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| Whether you are cruising America's Great Loop or sailing the seven seas, the type and
size of boat, the distance traveled, the time it takes, the amenities on board, and the final cost, always
boil down to your own individual lifestyle, philosophy, and pocket book.
My philosophy: My boating philosophy is "More Fun than Fuel". That's been my objective since
spending a small fortune in fuel on my 2nd voyage around the Loop in a twin engine gas guzzling semi
displacement Trawler. Since then, the "only" purpose for my boat is to get me safely where I want to
go and back again as economically as possible. Therefore, I seek the smallest most economical
vessel that I can live on comfortably while spending a minimum amount on fuel. However, you need to
understand, my dream is the voyage - not the boat. My dream is living aboard and cruising as long as
I can do so safely. If I were in this for only 1 voyage around, my vessel would be much different. Truth
is, I could never have afforded the cost of living on my boat and cruising full time for the past 23
years, if I was in a big gas guzzling boat. My fun is not only 'the boat ride' but also stopping, exploring,
and experiencing all the wonderful "on shore" activities. I spend far more eating out and being a
"tourist" on shore than I spend pouring fuel down my fuel tanks.
If I had to spend $20,000 or $30,000 in fuel and boat expenses, I simply would not have it to
spend on fun things on shore. For me, it is one or the other - I can't afford to do both.
Not your philosophy! For those planning to make 1 or even 2 voyages around the Loop, you
should not think about "What I do". You need to do your own thing. . . A nice Trawler could very well fit
into your lifestyle and comfort zone, and for 1 time around the Loop, the amount of fuel and the cost
of fuel would not be nearly as important to you, as it is to me.
When you think about a boat and budget for living aboard and cruising the Great Loop, you
must think first about what it takes for you to be comfortable and happy. For sure, the boats that are
great for over-night or long weekends, simply won't work over the long haul for a cruising couple on
the Great Loop.
Some years ago I met a Looper that 'bragged' about how his boat cost $125,000 to purchase,
and his trip around the "Great Loop" cost him another $125,000. I met him again several years later
living on his boat at a Marina just off the Gulf ICW. He (and his boat) then appeared to be penny
less. Now, when I stop at that Marina, I always look over to see if he is still there. He is. Each year, his
boat looks worse then the year before.
Indeed, the very day you purchase your boat, you predetermine your on-going fixed
long-term cruising expenses. If you choose the right boat, then your individual choices in lifestyle will
be the majority of your cruising cost. This means you can spend the majority of your budget on
yourself and on what makes you happy, rather then on your boat, fuel and boat related expenses.
Choose the wrong boat, in many cases, the wrong boat ends up as a vessel of burden, rather
than a vessel of freedom and pleasure. In all areas along the way, we have come across "Looper
boats" that are for sale, simply because the boat proved too expensive to cruise on, and remain
unsold for that very same reason.
|:: The Popular Trawler ::
|For special sailboat considerations - click NEXT
|The "Trawler" is by far the most popular boat on the Great Loop. For sure the main reason is space.
For its length, the Trawler offers more interior live a-board space than any other the market - and one
is not really a "trawler" at all - it just looks like one.
The "true" pleasure boat trawler:
The 'true' pleasure boat trawler has a full-displacement hull with a long deep keel, a single engine,
and a top cruising speed of about 10 knots. Displacement hulls are a trademark of ocean capable
vessels. These hulls can carry more payloads due to their design. The hulls do not plane and all the
power, power train, and hulls are all designed and engineered to simply push the hull through the
The other type of pleasure boat "Trawler" (which is not a 'true' trawler, but looks like one above the
water) sports a semi-displacement hull. The semi-displacement hull is designed to provide lift and
therefore partially raise the vessel out of the water. These vessels most often have twin engines and
offer more speed (typically 24 knots), and they do so at the sacrifice fuel economy.
Typically trawlers have a large fuel and water capacity to enable extended cruising and offers
interior live a-board space and creature comforts that are simply unmatched by any other type
pleasure vessel afloat.
What the difference means to you:
1.) The full-displacement trawler is designed to direct all its power to pushing your vessel forward
through the water.
2.) The semi-displacement trawler is designed to lift as well as push your vessel through the
water. Therefore, much of vessels fuel economy is lost (even at very low speed) in trying to lift the
vessel out of the water rather than move it smoothly forward.
