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It doesn't matter where you start: as long as you begin your journey in the safe weather season for the geographic area from where ever you
live or start. To accomplish this, we "Spring" up the Atlantic Coast. We "Summer" across the cooler North, we "Fall" down the Inland Rivers, and
"Winter" across the much warmer south.
In Spring - We cruise north on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway:
Officially, the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway begins at Mile 0 in Norfolk, VA and ends at Mile 1,243 in Key West, FL for a total “AICW” distance of
1,243-miles. For our purposes, we will be cruising counter-clockwise starting in Ft. Pierce, FL near the junction of the Okeechobee Waterway at Stuart
and the St. Lucie Inlet. In doing so, you will be heading north as your Mile Markers countdown from Mile 966 at Ft. Pierce to Mile 0 in Norfolk. To
continue the voyage up the East Coast, we connect you with the Chesapeake Bay, the C&D Canal, Delaware Bay, the New Jersey ICW, NY Harbor and
the Hudson River.
Spring time should come to a close and Summer begins near the time you are in Waterford, New York, at the Welcome Center of the NY State
Canal System. On 'average' this portion of our journey from Stuart near Ft. Pierce, FL consists of 46-travel days. We generally spend another 40-days
being a tourist along the way.
In Summer - We are in the North headed west:
You will have several options when you reach the Erie Canal. The most popular two options give you a choice of cruising through Canada or
remaining in the US. The total distance on the Erie Canal is 338 miles. It stretches from Waterford, NY to the Upper Niagara River between Buffalo and
Niagara Falls. If you take a left on the Niagara River, this will be your connection into Lake Erie. If you turn right on the Niagara River, well let's just say
you will have one exciting side-trip over Niagara Falls, and all your friends will probably see you on the ten o'clock news. Never fear however, you will
be heading away from the Falls into Lake Erie. Your first of the three Great Lakes you will be cruising on this totally American side route.
If going to Canada, then you will take the Erie Canal to 3-Rivers junction. This is where you will exit the Erie Canal and take the Oswego Canal to
(you guessed it), Oswego! From Oswego on Lake Ontario, it is an easy day ride of 56-miles to Kingston, ON. Which, while we offer options, we suggest
Loopers make Kingston their Port of Entry into Canada.
Either route you take (Canada or Great Lakes) both will separate at 3-Rivers junction and meet up again at Mackinac Island at the top of Michigan.
Both the US & Canadian routes are exceptional:
Beginning at Waterford, the USA route through the full length of the historic Erie Canal, this route also takes you along the southern shores (US
side) of Lake Erie, through Lake St. Clair and along the eastern shores of Michigan to Mackinac Island. All along the way there is simply a boaters
world of stuff to see and do and you have plenty of time of time to do it. As you only need 27-travel days to reach Mackinac Island.
Notice on the Map above: Each travel day and destination is numbered. The ones in maroon indicate the US only, Great Lakes route. The maroon
numbered "travel days & destinations" are between 3-Rivers junction and Mackinac Island. Since each travel day "averages" near 40-miles a day, even
in a slow boat will have you at the next safe (and mostly exciting) destination every evening before dark. So, if you count the numbered travel days, you
will instantly know how many "travel days" you need to reach your any of the best destinations on the entire Great Loop.
For example, Chicago is #94. That means it took us 94-travel days to get there from Ft. Pierce where we began our journey. If we want to know how
many travel days there are between Chicago and Green Turtle Marina #108, we just count the days (or subtract 108-94=14) travel days. Take note
however, these are only "travel days". Certainly it will take us longer to get there because we will need and want to stop, shop, stay and linger at all the
more interesting destinations along the way. You will also need days not cruising simply to rest. Count on it!
Also, you might notice, the "travel days" on both the US & Canadian route are the same. We didn't plan it that way. It just turned out that way. While
the two routes differ by more than 200-miles, your "travel days" are most likely to be the same. This is a result wait times at Locks & Lift Bridges as well
as speed limits. So, don't make a decision in favor of one route over the other based on distance, as both routes have destinations that can be
skipped, both routes have options, and both routes can be shorter or longer depending on how you want to cruise them. In the end however, both
routes will end up requiring the same number of travel days.
