The Gas Guzzler
Sleeping on a boat
Living on a boat
Perfect Great Loop Boat
© 1993 - 2019 CaptainJohn.org

I often speak on the importance of "comfort" on this voyage. . . When I do, I'm not only speaking of "physical" comfort, but "financial"
comfort as well. My very first voyage around the Loop was an extremely stressful and often miserable experience. Simply because I either had the wrong
boat or not near enough money. Our twin engine cruiser burned almost 5x the fuel we were told and anticipated. As a result, not only did we slow to a
snail's pace, we had to pour all our "fun money" down the fuel tank. So, that was the origin of my "More Fun than Fuel" Looping philosophy. And I
caution everyone dreaming of this voyage. . . There is a ton of fun to be had on and off the water when cruising the Loop. You will want plenty of "fun
money" to spend on yourself having fun, eating out, and being a tourist along the way. Choose your boat wisely!

When cruising America's Great Loop, the type and size of your boat, the distance you travel, the time it takes, the amenities on board, are
all important factors to consider. The most important of these however, is to remember that
the moment you select your boat, you have also
selected your ongoing cost of cruising and ownership.
Most often, it is the shocking reality of on-going expenses, why so many great "used
boats" are on the Market for thousands of dollars less than their original purchase price. Most often it is simply because the owner discovered the cost
of cruising long-distance in such a large fast boat was unacceptable.

When you think about a boat and budget for living aboard and cruising the Great Loop, you must think about what it takes for you and your 1st
Mate to be comfortable and happy both physically and financially. For sure, boats that are great for over-night or long weekends simply won't work over
the long haul for spending a year cruising the Great Loop.

Additionally, there will be a huge difference in fuel between the vessel advertised as "1-gallon per mile" vs the vessel advertises as "2-gallons per
hour". The first one will burn 5,429 gallons of fuel on our route, and the second one, though it sounds like more at first, will only burn 1,357 gallons of
fuel.   

Indeed, If you choose the right boat, then your individual choices in lifestyle will be the majority of your cruising cost. This means you can spend the
majority of your budget on yourself and what makes you happy, rather than on your boat, fuel and boat related expenses. Choose the wrong boat, and
it could end up being a vessel of burden rather than a vessel of amazing freedom, fun and happiness.
The Trawler: It offers economy and the very best interior live aboard space and open airy cabin that money can buy! Be careful however when
shopping for one, as some are not really trawlers at all. They just look like one.
    A "true" trawler will have a full displacement hull. That means it will have a small single engine and a slow (7-8 knots) cruise speed. It will
NOT get up
on plane. A true trawler, like a sailboat, has a hull designed to move smoothly and economically
through the water at a slow speed. Typically, under
normal conditions a true Trawler will have an economic cruising speed only about 2 or 3 knots faster than a sailboat. The full displacement hull is a
trademark of ocean capable long distance vessels. They are extremely fuel efficient for their size.
The "other" Trawler - is often referred to as a "Fast or Swift" Trawler. It sports a semi displacement hull which along with the power train is
designed to provide
lift as well as forward motion. The "lift" is designed to raise the heavy bow of the vessel up and out of the water to help the vessel
on plane. These vessels normally will have two or twin engines and offer more speed (typically 10-20 knots). Yes, you can get 2 times the speed, but
it comes at a huge fuel burn rate and expense.
Typically both type trawlers have a large fuel and water capacity to enable extended cruising and offer wonderful interior live aboard space and
creature comforts that are simply unmatched by any other type pleasure vessel of the same size.
Trawlers and Trawlering  not long ago featured an article on "The Great Loop's Ideal Boat"  wherein, they outlined all the wonderful
features of a Trawler  -  and indeed, they are wonderful features.  
What they failed to mention however, is that the "Trawler" in question was
a twin engine with a semi-displacement hull.  It was a 36 footer and had the vessel's actual final stats for cruising America's Great Loop:  Total
fuel consumed = 8,724 gallons. Average cost of fuel = $4.17 per gallon. Total cost of fuel = $36,370.00.
I enjoy reading Trawler and Trawlering as much as anyone. Problem is they are not about to offend their primary advertisers who want
to sell you a "Fast" Trawler. . .
I on the other hand, want to see more people cruising the Great Loop. I also have no problem
offending their advertisers.
If you think spending $36,370 for fuel is NBD (No Big Deal). . . Go for it!  I just think the article should mention the
less expensive alternatives.
It is articles like this, along with some "Looper blogs" and "Boating Forums" that fuel my fire to keep this website going. . . Far too many
would have us all believe it takes a $350,000 boat and $35,000 in fuel to cruise the Loop. When the truth is, NONE OF THAT IS True!
It is an option! It is not required! It is your choice!
The problem with Trawlers is. . .
When most think of a "Great Loop" boat - they think of a Trawler!
There is no problem - as long as you are fully aware of what you are getting into.  Here is what a BoatUS review had to say about
a 36' Grand Banks "Fast"
Trawler with twin 210 Cats:
"She cruises comfortably at 10 knots on 7 gallons of fuel per hour. She has a top cruising speed of 15 knots at 14 gallons per
hour."
See what I'm saying?  Now when the price of Marine fuel is floating around $4.00 a gallon and your burning between 7 and 14 gallons an hour. . .
For a 6,100 mile voyage around the Great Loop cruising 7 hours a day at an average speed of 12 knots or 13.8mph - that would require 7,514
gallons of fuel @ $4.00 a gallon = $30,056. Even if one could hold their speed down to 10 knots, it would be 5,000 gallons of fuel at a cost of
$20,000 for "propulsion" fuel only. Keep in mind, these vessels also burn about 1 to 1.5 gallons an hour setting at idle and or running a generator.
For a 10 month cruise around the Loop that would add about $2,500 or so to your fuel bill.
I am not suggesting that one is right or one is wrong. I'm only saying you need to be well informed so that you can make the best choice for you.
Speed above 10 mph on this voyage is totally not necessary and it comes at a very expensive fuel cost. Furthermore,  Speed (according to USCG
Boat Accident Statistics) is the #1 cause of boating accidents where 'alcohol' was NOT a factor.   

