|The real question here should be: "How small a boat can I safely & comfortably cruise the Loop?"
Couples - While some couples cruise the Loop 50-plus footers, something in the range of 32 to 42 feet is by far the most popular as well as the
least expensive. Anything over 42 feet borderlines on being too big for one person to handle; and that is a huge safety issue! Even a cruising
couple needs to plan on the possibility of a health or medical 'emergency' where the weakest person on the boat is left without help getting to the
next Port or Marina safely. That means the weakest person needs to be able to handle the boat safely!
Boats (sail or power) in the range of 32 to 42 feet in length will give most couples plenty of comfort, yet not be so big it is unsafe to handle. Most
couples are cruising in 36' trawlers or similar size vessels. Some of course, do it in smaller vessels, some do it in bigger vessels.
Singles - or "back packer" type younger couples - can cruise the Loop in just about anything. A boat between 24' to 32' would most likely be
ideal for a solo voyager. I know some have done it in smaller and larger vessels, but this is a nice range.
Understand. . .
. . . Your boat should fit you like a favorite pair of shoes - not too big, not too small and very comfortable.
Boat size: In my experience with both power and sail, vessels in or near 30' to 40' is about as good as it gets. My son and I made this voyage
together in a 28 foot sailboat. My previously owned 26' trawler would have been more comfortable for us. So the "type" of vessel can make as much
difference in comfort as the size of vessel. However, once you get over 40' things start getting really expensive really fast. Everything you do
(docking, canal, fees, mast stepping, haul outs, parts, etc.) will be based on your vessel's length. Bigger also gets more complicated. Smaller is not
only more economical, it is much more simple.
The "KISS" boating philosophy
"Keep It Simple Sailor" - If I could influence anyone in any way, it would be this! Keep your vessel and everything on it simple; and I do mean as
simple as absolutely possible!
Over the years, most every Marina I've stopped at, (where it is allowed), there is a boater fixing something on his boat. It is a frequent scene when a
boat comes in to dock. The boater immediately docks, pulls up his sleeves, gets his tools and disappears in the bilge or engine room. Mostly,
whatever it is that needs fixing, it usually something he didn't need and should not have had on his boat in the first place. More & more I see
"Loopers" with Dish Washers, Clothes Washer & Dryer, Water Makers, Ice Makers, Satellite TVs and all sorts of "stuff" that generally doesn't work
long, or work to the boater's satisfaction.
You won't find any of that "unnecessary stuff" on my boat. I stop once a year - every year - and have my vessel checked out from bow to stern, top
to bottom, inside & out by a trusted Certified Marine Mechanic. He has orders to repair or replace what ever he feels necessary to get me around
the Loop again, with absolutely no problems. As a result, since a fuel line problem 20 years ago, I have never had any mechanical failure on my
boat. I've never been stranded on the water and I've never had an engine stop on me. My opinion? Keep your vessel simple. Have a good certified
Marine mechanic check it out before you go. Believe me, you will have less stress, few problems and a lot more fun.
Your Comfort - Comfort is key both in the cabin and in cockpit and at helm station. If you voyage the Great Loop by each area's boating
season, you will be cruising in 95% good weather. When cruising, 7 or 8 hours a day, you will be spending about 75% of all your "awake" time at
the helm. Make sure it has plenty of shade and comfort. Last and certainly not least. . . Buy the boat you want! It doesn't really make a hill of beans
what I say, or what anyone else says. You are the one that has to pay for it, live in it, buy fuel for it, maintain it, and cruise in it. The Great Loop will
(or at least should) take you the best part of a year. . . You have to be comfortable and happy with your boat selection!
How big is a big boat?
If your dreaming of a 50 footer - That's BIG! - You might want to think again.
According to USCG statistics - of all the more than 12 plus million pleasure boats registered in the United States, fewer than 1% are 40 feet or
longer. Of those over 40 feet less than 1% (thats 1 in 10,000) of them reach 48 feet.
That alone should tell you something. . .
We get questions about boat size all the time. Amazingly, many have their dreams on 50-foot plus vessels. While we have all heard the phrase
"Bigger is Better", when it comes to cruising "long distance" - bigger has both safe and affordable much smaller limits. When cruising America's
Great Loop, there are also a few maximum size limits & restrictions.
While we all have our "dream boats", very few of us own one. I in fact, have never owned a 'dream boat' or even a brand new boat. Instead, I own
a much smaller, affordable boat. It is the one I live my dream on!
