The Great American Loop

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May 1, 2023
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Denham Springs, Louisiana
Has anyone here done the Great American Loop?
For those that don't know what the Great American Loop is. It's a boat trip throughout the United States and is about 90% inland waters (rivers and canals) meaning very little high seas open water. Think of it as the American version of the canals in Europe. Couples and families (often retires) take their boats usually in the 35-40 foot range on and up to a year-long journey. Generally, the boats wind up traveling in a group so you may have several boats traveling together spending each night at a different location visiting and enjoying evening Docktails. You might stay in one small town for a couple of days to see the sights before moving on. Our plan is to go to the Bahamas probably in November after hurricane season has passed. Then work our way east to be in New York in June to head north up the Hudson River toward lake Erie. From there, you have choices to go up through Canada or go towards Chicago. The goal is to tour the areas and be headed back south from Chicago around September to avoid the cold weather. Then south to Mobile Alabama and on over to Florida. You complete your loop whenever you cross your wake from wherever you started. Because your trip generally evolves into a group of boats together you have good safety in case of an emergency. Most marinas will cater to Loopers because it is becoming big business. They may offer discounts or even a courtesy car to take to town for groceries.
How long does it take? It has been done in as little as 30 days on PWC and other fast boats. One couple did it on a pontoon boat. Most people take closer to a year. You are retired so you stop to see the sights and enjoy each small town you come across. If bad weather comes you just stay put for a day and then move in.
But But But you need a million-dollar yacht to make a trip like that. NO!!! Most LOOPERS are just regular working people living the dream. I'd say the average cost of a modest boat is about $60-150k. Think about it. Lots of new vehicles cost 80k. Fuel cost. Most of these boats run about 10mph and burn around 4-8 gallons per hour depending on how you run it. By, comparison your 4-stroke on your 20-footer might burn as much as 8-15 gallons per hour. My wife and I plan on taking a year to make lots of new friends see the country and possibly drink a few Docktails in the evening. Some sell their house and buy the boat and make the trip then sell the boat when done. Others rent their house and come back to it when they are done. Your big costs are fuel and dockage but to offset that you don't have any household bills like electricity, car note, water/gas cable etc. That makes a big impact on what you spend on living on the boat. I don't know if anyone has done this in an aluminum boat but I'm sure someone has at some point. My plan is to tow an aluminum V hull like a 16-starcraft to run around in. Most just use a small inflatable dingy.
Pros. You make amazing memories. Friends and family can come to visit for a few days to share your experience. You get to spend some quality time with your spouse.
Cons. You have to spend Quality time with your spouse. lol 😂

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This couple was on a test trip still working out any bugs before the journey.
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