|opinion) borderlines on being too big. Something in this range should give you plenty of comfort, but not too big to be unsafe and difficult to handle. A
28' to 36' trawler or sailboat seems to fit most couples very well, If it's more than two, or even two and becomes excessively expensive. Not to mention
borderline unsafe, especially if only one or two people are handling the boat.
As a footnote here: I've known several instances where a Looping couple could not leave the docks because their vessel was too big for them to
handle in even the slightest of wind and inclement weather.
Singles - or "back packer" type couples (minimalists) - between 24' to 34 feet would be good. I know some have done it in smaller and larger
vessels, but this is a nice range and anything less than 24' might be too small. Those that have the bigger budgets can do it in bigger boats. Just
remember, when you choose your boat, you predetermine your long term cruising expenses..
2.) Height (above the water line) - you vessel's super-structure (with mast, bimini, antennas down) must be able to clear a 19' 6" fixed RR
bridge in order to avoid turning the Great Loop into a Great U-turn. If you can clear 17 feet you can cruise right through downtown Chicago. If you
can clear 15' 6" you will have totally unrestricted cruising on the Great Loop, both in the USA and Canada - including the NYS Canal System
and Canada's Heritage Canals.
3.) Depth (below the water line) - The Cruising Guides will tell you - that you can do the Loop with a 6' draft. Maybe you can, but I (personally)
wouldn't even try it. Less draft is better, and much less is much better. I've run aground twice on the AICW with a 4' 6" draft (why I always cruise
on a rising tide). Your draft must be less than 5 feet on the Champlain Route and to cruise the Canada's Heritage Canals. Other than that - the less
draft you have - the more worry free your voyage.
4.) Beam - For pleasure boats in the USA, this is never a problem. You must have a beam of 23 feet and under however, to cruise the Canadian
5.) Fresh Water capacity - You will want more than you can get. For long-distance live aboard cruisers, water & money have something very
close in common - you never have enough, so you have to decide when & how you want to use it.
According to the US Dept. of Environmental Conservation, the average American “couple” uses 160 gallons of water every day. We use 30 gallons
just flushing the toilet. We use another 30 gallons taking showers, and we use an unbelievable 4 gallons just brushing our teeth. Most Great Loop size
live aboard boats have 90 gallons or less. Some have as little as 30 gallons. Couples will most likely be stopping to refill their water tanks daily.
6) Holding Tank capacity - guys need 9 gallons, girls need 900 gallons. (lol) Both fresh water capacity and holding tank capacity will depend
much on your lifestyle, type of boat, and individuals aboard. The more fresh water you have on board, the better. However, boat manufacturers never
include enough water storage. If you don't learn to conserve your water, you will be filling your water tank(s) every day.
7.) Electrical Power - depends on your amenities aboard. We recommend two - 30 amp versus one 50 amp shore power connections. In addition,
you will need a 30 amp female to 15 amp male reducer).
8.) Top-side and Deck - We highly suggest vessels with unobstructed walk-a-round decks with flat, clear, easy access from Bow to Stern. For
working docks & Locks, the flatter and wider the walkways, the safer and better. You will pass through over 100 Locks on your journey around the
Great Loop. If it is difficult and/or slippery to walk or maneuver around the sides, bow to stern on your vessel - you'll have to be extra careful in the
Locks - and it won't be fun as you have over a 100 to pass through.
9.) Anchors - You need two heavy anchors, and a really good anchoring system on board. I suggest a Danforth and a Plow /Bruce anchor is
ideal for the varying bottom types. I've never used two anchors at once, except in a hurricane - but some do. Instead, my anchors are of the size
recommend for boats 2x the size on mine - so I've just never had a problem. You need heavy strong anchors, heavy chain, and all the USCG
recommended rode. You will want (and possibly need) the second anchor as a spare. Many Loopers loose an anchor. If you loose one, you will most
likely need the other immediately. So having a spare is a good idea.
10.) Fresh water filter - Except for making coffee, we don't drink the water from our fresh water tank as we have bottled water. If you do, we
recommend a good water filter system. It will just make your coffee & water taste much better.
11.) TV - If TV is important, you will need a digital unidirectional air TV antenna. Free air digital TV is available all around the Loop.
12.) Bimini top - you will need one. The stronger & bigger the more shade it provides, and the better and more comfortable you will be.
13.) Your boat's engine(s) - Remember. . . It will NOT matter much at all how fast your boat is capable of going. On America's Great Loop, your
speed is very limited over most of your entire voyage. If you truly need or want to make this voyage on a frugal budget it will be imperative to select a
boat or an engine based on a minimum hourly fuel burn rate, and vitally important you know what it is.
|of time demands a boat that you and your mate or crew can live on comfortably and safely.
How large should your boat be?
It should fit you like your shoes - not too big, not too small. It should be absolutely no smaller and no larger than your safety demands. If you are a
couple cruising, it should be no larger than the weakest person aboard can safely handle alone. Now, if your thought was "the bigger the better" -
shame on you. Frugal or not, safety is the most important feature when it comes to cruising. Accidents happen. We all get sick, we stump toes, we
break fingers, arms, legs, have heat strokes, heart attacks. . . When it comes to accidents, they happen!. Your vessel should be easily & safely
handled by "everyone" aboard.
Boat size: In our experience with both power and sail, and with sailboats, cruisers and trawlers. . . We have found a vessel in the 28' to 36' range
is about as good as it gets. After 36' it gets more expensive and difficult to handle. Smaller is not only more economical, it is safer and easier to
handle. Keep in mind, even with 'cruising couples' your boat should always be safe and easy to handle by one person - and that one person should
be the weakest person of the two. (ie: What if the Captain falls overboard?)
The "KISS" boating philosophy
"Keep It Simple Sailor" and "go small, go now, and stay out longer". With this in mind, my quest with the last four voyages around the Loop has
been for "more fun than fuel". So remember: the kind of boat you choose for making this voyage, must be no smaller than one you can live
comfortable on. It should also be no larger than one can safely handle alone.
Additionally, you need to pay as much attention to the cockpit & helm station area on your boat being as comfortable
(if not more so) then your cabin. If you voyage the Great Loop by each area's boating season, you will be cruising through 95% good to
great weather. When cruising, about 8 hours a day will be spent in the cockpit. So don't overlook your comfort in the cockpit.
Me? I view my boat more like a suitcase than a home on the water. It carries everything I need. I have a comfortable bed, a head and a
small galley. With the exception of sleeping, my comfort and safety in the cockpit is most important to me. About 85% of my "awake
time" is spent "on" the boat rather than "in" it.
|Great Loop Boat - choices
|How big is a "big" pleasure boat?
you better think again. . .
Bet you didn't know - According USCG statistics - of all the more then 13 million pleasure
boats registered in the United States, fewer than 1% are 40 feet or longer.
Think about that a moment. . . Fewer than 1% of all pleasure boats are 40 long. That alone
should tell you something about experienced boaters' preferred boat size. By far, we
choose something under 40 feet.
We get flooded with e-mails asking about boat size. Amazingly, many think they need a 60
footer or larger. While we have all heard the phrase "Bigger is Better" - when it comes to
living a-board & cruising - "bigger" has its very small, safe and affordable limits.
|Let's start with the maximum boat size and minimum fuel range
for cruising America's Great Loop
|How big a boat does one need to cruise the Loop?
Your comfort & safety both inside & outside is critical
36' Island Packet
36' Grand Banks
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