|What you "don't need" on your Great Loop Boat
1. Dishwasher - you don't have enough space, electric or water for this.
2. Clothes washer - you don't have enough space, electric or water for this either.
3. Clothes dryer - you simply don't need it.
Most every single Marina along the way has in house Laundry for transient boaters.
4. Ice Maker - don't need it, but would be nice.
5. Water Maker - unless you plan to cruise deep into the Caribbean, not needed.
Note: Lack of water turns back as many sailboats in the Caribbean as lack of fuel turns back powerboats.
6. Trash Compactor - not needed. Takes up needed space.
7. Satellite Phone - not needed. Cellphones now pick up a signal almost all around the Loop. Seldom will you be as much as an hour without
8. Satellite TV - not needed. With a digital flat screen TV and Air digital antenna, you can pick up all the network TV stations all around the Loop.
Only in the Keys will you have a problem. Plus, it's free.
9. Satellite Internet - not needed. Cellphone and WiFi service is available most everywhere these days. While you won't have it when cruising in the
"boon-docks" you will have it in a surprisingly frequent number of locations. New homes, businesses, and especially anchored out near Marinas,
you will have frequent WiFi service. BrightHouse "Roadrunner" and other carriers let you link up free where ever they have service.
10. Radar - not needed. Many have it and claim everyone else should too. I had it, stared at it a lot, never really needed it. However, I never cruise
on a schedule and I never cruise at night or in fog or inclement weather. I feel perfectly safe without it.
11. Generator - you "might" need one. Depends on how much electrical "stuff" you have on your boat. They require fuel, take up space, are very
loud and require maintenance. Solar Panels with an extra bank or two of batteries are a much better option.
12. Air conditioner - not needed - at least not needed when underway. I have a 110v ac unit, but only use it with shore power at Marinas. Since you
are traveling in the cooler north during summer months, you don't need it much at all when underway.
13. Stabilizers - don't need. For the most part these things will give you nothing but headaches. They are notorious for breaking and causing more
problems. Just ask anybody that has had one!
14. Autopilot - not required, but sure is wonderful to have. If cruising solo, I suggest it. If you have a 1st Mate to 'relieve' you at the helm, you don't
really need it.
Remember, the more "stuff" you have on your boat, the more complicated and expensive it will be. In many cases, the expense is the least of your
troubles. Those that have all this "stuff" are the ones that never get off their boat at the Marinas because they are on their boat trying to fix
something. Or they off the boat in a desperate search to find a mechanic.
|You want to keep everything as simply as you possibly can.
| I have a minimum amount of electrical & mechanical "stuff" on my boat. My journey's are the most carefree, trouble free and fun voyages of
any Looper I know.
I have enough solar panels to keep 2 banks of 3 batteries fully charged. At night, my anchor lights burn extremely bright all night long! I can
also watch a couple hours of TV, but usually just have the TV on to catch the News & weather, and occasionally a movie.
During the day, my VHF radios are on, so is my fish/depth finder, my GPS Chart plotter, and often my AM/FM radio. In addition, my cellphones &
laptops remain are most always on and remain charged.
I cruise the Great Loop by the seasons. Therefore since I am in the far North in Summer, and in the far south in Winter, I very seldom ever
need air conditioning. I am not always actually cruising, I have friends, family and all sorts of occasions to stop & linger in destinations along the
About twice a month (where there are interesting things to see and do), I will check in to a hotel for the weekend. There, I can enjoy a good
long hot bath or shower with unlimited hot water and room service. It also allows me to explore the area more as a 'tourist' than a boater. This is
something I always suggest "couples" cruising together do fairly often on a regular basis. (Guys, you gotta keep that 1st Mate happy!)
Keeping your boat and everything on it as simple as possible. It will maximize your "fun and freedom" time.
|What you "do need" on your Great Loop Boat
1. Motor - Sail or Power - you need a motor - but you don't need two!
Twin engines are twice the fun, twice the expense, twice the trouble, twice the maintenance, twice the worry,
and more than twice the fuel. It's that simple.
Quite frankly, twin engines are twice the juice - but not worth the squeeze! - (My opinion - just saying)
2. Full Displacement hull - If you are "frugal budget" minded - this is a must have!
A full displacement hull is the most economical hull shape of any boat ever made. Full displacement hulls will NOT move up on plane. They are
designed to move slowly and economically with minimum effort. Many trawlers (for example) have full displacement hulls. So do ALL sailboats. If
you think of a sailboat for a moment, you can realize how even a slight breeze moves a sailboat through the water. Same is true with a
full-displacement hull Trawler.
A "semi displacement" hull is designed for more speed. In fact, much of the motor's energy and power is used to "lift" the bow. The faster you go,
the more energy and fuel is used to lift your boat as well as move it forward. Most heavy semi displacement boats including many (so called)
Trawlers have twin engines. While there is nothing wrong about a semi displacement boat, as they have their designed purpose. Cabin Cruisers,
Fast Cruisers, and live aboard vessels that brag about speed are all very expensive to cruise long distance in. Far too expensive for me anyway.
3. Autopilot - Truthfully, this is an optional item - but a great one to have.
If you are a solo sailor, I highly recommend an autopilot. I would not leave home without it. If two or more are aboard taking turns and relieving
each other at the helm, you really don't need it. The choice is strictly up to you.
