Capt John C Wright Author of the Year 2016
Capt John at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island
Capt. John at Leland while cruising the Great Loop
The mighty Mississippi on America's Great Loop
Your 365 day itinerary on America's Great Loop
The Grand Hotel on America's Great Loop
The Grand Hotel
Mackinac Island
     Understandably, the young adventurers cruising the Great Loop have nothing more on their minds than completing this 5,600 mile
boat ride of an adventure. I know, that's all that was on my mind the first time I did it at age of 22. At that time, at that age, I had nothing on my mind but
proving to some disbelievers it could be done, and proving to myself that I could do it.
  Today, for most of
Baby Boomers, this year long adventure isn't long enough. Months pass as weeks and Days like hours. This adventure will take
you
to, through and around a boat load of America's most famous and treasured places to visit with tons of sights to see, things to do, and places to
go; and
"Once Around Is Not Enough". Before this voyage is half over, there will be discussions about "your next time around". So make sure you plan
for time off your boat for seeing and experiencing
as much of it as you can.
  With eight voyages around America's Great Loop, I have yet to see and do all the places I want to visit, revisit and explore
some more. This voyage is
a voyage through America and America's history. Seeing it from the water presents you with an amazing opportunity that few people will ever
have the
pleasure of
experiencing. It is a journey that presents you with the very best of all that America and Canada have to offer. To make this voyage without
taking lots of time to linger at the many historic and famous attractions along the way, is missing out on half the fun as well as half the adventure.    
       Some cruising couples you see along the way are quietly chatting away with their companions. Others might be visiting the Marina, Laundry
Room or Customs office. They are always happily waving at you. Their faces smiling in the glow of that slow pace of life, the result having
experienced freedom at it's fullest. This life of living aboard and cruising simply brings out the very best qualities in everyone you meet. You will find
that people are very friendly and sociable out here.
  On the Loop it is mostly Americans and Canadians. However, you'll meet some Brits, some French, Australians, Scandinavians and for sure some
Italians. You will be told the wildest tales, some of which are totally unbelievable - but most often very true. You will encounter lifestyles at which you
will marvel, ponder, envy and even disapprove; but by each day's end, you will be touched more than a countless number of times you've been
amazed by what you've seen that day. You will broaden your vision at life in ways that will stay with you forever.
  The daytime air will be balmy, the nighttime air will be velvety, and you will share with new or old friends the hazards of the latest leg of  your
voyage as you ponder about people, relationships, lifestyles, and the whole meaning of life itself. Then, as you turn in for the night, you´ll thank God
as you feel like the luckiest person on earth.
  Relationships 'out here' are simply "make it or break it". That is the cruel truism for cruising couples and spouses on a long distance
voyage. Living on a boat and cruising puts every relationship to the test. I won't leave out or smooth over this. The factors that are usually involved
are; giving up a normal life, being vulnerable on unfamiliar places, and learning things about your spouse or mate you never knew or realized
before. No doubt, it is tougher on more women than men. Which (in my opinion) is why it is so important to spend time "off the boat", seeing the
sights and even staying in a motel now and then for some long hot showers and room service. Guys, it is serious. If you over look your 1st Mates
needs, wants and desires, she will be miserable on this voyage.
  Keep in mind, all her friends at home are living in their big air-conditioned houses with unlimited hot water and visiting shopping malls and getting
manicures... The woman on a boat is cruising in sun bleached, salt crusted clothing. Her hair is stiff, her skin is harsh, her nails (what's left of them)
resemble oyster shells, and she can't even remember the last time she had a long hot bath or a professional manicure. It's important Captain, to
keep your 1st Mate happy! If you wait so long she has to say something. . . You've waited too long!
   Most couples on this voyage will "bond" into full and complete trust with great renewed love for each other. They are virtually yet seriously
tied together - and having made it together - their lives together are now sealed stronger than boat epoxy. In fact, most cruising couples are tied to
each other by a love that Hollywood movies would envy. If you and your spouse are already happy together, and truly "share" this dream and one or
the other of you are not being pressured into it - then chances are, this wonderful fate will be yours.
       On the Loop, there is cruising, there is also an abundance of wonderful historic and interesting sites to see and places to go. The Loop is also
very educational in an abundant number of ways. Opportunities to eat out at wonderful regional restaurants on or near the water exist all along the
way. We also will take in a Movie now & then. We try to Broadway Play every time we make landfall in the Big Apple. When we get in the mood for a
"big hot soak in the bathtub" we stay a night or two in a nice motel. Life out here is simple and great. It is most of all, freedom beyond which you
have never experienced. Out here, you are the Captain of your own ship. You go when and where you want to. You stay as long as you want. There
are no fixed schedules and your boat isn't going to sail without you. So, you can do what you want when you want and whenever you get there.  
Everything you see along the way is the bonus that makes it all worth seeing again. For sure you won't believe how much more pleasant "boating"
around America is than being on the highway. The things you see from the water are simply amazing and so different than what you see from the
highways. This is an amazing journey!