3. ) The semi-displacement trawler's fuel economy is much the same as Cabin Cruisers and
Motoryachts. These vessels were engineered for more speed, and simply not designed for fuel
4.) The full-displacement trawler is built for 8-10 knots sustained cruising speed. It will burn much
less fuel at its designed cruising speed, than a semi-displacement trawler will burn at a near idle speed.
5. ) The semi-displacement trawler, along with cabin cruisers were designed for higher cruising
speeds in the 17-24 knot sustained cruising range, and have a very poor (make that terrible) fuel
Trawlers in the 28 - 35 foot range: make excellent live a-board vessels for a cruising couple. They
typically have one head and shower (smart) and make for a great long-term and long-distance
Trawlers in the 32 - 36 foot range: are easy for a couple to handle and very comfortable for
long-distance cruising. They often have two heads and showers (dumb) but they are plenty large,
comfortable, and can accommodate guests for longer stays. By the time most "Looping couples" are
halfway into their voyage, they have already converted the 2nd head & shower in these vessels into
additional closet and storage space.
Engines 1 or 2:
Both full and semi-displacement Trawlers can be found with both single and twin engine
configurations. Most true full-displacement Trawlers however will only have one relatively small diesel
The primary advantages to twins is maneuvering at close quarters (I love it). The disadvantage in
twin engines is twice the cost to maintain two of everything, and twice the fuel consumption (I hate that).
That's right! Don't let any boat salesperson try to convince you that two engines won't burn
twice the fuel as one. It simply is not true - they will! Small single engines offer much lower fuel
consumption but are truthfully more difficult to handle in close quarters. The other advantage of a
single engine is easier access and engine maintenance due to more room in the engine compartment.
|:: Planing hull power boats ::
|Quite a few Loopers cruise the Loop in planing hull vessels such as Cabin Cruisers and 'Fast'
Trawlers. However, for a long term, long distance cruising boat, I simply don't recommend them. At a
time when we are experiencing $4.00 a gallon Marine Fuel prices - it simply is not a good time to
even think about cruising the loop in a fuel inhaling, fire breathing dragon, twin engine fast cruising
It is great for those that have no concern cost (as long as they know how much it will cost), but
for most of us, a $20,000 (plus) fuel bill would take all the fun out of cruising.
|The "Fast" Trawler"
Of course, I enjoy reading Trawler and Trawlering Magazine as much as the next guy, and this
should be no reflection on them. They certainly can't be expected to offend their primary advertisers
who want to sell you a "Fast" Trawler. . . But I don't have a problem offending their advertisers. So, if
you think spending $30,000 plus for fuel is NBD (No Big Deal) - go right ahead and buy that "Fast" twin
engine semi displacement Trawler. I assure you, they make wonderful live aboards. In fact, I don't think
you will find a better live aboard.
However: It is articles, like the ones in Trawler & Trawlering Magazine, and a few Great Loop
"Looper blogs" that fuel my fire to keep this website going. . . As many would have you believe it takes
$350,000 plus to purchase a "Looper" boat, another $30,000 or so to properly outfit her, and $30,000
in fuel to taker her around the Great Loop.
These of course, are the same people that spend every night in a Yacht Club Marina and end up
with $15,000 in Marina slip fees and another $15,000 (or more) in Bar bills.
All of which is an "option" not a requirement. (But of course, they don't tell you that, as not only the
Boat Manufacturer is advertising his boat, so to is the Yacht Club & Marina.
Just a year ago: I cruised into a marina, docked, and on my way to the Marina office stumbled into
a small group of about 30 people seated auditorium style by the pool listening to a man speaking from
a podium about "CRUISING THE GREAT LOOP" (this, of all things - for me to stumble upon - lol). So of
course, I had to pause and listen.
Within minutes, the speaker either consciously or unconsciously seemed to be bragging about
how much he spent cruising America's Great Loop - making it sound like it was a requirement. Never
once, mentioning his boat, his nights spent in Marinas were 'his choice'. All I could do, was think about
how many potential Loopers walked away from this "seminar" with a shattered dream.
|If you plan to go cruising on a frugal budget:
Then the problem with a "True" slow Trawler
there is not a problem. . .
|:: The Gulf ICW ::
|:: The Great Lakes ::
|:: The Atlantic IntraCoastal Waterway ::
|:: The Great Loop Route ::
"Bring Your Own Boat"
and take the voyage of a lifetime
America's Great Loop
|The Great Loop Boat