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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

HOW MUCH EXPERIENCE DO I NEED?

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.

HOW DIFFICULT OR DANGEROUS IS IT?

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 'hundreds of thousands' are boating on portions of it every season. Lyons, NY on the Erie Canal, for example, reported a few hundred boaters from 34 States docked their boats here last season. Parks Canada reports over 120,000 boaters' transit all or part of the Trent-Severn every season. The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Association claims over 12,000 boaters, transient the ICW each year. Between myself, my son and a lifetime friend, we've accumulated over 21 Loop completions in 12 different vessels, both sail & power, and we've never felt threatened or in danger of damaging or losing a 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. Truth is, after your first month or so on the Loop, you will begin to wonder "what made you so nervous about your ability to make this voyage in the beginning' as you realize for yourself, just how safe and easy it really is.

BASIC BOAT REQUIREMENTS

It must be safe, suitable and seaworthy. It must be able to clear 19’ 7” fixed bridge just south of Chicago. All routes lead to this bridge! There is no alternative waterway route around it. If you can clear 17-feet, you can boat right through downtown Chicago! If you cannot clear 17', there is an optional route just south of Chicago. 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 you cannot, you must exit the Erie Canal via the Oswego Canal. Your draft should be 5' or less, and we strongly recommend a draft of 4' or less. 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 an absolute minimum fuel range of 204-miles (plus reserve). The length of your boat is limited to common sense, safety, and affordability. While not a requirement, we strongly recommend a very FUEL-EFFICIENT vessel. One that will burn less than 3gph or less at speeds up to 10mph and 2.5gph or less at a speed up to 8mph.

The Looper’s Companion Guide:

If you’re dreaming and planning on cruising America’s Great Loop, this is a must have. It is your Mile by Mile, Destination to Destination, Marina to Marina, one safe Anchorage to the next Great Loop cruising guide. It guides Loopers along the safest routes all-around the entire Great Loop. You get everything you need to make this voyage safely, comfortably and best of all, 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 photos that make it the most important item at your helm. The routes include the all USA – Erie Canal route as well as the Canadian Trent-Severn route. From planning your budget to preparing your boat, equipment, provisions, supplies and amenities. This UPDATED 2024 EDITION gives you each day’s cruising distance, miles, 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, route options, detours, side trips, and directions to the safest anchorages and cleanest, people and pet friendly marinas including phone numbers. Safest of all, it ends each of your cruising days at a free dock, wall, safe anchorage or marina before dark.
From the frugal to the flamboyant, from the best dives to the dining elites, tourist attractions, and Looper favorites, 10-time Looper Capt. John prepares you for cruising the Great Loop like nobody else can or does.

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