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HOW SAFE & EASY IS IT TO CRUISE AMERICA'S GREAT LOOP?
Notice on this map, how far inland the Intracoastal waterway route is
between Ft. Pierce and Titusville, Florida. While the word is
"Intracoastal" because the waterway is "Intrastate" - you can think of it
also as "inner" coastal, as we are not cruising the coastline, we are
actually cruising "inside" the coastline which is protected from the
ocean.
Ever paint by the numbers?
Well, it's not quite that simple, but almost.
Here's a picture of our 5,429-mile, 140-travel day & destinations map. It
makes cruising the Loop about as safe and easy as it can possibly get. It
gives you every single travel day's distance, fuel range, bridge heights, free
docks, anchorages and marinas - while leaving you in a safe destination
every evening before dark.
How easy is it?  We think it is as easy as 1, 2, 3. . .
Well, maybe we should say: 1, 2, 3, to 140. As 140 is our 'average' number
of “travel days” on either one of the two most popular Great Loop routes.
One route option takes you through Canada and the other route option
keeps you entirely in the USA.
Obviously, those in bigger & faster boats can safely shorten their travel
days by skipping a few of our suggested stops along the way. Many of
which will be 'necessary stops' for those in vessels with small fuel tanks and
shorter fuel range. You can also add travel days by taking one or more of
our suggested detours and side-trips.
Regardless of your vessel's capable speed, most Loopers safely enjoy this
amazing adventure cruising very near 140-travel days at a speed that will
end up averaging only about 40-miles a day.
We are not saying you can or should attempt to cruise the Loop in 140-
days. Far from it! These '140-days' are "travel days". Therefore, you will
need to add your "non-travel" days spent resting, seeing the sights, and
being a tourist at all the wonderful destinations along the way that are most
interesting to you - and believe us - there will be lots of them.
Our travel days take you to all the most popular “Looper Favorite”
destinations on and very near these two routes. Some of course will not be
near as amazing as they are necessary for such things as fuel, water and
provisions. Most of them, we suspect 70 or more, are such amazing
destinations they just might tempt you to drop your anchor and remain
forever.
So, how easy is it? It is "common sense" easy! To steal a few words from
the book "All I Really Need To Know, I Learned In Kindergarten", it boils
down to, staying between the lines, don’t hit anyone, wash your hands
before you eat, flush, take a nap, and hold hands when crossing the street.
When cruising the Loop, knowing the rules of the waterway, being a safe
boater in a safe boat, and using good common sense is the key to having a
safe, successful, amazing adventure.  

Unlike crossing a perilous ocean, where for weeks the closest human
might be an astronaut in the space station, this 5,429-mile voyage is
totally 'inland'. It is made possible by an incredible network of Intracoastal
waterways, canals, rivers, inland lakes, and bays. As a result, you never
have lose sight of land unless you chose to, and for the most part, you
are never more than a stone's throw from it.
Notice the picture on the left. The dark blue line marks the Atlantic
Intracoastal Waterway. As you can see, this waterway, which runs from
the Florida Keys to Norfolk, VA, is a safe, navigable, inland channel that
protects boaters from the potential hazards of the wide open sea.
From Norfolk, your route continues up the Chesapeake Bay to the C&D
canal that connects us to the Delaware river and takes you to Cape
May,NJ and the New Jersey Intracoastal waterway. From Manasquan
Inlet in New Jersey, we have to 'go out' for a 46-mile day run to and
across New York Harbor, past the Statue of Liberty to Liberty Landing.
From NYC, it is up the Hudson River to the Erie Canal where we have the
option of cruising the Erie Canal to the Great Lakes or taking the
Oswego Canal and cruising across Canada's Trent Severn where both
routes meet again at Mackinac Island.
From Mackinac Island, we cruise down the shoreline of Lake Michigan to
Chicago where we connect to the Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio and
Tennessee rivers which connect us to the Tennessee-Tombigbee and
the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway near Mobile, AL.
The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway takes us to Carrabelle, FL. This is the
second place we must 'go out' for another 76-mile run to Steinhatchee.
From Steinhatchee, we cruise along the Florida Gulf coast to Anclote
Key near Tarpon Springs where the Intracoastal picks up again and
takes us to the Okeechobee Waterway and eventually to Florida's East
Coast at Stuart where we meet up with the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway
again.
In total, this is a safe, epic, and amazing adventure. Thousands have
made this voyage. Many have made it two or more times, and some have
even made it a permanent way of retirement life.  
Cruising Canada is amazingly beautiful.