|We are not the sedentary senior group of our parent’s generation. We are not
satisfied to spend our golden years on Golden Pond, nor in a Silver-hair Assisted
Living Condo, or looking out the windows of a guided tour bus. No, not us. We have
to knock some pretty exciting things off our bucket list. We want some real
excitement and adventure.
Still, far too many of us keep putting off that “voyage of a lifetime” for yet another
year, because we simply assume we have another year.
So, we give up what may be our last chance, to stay at home and worry about the
trivial, only to the neglect of the most precious. We talk of getting through another
week at work. . . Forgetting we are wasting away the very moments that comprise
the rest of our life.
Some of us it seems, think we will live forever, or at least to a point our lives rival
that of Methuselah. We spend time and money as though we will always have both.
Incredibly, we are still buying “stuff”, flat-screen TVs, computers, lawn tractors, new
cars, and we are doing it a record pace - as though it matters, and worth the debt
and the stress.
Some of us remain at our job, not because we need the money, but because that’s
who we have become. Some think if it were not for their job, they would be lost with
nothing to do. These poor misguided souls are more committed to their jobs than to
their freedom and their loved ones. It's as though they have become that person
whose name is on their business card, and forgotten all the reasons they applied for
that job in the first place.
Now, I’ve said my peace. I don’t really know how to wrap this up. Except to say I
went to the funeral of yet another classmate not long ago, it was the fourth one this
year. What made this one so difficult for me was that a little more than a year ago
this friend decided to buy a boat and cruise the Loop. He ask me for help finding
good used suitable Great Loop boat.
We found a perfect one for him and his wife in short order. He bought is, fully
equipped it. Took it out on weekends, and he and the boat were ready to go. At the
last minute however, he decided to work just one more year.
One way or another, we’re all terminal folks. We are all in the sniper’s scope. We all
have less time that we think. For every person that tells me, “We wish we were doing
what you are doing.” They have no idea of how much I really wish they were doing it
I talk a-lot about living the dream of cruising the Great Loop. Some think I’m an
idealist, I’m not. I am just a frugal realist living my dream. I’m not talking positive-
thinking, "wish upon a star" here - I’m talking about not burning your candle at both
ends, and burning it more brightly at one. While it is still lit.
|We joke about . . .
. . . 65 being the new 45. We are young at heart, we have
the passion for travel and adventure, and we are armed to
the gunwales with an inventory of things to do we've always
dreamed about. Deep down however, we know the clock is
ticking and we’re getting older.
|Some people travel because they have to. Some people travel because their career demands it. Soldiers travel because they are ordered to,
and Missionaries travel because God calls them to do so. . .
I travel because of my parent's National Geographic’s coverage of Robin Lee Graham’s “First teenager to sail around the world alone”. In fact I was
a teenager at the time living on a farm deep in the heart of Texas. At the time I read about Robin Lee Graham's adventure, I don't believe I had ever
been more than 50-miles from my birthplace. Those three issues of National Geographic covering Graham's adventure lit the flame, and fueled the
fire that set my passion for boating adventures a-blaze.
To this day, I am lured by the adventure of travel and America's Great Loop has me caught in its web of amazement. To me, it is not about the boat,
it is not even about the destinations. . . It is all about the totally incredible adventure. I often think how sad it is that today’s traveler will never
experience the freedom, romance and adventure of the journey. Such powerful and potent motivation is the journey, that seldom does the
destination keep me in one place long enough. Sad it is for most Americans today, that “the journey” has long been stripped of its romance and
adventure by the methods of modern travel.
Now days, everyone wants to travel through life at the ever increasing speed. The reality is that almost half the world’s middle-class population is
perpetually on the move. It only takes 12 hours to fly from San Francisco to Hong Kong. Where upon departure, one joins a saturated world of
displaced humanity. Herded like cattle from one airport to another, making scheduled stops on and off a tour bus to visit places little remembered.
The good news is, there is a much more pleasant, carefree, romantic and adventuresome way around the entire eastern portion of North America,
and America's Great Loop is that adventure.
If this website accomplishes its goal, it will inspire anew in you, an urge of eccentricity and wanderlust, of romance and freedom, to experience the joy
and adventure of the journey itself. It is a journey that promises to be the most treasured and most talked about adventure of your life-time.
This voyage is not about the boat. . . it is about
freedom, and adventure. . .
Everybody needs a dream and a dream-machine. For me,
the voyage is the dream. My boat is the dream-machine.
No one would ever look at my boat and think of it as anyone’
s dream boat. It is not even my dream boat. Instead, it is my
dream machine. It is small, inexpensive, and not impressive
at all. It is however, mine! It gets me where I want to go and
back again safely & comfortably. It is simple, safe,
seaworthy, comfortable, and paid for. Most importantly, it is a
very economical long-distance cruising boat.
