable vessel on very practical and reasonable budget. That averages out to be $36.00 a day for 334 days spent on
America's Great Loop. That's cheaper than the cheapest motel room and it includes fuel & fees!
|Choose your boat wisely.
The money you save, will be your own!