The Great Loop is a popular boating adventure that takes boaters on a journey through North America’s inland waterways. The route covers over 6,000 miles and allows boaters to explore the eastern half of the United States.
Completing the Great Loop is a bucket list item for many boaters, and choosing the right boat is crucial for a successful journey.
When it comes to selecting the best boat for the Great Loop, there are several factors to consider. The boat needs to be able to navigate through a variety of waterways, including canals, rivers, and lakes. It also needs to have enough space and amenities for extended periods of time on the water.
Additionally, the boat needs to be reliable and able to handle a range of weather conditions. With so many options available, choosing the right boat for the Great Loop can be overwhelming.
Understanding the Great Loop
As per NOAA’s National Ocean Service (.gov), the Great Loop is a boating adventure that takes you on a 6,000-plus-mile journey through the eastern half of North America.
The route takes you through the inland rivers and river systems, the Great Lakes, the Canadian Heritage Canals, the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, the Hudson River, and the Atlantic Coast. The loop can be completed in either direction and can be started from anywhere along the route.
The Great Loop is a popular destination for boaters, and the route offers a diverse range of experiences, from the bustling city of Chicago to the quiet waterways of the American Midwest. The loop also includes a trip to the Bahamas, which is a highlight for many boaters.
The loop is a challenging adventure that requires careful planning and preparation. Boaters must navigate through a variety of waterways, including narrow canals, locks, and bridges.
They must also be aware of the different water depths and air drafts that are required to navigate through certain areas.
Boaters should also be aware of the rules and regulations that apply to the Great Loop. For example, the Chicago River is a no-wake zone, and boaters must follow strict speed limits.
Boaters must also be aware of the height restrictions of certain bridges and the need to have proper documentation and permits when crossing international borders.
Overall, the Great Loop is an incredible adventure that offers boaters a unique opportunity to explore the waterways of North America. It is a challenging adventure that requires careful planning and preparation, but the rewards are well worth the effort.
Choosing the Right Boat
When it comes to choosing the right boat for the Great Loop, there are several factors to consider. The boat must be seaworthy, comfortable, and have enough space to accommodate all passengers and their belongings. The following are some of the best boat options for the Great Loop:
Trawlers are one of the most popular types of boats for the Great Loop. They are known for their fuel efficiency, stability, and comfortable living spaces.
Trawlers typically have a displacement hull, which means they move through the water more slowly but with less fuel consumption. They are available in a range of sizes, from small trailerable boats to larger vessels with multiple cabins.
Power catamarans are also a popular choice for the Great Loop. They have a wide beam, which provides more stability and living space than a monohull boat. Power catamarans are available in both planing and displacement hulls, and they are known for their fuel efficiency and speed.
Sailboats are a great option for those who want to enjoy a more traditional boating experience. They are known for their quiet operation and fuel efficiency, and they can be a great way to save money on fuel costs.
Sailboats are available in a range of sizes, from small trailerable boats to larger vessels with multiple cabins.
Motor yachts are a luxurious option for the Great Loop. They typically have multiple cabins, spacious living areas, and all the amenities of a home. Motor yachts are available in both planing and displacement hulls, and they are known for their speed and comfort.
Cabin cruisers are a versatile option for the Great Loop. They are available in both planing and displacement hulls, and they typically have a comfortable living space and sleeping quarters. Cabin cruisers are also known for their fuel efficiency and maneuverability.
Trailerable boats are a great option for those who want to explore the Great Loop on their own terms. They are easy to transport and launch, and they can be a great way to save money on marina fees.
Trailerable boats are available in a range of sizes and styles, from small fishing boats to larger cruisers.
When choosing the right boat for the Great Loop, it’s important to consider your budget, your desired level of comfort, and your boating experience. Each type of boat has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to do your research and choose the one that best suits your needs.
Key Boat Features for the Great Loop
When choosing a boat for the Great Loop, there are several key features to consider. The Great Loop is a long and diverse journey that requires a boat that can handle a variety of conditions and situations. Here are some important features to look for when choosing a boat for the Great Loop:
The hull of the boat is an important consideration for the Great Loop. A displacement hull is ideal for the Great Loop as it is more fuel-efficient and can handle rougher waters. A full keel can also provide better stability in rough conditions.
Diesel engines are preferred for the Great Loop due to their fuel efficiency and reliability. Twin engines are also recommended for safety and maneuverability in tight spaces.