Cruising Canada is an incredible experience. Most Loopers claim it to be the highlight of their voyage. For sure, it is one of ours. Then again, so
was the Erie Canal the first time we did it. So too was our "side-trip" to Quebec City. So too was our voyage up the full length of the Tennessee River to
Knoxville and the 1-hr car rental to Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains. We also have to include Chesapeake Bay, Ocracoke, and about 50
other destinations as highlights of this voyage.
For sure, either way and either route has much to offer, and your only real deadline is winter. You will need to be south of Chicago before it starts
getting cold. Normally, this will be October. So, from Oswego to Kingston to the Trent Severn, including optional side-trips to Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec
City and the Saguenay to see the Big Blue Whales! Canada has more wonderful destinations than one can possibly visit in a single summer boating
season. Georgian Bay and North Channel are where dramatic landscapes and shorelines are unspoiled & unforgettable. This is where remote is
defined and where quaint little places with savory seafood will beckon your return. Our suggestion? Don't miss cruising Canada!
In Fall - we are on the Inland Rivers:
Your Great Loop distance on this river is 334 miles. This baby is the connection between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, and the location of
that 19' 1" bridge you must go under.
Illinois river: The Illinois river's close proximity to the Chicago River and the man-made Chicago Ship Canal is why we have a Great Loop and not a
"Great U-turn". This leg of your journey takes you to the Mississippi River at Grafton, IL.
Mississippi River: This leg of your journey is only 219 miles to Cairo at the junction of the Ohio River and the Lower Mississippi. From Cairo, you
may want to take the Ohio River to the Cumberland, on your way to the Tennessee-Tombigbee route to Mobile Bay. Or if you wish, (and you have the
fuel range) you may want to continue south on the Lower Mississippi route to New Orleans.
Ohio River: If you take the Tenn-Tom route, your Great Loop distance on this river is only about 48 miles, but it's all against the current of the
mighty Ohio River. From Cairo, IL this baby takes you to the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers at Paducah, KY., and into what is referred to as the
"Land between the Lakes", and the very "Heartland of America".
Cumberland River: Your Great Loop distance on the Cumberland River & Lake Barkley to the Tennessee River is an optional 33 miles. This is also
your gateway for a side-trip to Nashville. This is a beautiful cruise and we have lots more about it on this link.
Tennessee River: Your Great Loop distance on this river is 215 miles. It is 207 miles from the Ohio River to Pickwick Landing Lock and Dam - 8
miles further is the entrance of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway.
Tennessee-Tombigbee: Your distance on the Tennessee-Tombigbee to Mobile Bay 234 miles. The Tennessee - Tombigbee Waterway (by the
way) was a bigger man made canal project than the Panama Canal. WOW!
In Winter - We should all be on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and/or in Florida: Obviously, the most comfortable winter weather will be
cruising along the deep south in winter. Did you know that Florida's winter south of Tarpon Springs on the Gulf and Titusville on the Atlantic has an
average winter temperature of 70-degrees? In fact a couple of winters we spent here we were comfortable wearing shorts all winter long. While it can
and does get awful chilly at times, those times are few and short lived.
Our route across the Gulf ICW is 271-miles from Mobile to Carrabelle, FL. While the official Gulf ICW distance is charted at 218-miles. The difference of
course are the little off the route detours we make along the way.
Your journey across the Gulf of Mexico from Carrabelle to Anclote Key and Tarpon Springs offers some choices. We take the shortest 'open Carrabelle
to Tarpon Springs.
|It just doesn't get any safer, easier, or better than this!
|5,429-miles, 140-travel days, averaging 40-miles a day. You can do this!
How's this for Great Loop Map?
Want to know all the fabulous places you can go in your own boat? Want to know how many days "on average" cruising at the recommended
"Looper Speed" (near 8-mph) it will take you to get there? Just count the travel days on the map.
Still, this map alone doesn't show half the incredible destinations a few side trips can take you. This is our 5,429-mile "basic" voyage around
America's Great Loop. It is covers the safest most basic, yet most popular route around America's Great Loop. Additionally, all of the top ten most
popular (optional) side-trips, all lead back to this main route. You will be amazed at all the destinations you can visit while living-aboard and cruising in
your own boat.
Think of it this way. . . It is the safest, most popular 5,429-mile route around America's Great Loop and we just made it as easy as 1,2,3 to
140-travel days to cruise it.
Simply put. . .
