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How many boaters have actually cruised the Great Loop? And who are they?

       
How many? I'm not sure anyone knows the answer to this. I think the best guess however is a combination from different sources.
Based on information from ACE (Army Corp of Engineers) approximately 600
more recreational boaters a year pass "one way south" through the
Chicago Locks annually than those heading north. That, we feel, might be
a good indication. Although, we have no way of knowing if they are
indeed cruising the Loop.

       As of March 2018, of the 9,000 boaters signed up for our monthly Great Loop News-Letter, our survey indicates 531 plan to cruise the
Great Loop within the next 3 years
. 1,060 responded with plans to cruise the Loop within the next 5-years and 2,020 have plans to cruise it with
10-years. If we extrapolate that data over the years, we arrive at 197 people a year 'on average' have plans to cruise the Loop over the next
10-years.
How many actually do, only heaven knows, but for sure the numbers keep growing.
       Additionally, the America's Great Loop Cruising Association or AGLCA, (if I remember correctly) reported 160 of their members were
cruising the Loop in 2018.
That fits within easy range of our estimates that somewhere near 200 to 300 boaters a year are now making all or part
of
this journey a year. For sure, this voyage is getting more popular each and every day as more people learn about it.
boating to Nashville
boating the beautiful Waccamaw River on the ICW
Erie Canal on America's Great Loop
Nashville, TN
Welcome Center on the
Erie Canal
West Point on the
Hudson River
Waccamaw River
Solomon Island
Who are "Loopers"?
       
Loopers come from all walks of life, lifestyles, ages, and financial backgrounds. A few are indeed cruising in what many would consider a
dream boat. Most however are cruising in the most humble of boats. The largest we've actually seen or met along the way to make it under that
19' 1" bridge was a 62 foot sailboat with it's mast down. We've also meet two Loopers in 57-footers a we met one in a 52' trawler.
Most Loopers are indeed Baby Boomers cruising in humble boats purchased on the used market, and very near 36-feet in length. We have met
Couples cruising the Loop in vessels as small as 25-feet. Most couples are in vessels between 32 and 42-feet. Both my son and I have made this
voyage solo, and both of us normally meet at least two other solo Loopers each time around.
       A growing number of Loopers (it appears), are making this voyage in segments. Cruising anywhere from one month to three months at a
time, returning home and to work, and continuing the voyage at a later date or even the following year.
Additionally, there seems to be a growing
number of Loopers cruising in trailer-able vessels. This of course makes for a great money saving way to go, especially if cruising the Loop in
segments. This gives the Looper the advantage of cruising part of the Loop, trailering his vessel home and avoiding marina fees for the time
he/she is not cruising.
LIFE - LIVING ABOARD & CRUISING
       Beyond the ever-changing waterfront views and scenery, you will cruise through all the defining moments of
America’s history. America’s Great Loop’s main route will take you through 9 of the original 13 Colonies with the opinion of cruising all thirteen.
From lighthouses older than America, historic places, incredible museums, you will discover rich and fascinating cultures with postcard-perfect
landscapes. You will cruise by numerous big and lively cities, notable small towns, quaint little fishing villages and hidden destinations. All of
which present you with an unlimited number of tempting places with friendly natives offering scrumptious regional foods, unique one of a kind
shopping and charming waterfront attractions.

       Whether you're the kind of person who strays off the beaten path or one who hits the tourist traps, no matter the number of selfies or
scenic pictures you take, you will be able to instantly send your photos to friends and family or post them on your Blog and FB page.
Cruising America’s Great Loop is your greatest opportunity to trade the rush of everyday life for the slow and easy. It is where the utmost of
comfort meets the very ultimate of freedom and adventure. It is where friendly people, exceptional cuisine and amazing sunsets all come
together to provide you with a boat load of quintessential experiences.

       Possibly the Greeks said it best when they first described the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. They used the word “theamata” which
translates best into English as “must see, must experience”. This is where Loopers have discovered the road less traveled isn’t a road at all. It is
a combination of inland protected waterways that if nothing else, are proof positive America the beautiful is best seen and experienced from the
water in your very own boat.

       The vast majority of Loopers are making this journey in vessels between 26 and 46 feet in length with the most common size vessel being
very near 36-feet. The most popular vessel for cruising the Loop is a Trawler, followed by Sailboats, Cabin Cruisers and even some Cuddy
Cabins. However, (not that we would advise it), this voyage has been completed by some more ‘adventurous type’ individuals in everything from
jet-skis, customized pontoon boats, open bow boats and center consoles.

       Understandably, most vessels cruising the Loop are comfortable to live-aboard. They can be new or used, sail or power, but also equipped
with fresh water, cooking appliances, sleeping quarters, refrigeration and marine toilets/shower facilities. Some vessels have central air & heat.
By far, most Loopers are cruising in practical boats on affordable budgets. This too is part of the Looping culture. While you might meet a
Looper in a brand new Flagship vessel, the majority of Loopers are cruising in safe, suitable yet humble vessels purchased on the used market.

       A Looper’s previous boating experience varies greatly. For most, cruising America’s Great Loop is the Looper’s very first long-distance
boating adventure. It is most often the boaters first time to cruise through unknown and unfamiliar waters. While some have boating experience
on inland lakes or rivers, others have experience on Intracoastal and tidal waters. Many have never been through a Lock and some have never
even seen a Lock, Lift or Swing Bridge. In addition, most Loopers have never experienced anchoring out in tidal waters or strong river currents.
Very few Loopers starting out on this voyage have experienced all the above. This makes cruising the Loop full of brand-new experiences for all
of us.
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