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Questions. . .  WOW! Do we get the questions. On an average day, we receive over 52
e-mails. Half of them are questions. Most of the questions involve expenses.
      In the past, we've always been a bit "vague" when it comes to expenses. Reason of
course, being we would hate to mislead anyone in one direction or the other. However, when you
consider we now have
had over 4.25 million visitors to >www. captainjohn.org < website, and we
get an average of 52 questions a day - we can not ignore nor deny the interest in answering the
question of
: "How much does it cost to cruise the Great Loop?"

      This question, no matter how it was worded, continues to be the single most FAQ we get.
It would be nice if we had a simple answer. It would be great if we could all just go out and buy a
ticket for X amount of dollars and all our boat and boat related expenses are included, but it just
isn't that simple and it doesn't happen that way.

      So, what we did - in an effort to determine just how "frugal" a cruising couple (on a
frugal budget can be)
 we decided to find out for ourselves.  To prove our point:




      In doing so, my 40 year old son and I scrapped the use of our existing boats. We went on a
search for a good used safe, comfortable, seaworthy vessel we could make the Great Loop
voyage in on what we considered to be the most frugal, while still being safe & reasonably
comfortable. Our boat search took us by car from the Gulf of Mexico at Galveston, to the Great
Lakes, and from Inland river marinas across and all the way down the east coast to Ft. Lauderdale
and then to Moble Bay. We drove almost 4,000 miles to personally inspect near 50 boats.
      Along we way we stumbled across a great little 28' sailboat in St. Augustine, FL.
We purchased the boat for $3,000.00.  We did nothing to the boat other than clean it, sand it
and put on a fresh coat of top and bottom paint. Which we did ourselves.

      Now, with this 2010 Loop behind us, we cruised (strictly motoring the entire way) 6,300 miles  
averaging 0.4 gph (gallons per hour) fuel burn rate, We completed this Great Loop voyage on a
few pennies less th
an $1,300 in fuel with 900 engine hours. We also spent $3,000 for the
boat
and $3,600 for over night dock fees at Marinas.
      Basically, it included
ALL OUR FUEL, BOAT & BOAT RELATED expenses. It did not include
our
toiletries, laundry, clothes, food, entertainment, insurance, Internet or cellphone services, or
any of our shore excursion expenses.
  
      Did we anticipate any problems with our used $3,000 boat? No, not any we couldn't fix with
our handy dandy tool box, and fortunately, we had none.
      We had everything checked out before hand. Motor was tuned, and everything was
made ready to go in advance. We didn't have any problems.
      So, how frugal can you cruise the Loop? I don't know, but my son & I did it safely &
comfortably
enough for just $6,600 in 2010. When we returned, we sold the boat for exactly what
we paid for her. (Although we had added about $900 worth of new electronics & new batteries.)

      
What I learned on that voyage: I learned that a sailboat, even motored the entire way
around the Loop was without doubt the most fuel efficient way to go. I also learned that a 28' boat
was a bit small for
a couples complete comfort.
      Since then, I have purchased a 36' sailboat, took the mast off, and now have completed two
Loops in it. In 8 Loops, this is the ONLY boat I have taken around the Loop twice. Yes, I love it that
much!
Boat buying considerations:
From the time we buy our very first boat, if it does nothing else, it fuels the fire of desire for a
lifetime of dreaming of a bigger one.

For most freedom lovers and frugal voyagers the dream is really all about living a-board
and cruising, with the ultimate goal of staying out longer. It is no longer about the boat. In fact, if
your dream includes a "dream boat" chances are you will never be able to afford both the
"dream boat" and the "dream voyage". That is of course, unless your "dream boat" is a
reasonably small and economical cruiser.

Out here, no one cares about your boat, and that's a fact Jack!

From bums to billionaires we all are. . . Out here on the water, we are all often at the same
Marina, or the same anchorage, or the same beach; sharing the same fish fry, lobster bakes,
and barbecues.  While our pocketbooks, bank accounts, and boats are not at all near the same
size, what we all have in common is a fierce love of freedom, a great respect for Mother Nature
and each other. No one cares who has what boat. Respect "out here" is earned by being a good
careful safe and considerate boater. Not from the age, size or price range of your vessel.

On the water, both on the Great Loop & the Seven Seas, those voyagers that are on the
smallest, simplest, and most humble of boats, earn the greatest respect and admiration from
everybody. They are also the ones having the most fun!

Most of the very most experienced and accomplished live a-board and
cruising voyagers, have purchased used boats, under 38 feet in length.
So, now - What does it cost?  (as of Jan 2017) I feel very confident that any safe frugal
voyager can complete the entire Great Loop for just under $15,000.00. This includes fuel and
2 nights a week in a Marina for a year - motoring the entire way in an economical cruising
vessel such as a full-displacement hull single engine Trawler or a Sailboat.

In addition to the above (boat fuel and docking expenses) you have food, beverage, ice,
snacks, eating out, entertainment, site-seeing, clothes, gifts, souvenirs, and possibly flights
home and rental cars, etc. You also have the expense of soap, toothpaste, quarters for
laundry, hair cuts, etc. Yes, life's expenses continue - even cruising around paradise.

Certainly, I would recommend that anyone (everyone) attempting this voyage have enough
money for emergencies - either for repairs, or at least enough to stay in a motel or somewhere
if for any reason you are unable to stay on your boat. Having enough money in reserve to get
home is always a great idea.

For those on a frugal budget, if you plan right, and you like to fish and like to eat seafood;
your onboard food cost can be kept to a minimum while eating very healthy and very well. Our
menu on the boat seldom does not include the "fresh catch of the day".

If you have a dinghy (and you should have a dinghy) then you can plan your stops to
avoid buying provisions at the Marina or nearby convenient store. Our vessel is well stocked
with rice, pasta, beans, carrots, potatoes and spices. . . cheap food that goes well with the
seafood we catch. Additionally, for those times we don't fish, or don't catch anything, our basic
staples also make a pretty good stand alone dish.
Our favorite Great Loop Links - click NEXT
The bottom line to cruising America's
Great Loop on a
frugal budget is:
Go small
Go with a Dinghy
Plan ahead for provisions
Anchor out at least 5 nights a week
Avoid the most expensive marinas
Plan ahead
!
L
ook for all the great free stuff to do!
There are also (at least) 46 locations that
offer free over night courtesy docks or tie
ups!
My oldest son and I went out, bought a frugal boat and cruised a frugal Loop!
::   The Atlantic IntraCoastal Waterway   ::
::   The Great Loop Route   ::
BYOB
"Bring Your Own Boat"
and take the voyage of a lifetime
America's Great Loop
Cruising on a frugal budget