America's Great Loop is truly a magnificent adventure. To call it a journey or even a voyage just doesn't quite seem to do it justice. While it is a
certainly a journey, and by definition, a voyage, it is so much more than a boat ride, words fail miserably at describing it.
Possibly the Greeks, said it best when they first referenced the Seven Natural Wonders of the World in 200 BC, they used the word "theamata" which
translates most closely into English as: "must see, must experience".
For sure, this is a must see, must experience for anyone that dreams of safe travel & adventure.
|GET THE PRICE - READ THE REVIEWS - PREVIEW THE GUIDE -
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Amazon's current price. Don't forget, when you purchase the "The Looper's Companion Guide"
on Amazon.com, it also comes with a FREE Kindle version from Amazon.
For those with a very shallow draft (3-feet or less) there is a 'Big Bend route' that while it keeps
you close to shore, it is the very longest route to Tarpon Springs.
From Tarpon Springs, you are re-connected with the inside Florida Intracoastal route all the
way to Sanibel Island & Ft. Myers where you will meet the Okeechobee Waterway. You have a long
winter ahead, and we suggest from Tarpon Springs to Ft. Myers everyone should take their time
and visit some of the more incredible sites.
At the southern end of the Florida Gulf ICW near Sanibel Island, we always visit Ft, Myers'
Beach, (shown on the map). This is not Ft. Myers proper, it is the Beach! It is worth at least a two
night stay, and Moss Marine puts you nearest all the great restaurants, shops and action. From
here, you can cruise around to and through the Florida Keys, or you can take the short cut across
the Okeechobee Waterway.
Your official Great Loop route across the Okeechobee Waterway is 154 miles. Our actual
cruising miles from Ft. Myers' Beach to Ft. Pierce is 186-miles. There, a series of 5 locks on this
inland waterway, and the entire voyage is really a no brainer. There is however a 49' bridge height,
so any one with a taller mast than that might want to go around and sail the Keys. Otherwise, it is
mast down. The canal depth is about 8 feet and we have never had a problem taking the center
cross lake route.
The voyage from Roland Martin's Marina to Indiantown is an easy day's run.
From Indiantown, it is 51-miles to Ft. Pierce Marina. This is where we "cross our wake".
|Read the Reviews!
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|Discover for yourself why this is the
#1 most recommended guide for
cruising America's Great Loop!
Looper's Companion Guide
Our goal is to spread the word about this marvelous adventure. In
doing so, we not only want to tell you all about it, we also hope to dispel
the myths and misguided opinions one might have about this incredible
#1.) One popular belief is we have to be rich in order to afford
cruising America's Great Loop. Truth is, while 'rich' can mean many
different things to different people, many of us are spending very near
$12,000 on all our "boat & boat related" expenses for a year cruising
the Great Loop. It is also true that many spend much more, but fact is,
depending on one's lifestyle and choice of boat, this voyage can be
completed safely & comfortably on a very affordable budget.
#2.) You have to be an expert at navigation, marine mechanics,
and weather forecasting. Nonsense! While once upon a time this was
true, today, our GPS guides us around the Loop, and weather
forecasting is as easy as turning on our marine VHS radio. As to your
'mechanical' aptitude and abilities, it's great if you have them. If not, you
can do as many of us, and have your vessel checked out and tuned up
before you leave. As to any problems along the way, there are plenty of
marinas with mechanics to keep you vessel in ship shape. Most of us
that have 'the Pro's' work on our boats, have no problems at all along
#3.) It is a dangerous voyage. Some have visions of the Titanic
sinking or the movie Jaws. This too is a myth. Fact is, we believe this is
the safest long-distance voyage on the planet. Every single mile is well
traveled. Every mile is covered by the USCG, BoatUS & Sea//Tow. In
addition, you are never far from land and seldom more than a stone's
throw from it. In fact, 98% of this entire voyage you are cruising on
rivers, canals, lakes, and inland waterways. You can also be safely
anchored or docked in a marina every evening before dark.
Additionally, if a vessel were to sink, chances are, because the waters
are so shallow, your vessel will rest on the bottom before it disappears
beneath the water.
Our group is convinced any safe boater is a safe boat can make
this voyage safely, comfortably, and affordably. After all, thousands
have made this voyage before you.
|Cruising the Tennessee River on America's Great Loop