There are reasons that go far beyond the initial price tag why the majority of long-distance cruisers are not cruising in 50-foot vessels. In most
vessels that size, the cost of cruising long-distance can potential exceed the purchase price.
The perfect size Great Loop boat is: not 1-foot smaller than your comfort demands, or 1-foot bigger than your safety requires. For most couples,
that is a boat very near 36-feet in length.
|How big a boat do I need to cruise the Loop?
Your comfort & safety both inside & outside is critical
36' Island Packet
36' Grand Banks
|© 1993 - 2019 CaptainJohn.org
|The "Trawler" is known as "The Great Loop Boat". It is
without doubt the most popular boat among Loopers -
and for many great reasons.
For it's size, it offers the most comfortable interior live aboard
space of any vessel. In addition, it has good safe 360 degree
walk around deck space that is especially great for locks and
A Trawler with a full displacement hull and a single engine is
also a very fuel efficient vessel. This makes the vessel the
2nd most fuel efficient vessel (for its size) to cruise around the
While a new one might cost you $300,000 or more, a good
late model Trawler will cost you $100,000 or less. A much
older model or handy man special can be found for $25,000
or less. In fact I looked at a 36' Trawler recently that would
make a fantastic "Loop Boat" listed (and ready to go) for only
$15,000. If you are patient and determined, you can find a
great deal on a great safe, seaworthy Trawler.
REMINDER - I am in NO WAY suggesting anyone select a boat like mine or cruising the Loop as I do. This voyage is something that demands your
own level of safety, comfort, convenience and amenities - and of course, budget. We all have our own lifestyles, comfort zones, boating philosophy,
and pocketbooks. It is critically important that you remain in your comfort zone physically and financially. Do what makes "you and your 1st Mate"
comfortable & happy. I'm just here to give you options and alternatives as food for thought!
|- The Great Loop Dream Machines -
|Think your 1st Mate could live in one of the above for a year while cruising America's Great Loop?
|It is "ONCE A MONTH ONLY"
We will not fill your inbox with a bunch
of sea weed!
We do not sell, trade or give your
email to anyone for any reason, and
you can always "unsubscribe" and
the result will be instant!
|The above 3 interior pictures are of a 34' Mainship Trawler. If a cruising couple can't live happily in this for a year.
. . I highly suspect they couldn't live happily on a boat the size of an Aircraft Carrier.
Point is, (and any honest reputable Boat Dealers will verify) the most popular MISTAKE first time "live aboard size"
boat buyers make is buying TOO BIG a boat. If you ask experience long distance voyagers, most have "traded
down" rather than traded up. For sure, once you have spent a few months cruising the Loop - You will have had
these two thoughts: "I wish I had a smaller boat." and "I wish I had a bigger boat". That's just the way it is. Under
some circumstances no boat is big enough. Under other circumstances no boat is small enough. So what every
"experienced" boater wants is that perfect size, and that's something in the middle.
|- The Looper's Companion Guide - Your ticket to cruising America's Great Loop safely & confidently -
Dear Future Looper,
Your 'Dream Machine' must be one you that is safe, suitable, comfortable, and most of all 'easily'
Taking the best part of a year or more to cruise America's Great Loop, is far different than
spending a weekend outing on your boat. Living on a boat over an extended period of time requires
comfort at the helm, comfort in the cabin, and comfort with finances. Cruising long distance over
time, with Captain Boat Payment at the helm is generally not a good idea.
I've made this voyage in everything from a too big for me, 42-foot fuel breathing dragon, to a too
small for me 25' sailboat motored around. I went from too large, down-sizing 5-times, and ended up
with something too small. I then upgrading back to my current 36-footer. My next boat will be a
smaller trailer-able Ranger Tug, Rosborough Tug, or possibly even a C-Dory. My decision will be
based on the best deal I can get on the used boat market.
While comfort is key on this voyage, it will be best to think of your boat as "transportation &
lodging" rather than a "home on the water", as my experience 'screams' of reasons why we should
keep our vessel as small and simple as comfort & safety requires.
- Capt. John
|- The Looper's Companion Guide -
|Read the Reviews!
Preview the Guide!
This 25' foot C-Dory with an asking price of $39,500 makes a great "transportation & lodging" vessel for cruising the
Loop. With a 2' draft and 2-gph at Looping speed and capable of going much faster, it's a great economical choice.