|© 1993 - 2013 CaptainJohn.org
|:: Your boat's size. . . No one cares but you. . . Really! ::
|As for Trawlers, for both fuel economy and range, we recommend the 'true' trawler with a small single engine and a
full-displacement hull. If you are cruising on a frugal budget, we certainly can not recommend a semi-displacement or planning hull
live a-board size vessel of any type.
While it is true, trawlers are the most popular vessel we see on the Great Loop, we also see more of them run aground than
sailboats, and there is a also an ever increasing number of sailboats on the Great Loop.
If you're on a frugal budget, you may need to rethink your Great Loop boat. The Loop has been completed by almost every
imaginable type of vessel from Jet Skis, open aluminum boats, pontoon boats, and home built boats, as well as large power and
Here are a few examples of the smaller ones:
|Cruising on a Frugal Budget - click NEXT
|:: Capt John's America's Great Loop ::
|One day Lyn Morgan decided that he, too, would cruise the Great Loop. He however,
took a different view of it than most. Lyn went and had a customized - souped-up pontoon
boat (actually it is a tri-toon) and completed the journey in what is most likely a record
speed. He did it in 57 days.
That's right. It took him 57 days to race through 120 locks and across 5,300 miles
averaging about 40 miles per hour, he traveled about 200 miles per day.
|Most likely, no one has made it around the Great Loop in a powered vessel
more economical then this.
Buzz Gentes traveling aboard his 15-foot sailboat “Dalamar”. Yes, he simply took the
mast off and left it at home to cruise the Great Loop.
He fitted his boat with two, 2-horsepower outboard motors. This arrangement allowed
him to quickly fire up the second motor should the first fail and for additional power
when needed. Traveling at 5 knots, he averaged more than 150 miles on 6 gallons of
gas. That's an average fuel burn rate of only 0.24 gallons per hour.
|Keep in mind . . . We are NOT here to pick your boat.
Only you can pick the boat that is right for you. We're just here to let you know all your
|Cruising The Loop in a Sailboat
|Even if you don't know how to sail and never learn, an auxiliary powered (live a-board size) sailboat offers the very most
economical long-distance voyaging available.
Now that I have said that, there are of course, three possible exceptions: The small non-live a-board vessel, human powered
vessels, and totally electric vessels. Notwithstanding the exceptions, the full displacement hulls of both the mono-hull and multi-
hull sailing vessels offer the most efficient slow speed fuel economy of any gas or diesel powered vessel on the water.
It seems that many "Sailors" visiting our website are totally unaware that one can cruise America's Great Loop in a sailboat, but
you can. Fact is if your mast is less than 65' above the water (and most are), and your draft is less than 6' the trip around is very
possible. While we strongly suggest a draft less than 5' (ours is less than 4'), motoring your sailboat around the Loop opens a
wide range of cruising options.
Of course, sailboats must have their mast removed before entering the Erie Canal, and before entering Chicago or the Cal-Sag.
There are facilities to raise and lower your mast at each end of these locations.
What you may not know is that the design of the sailboat's displacement hull makes it the very most economical vessel on the
water. Think about it! Sailboats are designed to move easily through the water in the slightest breeze. As a result, it requires a
very minimum amount of horse power to move these vessels through the water.
gallons per hour, at a speed of about 8 mph.
A 32' to 36' single engine Trawler might be rated for a 175 to 250hp and have a 8 mph fuel burn rate of 4 to 5 gallons
an hour. Twin engines might have a fuel burn rate of 6 to 8 gallons (or more).
For this reason, you can not obtain a more economical live a-board vessel to cruise the Great Loop even if you take off the
mast or never raise the sails. We, met two such "Loopers" on our last voyage that had removed their mast and left them at home.
We met another couple that had inherited an old 50 foot Ketch. They didn't know how to sail and simply cut the old wooden masts
off at a height about 8 feet above their deck. From that, they mounted their antennas, and rigged a great Bimini top.
Learning to sail of course, is easy and fun. Surprisingly to many beginners, it comes natural once they realize there really isn't
anything hard or difficult about it. With a few lessons, a sailboat will also open your "side trip" options to include a greater range of
boating capabilities - such as the Caribbean and the rest of the world.
|Proof - where there is a will - there is a way. . .
|5,805 miles in a Jet Ski . . .
Larry Harcum, completed America's Great Loop in a Jet Ski.
He traveled 5,805 miles in 87 days.
|Special Considerations for Looping in a sailboat
|We get questions all the time, about bridge heights. It just seems sailors
have this "thing" about that long tall mast rising up into the sky that has
something important to do with their sailboat. (lol) Truth is, we understand
the concern - but it is not near so much as handicap as one thinks.
For sure, your mast will have to be removed prior to entering the Erie
Canal. If you want to sail across the Great Lakes, you can have the mast
stepped in Tonawanda, just past the last bridge on the canal. Once across
the Great Lakes, you will have to remove it again before entering the
Chicago River or the Cal-Sag bypass.
Most of the questions we get have to do with "What's next?" It seems
everyone wants to know about bridge heights from that 19' 1" bridge at
Chicago to the Gulf of Mexico.
From Chicago, most sailors don't step their mast again until they
reach Mobile Bay. This is not only what we do, it is what we strongly
suggest. On either route you take, (the Lower Mississippi river or the
Tennessee - Tombigbee) it is the traffic and long frequent stretches of
narrow waterways, that restricts your sailing. For most of the way, it is almost
impossible sail safely for any length of time between Chicago and the Gulf of
Mexico. The traffic is heavy, the currents are strong, and the marked
channels are simply too narrow, and the wind for the most part blows in your
However, if you a small sailboat and can step the mast yourself: If you are
taking the route to New Orleans, the lowest bridge on the Mississippi River is
59' 6". If you are taking the Tennessee-Tombigbee route, all fixed bridges
between the leaving the Mississippi at Cairo, to Mobile Bay have a vertical
clearance of at least 52 feet. For a side-trip adventure, you could spend
some time sailing on the beautiful Lakes of Kentucky, Barkley, and
|It is absolutely incredible . . .
That the very most wonderful, amazing and adventuresome voyages
are made in the most simple and humble of boats.
|Even if you don't know how to sail
|“Dalamar”. Yes, he simply took the mast off and left it at home to cruise
the Great Loop.
For a solo sailor cruising America's Great Loop, this is a very smart idea.
Buzz fitted his boat with two, 2-horsepower outboard motors. This
arrangement allowed him to quickly fire up the second motor should the
first fail and for additional power when needed. Traveling at 5 knots, he
averaged more than 150 miles on 6 gallons of gas. That's an average fuel
burn rate of only 0.24 gallons per hour.
My son & I did this in 2011 on a 30' sailboat - using a 9.9hp and
averaged 0.4 gph motoring around the entire Loop.