Full displacement vs semi displacement & What the difference means to you on this voyage:

    The full displacement trawler is also know as the "True or Slow" Trawler - It is the most popular vessel for cruising America's Great
Loop, and for great reasons. It designed to direct
all its power to pushing your vessel forward through the water, whereas a semi displacement hull is
designed to lift the bow as well as push your vessel
on top of the water. Therefore, a semi displacement trawler, requires much more horse power, and
therefore less fuel economy. Much of the power is used "lifting the bow" of the vessel rather than moving it more efficiently through the water. The semi
displacement trawler is engineered to provide its owner with more speed. The theory behind it is two fold: 1. The belief that everyone wants to go faster,
and 2. Less wet area = more speed. However, that additional speed comes with a huge sacrifice in fuel economy.
    The full displacement trawler is built for 7- 8 knots sustained cruising speed. That is near the top speed of a sailboat. It will burn much less fuel at its
recommended cruising speed. Other than a sailboat
motored around, this will be your most comfortable and fuel efficient cruising boat.

    The semi displacement trawler is referred to as the "Fast or Swift" Trawler - It is designed for higher cruising speeds in the 15-20 knot
cruising range. These type trawlers are not as fuel efficient as their full-blooded full displacement hull predecessors.
    The "issue" with a semi displacement "Fast or Swift" Trawler (as well as Cabin Cruisers and planning hull vessels) is there is no problem - as
long as you are aware and prepared for the fuel bill. When it comes to cruising LONG DISTANCE, even a 5-mph increase in speed can result in a
5-gallon per hour increase in fuel. For example, a friend of mine bought a beautiful late model "fast" trawler simply because it was such a great deal.
Problem was; at 6 knots it burned 1.6 gph - at 10 knots it burned a whopping 8 gallons an hour. He bought it to cruise the Loop, and thinking he wanted
to go faster than a snail. Great idea! Don't we all? Once he discovered the cost of that speed, he sold the boat.
    It is common practice for a Salesman or Owner of a "Fast or Swift" Trawler to say they don't burn "TWICE THE FUEL" - but they do! At least they will
- if you buy it for the additional "speed" which is the main attraction for buying one!
Here's why a "Fast or Swift" Trawler will ALWAYS burn more than twice the fuel at the same speed of a "True or Slow" Trawler:
1. The true of slow Trawler typically have
one small 120 or 135 hp engine. The fast or swift Trawler will typically have two 220 or 300 hp engines.
At "idle" the Fast Trawler will burn 1.5 gph. Double that at 6 knots. So at 7 knots, the twin is going the same speed as the True or Slow Trawler and
using two 210, 220 or 300 hp engines to do it. Most importantly, the entire purpose for buying the Fast Trawler is more speed, at 7 knots, where more
speed available - the boater will use it. Bump that throttle up 1.74 knots (a measly 2 mph), and you are now cruising at 9 knots or 10 mph and burning 7
or more gallons an hour. Kick it on up to its comfortable cruising speed of 15 Knots and you are burning 14 gallons an hour. That's twice the speed at a
200% increase in fuel - just to get what you initially paid for - MORE SPEED!
The 36' Monk Trawler - comes with a single 120/135-hp
Lehman diesel providing a
seven knot cruise and fuel
consumption of three gallons per hour.
The 36' Albin Trawler - with the standard 135 hp
Lehman engine, will cruise at
seven knots and burn of
three gallons of fuel per hour
.
The 36' Grand Banks with twin 210 Cats
cruises comfortably at
10 knots on 7 gallons
of fuel per hour.
However, she is capable of
a top speed of
15 knots at 14 gallons per
hour.
Interior of a 36' Trawler
Make no mistake about it. . . Trawlers in the 28 - 42 foot range: make excellent live aboard vessels for a cruising couple. Trawlers in this range: are
easy for a couple to handle and offer the most room and comfort for their size. It is NOT that one is wrong and one is right - it is that only one - "Fast &
Swift" or "Slow & True" - is right for you!
The economical cruising boat
Fuel Usage -     Excerpts "Quotes" from BoatUS Boat Reviews     - Fuel Usage
The "Fast or Swift" Trawler
The "Slow or True" Trawler
The "Slow or True" Trawler
See the difference? 7 knots at 3 gallons an hour - or - 10 knots at 7 gallons an hour.  It is not that one is right or one is wrong. . . It is
that only one is right for you. Personally, I've owned both. I also love the boat handling ability of twin engines, but I love the fuel
efficiency of one engine much more. Bottom line for me - the extra juice is simply not worth the squeeze!
- Cruising America's Great Loop -
KEEP IN MIND. . . We are not trying to sell you a boat or even pick a boat for you. Your boat needs to be one that makes you happy. We just want
you to know your options so that your voyage around America's Great Loop will truly be the most amazing adventure it can be.
Boats continued: