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One day Lyn Morgan decided that
he would cruise the Great Loop.
He had a customized - souped-up
pontoon boat (actually it is a
tri-toon) and completed the journey
in what is most likely a record
speed. He did it in 57 days.
racing through 120 locks and
across 5,300 miles averaging 40
miles per hour, he traveled about
200 miles per day.
Katie McPhail 26, and
Elizabeth McPhail 22,
completed their 5,800 mile
journey around America's Great
Loop in a 16-foot Duroboat.
Yes, they stayed in an awful lot
of motels, they also took along a
tent, and a nice bimini top.
|"The Frugal Award"
Buzz Gentes traveled the Loop in
his 15 foot sailboat “Dalamar”.
Yes, he simply took the mast off and
left it at home to cruise the Great
He fitted his boat with two, 2-
horsepower outboard motors.
This arrangement allowed him to
quickly fire up the second motor
should the first fail and for
additional power if needed.
Traveling at near 5 knots, he
averaged more than 150 miles on 6
gallons of gas. That's an average
fuel burn rate of only 0.24 gallons
per hour and cruising the entire
Loop on only 224 gallons of fuel.
That's right ! Even if you don’t know how to sail – and have no intentions of learning - a
sailboat “motored” around the Great Loop will undoubtedly be your very most fuel efficient way
to go. And after the first 6 voyages around the Loop in Trawlers - This is exactly what I do now!
My oldest son put this idea in my head back in 2009. I admit at first, I was totally against the idea. However, in my
quest for "more fun than fuel" my son convinced me to "motor" around in a sailboat. I didn't agree to the idea until
he agreed to go with me. The goal? Was simply to determine how “cheap” a year cruising the Great Loop could be
for a cruising couple. (Cruising the Loop with my then 42 yr. old son was both a blast & a blessing!)
We averaged 0.4 gallons of fuel per hour in a 28' sailboat "motored" the entire voyage. We made the entire 6,300
mile adventure on $1,300 in fuel. As a result of what I learned on that voyage, I now cruise the Loop in a 36'
sailboat with no mast.
I've cruised the Loop twice now in my "Mastless Sailboat". It is the only vessel I have cruised around the Loop
in more than once! At 36' the additional space is tremendous for this (mostly) solo sailor. I now have room to spare
and plenty of comfort. I'm now making this 6,300 mile (plus) voyage on about $4,000 in fuel and I love it!
The Sailboat bonus - Obviously, if you know how to sail or willing to learn, this will be your best of all options
as it opens the door to Island hopping the Caribbean or even sailing on around in the world. Sailing is fun, easy,
quite, and the very most economical way to live aboard and go long distance cruising.
Many "Sailors" visiting our website are totally unaware that one can cruise America's Great Loop in a sailboat, but
they can. Fact is if your mast is less than 65' above the water (and most are), and your draft is less than 5' the trip
around is very possible. Motoring your sailboat around the Loop works great. Knowing (or learning) how to sail
however opens a wide world range of cruising possibilities.
Of course, sailboats must have their mast stepped (taken down) before entering the Canals, and stepped again
exiting the Canals if you are sailing as much as possible. There are facilities to raise and lower your mast at each
end of these locations.
What you may not know is that the design of the sailboat's displacement hull makes it the very most economical
vessel on the water. Think about it! Sailboats are designed to move easily through the water in the slightest breeze.
As a result, it requires a very minimum amount of horse power to move these vessels through the water.
For this reason, you can not obtain a more economical live aboard vessel to cruise the Great Loop even if you
take off the mast, never raise the sails and motor around the entire way.
Think of it this way:
Lets say you have a fixed budget for cruising the Loop. It might be, let's say $64,000. Would you want to
spend half of that amount ($32,000) pouring diesel down your fuel tank? Or would you rather spend $4,000
for fuel and have the difference ($28,000) to spend on fun ashore on such things as eating out, staying in a
few hotels, shopping, going to movies, Broadway plays, visiting museums and actually being a 'tourist' on a
year long vacation?
There are many different personalities with different reasons cruising the Loop. Some are simply out for
the "boating" adventure. They could care less about stopping along the way for any reason. Others, simply
want to take advantage of all the "free" things to see & do along the way, of which there is a lot! Still many
want to see and do as much of it as they possibly can and spend as much (or more) money ashore as they do
on their boat and boating expenses. * I spend a whole lot more ashore than I do on fuel and boat expenses!
My suggestion: Do some advance research on the destinations along the way. Make a plan to stop at all
the ones that interest you the most, and then plan for discovering some new ones along the way. The "great
thing" about the Great Loop is that it is much more than just a boat ride. You will make some of your
favorite memories in many of the amazing places along the way!
Larry Harcum, completed
America's Great Loop in a Jet Ski.
