© Copyright - All rights reserved
Cruising on a Frugal Budget - click NEXT
One day Lyn Morgan decided that he, too, would cruise the Great Loop. He however,
took a different view of it than most. Lyn went and had a customized - souped-up pontoon
boat (actually it is a tri-toon) and completed the journey in what is most likely a record
speed.  He did it in 57 days.

That's right. It took him 57 days to race through 120 locks and across 5,300 miles
averaging about 40 miles per hour, he traveled about 200 miles per day.

Katie McPhail 26, and Elizabeth McPhail 22, completed their 5,805 mile
journey around America's Great Loop in a 16-foot Duroboat. Yes, they stayed
in a lot of motels, they also took along a tent, and a nice bimini top.
Most likely, no one has made it around the Great Loop in a powered vessel
Buzz Gentes
traveling aboard his 15-foot sailboat “Dalamar”. Yes, he simply took the
mast off and left it at home to cruise the Great Loop.

He fitted his boat with two, 2-horsepower outboard motors. This arrangement allowed
when needed. Traveling at 5 knots, he averaged more than 150 miles on 6 gallons of
gas. That's an average fuel burn rate of only 0.24 gallons per hour.
Keep in mind . . .  We are NOT here to pick your boat.
Only you can pick the boat that is right for you.  We're just here to let you know all your
Even if you don't know how to sail and never learn, an auxiliary powered (live a-board size) sailboat offers the very most economical
long-distance voyaging available.

Now that I have said that, there are of course, three possible exceptions: The small non-live a-board vessel, human powered vessels,
and totally electric vessels. Notwithstanding the exceptions, the full displacement hulls of both the mono-hull and multi-hull sailing vessels
offer the most efficient slow speed fuel economy of any gas or diesel powered vessel on the water.

It seems that many "Sailors" visiting our website are totally unaware that one can cruise America's Great Loop in a sailboat, but you can.
Fact is if your mast is less than 65' above the water (and most are), and your draft is less than 6' the trip around is very possible. While
we strongly suggest a draft less than 5' (ours is less than 4'), motoring your sailboat around the Loop opens a wide range of cruising

Of course, sailboats must have their mast removed before entering the Erie Canal, and before entering Chicago or the Cal-Sag. There
are facilities to raise and lower your mast at each end of these locations.  

What you may not know is that the design of the sailboat's displacement hull makes it the very most economical vessel on the water.
Think about it! Sailboats are designed to move easily through the water in the slightest breeze. As a result, it requires a very minimum
amount of horse power to move these vessels through the water.

For example:

    A 28' to 38' (live a-board size) Sailboat might be rated for a 10 to 35hp engine and have a fuel burn rate of 0.5 to 0.9 gallons
    per hour, at a speed of about 7 knots or 8 mph.

    A 28' to 38' single engine Trawler might be rated for a 175 to 350hp and have a 10 mph fuel burn rate of 2 to 4 gallons an hour.
    A "twin engine semi displacement hull Trawler might have a fuel burn rate of 4 to 8 gallons an hour (or more).

      For this reason, you can not obtain a more economical live a-board vessel to cruise the Great Loop even if you take off the mast or
never raise the sails. I have met four such "Loopers" since 2015 that also had removed their mast and left them at home.  
      Furthermore - Learning to sail is easy and fun. Surprisingly to many beginners, it comes natural once they realize there really isn't
anything hard or difficult about it. With a few lessons, a sailboat will also open your "side trip" options to include a greater range of boating
capabilities - such as the Caribbean and the rest of the world.
Proof  -  where there is a will  -  there is a way. . .
5,805 miles in a Jet Ski . . .

Larry Harcum, completed America's Great Loop in a Jet Ski.
He traveled 5,805 miles in 87 days.
We get questions all the time, about bridge heights. It just seems sailors have this "thing"
about that long tall mast rising up into the sky that has something important to do with their
sailboat. (lol)  Truth is, we understand the concern - but it is not near so much a handicap as
one thinks.

For sure, your mast will have to be removed prior to entering the Erie Canal. If you want to
sail across the Great Lakes, you can have the mast stepped in Tonawanda, just past the last
bridge on the canal.  Once across the Great Lakes, you will have to remove it again before
entering the Chicago River or the Cal-Sag bypass.

Most of the questions we get have to do with "What's next?"  It seems everyone wants to
know about bridge heights from that 19' 1" bridge at Chicago to the Gulf of Mexico.

From Chicago, most sailors don't step their mast again until they reach Mobile Bay.  
This is not only what we do, it is what we strongly suggest. On either route you take, (the Lower
Mississippi river or the Tennessee - Tombigbee) it is the traffic and long frequent stretches of
narrow waterways, that restricts your sailing. For most of the way, it is almost impossible sail
safely for any length of time between Chicago and the Gulf of Mexico. The traffic is heavy, the
currents are strong, and the marked channels are simply too narrow, and the wind for the most
part blows in your face.

However, if you a small sailboat and can step the mast yourself: If you are taking the route to
New Orleans, the lowest bridge on the Mississippi River is 59' 6".  If you are taking the
Tennessee-Tombigbee route, all fixed bridges between the leaving the Mississippi at Cairo, to
Mobile Bay have a vertical clearance of at least 52 feet.  For a side-trip adventure, you could
spend some time sailing on the beautiful Lakes of Kentucky, Barkley, and Cumberland.
Even if you don't know how to sail
::   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
Cruising The Loop in a Sailboat
A Great Boat and a Great idea
    The great aspects of this boat are:
1. The large cockpit with large Bimini top for
shade and the large dinning table.
2. The weather protected helm station.
3. The uncluttered 360  walk around deck
4. The spacious cabin
5. A full-displacement hull
6. Small single 'economic' diesel engine.
      Before you "Poo-Poo" the idea of a sailboat. . . Consider this:
              I was a lifelong power boater. That is until 2009 when my oldest son (a world class sailor), convinced me "a sailboat, even if I never
sailed her would be the very most frugal vessel to cruise the Loop."
      My problem was I didn't know how to sail and really didn't want to learn. After much debate, and only after he agreed to cruise the Loop
with me - motoring all the way around in a sailboat - did I agree to give it a go.
      Since after my 2nd voyage around the Loop in a real gas guzzler, my boating philosophy has always been "MORE FUN THAN FUEL".
This voyage proved (by far) my son was absolutely correct. We motored around the Loop in a 28' sailboat averaging 0.6 gph gallons per
hour. For a year long 6,100 mile voyage we had 875 engine hours and used only 525 gallons of fuel. That was less than half the fuel in my
32' single engine, full displacement hull Trawler, which was my previous most economical vessel. I now cruise the Loop in a 36' sailboat with
no mast averaging 0.08 gallons per hour.
::  Your boat's size & age. . . No one cares but you. . . Really!  ::
      I cannot stress enough how important it is that your boat "fits you". Your boat should not be 1 foot bigger than
your comfort demands or 1 foot smaller than your safety requires. Additionally, there are thousands of great used
boats "out there" on the water and on the used market that are 10, 20, 30 years old and older. Mine happens to be
40 years old. Unlike cars, most boaters can not tell a 1960s or 1970's model from a 2000. With some new paint and
polish and maintained in good safe seaworthy condition, a $5,000 or $10,000 used boat can easily be as big and
look as good as new $50,000 or $100,000 boat - and the great news is can go all the same places and have all the
same fun.
      A "Certified Marine Survey" is ALWAYS RECOMMENDED when buying used. This will prevent you from making
a terrible mistake and insure you are getting a great safe & seaworthy boat!