Obviously. . . I have no idea what it will cost you to cruise America's Great Loop.
However. . . I have done it 8 times in 6 different boats, so I can give you a good
idea about what it might cost you. . .
|You can do this! How much it costs depends on you.
First off, you should know it is NOT my purpose or position to tell you how you
should make this voyage, and how you choose to make this voyage will determine your
cost. My intention is to give you ALL the reasonable options so you can make some well
informed and smart decisions.
My "Boating Philosophy" is "More Fun than Fuel". It has been that way ever since
my 2nd voyage around the Loop in a fuel burning gas guzzling twin engine 'fast'
Trawler cruising 7 hours a day burning $200.00 a day in fuel while still keeping my
speed down to under 9 knots. That simply was not my idea fun!
Since then, my cruising goal has been to discover the very most frugal and fun
vessel to cruise the Great Loop in and still be completely safe, comfortable and happy.
My next Great Loop was in a 36' single engine, full displacement hull "True"
Trawler, costing just $4,500 in fuel. This is a great boat and is the type and size I would
highly recommend for a cruising couple. It provides maximum comfort and space for
it's size and still offers excellent fuel efficiency.
I now cruise the Loop solo in a 36' sailboat with the mast cut off. At 70 years of age
I simply no longer want to mess with stepping a mast or working with sails. I "motor"
around the entire Loop averaging 6,300 miles on a thousand gallons of fuel. Last year
that fuel cost me just a few pennies more than $3,000.
Still, keep in mind, I am not suggesting you do as I do. I'm just giving you some
food for thought to help you make the best informed decision for you.
|Your cost to cruise America's Great Loop:
|It is all about
fun than fuel.
ATTAINABLE & AFFORDABLE
If you have a Mont Blanc pen in your pocket, this voyage will cost you a lot more than the boater who has no
idea what a Mont Blanc pen is, or what it represents. As a result, it should be no surprise to anyone that your
existing lifestyle, comfort zone and pocketbook will have the very biggest influence on what this voyage is going to
Your lifestyle will determine your choice of boat. It will determine the age, size, type, and equipment you put on
your boat. For most 'couples' cruising the Loop, such a vessel is normally between 34' to 44'. Some of course are
cruising in something smaller and very few are in bigger vessels, but most couples are cruising in vessels very near
36' in length.
This range of vessels can cost as little as $25,000 for a good used 'handy man' special - to as much as $350,000
(or more) for a brand new one. Normally, on the used market, there is a great selection of late model great boats
for around $100,000. There are also very good older used vessels, sail or power for $50,000 and less. So
depending on your preferences and pocketbook, as well as your 'handy man' skills, there is certainly a good boat
out there for you.
Single or Solo Sailors and younger 'backpacker type' couples can make this voyage in a very frugal fashion in
boats between 24' and 34'. In fact the very most frugal voyage I made around the Loop was in 2009-2010 with my
oldest son. We made this trip for the sole purpose of seeing just how 'cheap' we could safely & comfortably do it.
For this, we motored around the entire Loop in a 28' sailboat. Our total "fuel, boat and boat related" expenses for a
year on a 6,100 mile Loop came to less than $3,600 of which $1,300 was fuel. I don't think it gets much cheaper
than that! I wouldn't recommend it however except for those younger adventurous types that strictly want a
As a result of that experience however, I now motor around the Loop in a most comfortable 36' sailboat with no
mast. It offers me great comfort and is the only vessel I have taken around the Loop twice!
I had always been a power boater until that voyage. While I can't remember the cost of my first voyage around
in 1971, my 2nd voyage 23 years later was in a twin engine 34' semi-displacement hull trawler. Personally, I'll never
make that mistake again. Fuel alone on that voyage cost me $200 a day. That was with trying hard to keep my
speed down to a crawl. Needless to say, I won't do that again.
Here's the deal on cruising the Loop fuel expenses & expectations:
For an average 6,100 mile voyage around the Loop. . . You should plan on cruising an average of 50 miles per
day. At that pace, it will take you 122 "actual cruising days" to make the voyage. . .
At 50 miles a day, cruising an average of 7 knots (about 8 mph) you will cruise about 7 hours per day.
So... you can estimate your fuel cost by taking your vessel's fuel burn rate per hour as follows:
If your fuel burn is 6.0 gph x 7 hours per day = 42 gallons x 122 days = 5,124 gallons
If your fuel burn is 4.0 gph x 7 hours per day = 28 gallons x 122 days = 3,416 gallons
If your fuel burn is 2.0 gph x 7 hours per day = 14 gallons x 122 days = 1,708 gallons
If your fuel burn is 1.0 gph x 7 hours per day = 7 gallons x 122 days = 854 gallons
NOTE: I now motor around the Loop in a 36' sailboat with no mast. My fuel burn rate is just under 1.2 gph x 7
hours per day = 8.4 gallons x 122 days = 1,025 gallons.
