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Along with your boat. . . You need a Dinghy:
     Power or Sail - a good dinghy is something you will want and use. At 2017 prices, a good dinghy will cost you $1,000 or less,
half that on the used market. Depending on your boat and boating preferences, it could easily save you that much on a trip
around the Loop. There are free dinghy docks everywhere! Most Marinas, State & National Parks, Restaurants, City Docks, etc.,
offer free dinghy docks. Additionally, they are great for exploring in places you might not be able to take your boat because of the
depth of the water, and for fishing in some great places.

While your boat will be your home on the water, your dinghy can be your SUV on the water. It is your taxi, your u-haul, and
your utility vehicle. It will take you to shore anytime for any reason. In fact, a dinghy will save you a thousand or more in dock fees
and/or overnight stays at Marinas. Additionally, in many areas it will save you a two of three mile walk to a local Supermarket,
Movie Theater, Laundry Mat, or boat supply store. In one place, I walked a mile to a Walmart to discover after I got there, I could
have taken my dinghy within 100 feet of it's back door.

While it may seem contradictory to say you need to purchase an optional dinghy to cruise the Great Loop on a frugal budget -
fact is, it can save you money in docking fees. It will provide you access to a totally unlimited amount of site seeing, exploring,
beautiful beaches, fishing, and shopping opportunities you otherwise will not be able to reach without taking a substantial hike.
::   The Gulf ICW   ::
Unless you plan on staying at a Marina every night (which is impossible to do, by the way) your vessel's ground tackle will be an
extremely important part of your incident free voyage around the Great Loop.  When it comes to the proper anchoring of your
vessel, we strongly suggest you pay attention.

If you have never done it before, anchoring out in the tidal currents can be a real shocker - especially along the Atlantic ICW.
If you are new to anchoring in tidal waters, believe us. . . You are going to drag your anchor more than just once.  You will
undoubtedly learn this lesson the hard way - we all do!  After you hear that "bump" in the middle of the night (that usually comes
after the tide change), you will then remember the seriousness of what we are telling you now.

If you just bought a new production vessel, chances are about 100% certain that the anchor and anchoring system that
came with it is woefully inadequate for use around the Great Loop. When you get "out here" with the anchoring system that came
on your vessel, you will immediate realize how silly it looks when compared to that of the more accomplished cruisers.

You have probably heard and read it before, but let me reinforce the fact that the safety value of a good anchoring system and
knowing how to use it is vital.  NEVER just drop an anchor. Make sure it is holding by using your engine to back off until you know
your anchor is set.

Remember, tides cause the current to reverse directions which will make your boat swing around in the opposite direction.
If you have a 100 feet of anchor rode out, your boat will swing in a circle with a radius of 100 feet plus the added length of your
boat.

Heavy chain the length of your boat helps your anchor reset. A good anchoring system is one that resets itself when this
happens. It will in fact, be better for a good nights sleep than a sleep number bed. So, consider yourself warned.
::   The Great Lakes   ::
Should your boat be NEW or USED?
     The answer has to do with your lifestyle, philosophy, and pocketbook. For sure, the frugal voyager will buy used. I do, my son
does and most all the more experienced and accomplished boaters buy used. It is a simple matter of: "Do you want to give your
money to the boat dealer or do you want to keep it in your cruising kitty?
     Our experience over the years is with both new and used boats. In both cases, it should be no surprise to anyone that you
get what you pay for. Truthfully, buying new does NOT guarantee you any less trouble then buying used. In fact I would much
rather have a good top quality older USED boat than some of the cheaper NEW ones they build today.

     When you are miles from home and it comes to a Coast Guard, BoatUS or Sea Tow rescue or emergency - a new boat
warranty (in most cases) won't do you any good.
For your information. . . The Coast Guard is in the business of saving LIVES not
boats. They will take you off your boat, but they will NOT rescue your boat. For that, you need BoatUS or SeaTow "towing services
or insurance".
     In many cases, a BoatUS or SeaTow boat rescue (without insurance) will cost you upwards of $2,500 (or more) simply to get
your boat to the nearest Marina. Your new boat warranty will not cover the tow. To join BoatUS or SeaTow and get their Towing
Insurance - if only for the year you plan to cruise the Great Loop - is very inexpensive complaired to the cost of your boat needing
to be towed or rescued.

     
Out here the bottom line with a new or used boat is safety - not shine. It is important to remember, that the primary purpose
of your vessel is to get you safely and comfortably where you want to go - not to show the world how far you've come.    
     For sure when it comes to cruising and living aboard, it really doesn't matter to anyone else if your vessel is new or used,
small, medium or large, or even shiny and bright. It simply needs to be well maintained, safe, seaworthy and look the part.

     If you are new to boats and boating, we suggest that before you buy; as a very minimum, you should never buy a used
boat without obtaining the services of a professional licensed Certified Marine Boat Surveyor. We've shaken hands on many deals
based on a $100 down payment, with the balance paid in full upon receipt of a "satisfactory to us" certified boat survey. Can't
encourage you enough about this. DON'T TAKE THE SELLER'S WORD the vessel is safe and seaworthy. Things could be
seriously wrong that he isn't even aware of.  
::   The Atlantic IntraCoastal Waterway   ::
::   The Great Loop Route   ::
What else do you need?
BYOB
"Bring Your Own Boat"
and take the voyage of a lifetime
America's Great Loop
For more on the "Great Loop" Boat - click NEXT
When cruising America's Great Loop - you will see all kinds and types, sizes and shapes, of both new and used
boats.  
The bigger "yachts" are the ones that are more for show then go. Most of the ones you see will be at the dock.

Most voyagers and long-distance cruising vessels are under 40 feet. The majority of them are in Trawlers or sailboats that use
full displacement hulls. These vessels do not "get up and plane" as speed boats do. Some Trawlers however are built on
semi-displacement hulls, as are Cabin Cruisers. These vessels will plane and go relatively fast, and in fact are not designed to
go slow. The down side of them however - is their high fuel burn rate.

Believe it or not - the biggest (or I should say worst) complaint I ever heard from anyone completing the Great Loop, was from
a guy that bought a brand new twin engine 42' Trawler to do the Loop in.  His complaint was two fold: 1. The fact that he had
$19,000 in repairs along the way, and 2. That it cost him $78,000 in fuel.

My opinion?  While I feel bad about the repairs - He should however known about the fuel cost when he bought the boat. So
remember: Even if you pay cash for your vessel - when you choose your boat, you determine your long-term, long-distance
cruising expenses.
Great Loop Boat Considerations