|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. Ice is available almost everywhere.
5. Water Maker - unless you plan to cruise deep into the Caribbean, not needed.
Note: Lack of water turns back as many boats in the Caribbean than lack of fuel.
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 service.
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 - and 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. Yes, many have it and claim everyone else should too. I had it, stared at it a lot, never
really needed it. I don't have one now and I'm 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 and an extra bank 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 on the Loop. For the most part these things will give you nothing but headaches. They
are notorious for breaking and causing more problems than they are worth. 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.
While "All the Above" might be nice to have (assuming it is all working when you need it). Remember, the more
"stuff" (especially "mechanical & electrical" stuff) you have on your boat, the more trouble, 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 stuck on the boat trying to fix one thing or
|You want to keep everything as simply as you possibly can.
|On my 7th voyage around the Loop, I had an absolute minimum amount of both electrical & mechanical "stuff" on
my boat. This voyage was also my most carefree, trouble free and fun voyage of all my previous Loops. So
wonderful it was in fact, I made the voyage a second time the 'same' boat with the 'same' bare bones equipment.
This is a first for me. I had never before made this voyage twice in the same boat.
I had enough solar panels to keep 2 banks of 3 batteries fully charged, plus my starter battery. At night, my
anchor lights burned extremely bright all night long! I could also watch a couple hours of TV, usually just News &
weather, and occasionally a movie.
During the day, my VHF radios were on, so was my fish/depth finder, my GPS Chart plotter, and often my AM/FM
radio. In addition, my cellphones & laptops remained charged with out interruption the entire voyage.
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 when cruising on the Loop. However - I am not always actually
cruising, I have friends, family and all sorts of occasions to stop & linger in destinations along the way.
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, and on a regular basis. (Guys, you gotta keep that 1st Mate happy!)
Keeping your boat and everything on it as simple as possible 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.
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
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.
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 at 6:00 in the evening.
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 live aboards do. 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 also cruise by some extremely crowded anchorages & Marinas
|You will also cruise by some seemingly unexplored remote wilderness.
|Boating right through Downtown Chicago
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 273 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 be as I am cruising farther and longer than most. I've learned an awful lot
out here about boats, boaters, people, history, and North America. I've owned over
dozens boats, I've taken seven different ones around the Loop.
So. . . Don't do as I do. Instead, take & use only what fits your lifestyle and pocket book.
My only goal and my only hope is that your "very first Loop" is every bit as safe, fun,
comfortable and wonderful as my last.
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America's Great Loop
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