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This is the place to get exactly what you want and need to know about cruising America’s Great Loop. From planning & preparations, from boats to budgets, we give you all the helpful hints, tips and suggestions to make your voyage around America’s Great Loop as safe, comfortable and affordable as it can be. It’s all free, as we believe it should be.

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Big Boat or Little Boat We all end up at the same destinations, having the same amount of fun.

Captain John


Experience is great, the more you have the better; but you don't need a ton of it. You simply need to be a very safe boater in a very safe, suitable, seaworthy boat. You need to know your boat, your gear and electronics as well as your anchoring system; and you need to know how to use them safely and correctly. You need to know the rules of the road, and your vessel's limitations as well as your own. Very few boaters have 'ALL' the experience you will get cruising America's Great Loop. There are many 'first time experiences' (Locks, Lift Bridges, Tides, etc.) for all of us. Indeed, if you are a safe boater in a safe suitable boat, you're good to go!


America's Great Loop is neither difficult nor dangerous. Thousands of boaters have made this voyage safely. Having made it a dozen times ourselves, we've never felt threatened in any way by anyone or anything bigger than a mosquito. We have never been in danger of damaging or losing our boat. With today's technology, and all the information you have at your disposal, as well as Marine GPS, Weather Forecasting, 24/7 USCG & USACE communications, Cellphones, Laptops, VHF Radios, you are in great shape to make this voyage safely and successfully. Fact is, long before your voyage is over, you will be amazed at the realization of just how safe and easy cruising the Loop really is.


Your boat MUST be able to clear 19’ 7” fixed bridge, just south of Chicago. There is no alternative waterway route around this fixed bridge. If you can clear 17-feet, you can boat right through downtown Chicago! If you can clear 19'7" but cannot clear 17', there is an optional route, but both routes lead to that 19'7" bridge we must all go under. If you can clear 15-feet 6-inches, you can cruise the full-length of the Erie Canal from the Hudson River to Buffalo & Lake Erie. If cruising Canada's Trent-Severn & Heritage Canals, your vessel must have a draft of 5-feet or less, and a beam less than 23'. All boats must have a minimum fuel range of 204-miles. The length of your boat is limited to common sense, safety, and affordability.

The Looper’s Companion Guide:

Don’t leave home without it.

The Ultimate Great Loop Cruising Guide

For cruising America’s Great Loop, “The Looper’s Companion Guide” is a must have. It includes everything you will need and want to plan, prepare and actually cruise the Loop. From boats to budgets, it will help you plan and prepare yourself, your finances, your boat, your equipment, supplies and amenities for a safe, comfortable, successful, and most enjoyable voyage around the Loop.
The UPDATED 2023 EDITION gives you each and every single ‘cruising day’s’ distance, miles, estimated cruising time, fuel range, bridge heights, controlled depths, and what to expect along the way, as well as when you get there. You get mile markers, waypoints, the route, route options, detours, recommended side trips and directions to the safest anchorages and the cleanest, affordable, people and pet friendly marinas including phone numbers. Best of all, it ends each one of your cruising days at a free dock or wall, safe anchorage or marina before dark.
From the frugal to the flamboyant, from the best dives to the dining elites, Tiki Bars, Ice Cream Parlors, tourist attractions, and Looper favorite destinations, “The Looper’s Companion Guide” prepares you for actually cruising the Great Loop like nobody else can or does. The #1 BEST-SELLING “Great Loop Guide” on the market  since 2016, it now includes “Looping By The Numbers” and was awarded 2022 & 2023 “Book of the Year”. It’s proof positive no one knows more about what you need and want when cruising the Loop better than Capt. John.

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Over 400 Five Star Ratings

Captain John


Cruising the Great Loop can take you to a countless number of incredible destinations. Fifty of which are on Condé Nast's top places to visit in North America. From Big Cites, Canal towns and quaint waterfront villages, you will be amazed at the places you can go in your own boat. From New Orleans to New York, from Miami to Mackinac, from St. Augustine to St Louis, and to every amazing place in-between, the interesting and fun destinations on this voyage are guaranteed to tempt you off your boat to stop, shop, stay, and linger. This is where the destinations, (many of which you've never heard of), are as exciting and amazing as the voyage itself.

ALL U.S.A. Route or CANADA'S Route?

The ALL-USA route vs the Canadian Trent Severn route, are near the same distance and require the about same number of 'cruising days'. The USA route is about 175-miles longer, but since the Great Lakes don't have Locks, Lift Bridges or canal speed limits, your cruising days will be very near the same. Both routes offer very different and amazing destinations and experiences. Obviously, you will need a passport or Nexis card to cruise Canada. Both routes separate at the Erie/Oswego Canal and reunite at Mackinac Island which is not only at the top of Lakes Huron & Michigan, but also on the top of our must stop, must shop, must see and do experiences.

We are all different and we travel the Great Loop differently. Some Loopers 'race' around the Great Loop while others take a year or more to cover 6,000 miles or more. Some dream of 'the boat', while others dream of 'the voyage'. Some are 'couples', while some are cruising solo. The fact is, we all have different reasons, expectations, budgets, and costs of cruising the Loop. One person we know burned 0.5 gph, while another burned 7 gph. One Looper spent only 42 nights in a marina, while another spent 294 nights. The point is, this is an epic adventure, no matter your Great Loop budget. Take all the information you can get, use what fits your lifestyle, philosophy, and pocketbook, and do it 'your way'.


Are you dreaming of a big boat? Or dreaming of cruising the Great Loop? If dreaming of a ‘BIG’ boat, you might want to think again. According to the USCG, of almost 13 million registered boats in the USA, 99.25% are under 40′ long. Many Loopers are in boats between 26′ and 39′. Which is where you will find the most fuel-efficient vessels. To cruise the Loop, your boat simply must be safe, suitable, seaworthy and comfortable. It doesn’t need to be big, expensive or fast. Instead, it should be extremely fuel-efficient, no bigger than your comfort requires, and no smaller than your safety demands. For the safest, easiest, most stress free and affordable voyage around the Loop, think “transportation & lodging” not a “home on the water”. Our advice? Think how small you can go, not how big.


Believe us, there are two tons of fun to be had cruising the Great Loop. One ton is cruising it. The other ton of fun is being a tourist, eating out, and experiencing all the incredible on shore attractions, activities and destinations along the way.  While Loopers talk of places like New York or New Orleans, fact is there are many more unexpected destinations along the way that will end up making your most cherished memories. Our most fervent advice is, “Don’t underestimate your budget for ‘Fun Money’. Many of us spend more money ‘on shore’ eating out and being a tourist, than we spend on fuel & marina fees. If this voyage is anything, it is far beyond that of a ‘boat ride’. It is much more like a yearlong vacation where you will be visiting lots of exciting and incredible destinations that will beckon you to stop, shop, stay and linger. This voyage should never be a question of not having enough money, but it should be a question of how you want to spend it. We would rather spend the bulk of our ‘Cruising Kitty’ on ourselves having fun instead of pouring it all down our fuel tank(s). Which is the reason for our “More Fun Than Fuel” motto and Looping philosophy.


We’re not crossing oceans here. In fact, for about 80% of this voyage, you will seldom be much more than a stone’s throw from shore. As a result, almost daily, you will discover places that will tempt you off your boat to stop, shop, stay and linger. For many of us, it is the restaurants known locally for offering regional favorite dishes that tempt us off the boat. These restaurants will introduce you to incredibly fresh, locally obtained, delightfully delicious culinary delights. So, plan on it. We never eat out at Fast Food or Chain restaurants on this voyage simply because the ‘regional’ food favorites are so different and so incredibly delicious.