Cruising America's Great Loop
Discover America's Great Loop
© 1993 - 2017 CaptainJohn.org
1. Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway:  Starting from the St Lucie Inlet on the east coast of Florida, your
Great Loop distance on the Atlantic ICW is 987 miles to Norfolk, VA. From Norfolk, it is another 279 miles to
the Hudson River for a total of 1,266 miles. From Florida's east coast at St. Lucie heading north, the ICW will
take you through the Dismal Swamp, and lead you on up to the Chesapeake Bay, the C& D Canal, and the
Delaware River. From there, you can take the inside route along the New Jersey ICW.  
The New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway (NJICW) stretches 118 statute miles from Cape May (Delaware Bay) to
Manasquan Inlet. Manasquan Inlet is 46 statute (40 NM) miles south of New York City and the entrance to the
Hudson River. So from the Manasquan Inlet to Sandy Hook Bay you have about 20 miles of open water before
entering New York Harbor where you have about another 20 miles to the Hudson River. New York Harbor is
your entrance to the Hudson River. Your Great Loop voyage up the historic Hudson River to the entrance of
the Erie Canal is 134 miles. You will want to plan your voyage so that you are at the entrance of the Erie Canal
around mid-May.

2. The Hudson River:  This leg of your voyage is 134 beautiful miles, and for some reason, the Hudson
River seldom gets more then a mention in many Great Loopers' blogs, websites, or even Guide Books.
Fact is
however, the Hudson Valley is home to many of the most visited sites in America.

3. The Erie Canal:  Your Great Loop distance on the Erie Canal is 338 miles. It stretches from Waterford,
NY to the Upper Niagara River between Buffalo and Niagara Falls. If you take a left on the Niagara River, this
will be your connection into Lake Erie. If you turn right on the Niagara River, well let's just say you will have one
hell of an exciting side-trip over Niagara Falls, and all your friends will probably see you on the ten o'clock
news.    

4. The Great Lakes:  Your distance across the Great Lakes from Buffalo, NY to Chicago is 892 statute
miles. This voyage (If you go direct) will normally take between 15 to 20 days. However, beginning at Buffalo,
there is simply a boaters world of stuff to see and do on your way to Chicago.  You have plenty of time, as you
really don't need to reach Chicago and be off the Great Lakes until mid-October - depending on the weather
of course.

5. Illinois River:  Your Great Loop distance on this river is 334 miles. This baby is the connection between
the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, and the location of that 19' 1" bridge you must go under. The
Illinois river's close proximity to the Chicago River and the man-made Chicago Ship Canal is why we have a
Great Loop and not a "Great U-turn". This leg of your journey takes you to the Mississippi River at Grafton, IL.

6. The Upper Mississippi River: This leg of your journey is only 219 miles to Cairo at the junction of the
Ohio River and the Lower Mississippi. From Cairo, you may want to take the Ohio River to the Cumberland, on
your way to the Tennessee-Tombigbee route to Mobile Bay.  Or if you wish, (and you have the fuel range) you
may want to continue south on the Lower Mississippi route to New Orleans.

Alternate Route: The Lower Mississippi River: The Mississippi River is among the TOP TEN river
cruises in the world,
but it's not for everyone. Least not for everyone cruising in their own pleasure boat. This
leg of your journey (if you choose to do it) is 871 miles from Cairo to the Harvey Lock and Gulf ICW which is
just south of New Orleans.
Problem is, there are only two safe, convenient, stops for fuel and provisions.  

7. Ohio River:  If you take the Tenn-Tom route, your Great Loop distance on this river is only 46 miles, but
it's all against the current of the mighty Ohio River. From Cairo, IL this baby takes you to the Tennessee and
Cumberland Rivers at Paducah, KY., and into what is referred to as the "Land between the Lakes", and the
very "Heartland of America".

8. Cumberland River:  Your Great Loop distance on the Cumberland River & Lake Barkley to the
Tennessee River is an optional 33 miles. This is also your gateway for a side-trip to Nashville. This is a
beautiful cruise and we have lots more about it on this link.  
   

