1. Caution should be used when reading books and blogs, or any "dated material". Don't 'blindly' expect fuel stops, docks, piers, marinas, safe
anchorages, or even water depths to be there when you are. If there is one thing you can expect cruising the Great Loop, it is the unexpected.
2. Don't spend your cruising cash on paper charts. Yes, I've been telling everyone this for years - and getting plenty of heat over it as well. If you
buy paper charts today, chances are they may be a year old already. That means before you start your voyage, they might be 2 years old and by the time
you are half way around the Loop they might be 3 years old. Your GPS will be much easier and more accurate, because you can download updates as
soon as NOAA enters the change.
Since NOAA is the original source for the production of nautical charts, you get them instantly. I backup my GPS and battery power (in case of equipment
or electrical failure) instead of buying all those expensive paper charts that are outdated as fast as you can get your hands on one. FYI - the USCG
recently endorsed the use of GPS digital charts on commercial vessels. The USCG no longer requires 'paper charts' on board commercial
vessels. (Hey, if it's good enough for them, it's good enough for me.)
3. Plan on taking your time. True, in a fast boat or a slow one, averaging 40 miles a day (which is what most Loopers do) one could "conceivably" cruise
5,429 miles around the Loop in two months. However, there is good reason why most "Loopers" take a year or more to complete their voyage.
4. The Great Loop is not a race. For one thing, there is simply too much to see and do along the way. In most areas your speed will be greatly limited
by 10 mph speed limits, no wake zones, tides, water conditions, traffic and wait times for Bridge or Lock openings. Additionally, you will discover that in
most cases a 40 to 60 mile day will put you in a perfect anchorage, Marina or wonderful destination to stop, stay & linger before dark.
Your primary consideration in determining your day's cruising distance will very seldom be based on how fast your boat can go. Instead, it will be
determined by how far you need to go to reach a particular Marina or safe anchorage during daylight. With very few exceptions, it will not be safe to cruise
at night. (Most Loopers never cruise after dark. Your secondary consideration is whether or not there are any stops, restaurants, or interesting sites
along the way you want to visit. Some days, we can't cruise more than 14 to 20-miles due to wait times cruising through Locks. Some days we "don't want"
to cruise more than 14 to 20-miles as that's the distance to our next incredible destination where we want to stop, shop, stay & linger, being a tourist. This
is why, when it comes to cruising the Great Loop, at sundown the Tortoise and the Hare (fast & slow boats), most often find themselves at the same
Marina, safe anchorage or incredible destination.
5. Plan on days off and plenty of rest. It sounds silly to plan on "days off" from boating when you are used to planning days off work to go boating.
However, the longer you cruise, the more often you will need (and want) to take a day or two off from cruising. Plan on it! I plan my days off around what I
want to see and do on land. Very seldom do I cruise more than 4 or 5 days in a row, and this works well. I have plenty of time to do laundry, buy
provisions, and see the local sights. I am also off the water when all the weekend party goers are out drinking on there boats. After a day or two, I'm
rested and eager to get going again - on safer less crowded weekdays and waterways.
|© 1993 - 2019 captainjohn.org
|- Cruising America's Great Loop - Once Around Is Not Enough -
|You get free access with overlay permissions with your purchase of
"The Looper's Companion Guide -
|America's Great Loop Route Map - The Looper's Companion Guide