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|For me and most long distance voyagers the dream is really all about living aboard and cruising, with the ultimate goal of staying out longer.
The "afford ability" of long term cruising is much more important than say, a boater that only takes his boat out for 50 miles on weekends. For most
of us "long distance" voyagers, a "dream boat" is in fact our "dream buster". That is of course, unless our "dream boat" is also a very fuel efficient
vessel. Understanding why your boat needs to fit you like a shoe, (not too big, not to small, but just right for comfort) will help you make the very
smartest boat choice.
Out here, no one cares about your boat. That's a fact Jack! If it looks terrible, we will make comments about it looking terrible. If it looks
great, we'll make comments about that too! Other than that, we don't concern ourselves with how much you paid for your boat. If it looks seaworthy
and maintained, that's about all that matters.
From bums to billionaires we all are. . . We are often at the same Marina, the same anchorage, or the same beach; sharing the same fish
fry, clam bakes, barbecues and 'bring a dish' get together. While our pocketbooks, bank accounts, and boats are not the same, what we all have in
common is a fierce love of freedom, a great respect for Mother Nature and each other.
No one cares who has a new vs old or even the biggest boat. A boaters respect on the water is earned by being a good safe and considerate
boater. Not from the age or price of their vessel.
On the water, both on the Great Loop & on the Seven Seas, those voyagers that are on the simplest and most humble of boats, earn
the greatest respect and admiration from everybody. You can bet, in most cases, they are the ones that have been doing it the longest, and have
gone the farthesta. They are also the ones having the most fun, and that's really what this is all about.
We all have our own boats and budgets. While I believe this voyage is surprisingly safe and so amazing that everyone should experience it. I
also believe if one passionately wants to live this dream, it is attainable and affordable for most everyone. However. . . In no way do we suggest
anyone attempt this voyage without having the income or money to complete it successfully. That includes having a vessel that is proven safe and
Every vessel planned for making this voyage should have a current Certified Marine Pre-Purchase Survey. DON'T LEAVE HOME
Additionally. . . Do NOT attempt this voyage without knowing you have all the money you need to complete it in a safe and comfortable
manner. Can't even begin to tell you the number of 'stranded' Loopers we've met. Even couples, that are stuck having to find jobs while waiting for
needed boat repairs or having to make money to buy fuel and continue their voyage. This is a long distance, year long voyage. It requires financial
resources for maintaining your boat, maintaining yourself, and for any possible emergencies that might arise.
Yes, I am known for being "the frugal voyager". What most don't realize however, is it costs an awful lot of money to go cruising
successfully on a frugal budget. To do this, one has to be doubly sure your boat and everything on it is in great shape! One has to maintain
everything on a routine regular basis so that no minor repairs become major repairs or financial catastrophes. That means you must have the
money to take care of all these things as they arise. Preventive maintenance is the best and least expensive form of maintenance! For example: A
simple BoatUS or TowBoat rescue of your boat could easily cost you $2,500 or more! If you don't have their insurance. (The Coast Guard is in
business to rescue lives - they will NOT rescue your boat!)
Attempting to make this voyage as a result of any kind of financial hardship will be doomed from the start. Moving onto a boat, and especially
cruising is NOT a cheap alternative or a viable solution to escaping bad credit, debt, or a bad financial situation. It simply won't work.
Having lived on a boat full time for over 20 years, and having owned one for over 50 years; I've seen just about everything when it comes to people
that think this is a 'cheap' way to life. It's not! Fact is, even with a fully paid for vessel, Marina dock fees, hook ups, utilities and absolutely necessary
routine maintenance, even living on a fully paid for vessel and going no where, will most likely cost more than a decent small Apartment.
Another situation that has happened to me four (4) times now, is having to leave my boat, rent a car and go inland to stay in a Motel, to wait
out hurricanes. I've never lost a boat, but having to leave your boat because of weather or repairs can easily result in a needing rental car and a
week or two or more in a Motel - just saying!
Nothing beats a fresh caught Walleye or bring a dish shore-lunch or dinner with other Loopers.
Some of these Loopers are cruising in $300,000 plus vessels.
Some are cruising in $13,000 or less vessels.
Some are paying over $30,000 (or more) for fuel & marina expenses.
Some are paying $12,000 (or less) for fuel & marina expenses.
|The point is. . . We are all found in the same places, having the same amount of fun!
It is not important to anyone but you, how big or small, new or old your boat is!
A long-distance cruising vessel must be extremely economical for cruising if one wants to maximize their freedom & comfort.
I have a reputation as being "the frugal voyager". It came about as a result of my "More Fun than Fuel" Looping philosophy. My philosophy
however, has nothing to do with 'not having enough money'. It has everything to do with making sure you have enough money. . . Enough money
that is, for your complete freedom, comfort, fun and enjoyment.
Like it or not, "money" plays a huge role in our freedom and comfort. When cruising America's Great Loop, your complete comfort
must be both physical as well as financial. Your freedom includes how you want to spend your money. It also includes the freedom to chose the
places you go, and the things you want to do along the way. Other than safety, the biggest single difference between cruising the Great Loop vs
crossing an ocean, is the Great Loop presents you with delicious daily temptations to stop, shop, stay and linger. So much so, many Loopers report
this as being the #1 expense item on their overall total cost of cruising the Loop. It certainly is mine!