He traveled 5,805 miles in 87
days. He also towed a gutted out
jet ski behind him to carry his
|Special Considerations for Looping in a sailboat
| We get questions all the time, about bridge heights. It just seems sailors have this "thing" about that long tall
mast rising up into the sky that has something important to do with their sailboat. (lol) Truth is, we understand the
concern - but it is not near so much as handicap as one thinks.
For sure, your mast will have to be removed prior to entering the Erie Canal. If you want to sail across the
Great Lakes, you can have the mast stepped in Tonawanda, just past the last bridge on the canal. Once across
the Great Lakes, you will have to remove it again before entering the Chicago River or the Cal-Sag bypass.
Most of the questions we get have to do with "What's next?" It seems everyone wants to know about bridge
heights from that 19' 1" bridge at Chicago to the Gulf of Mexico.
From Chicago, most sailors don't step their mast again until they reach Mobile Bay. This is not only what
we do, it is what we strongly suggest. On either route you take, (the Lower Mississippi river or the Tennessee -
Tombigbee) it is the traffic and long frequent stretches of narrow waterways, that restricts your sailing. For most of
the way, it is almost impossible sail safely for any length of time between Chicago and the Gulf of Mexico. The traffic
is heavy, the currents are strong, and the marked channels are simply too narrow, and the wind for the most part
blows in your face.
However, if you a small sailboat and can step the mast yourself: If you are taking the route to New Orleans, the
lowest bridge on the Mississippi River is 59' 6". If you are taking the Tennessee-Tombigbee route, all fixed bridges
between the leaving the Mississippi at Cairo, to Mobile Bay have a vertical clearance of at least 52 feet. For a
side-trip adventure, you could spend some time sailing on the beautiful Lakes of Kentucky, Barkley, and
|Even if you don't know how to sail !
Demand a "Certified Marine Pre-purchase Survey" - Here's why!
A Certified Marine Pre-Purchase Survey will prove to be in either ship shape, safe & seaworthy condition, or it
will tell you everything wrong with it that needs immediate attention, as well as things that will need attention
(repair or replacement) down the road. So once you get the survey, you can make a smart decision based on the
boats actual condition.
Years ago, a retired Navy Admiral had his boat in the next slip to mine in the Marina. The vessel was nearly
as old as he was, yet it was in mint condition. The Admiral took that 48 footer out every morning for about two
hours. He would return and work on it until time to go home for dinner.
He spent most of his awake hours of every day cleaning, fixing, working, polishing that vessel inside and out,
and I'm talking "every day". It was "mint" condition - I watched him working to keep it that way for years.
Well, he died. The vessel came up for sale. I told a friend about it and my friend bought it the next day. . .
"Contingent on a Satisfactory Certified Marine Survey!"
A $480 Certified Survey, a waste of money in this case, I thought. I knew that the retired Admiral's vessel was
in mint, ship shape condition. I would have bet my house, car, boat and bank account on it. In fact, I would have
bet my life on it.
Turns out - the survey discovered that under the paint of this "steel hull" was a hole in the forward bow below
the waterline, about the size of a basket ball. When I ask the Surveyor how serious it was, he said "serious
enough I can put my hand through it". In disbelief, he then proceeded to show us. Taking his thumb, he went to
the 'soft spot' and pushed his thumb completely through what looked like a perfectly good steal hull. And he
proceeded to expose a hole the size of a basketball using nothing but his one hand.
Obviously, the Admiral himself had no idea. Not only would he never have sold it in that condition. He never
would have taken it out every morning in that condition.
This one experience taught me to never, ever take anyone's word for the condition of a vessel you are going
to put you loved ones in and go cruising. In this case, as I am sure many others - the owner had no idea what the
real condition of the vessel was. If he had, he would have fixed it long ago.
So when the owner, seller, salesman, or whoever tells you a vessel is "good to go". They themselves may in
fact NOT know how dangerous a condition the vessel is in.
Always demand a satisfactory to you "Certified Marine Pre-purchase Survey". Don't buy any
used boat without it!
|Choosing the right Boat for you - click next
| Yes, if you are Looping in a sailboat, you have to have your mast stepped before going through the Erie
Canal, and again before going through Chicago. This gives you the ability to sail the Great Lakes and again on
Kentucky Lake as well as across the Gulf. You can also leave your mast at your home Port Marina and just motor
around the Loop.
|- Cruising America's Great Loop - Once Around Is Not Enough -
America's Great Loop
|All the Above
It just goes to prove where there
is a will, there is a way.
It also proves each of us have
our own lifestyles, comfort
zones and pocketbooks.
It's not that any of the people
above did anything right or
wrong, they just did it their own
YOU SHOULD TOO!
|BEFORE YOU BUY "ANY" LIVE ABOARD SIZE CRUISING BOAT
Can you live comfortable in this?
Can you live comfortable in this?