  So the question becomes; "When your life has reached the final leg of your voyage, where will you be?"  In some silver haired assisted condo? Or
anchored in an enchanted harbor spending your days in the safe waters of Paradise? Your choice and that of your mate will determine your fate.
But once you have cruised the Loop - nothing in your life, or about your life, will ever be the same again. This voyage will stay with you for the rest
of your days; the waters will always beckon you back; and the sea will forever remember your name.
  Here's hoping you and your Mate will make this voyage. It is for sure, a voyage that promises to be the most excitingly, talked about and cherished
adventure of your lifetime.
What is it really like - Living on a boat and cruising America's Great Loop?
  DON'T TURN THIS EPIC BOATING ADVENTURE INTO A 6,000 MILE "BOAT RIDE"!
       America's Great Loop is without doubt an "EPIC" boating adventure. My advice however, is don't even attempt to cruise it like a horse running in
the Kentucky Derby with blinders on. If you do, you will miss all the very best reasons this voyage is so incredibly amazing.
There is so much more to
cruising America's Great Loop than you can possibly imagine in advance. While the
experience of the "boating adventure" itself is amazing; to think of
this voyage as simply a "boat ride" will be your single biggest mistake!

       Beyond doubt and beyond the banks of the rivers and waterways. . . This is where you will find and make your most wonderful, amazing and
unforgettable favorite memories. For sure,
living aboard and cruising a distance 2,000 miles longer than the longest river in the world is an epic
adventure, but exploring the destinations and meeting the local natives along the way is what turns this epic adventure into the experience of a
lifetime.
       W
hen this voyage is over, when you cross your wake, it will be your "on shore" experiences along with the people you meet that make this
voyage so unforgettable. One
you will cherish and talk about for the rest of your days.
My most fervent recommendations to everyone planning on cruising America's Great Loop:
Yes, this is me. I'm having a great Pina Colada cruising the
Great Loop at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. This is
just one of the reasons I cruise on a boat that burns less
than 2 gallons of fuel an hour. It is so when I get
to places
like this,
I can spend all that money I saved on fuel and
anchoring out
!
  The rooms here run $2,000 and up per night during the
peak season.
If you arrive here in October (off peak
season) you can stay a night for $300. That includes you
meals and I guarantee
it's worth it!
  On the opposite end of the upscale Grand Hotel you will find places as pleasant and frugal as it gets. Here, at Leland, MI (also known as
"Fish Town"), is one of my favorite
frugal (never miss) stops. This one will make up for the money you might just spent at the Grand. Pictured above on
the right is the Falling Water Lodge where a couple can stay the night for only $49. On the left is the The Cove Restaurant where you can dine (rather
cheaply) on delicious fresh caught Walleye
and other regional favorites.
  In this entire area, Leland, Charlevoix and Traverse City
, you will discover wonderful stops and great places to visit. Traverse City is one of those
quintessential 'Norman Rockwell' small towns where you can drop off the wife, give her your American Express Card, and pick her up on your next
voyage around the Loop. She will love window shopping this place, and fact is, you won't mind it that much either.
    I admit, when you first start out on this voyage you will feel a bit anxious, a bit worried and possibly even a little bit
afraid. We all
are! Heading out into unknown waters toward unfamiliar places and faces would make anyone's stomach
a little bit queasy.
Within a week, once you realize everything works and you haven't forgotten anything important...
You will lean back and this voyage will unnoticeable turn into a comfortable, totally relaxed, exciting and enjoyable
adventure. The incredible scenery will change with almost ever bend in the river as you rubber neck at all the
incredible mansions, interesting homes, waterfront shacks and other boats you cruise by. Eventually you will notice
from the Florida Keys to the Great Lakes and the Inland rivers, you have been boating from Fort to Fortress. It is a
shocking realization of our Nation's history of warfare and how our predecessors had to defend America from the
Spanish, the French, the English, the Russians, the Japanese, Pancho Villa
- and sadly, even each other (Civil War). It
makes you wonder
. . . Why can't we all get along and stop killing each other?
You can expect America's Great Loop to be more than you expected.
- Cruising America's Great Loop - Once Around Is Not Enough -
- Cruising America's Great Loop - Once Around Is Not Enough -
© 1993 - 2017 captainJohn.org
- Cruising America's Great Loop - Once Around Is Not Enough -
- Cruising America's Great Loop - Once Around Is Not Enough -
www.captainjohn.org
Capt John cruising the Great Loop
  Soon enough, you will realize this voyage is exactly what Capt John said it was: "safer than you ever imagined in advance". It is so close to land,
family, friends, and home - and at some point you will soon wonder "what in the world
you were ever so worried about in the beginning?" As exciting as
each day is, you will always look forward what the next day brings. The Great Loop is so full of wonderful sites to see and places to visit
; they will amaze
you. It offers something wonderful around every bend in the river, beyond every Lock you pass through, and beyond every Bay, Sound and Lake you
cross. When planning this voyage make sure you plan on spending lots of time for site seeing and on shore exploring and activities.
