The Gas Guzzler
- Cruising America's Great Loop - Once Around Is Not Enough -
Sleeping on a boat
Living on a boat
Perfect Great Loop Boat
© 1993 - 2017
 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.  
 When you think about a boat and budget for living aboard and cruising the Great Loop, you must think first about what it takes for you and
your 1st Mate to be comfortable and happy. For sure, the boats that are great for over-night or long weekends simply won't work over the long haul for
cruising the Great Loop.
 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.
Cruising the Loop in a sailboat - click NEXT
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. (The one
above in the picture, for example, is not a "true" Trawler.)
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 (as the one above). 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.
The "other" type 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
      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.   
- Cruising America's Great Loop - Once Around Is Not Enough -
America's Great Loop

        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 through the water. Therefore, with a semi displacement trawler, much of vessels horse power and
therefore fuel economy, is used "lifting the bow" of the vessel out of the water 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, the additional speed comes with a huge sacrifice in fuel economy.
The full displacement trawler is built for 7- 9 knots sustained cruising speed. At tops, that is near the top speed of a sailboat. It will burn much less fuel
at its recommended cruising speed. Other than a sailboat (even motored around) this will be your most 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 10-20 knot
cruising range. These type trawlers not neat as fuel efficient as their "full displacement hull" cousins.
The "problem" with a semi displacement "Fast or Swift" Trawler (as well as Cabin Cruisers) is there is no problem - as long as you are aware
and prepared for the excessive fuel bill. When it comes to cruising LONG DISTANCE a 1 knot boost in speed can often result in a 2 gallon per hour
boost 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 7 knots it burned 2.6 gph - and at 8 knots it burned 4.0 gph - at 10 knots it burned a whopping 8 gallons an hour. He bought it to
cruise the Loop, and thought he wanted to faster than a snail. Good idea! But once he discovered the cost of 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
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
This is a 50% increase in speed at the
cost of nearly a 200% increase in fuel.
Interior of a 36' Trawler
Make no mistake about it. . . Trawlers in the 28 - 38 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
- Cruising America's Great Loop - Once Around Is Not Enough -
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 better. Bottom line for me - the extra juice is simply not worth the squeeze!
NOTICE:  I'm NOT saying one is right and one is wrong... I'm just calling your attention to the facts.
You have to choose which vessel is "right for you".
Need to know more?
As a Footnote:  I have spent 52 years of my life owning "live aboard" size boats. As a result my boating life and experience has always been around Marinas.
Without doubt, the very "most experienced" long distance boaters have surprisingly smaller boats than one would think. Additionally - I have a couple friends in
the business and they tell me the #1 mistake most first time Live aboard size boat buyers make is buying too big a boat.