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|When planning for your voyage
(It is important to simplify, not complicate.)
| If you are dreaming of cruising the Great Loop, you might have given some thought
as to where you are today and what you have to do to start cruising the Great Loop. In this
regard, it is important to simplify everything, and complicate nothing.
|The Great Loop routes - click NEXT
There is no "one way" to cruise America's Great Loop.
While some ways are better than others, such as going in a counter-clock wise direction
to save fuel and cruise each geographic area by its preferred weather season, there is no
set rule that says you have to cruise the Loop in a particular boat, or within a certain time
frame. For example, I know three "Loopers" that did it in less than 90 days. On the
other-hand, I take a year and do it every year, and haven't seen all or enough of it yet.
We are all different. We all have our own set of schedules, time frames, and financial
situations. Yes, it all boils down to your own lifestyle, philosophy, and pocketbook. As a result,
there is no one 'perfect boat' to cruise the Loop in. Likewise, there is no rule that says you
have to do it a certain way or within a certain time. While we like taking our time and cruising
with the seasons, if you're into fast boats and jet skis, go for it!
If you desire is to cruise the Great Loop, you can do it. No matter what your work,
retirement, income, or situation is - where there is a will - there is a way - and it will be well
worth the effort to figure out which way suits you best. For sure, whatever your situation is, it
is very likely that someone under similar circumstances has done it already.
Yes! . . . You can do this!
Remember, your voyage around the Loop will be different from mine and unique to
everyone else. Rivers change their banks, tides wash away the sands, beaches erode, and
the current moves the muddy bridges and wing dams are built, docks, piers, and marinas
come and go and the weather can cause droughts and bring on floods. . .
So, while we encourage you to learn all you can before making this voyage; we caution
you about learning too much. It is after all, NOT rocket science, and your own experience
cruising the Loop will prove to be your very best teacher. if you are already a safe boater,
rest assured, this voyage is far easier to make than you can possibly imagine in advance. So
don't make it more complicated in your mind, than it really is.
Above all else. . . Whether you are new to boating, a novice or an Old Salt, all the
experience or boating education in the world will not matter near as much as simply being a
safe boater. Don't let lack of experience or education become your excuse for not going
now, or for not going at all.
1. Caution and consideration should be used when reading books and blogs, or any
dated material. Don't blindly expect fuel stops, docks, piers, marinas, safe anchorages, or
even water depths to be there when you are. If there is one thing you can expect cruising the
Great Loop, it is the unexpected.
2. Don't spend your cruising cash on paper charts. (Yes, I get a lot of heat over this
suggestion.) However, if you insist on using them, don't buy the expensive most current ones
until you are ready to pull up anchor and go. Paper charts are dated material. If you buy
them 6 months before you start your voyage, chances are they will be more 6 months old
already, and 2 years old by the time you are half way finished.
Note: your GPS will be much more accurate, because you can download updates as soon
as NOAA enters the change. Since NOAA is the original source of, and responsible for the
production of all nautical charts, you get them as soon as the paper chart publishers get
them. This is why we have chosen to backup our GPS and our battery power (in case of
equipment or electrical failure) instead of buying all those expensive paper charts.
3. When planning on your trip - plan on taking your time. True, in a fast boat or a slow
one, averaging 50 miles a day (which is what most Loopers do) one could "conceivably"
cruise the 5,600 miles of the Great Loop in 110 days. However, there is good reason why
most "Loopers" take a year or more to complete their voyage.
4. Cruising the Great Loop is not a race. For one thing, there is simply too much to see
and do along the way. Additionally, in most areas your speed will be greatly limited by 10mph
speed limits, no wake zones, tides, water conditions, traffic and wait times for Bridge or Lock
Your primary consideration in determining your day's cruising distance will not be based
on how fast your boat can go. Instead, it is determined by how far you need to go to reach a
particular Marina or safe anchorage during daylight. For very-very few exceptions, it will not
be safe or practical to cruise at night. ( We never-ever do. )
Your secondary consideration is whether or not there are any stops, restaurants, or
interesting sites along the way you want to visit.
When it comes to cruising the Great Loop; at sundown the Tortoise and the Hare most
often find themselves at the same Marina or safe anchorage. Yes, that big "fast" boat that
passes you during the day, will most likely be at the same Marina or anchorage you are at
night. So remember, regardless of your boat's speed capability, you will do well to average
much more than 50 miles a day. Besides, this voyage is all about the journey. It is not a race,
and "speed" can be your very worst enemy.
5. Plan on days off and plenty of rest. It sounds silly to plan on "days off" from boating
when you are used to planning days off work to go boating. However, the longer you cruise,
the more often you will need (and want) to take a day or two off from cruising. Plan on it!
We plan our days off around what we want to see and do on land. Very seldom are we
actually cruising more than 5 days a week, and this works well, as we have plenty of time to
do laundry, buy provisions, and see the local sights. We are also off the water when all the
crazy week-enders are out drinking in there boats. After a day or two, we are always rested
and eager to get going again - in safer less crowded waterways.
Remember. . . According to USCG accident statistics, Saturday & Sundays between 2pm
and 6pm during May through August are the very most dangerous times for boaters to be on
the water. This is why I always plan this time to be safely tucked in at a slip in a Marina -
usually watching a ball game, and catching up on my laundry.
"Bring Your Own Boat"
and take the voyage of a lifetime
America's Great Loop
|:: The Scoop on the Loop ::
Preparing for your cruise around America's Great Loop
|Before you start planning. . .
Be sure to get the book. . .