If you share this dream, you don't need a "dream boat", you
need a "dream machine".
So, if your dream is cruising America's Great Loop, and you
want to be able to stop, shop, stay & linger at all the most
popular or interesting destinations along the way, Make sure
your 'dream machine' is not a dream buster.
It doesn't matter if your total Looping budget is $20,000,
$40,000 or $50,000 - if the bulk of it is being sucked down
your fuel tank, and eaten up in Marina fees, you will end up
wishing you had a much more frugal dream machine.
The dream factory is open, and there are plenty of great
dream machines on the market. I can not encourage you
enough to get one that fits very easy into your overall
budget, so you have plenty left over for having fun ashore.
FYI - I spend 5x more on this voyage having fun, eating out
& being a tourist than I do on my "boat related" expenses.
You will want to as well. If I were having to spend $100 a day
in fuel & $100 a night in Marina fees, I could not afford to
ever get off my boat.
|Do it - while you still have your good health!
|© 1993 - 2019 CaptainJohn.org
|People travel for many reasons. . .
|Big Bad Baby Boomers Batman!
|Do you dream of "the voyage"?
Or, do you dream of "the boat"?
|Life. . . living-aboard & cruising America's Great Loop
FREEDOM - Yes, America's Great Loop has much to offer. There are a few thousand miles of amazing, awe-inspiring natural wonders with ever
changing landscape. There are hundreds of incredible destinations. You will voyage across Sounds, Bays, Estuaries, down Rivers, across big
Lakes, through Canals and Locks, and the experience is breath-taking spectacular. But when all is said and done, this voyage is ultimately about
That's freedom like most us have never experienced. 'Out here', you are the Captain. You can go where you want, when you want, and stay as
long as you want. You have no job, boss or business dictating your day's 'to do list'. You are free to do nothing or free to do something. The
choice is totally up to you.
Because 98% of this voyage is along very safe inland protected waters, your voyage will be made in safe easy manageable 'one day at a time'
segments. Regardless of how fast your boat can go, you are most likely going to average cruising very near 40-miles per day. As a result, it is
easy to visualize just how safe, easy and manageable this voyage really is.
We never cruise after dark! Simply by being in a safe anchorage or marina every night and being able to make a smart decision regarding the
next day’s journey, weather and destination, we are all able to stay out of harm’s way. We cruise when weather says go and we stay put when
weather is not safe. The greatest and most amazing ‘safety’ aspect to cruising the Great Loop is you will be safely anchored in some paradise
cove or safely docked in a Marina every single evening before dark.
One of the other important aspects many 1st time Loopers overlook when planning this voyage, is that is it far more than a boat ride. Indeed, it
is much more like a yearlong vacation. You will cruise right beside a countless number of incredible destinations, hundreds of irresistible
waterfront restaurants and small towns and villages that will tempt you off your boat and into stopping, shopping and eating out while being a
tourist. The number of these places are simply impossible to imagine in advance. Many of these places you will have never heard of, but some of
them will be where you will make your most cherished memories.
Marina expenses can be real budget busters. Most Loopers plan their stays in Marinas around the places they want to visit. Loopers also use
their time at a marina to take care of laundry and get provisions. Most every Marina has a laundry facility and lounge. Some in fact have free use
of a courtesy car for getting to and from local stores and restaurants. When buying fuel, most Marinas let you stay free at the dock for a few
hours to get provisions. A good Dinghy is also a great money safer. There are free “Dinghy Docks” almost everywhere you go.
Cooking on the boat is normally done when docked or anchoring out. It is almost never a good idea to cook while underway. There are a
multitude of tempting waterfront restaurants. As a result, most Loopers soon discover they are eating out far more and eating much less on the
boat then they originally planned.
Most nights spent on the Loop are not at all that different than the ones we spend at home. The major exceptions will be your amazing
waterfront view. When anchoring out, especially in the more remote anchorages at night, you will be blessed with the stars in the night sky. In
Canada, by the time you reach Georgian Bay and the North Channel, you will catch a brilliant display of the Northern Lights.
Cruising the Loop is not all perfect, of course. . . In in some locations you will get attacked by such things as Mosquitos, Gnats and No-See-
Ums. So, aside from nasty weather protection, screens on all your ports (windows) and a screened in Bimini enclosure will be an absolutely
wonderful part of your vessels attachments.
Comfort is key. . . If you are not comfortable you are going to be miserable. Not only is comfort inside important, but outside in the cockpit and
particularly at your helm station. So, don’t overlook the comforts and need for comfortable seating and convenient access to such things as
snacks, beverages & binoculars in the cockpit or helm station area – this will also be especially critical for solo voyagers.
