|© 1993 - 2020 captainjohn.org
"More Fun than Fuel" means more FUN, less FUEL - but not necessarily less money!
Capt. John's boating philosophy is simple.
It demands a safe, suitable, seaworthy vessel, well maintained and kept in ship shape. That's not cheap! It is about keeping your boat and
everything on it simple. It demands a fuel efficient smaller, but comfortable boat. Remember, the goal here is being able to spend the bulk of your
Cruising Kitty on yourself having fun vs spending the lion's share on Marina Dock slips and pouring it all down your fuel tank(s). You want carefree,
stress free, trouble free cruising with very EASILY AFFORDABLE "boat related" expenses.
Voyaging on a frugal boat & budget is NOT about having enough money. It is about how we chose to spend it.
While some might have you believe a good live aboard boat for cruising the Loop will cost you upwards of $250,000, We're here to let you know, no
one in our little group has ever paid more than $60,000. Capt. John who has made this voyage in 7 different boats, says he's never paid more than
$30,000 and 3 of them were purchased for less than $10,000. One in fact was purchased for $3,000.
Believing one has to be "rich" to cruise the Loop is a myth. One simply needs to be financially healthy. Indeed, most of us with experience, have
purchased good used boats near 36-feet, costing $50,000 or less, and we're the ones having the most fun.
|When cruising America's Great Loop - Your major expenses will be:
Long after your vessel is paid for, your boat choice epoxied your cost of cruising to your budget. Won't matter if you paid
$300,000, $30,000 or even $3,000 for your boat, once it is paid for, your on going cost of cruising & ownership will last as long as you
own your boat.
Believe it or not. . . There are boats 'out there' on the market that even if they were FREE - most of us could not afford the fuel and
marina expenses required to take it around the Loop. I'm speaking of some 42-plus footers with twin engines that burn fuel at a rate of 5
or more gallons per hour at recommended cruise speed. Some in fact will burn 50 gallons an hour at 15 knots. Many of them are also for
sale - cheap! Well, cheap enough to convince many 1st time buyers they are extremely "good deals". Some of them will be competitively
priced to that of a much smaller boat, and therefore, it seems buying a 46-footer for the same price as a 36-footer is a great deal.
Problem is, it can easily mean the difference in your "boat & boat related" cost of cruising the Loop being $15,000 or less vs $30,000 or
more and in many cases, being much more.
For this reason, it is so important to remember, the very moment you select your boat, is the very moment you
select your long distance cost of cruising!
When planning your budget for this voyage, your "lifestyle" should be your single most expense line item cruising the Loop. NOT YOUR
FUEL & MARINA FEES. You "lifestyle money" includes your necessities such as food, beverage, toiletries, laundry, etc. plus your "fun
money" for stopping, shopping, eating out, renting a car, seeing the sights and being a tourist, etc. Our "lifestyle" expenses are certainly
our greatest expense. If your "Boat & Boat related expenses" are sucking up all your "fun money", you won't have near as great an
adventure around the Loop as you could or should have.
We all have certain things we are accustom to. If you are in the habit of eating out at nice restaurants two, three or more times a
week, you will miss it terribly if you can't do it when cruising the Loop. This is part of your "lifestyle" which includes everything from your
favorite food, favorite beverage, entertainment, Computers, TV, going to the movies, the clothes you wear and places you shop. . . So
be aware, what you want and need on land to keep you happy, wont change when on your boat. Thinking you will need less when living
on your boat is a common mistake many first time "long distance" cruisers make.
When cruising the Loop, you will discover unspoiled unforgettable dramatic landscapes and shorelines, quaint seafaring villages
and waterfront restaurants with savory seafood and delicious regional favorites. The entire journey overflows with picturesque sights and
historic landmarks. You will find tourist attractions all along the way. Add to that, in each area you cruise you will find shrimp festivals,
catfish festivals, antique shows, flea markets, farmers markets, and all kinds of tempting things to do and sites to see - there is even a
Even when you get 'to the top' of the Loop - Mackinac Island's Grand Hotel and all the homemade fudge, chocolate, ice cream, and
souvenir shops are about as wonderful and tempting as you will ever see. Then there is Traverse City and Leeland or Fishtown and it
starts all over again.