Comfort is important for a long journey like the Great Loop. Look for a boat with a spacious cabin, comfortable sleeping arrangements, and a well-equipped galley. A flybridge or cockpit is also a great feature for enjoying the scenery and socializing.
Fuel and Range
Fuel capacity and range are important factors to consider when choosing a boat for the Great Loop. Look for a boat with a fuel-efficient engine and a large fuel tank to minimize the need for frequent refueling.
Bridge clearance is an important consideration for the Great Loop, as many bridges along the route have low clearance. Look for a boat with a low air draft and a mast that can be easily lowered.
Storage is important for a long journey like the Great Loop. Look for a boat with ample storage space for provisions, gear, and personal belongings.
The Great Loop is an adventure, and the boat you choose should be able to handle a variety of conditions and situations. Look for a boat with good maneuverability, a shallow draft for navigating canals, and reliable communication equipment like a VHF radio and AIS.
Speaking from my own experience, there’s a bunch to mull over when picking a boat for the Great Loop. It’s all about finding that sweet spot – a boat that’s comfy, reliable, and totally up for the adventure that lies ahead.
Planning Your Route
Planning your route for the Great Loop is an essential part of the journey. The Great Loop is a circumnavigation of the eastern half of North America, including the United States and Canadian Heritage Canals.
The route includes the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, the Hudson River, the Great Lakes, and the inland rivers and river system of the American Midwest.
One of the first decisions to make when planning your route is where to start and end your journey. Most boaters begin in Florida, as it provides easy access to the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. However, some boaters choose to start in the Bahamas or other locations on the Atlantic coast.
Once you have decided on your starting point, you can begin planning your route. There are several side trips and detours that you can take along the way, including a trip to Chicago or exploring the Bahamas.
It is important to note that the Great Loop is not a continuous waterway. There are several sections where you will need to travel on land to reach the next body of water. For example, at mile marker 300 on the Illinois Waterway, you will need to clear a 19.7′ bridge.
To help plan your route, there are several resources available. The Great Loop Cruising Association provides detailed information on the route and can help you plan your journey.
Additionally, there are several guidebooks available that provide information on marinas, fuel stops, and other important resources along the way.
Overall, planning your route for the Great Loop is an important part of the journey. By carefully considering your starting point and route, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable trip around the eastern half of North America.
Life on Board
Life on board a boat during the Great Loop can be a unique and exciting experience. While the accommodations may be smaller than a typical home or hotel, they are designed to maximize comfort and functionality.
The galley, or kitchen, on a Great Loop boat is typically compact but well-equipped with a stove, refrigerator, and sink.
Some boats may also include a microwave or other appliances. The cabin, or living space, is designed to be comfortable and functional with seating areas, storage, and entertainment options.
Sleeping accommodations on a Great Loop boat can vary depending on the size and type of boat. Some boats may have a separate bedroom, while others may have a convertible sleeping area in the main cabin.
Regardless of the sleeping arrangements, most boats are designed to maximize space and provide a comfortable sleeping environment.
The bathroom, or head, on a Great Loop boat may be small but is designed to be functional and efficient. Many boats include a shower, toilet, and sink, while others may have a shared bathroom for multiple cabins.
Overall, life on board a Great Loop boat is a unique and exciting experience. While the accommodations may be smaller than a typical home or hotel, they are designed to maximize comfort and functionality.
Choosing the best boat for the Great Loop is a crucial decision that can make or break the entire adventure. It’s essential to consider all the factors, including the size, type, and features of the boat, as well as the budget, experience, and preferences of the boater.
The Great Loop is a boating adventure of a lifetime that offers a unique opportunity to explore the diverse waterways of North America. It’s a journey that requires careful planning, preparation, and execution.
The right boat can make the trip comfortable, safe, and enjoyable, while the wrong one can turn it into a nightmare.
Boats come in different sizes, shapes, and designs, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
Some boats are more suitable for long-distance cruising, while others are better for inland waterways. It’s crucial to choose a boat that fits the specific needs and requirements of the Great Loop.
When it comes to the Great Loop, there is no one-size-fits-all boat. The ideal boat depends on various factors, including the boater’s experience, budget, and preferences. However, there are some general guidelines that can help narrow down the options and make the decision easier.
In summary, the best boat for the Great Loop is the one that meets the boater’s specific needs, preferences, and budget.
It’s important to research, compare, and test different boats before making a final decision. With the right boat, the Great Loop can be an unforgettable adventure that creates memories to last a lifetime.