We cannot over emphasize the necessity for a huge strong Bimini with lots of sun protection. Many aft & center cockpit sailboats will want a
dodger along with both canvas and screen enclosures around the cockpit. This not only protects you from the bugs and the weather, it can also
act as a wonderful patio like room addition to your boat. Keep in mind, your helm station, not the cabin, will be where you spend about 80% of all
your awake time on this voyage.
Many Loopers fish along the way. For those that are ‘avid fishermen’ several fishing licenses will be in order. Many places along the Loop offer
incredible fishing and for sure an Ontario Canada fishing license for those cruising Canada should be in your future. Looping will be your chance
to catch everything from crabs to crappie and crawfish. You will catch sharks, redfish, mahi-mahi, grouper, flounder, northern pike, walleye, trout,
salmon, sea bass, black bass, striped bass and catfish - just to name a few. Furthermore, FYI – lightweight fishing gear simply won’t land the
monsters on the Intracoastal Waterways and 10-pound trout and striped bass are the norm rather than the exception on Kentucky Lake and
Tennessee River. In Canada, catching 4-foot Northern Pike is easier done than not.
Finally, one caution about starting out on this voyage. . . Start slow and take it slow! Many Loopers start this voyage with understandably
eager excitement. There seems to be a ‘hurry up’ adrenaline attached to the beginning of this voyage that makes us want to see and do it all in
the sudden rush of our excitement.
As a result, the first month or so is often taken way too fast. Soon however, everyone slows way down. That’s when all the first time Loopers
start to realize not only are they missing too much, but cruising near that recommended “Looper speed” has tremendous fuel saving advantages.
There are lots of good safe reasons to travel slow on this voyage, but neither speed limits, sandbars, shoaling or floating debris will compare to
what you will hit and miss by going fast.
Anchoring out has some fantastic advantages. Not only can it save you thousands of dollars, it offers some of the very best sunrises, sunsets
and conversations with your First Mate you will encounter in your entire life. For those of us that anchor out a lot, it is difficult to understand why
any Looper, given the choice, would choose to pay and pack themselves into an overcrowded Marina’s parking lot vs anchoring out for free in a
quiet, peaceful, secluded paradise cove.
We understand there are times when we need to pack ourselves into a Marina, sadly, doing so daily is almost a necessity for those cruising with
pets and many Loopers take their family pet(s) on this voyage. We are not attempting to discourage it. Just be aware, when it comes time to ‘walk
the dog’ it is sometimes not safe, and very seldom easy, to take the dog ashore unless doing so at a Marina. If not at a marina, walking the dog
can turn into a major undertaking. Between sharks, snakes and alligators and muddy banks, generally walking the dog involves taking the dog
from the boat to the dinghy and from the dinghy to shore and then back again. (How many times a night?) Beyond doubt, when it comes to
cruising with Fido, docking at a Marina is safer, quicker and easier. Most Loopers with pets end up paying to stay in Marina most every single
night they possibly can.
From beginning to end, this voyage has a way of waking you up in the mornings feeling ecstatic and more alive. It can take you to and
through all the most beautiful places in the eastern half of North America. Indeed, one could spend years voyaging through its awe-inspiring
natural wonders, landscapes and visiting its countless number of spectacular destinations. For sure this adventure is worthy to be at the top of
your bucket list.
Cruising the Great Loop involves every type of boating environment imaginable and then some. You will have a very brief, but safe, encounter
with the ocean in two locations. You will cruise through Sounds, Bays, Estuaries, down Rivers, across big Lakes, through Canals and Locks.
From wind, rain and weather, to river currents, tides & tidal currents, fog, narrow channels, shallow water, shoals, sand bars and anchoring out -
by the time you “cross your wake” at the completion of this adventure, you will be well qualified to cruise anywhere in the world. In fact, most of
feel that cruising America’s Great Loop is the ultimate safe training ground for cruising the Caribbean and beyond.
Cellphone, Smartphone, WiFi & Internet Connection:
Every year this gets better and better. As is, very seldom will you not have a cellphone signal. On our 140-travel day route, we seldom don't
have a cellphone signal. In some more remote areas, we might experience a few hours without it, but I don't recall anywhere we don't have it most
of the day. On our route, we always direct you to marinas offering free WiFi & Internet Connections. However, while almost every marina today
has and advertises free WiFi most marinas are not staffed with anyone that knows anything about it. The result is, if the service goes down,
chances are you will be long gone before it is up and running again. At any rate, most all along the way, you will be able to take selfies and
photos and send them instantly to friends, relatives or post them on you FB page.
|For much of this voyage, you will seldom be more than a stone's throw from shore.