  Believe me, the
local natives are friendly and their food is fantastic!
   The Grand Hotel features 390 rooms and no two rooms are alike. It has the World's largest Front Porch. You can only get there by boat, and there
are no cars. All transportation on the island is by horse drawn buggy or bicycle. Additionally, there are more famous Fudge & Souvenir shops than you
can shake your paddle at. Even if you don't stay in the Grand, (though every couple should) this is a must stop on the Great Loop. You can always
stay on your boat and save the money.   
There is something ashore for everybody - cruising America's Great Loop.
Different Boats for Different Folks. . .
  Here we can see a typical anchorage of Loopers.
As you can see, all have a Dinghy in tow, anchored in a nice
protected anchorage. Restaurants and sights to see nearby.
One in a very expensive boat, most in
humble & frugal boats.
Don't cruise the Loop with blinders!
Loopers are very friendly. No, they are not stuffed shirts all geared up in white with
golden brim captain hats. Instead, they are wearing weathered T-shirts, worn shorts and
salty old ball caps. They are comprised of singles, couples, and even a few families. You
will also meet a few couples cruising together. You will find them living and cruising on the
Loop from Canada to the Florida Keys and from the Atlantic to the Mississippi River.
 Once you get to know a few, you realize they too are cruising on a budget. Oddly enough,
those in the bigger more expensive fuel guzzling boats will be the least likely to get off their
boat to enjoy the sites, sounds and attractions ashore. Most don't go any farther away from
their vessel than the Marina, unless the Marina has a loaner or rental car. For some it may
be that they are so proud and protective of their boat they simply don't want to leave it. For
others, no doubt their boat is eating up the bulk of their budget. Whatever the reason, the
fact is the Loopers out here in the most humble of boats are the ones having the most fun.
 
- Once Around Is Not Enough -
- Once Around Is Not Enough -
        Don't wear "blinders" when cruising the Loop!   Here's why:
       
For sure, if you cruise the Great Loop while only focused on what's up ahead, you will miss out on at least half of what this journey is really all
about.
       One good example is Gatlinburg TN, and the Great Smoky Mountains. With over 11 million visitors in 2016, The Great Smoky Mountains and
National Park is ranked #1 in the Nation for most visited. They are also ranked #1 in the number of repeat visitors - and that should tell you something
about how great it is. In the space of less than 1 mile, Gatlinburg's "main street" has over 450 charming shops and boutiques. It also has a
wonderfully delicious assortment of Restaurants serving up some scrumptious regional favorites. It has over 40 Breweries, Distilleries and Wineries
where you can spend the day tasting their glorious delights for free - including the many wonderful tasting (and legal) varieties of Smoky Mountain
Moonshine! - I for one, never knew 'Moonshine' came in so many flavors or tasted so good.
       But the point is, Gatlinburg is very entrance to the Center of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and its highest Peak, and it is less than
an hour's drive from Knoxville, TN. So for all of us cruising the Tennessee River to Knoxville - not renting a car and spending a weekend in Gatlinburg
and visiting the Smoky Mountains is one really big missed opportunity. It is one in which "NO DOUBT" will be a top ten experience when cruising
America's Great Loop; but for those that don't look beyond the shore line, it is a lost opportunity. Some will never in their lives be so close to this area
ever again.
       Ocracoke, Kitty Hawk, NYC & the Hudson River Valley, Montreal, Quebec City, the Blue Whales on the Saguenay, Mackinac Island, the Soo
Locks, Nashville, Chattanooga, the Pearl Farm at Birdsong Marina, and taking a turn to Starboard when you reach the Gulf ICW in Mobile Bay and
visiting New Orleans from the east (vs from the Mississippi) are all great examples of destination worth the visit that you may never be so close to
again.
       Furthermore, ask any Looper the best part of cruising the Loop, and many will have many different 'favorite' destinations or parts of the journey
they enjoyed most. The most common expressed 'favorite' however, almost always includes the wonderful friendly people they met along the way.
Many of whom are other Loopers, but many more are the friendly local natives in each area you cruise.
       Places & Faces, Wonderful friendly people and destinations all along the way. . . In 24 years I've never had anyone say one rude or threatening
word to me. For example, I've heard Loopers complain about the Tennessee - Tombigbee being the most boring and dreadful portion of the entire
voyage, but I know that's because they made one long 250 mile voyage out of it. Had they stopped at Shiloh, they would have had a wonderful
experience there. Had they stopped in Demopolis, they could have had a fabulous steak and great time at the ole Red Barn Restaurant in Demopolis,
It has been in operation about 50 years and operated by the current owner for the past 30 years. (What an interesting history this place has!). It is a
Bus or car ride from the Yacht Basin but worth the trip. They came and got us last time, but there were about 10 Loopers that all wanted to go.
Demopolis has a lot of history along with a Golf Course and much to see and do.
       That's just the way it is cruising the Loop. Some of us will find absolute treasures where others find boredom. Mostly, we all find what we are
looking for. . . So don't make this voyage with your blinders on! It is so much more than a 6,000 mile boat ride!