Most of us simply can't "do it all" in one voyage, so choosing what we want to do the most can be a very difficult decision, and that's the
point. Your choice of boat might make the difference between what you can and cannot afford to do along the way. If you have to pass
up the things you enjoy most for keeping fuel in your tanks, you are not going to be a happy Looper.
Cruising the Loop is a marvelously fantastic safe voyage of discovery and adventure. Stopping, shopping, meeting the local natives,
experiencing the people the places, the regional foods, stretching your legs at a Shrimp Festival or a quaint Village Farmers' Market,
strolling the beach, having an ice cream - all while learning about each area's geography and history. . . This kind of freedom indeed, is
what makes this country great, and when cruising the Loop, you will experience America greatness first hand.
The main reason we encourage an economical boat is because over the years we have met and cruised the Loop along side many
wonderful people. Many with bigger, newer, more expensive boats than ours. Many of them are burning 5x the fuel and paying to stay in
marinas every single night they possibly can. That's great for those that can afford it. Sadly however, as a result of their "boat, marina,
fuel and boat related expenses" most of them end up with very restrictive budgets when it comes to on shore excursions and activities.
This is our caution to everyone planning to cruise America's Great Loop.
We are all different. I suppose if I purchased a $350,000-boat, I would be so proud of it I might never get off of it, but the issue here is
having the freedom of choice. There is a huge difference between staying on your boat because you want to, vs remaining on your boat
because you can't afford to do anything else. Still, when a great group of Loopers meet and decide to go out to eat, and the social
butterflies in the big gas guzzling 57-foot dragon suddenly go silent and return to their boat. . . It is easy to assume why.
My Looping philosophy of "More fun than fuel" is reflected in my choice of boat. I'm currently cruising in a 36' sailboat with no mast. I
"motor around" the entire Loop averaging 7 knots, burning fuel at a rate of 1-gph. For the amount of comfort I have, it doesn't get much
better than that "for me". My son is now cruising the Loop in a 26-foot C-Dory with a 90-hp outboard. He and his S/O love it. They have
less than a 2-foot draft, can speed along at times, and average only 2-gph. The little more he spends in fuel, he more than saves in
Point is, there are many ways and vessels to cruise the Loop. Make sure your way gives you total financial freedom to do whatever you
want all the way around the Loop. Eating out at all the best restaurants, visiting all the great attractions, being able to rent a car, fly
home, all these things should be considered.
On our last voyage, (2018), my son, now has a 26' C-Dory, made this voyage on less than $4,000 in fuel. He cruises at "Looper Speed"
but also has the ability to put it on plane and zoom right along up to about 20-mph. He uses just a little bit of extra fuel, but has a sweet
ride with plenty of comfort for two, plus speed and economy.
Still, there are a good number of Loopers (some happily, some complaining) that are spending a wide range of money on fuel. A typical
'fast' average size 36' Trawler for cruising the Loop may take you around on as little as 2,000 gallons or as much as 5,000 gallons (or
more) depending on how well you keep your speed in check.
There is a 34' Swift Trawler" article that documents one 6,000 mile Loop burning a total of 5,000 gallons of fuel. In my mind, that's
nothing to brag about. But for someone who can afford the boat, I presume spending $20,000 on fuel is no big deal - as long as they
have that much or more to spend on themselves along the way.
Obviously, a solo voyager or two adventurous souls that are simply out for 'the adventure', and have no desire to spend a dime more
than they have to, can find tons of free and interesting things to do and see all along the way. Doing so, in the right type and size vessel,
can also make this voyage extremely affordable for most anyone.