4. Bimini top - You need one. You will want one. You will bake like a potato without one.
With a possible exception to the type and design of your vessel, a big strong Bimini top is worth its weight in Blue Bell's Homemade vanilla ice
cream. If you are cruising in an open sailboat, this will be an absolute "must have". The bigger, stronger, the better. Keep in mind that the hot sun's
rays don't always come straight down from 12 o'clock high. They will roast you like a Thanksgiving turkey even on a summer day at 6:00 in the
Additionally, (unless you have an inside helm station), you will want and need your cockpit to have a full "screen and canvas" enclosure. This will
be just as important to keep the bugs and mosquitoes from driving you absolutely crazy, as it is for rain, wind and weather.
5. Comfortable bed - It will make all the difference in your days on the Loop if you sleep well at night. Nothing beats a good nights rest to start you
off in the mornings. No, you don't need a "Sleep Number Bed" but you certainly need a very comfortable one. Those sponge type mattresses that
come on most boats simply don't cut it.
6. One Head is better than two! - Contrary to some peoples' opinion - vessels less than 100 feet certainly don't need two bathrooms. That's
ridiculous! Some 1500 sq. ft. 3 bedroom homes don't have two bathrooms.
If you are able to check in on some "in-use" Looper boats, you will find most all of them between 34' to 44' that have two heads - one has been
turned into a "junk" closet. They are filled to the gunwales with "stuff" - from clothes and tools, to fenders, dock lines and "boat junk". You couldn't
use it if you had to. Why two? I don't know. I would certainly rather have a big closet, or bigger bed, bigger shower - anything but two tiny heads.
Now, if you think you need a 2nd head for guests - better think through that one again also. I don't care if you are the most loved and popular guy
in your home State. . . All those that talk of joining you along the way - won't! Only ones that will are your Kids and only then because of the
Grandkids. Don't fool yourself on this. You will very seldom have visitors. When you do, it is best to plan them for a weekend or a week where you
stay at the Marina with a few local sights you can take them out to for the few fun days on the boat.
7. Propane Grill - Both my son and I have propane grills off the stern of our boats, most Loopers do too. If you don't have one starting out, you will
probably have one before your voyage is over. Cooking burgers & fish etc 'outside' really prevents your cabin from heating up. On a hot day, even
a small cooking element (electric or propane) will noticeably and quickly heat up your cabin.
|Be sure to wave at these people when you cruise by.
They spent millions extra for this property - just so they could watch you pass by.
|You will cruise by some extremely crowded anchorages & Marinas
|You will cruise by some seemingly unexplored remote wilderness.
This entire website, every page, every picture, every word - is meant for encouragement. I am not here tell you how to cruise the Loop. Please
understand that I live on the Great Loop. I live on my boat and I am cruising full time. On average, I'm actually cruising an average of 200 days a year.
Some days I may not go 10 miles. This is my way of life. This is "my" lifestyle. My boat is my home.
Therefore, what I do, is most likely not right for you. I have a very frugal (fuel efficient) boat. I have to have, as I am cruising farther and longer than
most, and on a continual basis.
So. . . Don't do as I do. Instead, take & use only what fits your lifestyle and pocket book and discard the rest. My only goal is simply to help you make
your "first Loop" as safe, fun, carefree, comfortable and wonderful as my last one.
|© 1993 - 2019 captainjohn.org
DON'T DO AS I DO. . .
Everyone needs to make this voyage their own. That means doing it your way in your boat on your budget.
While I am passionate about making this voyage in a fuel efficient & frugal vessel, it is important to understand, this is "my way" as well as my
way of life. Fact of the matter is, if I were only making this voyage once or twice, I would not need to be as "frugal" as I am.
My 'point of view' is two fold; For example, based on one's choice of boat, one can cruise America's Great Loop once, twice, even three or
more times on a "boat and boat related expenses" of $60,000. In my case, I choose to cruise it four or five times on that amount. Obviously, if one
is going to only make this voyage once or twice, they do not need to be near as "frugal" as I am. In that case, a little bigger or faster boat may be
just the right thing for them. If you have lots of money to spare, go for it! I can't think of a better way to spend your money!
However, the second reason I am so passionate about cruising the Loop on a more fuel efficient and frugal vessel, is that I am completely
aware of all the incredible destinations along the way that tempt us all into stopping, shopping, staying, and being a tourist on shore. I spend much
more money on these things than I do for my "boat & boat related" expenses. Many Loopers do the same, and that's where my caution and "More
Fun than Fuel" boating philosophy comes in to play.
According to the AGLCA, the majority of previous Loopers report their expenses for food, beverages, eating out, being a tourist and 'on shore'
activities are in fact the #1 most expensive line item on their total Great Loop Expenses. Marina fees typically come in second, and fuel third.
Over the years, we've met many Loopers. All of whom have been friendly, sociable, and likeable. We often find ourselves cruising along
together in small groups, stopping at all the same places, and for the most part, having all the same amount of fun. There are however, those that
are obviously on extremely tight budgets. Many of them will share the fact that they simply did not count on their "cruising expenses" being so high.
As a result, they found themselves spending far more for fuel than expected. Additionally, they end up anchoring out to save money rather than for
the enjoyment. They also end up with limited shore excursions and eating out.
We have also met couples who decided to stop and sell their boat. Simply because it proved too expensive for long-distance cruising. Two
couples we know of sold their boat and purchased smaller more fuel efficient ones and continued their voyage. Others ended up giving up on the
So, this is why we caution everyone, "Don't push things to the limit!" Just because that bridge is 19' 6", doesn't mean it is a good idea to have
a vessel that is 19' 4", when 15' might be better. Same goes for your budget. Make sure you have plenty of "fun money" left over after all your
other "boat and boat related" expenses are covered.