Obviously, how you 'want' to spend your money is a personal preference. My "More Fun than Fuel" philosophy is based on being able to spend
the bulk of your "Cruising Kitty" on yourself, having fun eating out and being a tourist along the way, rather than pouring it all down your fuel tank(s)
and giving the Lion's share of it to stay overnight at Marinas. In my case, I simply can't afford to do both. So, I chose to cruise in a smaller, slower,
more fuel efficient vessel, so I can spend the bulk of my money doing the things that make me a happy camper (Looper).
Just assume for a moment, you are a couple cruising together with a "Cruising Kitty" budget of $50,000 for spending an entire year cruising
America's Great Loop. Now, question is, how do you want to spend it? According to the USDA, a couple on a 'liberal' food budget will spend $610 a
month on groceries. So, let's factor that off the budget right away. Now ($50,000 - $610 for 12 months = $42,680. If you cruise the Loop on a "More
Fun than Fuel" philosophy, chances are your total "boat, fuel & boat related" expenses will be something near (or less) than $15-to $20,000. That
of course, leaves you with $25-$30,000 to spend on yourself having fun, eating out and being a tourist all along the way. The other options are
simply to be a slave to your budget, or have a much larger budget. Some Loopers on this voyage, those with 42-foot plus size 'go fast' vessels will
spend $25,000 in fuel alone and another $25,000 to stay most every night in a marina. That's what we want to call your attention to.
It's not that one is right and one is wrong, it is simply a matter of how you want and chose to spend your money.
We spend a great deal more money having fun ashore along the way than we do on our total "boat & boat related" expenses. We have
complete freedom to choose what we want to do and where we want to go all along the way. And that's the whole point. . .
As incredible and amazing as this voyage is, it is far more than a boat ride. It is much like taking Route 66 from one end to the other. It is filled
with tempting places and destinations where you will want to stop, shop, stay and linger. . . And of course, spend money. So, be prepared!
Obviously, and it should be obvious, we have no control over the price of fuel or the price of marina frees. (Wish we did! But, that's not going
to happen.) Therefore, we can't project, or even accurately guess what your fuel and marina fees will be. What we do know however, it that your
marina fees are manageable. You can budget the number of nights you chose to pay and stay in a marina vs anchor out for free. While we can't
control the price of fuel, we can control how much we need by selecting a fuel efficient vessel.
FREEDOM & COMFORT:
When it comes to cost and expenses of cruising America's Great Loop, your freedom & comfort both physically and financially will be paramount to
your happiness and enjoyment on this voyage.
While we have no idea what makes you happy, we do know that places like the one above exist all around the Great Loop. In many locations, we
can hear the bands playing, the people laughing, and even see everyone having a grand Ole time as we slowly cruise by. That of course, is a two way
street. Many of those ashore wish they were on your boat. Many of us on our boats are going to be tempted to join those ashore.
We just want to call your attention to the fact. Seriously, we are not crossing oceans here. We are close to land. We are slowly cruising by
wonderful waterfront restaurants and Tiki Bars. We are cruising by incredible destinations. Most of which will tempt you off your boat.
Since the vast majority of first time Loopers spend the vast majority of their time working on their "boat, fuel and boat related" expenses; we just
think you should be aware, most of us, at least those of us the more fuel efficient and realistic boats, cruising on the most practical budgets, indeed
spend more money ashore.
Purchasing a boat suitable for cruising the Great Loop:
There are many ways to consider this. Many Loopers purchase a good used vessel knowing that they are going to sell it after completing the
Loop. The only suggestion we make on this is, this might be the best time to work with a good experienced boat broker. Let them know of your
intention to buy, cruise the Loop and sell. We know several instances where the "Great Loop Veteran" boat was sold for as much or more (in some
cases) than the Looper originally paid for it. Most likely, some improvements were made to the boat. Still, this is a great option.
If you are buying a boat with intentions of keeping it, give some careful thought as to how you are going to use it after you cruise the Loop. If
you have plans of cruising deep into the Caribbean or beyond, we suggest a sailboat might be your best choice. FYI - Both lack of, and price of,
fresh potable water turns back as many sailors cruising deep into the Caribbean, as lack of fuel turns back power boats. For sailors cruising the
Caribbean, we strongly suggest a water-maker is in your future. For powerboats, for sure an economical long range vessel is required.
Many Loopers cruise the Loop and stumble across a favorite destination, and after completing the Loop, return and drop their anchor forever.
Some stay in a favorite marina and some find an anchorage or mooring. Which ever way you go, it promises to be a wonderful and much envied
A fully paid for vessel certainly has it's advantages when it comes to the cost of boat insurance, as you can pick & chose your coverage.
Otherwise, your Bank will pick the Insurance for you. FYI - the vast majority and fast growing number of marinas now require ample liability coverage.
So even in a fully paid for vessel, you will need good liability coverage for any damage you or your vessel might cause.
Cruising - Towing Insurance:
We suggest BoatUS and/or Sea\\Tow Membership. In fact, for what one minor incident can cost you if you don't have it, vs what little is cost if
you do have it, we strongly suggest you not leave the dock with it. Most likely if you need it, it will safe you several thousand, not just a couple
hundred. Get it! It doesn't cost that much for a one year (one Loop) voyage, and truly, even on a simple 'running aground' incident, it could safe you
several $2-or $3,000.
Absolutely, this is boat dependent. We can only suggest everyone obtain a "satisfactory to them" Certified Marine Per-purchase Survey on their
vessel before making any commitment to purchase. This will serve several purposes. Not only will it tell you if you have a good seaworthy vessel, it
will tell you what to expect regarding needed repairs and maintenance. Furthermore, Preventive maintenance will always prove to be the best and
cheapest form of maintenance.