So. . . Before we go any farther, let me just remind you - None of the above is right or wrong. They are options that various Loopers
have made based on their own lifestyle, philosophy and pocketbook. You must do the same. My only real caution is simply be aware, you
will be tempted all along the way on this voyage, to stop, shop, stay and linger at some incredible destinations.
|"What does it cost you to maintain your lifestyle and be happy?" While this voyage can be extremely affordable by most anyone, there
are many different lifestyles, boats and ways one can cruise America's Great Loop.
Possibly, the biggest mistakes first time Loopers make when planning this voyage, is planning for a 5,429-mile plus boat ride. Fact is, this voyage
is much-much more like a yearlong vacation! Just like any vacation, we spend more money than we initially planned.
With so many wonderful, popular and famous destinations on the Great Loop route, we strongly suggest one think of their boat more as
transportation and lodging vs a home on the water.
You will need to be comfortable and happy - and your comfort on this voyage has as much to do with financial comfort as it does physical comfort.
Whatever it takes to keep you happy on shore, believe us, it won't change when you move onto your boat.
Most of us Baby Boomers like to stop and eat out at nice restaurants, take in the sights, rent a car, visit museums, go window shopping, buy
souvenirs and make the very best of this adventure. We worked & saved our entire lives for this type of freedom and adventure. As a result, most of
us are cruising the Loop in humble vessels, purchased on the used market. It get us around the Loop safely, comfortably and on a reasonable budget.
Additionally, many more "adventurous" individuals can cruise the Loop the smallest most fuel efficient vessels and make this voyage on an extremely
affordable boat and budget.
|Don't be mislead. . . This voyage is NOT cheap!
This voyage should NEVER be attempted under any type or kind of bad or improvised financial condition or hardship. This voyage is absolutely NOT
something one can accomplish without an extremely safe, solid and seaworthy vessel, kept in good seaworthy condition, or without a substantial amount
of money in the form of regular income or savings.
While we provide safe options and alternatives to dispel the myth that you don't have to be "rich & famous" - We are NOT in any way inferring that this
voyage is cheap. It is NOT! One simply CANNOT enjoy or make this voyage safely without a respectable source of finances, a safe, solid, seaworthy
boat, and plenty of back-up funds for emergencies. Don't forget, most of us spend more money for food, beverages, eating out, and being a tourist,
than we do on fuel, marina fees and boat related expenses.
1. Your lifestyle: It should come as no surprise that your current lifestyle & comfort zone will consciously or unconsciously dictate your
choice of boat. That includes: new vs used, type, size, number of engines, cruising speed and on-board equipment and amenities. Nothing wrong
with any of that, as we all need to remain in our comfort zone or we won't be happy. For some, maintaining our lifestyle can be very expensive. For
others, not so much.
2. Your boat choice: Every boat comes with two price tags! Forget the initial purchase price for a moment. It is imperative that you
understand the very moment you select your boat - you predetermine your long term cost of cruising and boat ownership.
The purchase price is one thing. The most important price is your long distance cost of cruising. We personally know of more than just a
few 'Loopers' that had to stop along the way to sell their boat to buy smaller more efficient one simply because their cost of fuel & Marina fees
turned out to be far greater than anticipated.
|What does it cost, really?
|Every boat comes with two (yes 2) PRICE TAGS!
One is the Purchase Price.
The other is your cost of cruising!
|In 2019, Wall Street Financial, reported the TOP TEN worst financial things to waste your money on.
A "new boat" was #1 on the list.
|Choose your boat wisely.
The money you save, will be your own!
|FOR THE MOST FUN:
Choose your Great Loop boat wisely.
Keep your vessel safe, simple & humble.
Budget plenty of "fun money".
Choose a fuel efficient boat.
Plan on a 'slow' voyage.
Plan on a lot of stops along the way.
Plan on eating out a lot.
Plan on staying in a hotel now & then.