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This is the place to get 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 basics to help you determine if cruising America’s Great Loop belongs on your Bucket List, or not. From Boats to Budgets, 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 metric ton of it. You simply need to be a safe boater in a 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, your vessel's limitations as well as your own. Very few boaters have all the experience they will get cruising America's Great Loop. Much of this voyage is a "learn as you go" new experience for all of us. Don't worry, it is really that safe and easy.


The most difficult aspect of cruising the Loop is dropping those lines and beginning. Cruising it is neither difficult nor dangerous. Thousands of Loopers have made this voyage safely, and thousands are boating on portions of it every season. The Erie Canal for example, reported a few hundred boaters from 34 States docked transited the Canal last season. Parks Canada reported over 120,000 boaters' transit all or part of the Trent-Severn every season. The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Association reports over 12,000 boaters, transient the ICW each year. While not everyone is cruising 'the entire' Loop, you're not alone on this voyage. You will see hundreds of boaters on every portion of this voyage and about 200 of them will be cruising the entire Great Loop.


It must be safe, suitable, seaworthy and comfortable. It must comfortably clear an Officially Charted fixed bridge height of 19' 7" just south of Chicago. It can't be longer than 90' if cruising Canada's Trent-Severn Canal. We strongly suggest a vessel under 40'. There is a Beam or width maximum of 23' on the Trent-Severn. We suggest 16' maximum for best slips in Marinas. Your boat's draft should be 5' or less, and we suggest 4' or less. You will need a minimum fuel range of 208-miles plus reserve. We highly recommend a 275-mile fuel range. While not a requirement, we strongly recommend an extremely FUEL-EFFICIENT vessel.

The Looper’s Companion Guide:

This 2024 Edition is the most current, the most accurate and the most complete informative cruising guide for the entire Great Loop. It is your Mile by Mile, Destination to Destination guide that provides each ‘cruising day’s’ distance, fuel range, bridge heights, controlled depths, Mile Markers, Waypoints on all the main most popular routes, detours, and side trips. It takes you to the safest anchorages, most affordable people and pet friendly marinas, and includes Marina phone numbers. You get everything you need to make this voyage safely, comfortably and affordably. From Boats to Budgets, from planning to execution, this is a huge ‘easy to read’ 8″ x 11″ x 300-page guide with full color maps & photos to make it the most important item at your helm. From planning to preparing, your budget, boat, equipment, provisions, supplies and amenities, you get the most up to date information and actual cruising costs. Safest of all, it ends each and every cruising day at a free dock, safe anchorage or marina in time to get safely settled in before dark.
From the frugal to the flamboyant, from the best restaurants, tourist attractions, and Looper favorites, our ten-time Looper & Best-Selling author, Capt. John prepares you for cruising the Great Loop like nobody else can.

It’s available in both Hardcover & Paperback. You will get the best prices on Amazon.

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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, there are about 200 amazing places and hidden gems in-between that will tempt you off your boat. When cruising by the Seasons, you will need to spend as much time not cruising as you do cruising, All the interesting and fun destinations along the way are guaranteed to tempt you off your boat to stop, shop, stay, and linger. This is the voyage where the destinations are as exciting as getting there.

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 actual cruising days will be the same. Both routes offer very different yet 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 near Mackinac Island which is not only at the top of Lakes Huron & Michigan, but also on the top of our must stop, shop, and visit 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 solo. The fact is, we all have different reasons, expectations, budgets, and therefore, expenses cruising the Loop. We know Loopers that have spent less than $6,000 for fuel and less than $6,000 in overnight Marina fees. We also know Loopers that spent over $25,000 for fuel and another $25,000 to stay in Marinas every night. Your cost of cruising will depend on your lifestyle, philosophy, and pocketbook.


Are you dreaming of a boat? Or dreaming of the voyage? If dreaming of a 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, and of those that are, only 1 in 10,000 of them reach 48′. Most Loopers are in boats between 26′ and 38′. Which is where you will find the most fuel-efficient vessels. . . And to cruise the Great Loop a non-fuel-efficient vessel can break one’s Looping budget. To cruise the Loop, your boat doesn’t need to be big or fast. Instead, it should be extremely fuel-efficient. No bigger than your comfort requires, and no smaller than your safety demands. Think “transportation & lodging” not a “home on the water”. Our advice? Think how small you can go, not how big.


Believe us, there are 2 metric tons of fun to be had cruising the Great Loop. One ton is cruising it. The other ton is being a tourist, eating out, and visiting all the incredible on destinations along the way.  While Loopers talk of places like New York or New Orleans, fact is there are many more unexpected hidden gems 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’. There are over 140 incredible destinations that will beckon you to stop, shop, stay and linger. As a result, 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 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. For about 99% of this voyage, you will seldom be much more than a stone’s throw from shore. Almost daily, you will discover regional waterfront restaurants, locally famous, for offering great regional food. 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 incredibly delicious. Not taking the time or having the budget for ‘eating out’ is 1 of the 3 top Looper regrets.