9. Tennessee River:   Your Great Loop distance on this river is 215 miles.  It is 207 miles from the Ohio
River to Pickwick Landing Lock and Dam - 8 miles further is the entrance of the Tennessee-Tombigbee
Waterway.

10. Tennessee-Tombigbee:  Your distance on the Tennessee-Tombigbee to Mobile Bay 234 miles. The
Tennessee - Tombigbee Waterway (by the way) was a bigger man made canal project than the Panama
Canal. WOW!

11. The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway:  Your Great Loop route across this waterway is 218 miles from
Mobile, AL to Carrabelle, FL.

12. Crossing the Gulf of Mexico:  Your journey across the Gulf of Mexico offers some wonderful options.
You can go directly across, or you can hop-scotch your way around. (We cover these details later.)

13. Lake Okeechobee Waterway:  Your Great Loop route across this waterway is 154 miles. Here, a
series of 5 locks helps you through this inland waterway across the lower peninsula of Florida.  The canal
depth of the waterway is approx. 8 feet, and the width of the canal varies from 80 to 100 feet.  Many cruisers
access the waterway from the ICW through Ft Myers, shortening their trip to the east coast of  Florida and
bypassing the Florida Keys.

14. Cruising Canada & Canada's Heritage Canals: Where the Big Blue Whales are! Where dramatic
landscapes and shorelines are unspoiled & unforgettable. Where quaint seafaring towns and savory seafood
restaurants will beckon your return. Our suggestion? Don't miss cruising Canada!
What an adventure this is. . . America's Great
Loop
is longer than the Nile, safer than you can possibly imagine
in advance, and more amazing than anything you will ever
experience in your lifetime. Combined with our Nation's Inland River
System it plays a vital role in linking the Gulf and Atlantic ocean to
places you would never imagine possible to reach in your own boat.
The Great Loop offers you the opportunity to explore over 29,400
miles of Inland Rivers in America's Heartland. Cruise it all, and In
the end, you will have boated the same official qualifying  distance
of sailors circumnavigating the globe. WOW!
Your route around America's Great Loop
Once you have the boat, all the equipment you need, and all your provisions and clothing are on board. You
will be feeling really anxious and excited to get under way. You have closed that gap between where you are,
and where you want to be. Now, the dream is about to become reality.
So, lets review your route.
We are going to start on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. Of course it doesn't matter where you actually
start, because after all, it is a "great loop". So you can start anywhere on the Loop you so choose. The main
thing to remember is that in-order to enjoy all the best weather and temperature conditions, if at all possible,
you want to boat by the seasons. So remember:

    1. Spring Up - "Spring Up" the Atlantic ICW in Spring.
    2. Shuffle Off - "Shuffle Off" to Buffalo (and on to Chicago) in Summer.
    3. Fall Down - "Fall Down" the inland rivers in Fall.
    4. Winter Across - "Winter Across" the warmer Gulf.
It is longer than the longest River in the World!
So here are the legs of your Great Loop journey:
Cruising Canada - While optional, it is one of the top cruising favorites and incredible part of cruising the
Great Loop. Cruising Canada is without doubt "World Class Cruising". We cover it in great detail later after we
get you past the Statue of Liberty and up the Hudson River.  We have an entire section on cruising Canada.
Cruising
America's Great Loop
- Cruising America's Great Loop - Once Around Is Not Enough -
- Cruising America's Great Loop - Once Around Is Not Enough -
www.captainjohn.org
Talk about an adventure. . . If you cruise the very
shortest distance staying only on the "American" side;
your voyage around America's Great Loop will be 1,500
miles longer than the Nile River!
Great Loop adventure
Great Loop
Cruising Canada on America's Great Loop
Famous Fish & Chips at Killarney
To learn about cruising the Atlantic IntraCoastal Waterway - click NEXT   
You will boat right to and through some of the biggest Cities and smallest of Towns.