So, now just take the gallons used times the average price of Marine fuel which as of 01/2017 is between $2.40
to $3.00 for Diesel and between $3.00 to $4.00 for Gasoline. You can check for known actual current prices at this
link: FUEL PRICES NOW
It is important to remember:
The moment you select your boat, you have predetermined your long term, long distance cost of
cruising and boat ownership.
|In addition to fuel cost there are many other expenses associated with long distance cruising.
|Other expenses associated with cruising the Loop:
Marina Fees = Marinas charge an average of $1.00 a length foot for an overnight dock/slip at their marina.
Some change an extra $5 to $10 for 'hook-up fees' for electric & water. With a 36' boat, this averages out to be
about $46.00 a night each night you stay in a Marina. What I do: I only stay in a Marina on weekends (when all
the crazies are out boating). I also only stay at Marinas in places where there are interesting things to see and do
on shore. Otherwise, I anchor out at night. NOTE: There are 46 locations (I know of) where a transient boater
can get 1 to 3 days over night docking free. Most are "Courtesy Docks" at Municipal & City Docks & Marinas,
some are at Restaurants if you eat dinner there, and some are at Parks.
Mooring Balls = Mooring Balls cost on average about 65 to 75% less than a slip at a Marina. So you can save
money on mooring out. You have to weigh the option of anchoring out for free. If you have a good anchor and
anchoring system and know how to use it, then (in my opinion) the Mooring Balls option is a waste of money. I
never use them.
Anchoring Out = Anchoring Out is always free. I anchor out at least 5 nights a week, often 6 and in a few
locations I will anchor out two weeks at a time. It all depends on where I'm at and what I need or want to do.
For the most part, you will only find me in a Marina when I have to do laundry, get provisions, or where there
are lots to see and do on shore.
Dinghy Docks = They are free. A good hard bottom dinghy will save you money and give you some great
opportunities to explore some wonderful places. It will also provide some additional fishing opportunities. A
good dinghy will also act as your Taxi on the water when anchored out. It will (if you use it) save you lots of
money and provide some great fun.
Mast Stepping = Mast stepping for sailboats is normally done at the entrance and exit of all Canals. Entering the
Erie Canal, Trent Severn Canal, and at Chicago, one will have to have their mast taken down, and (if actually
sailing) put up again on the other end. This normally cost between $7 to $14 a foot depending on location and
type and number of mast.
Canal Fees = The Erie Canal 2017 season 'maximum' fee for a 10 day pass is $50.00 for vessels over 39 feet.
Smaller vessels pay less. In Canada, the Trent Severn Canal fee is $4.65 per foot. So if you have a 36 footer,
the cost for a one way pass through is $167.40 Canadian dollars which is about $125 American today... Good
News however for those making this voyage in 2017 - the passage is FREE as part of Canada's 150 Celebration.
Lock Fees = All other Locks & Lift Bridges are free in the U.S.A. In Canada, the fees are included in the Canal
|Having FUN ashore - Eating Out - Sight Seeing - Tourist Attractions - Entertainment - Rental Cars -
Are all budget items you need to think about!
When estimating your expenses - Don't over look the wonderful onshore experiences and attractions on
this voyage. Many of the places you will boat to along the way - you just may never be so close again. It would be
a shame not to take advantage of at least a majority of site seeing opportunities on shore.
As a FOOTNOTE: I cruise on a frugal boat with a frugal "boating" budget simply because of all the
wonderful "on shore" activities along the way.
NOTE: Cruising on a frugal budget "successfully" requires an awful lot of money! It is not 'cheap' by any
stretch of the imagination. It requires "quality" everything on and about your boat. It requires regular routine
maintenance. It requires repairing and replacing minor flaws before they become major problems.
This is NOT something you can do as a result of bad circumstances or financial hardship. It simply will never
work! For me, cruising on a frugal "boating" budget, means less repairs, fewer problems and an awful lot less
money poured down my fuel tank. That is what allows me to spend the bulk of my money on the things I really
want to spend it on. Pouring it down my fuel tank, is not fun!
There is just so many things to see, places to visit, and destinations to explore, one can spend a small fortune
trying to do it all. From Broadway Plays, Museums, Waterfront restaurants & attractions, to quintessential small
towns streets with tempting window shopping. . . Wine tasting tours, Tiki Bars. . . Not to mention, some of the
most famous and popular places to visit in all of North America.
Be sure when you plan your expenses, you have plenty left over for all the on shore activities you want to do.
I spend way more of my budget on eating out and shore activities than I do on my fuel & boat related
|Cruising Canada. . . Friendly people, exceptional cuisine, uncommon destinations -
all promising unforgettable moments and quintessential experiences!
- Capt. John
© 2017 www.thegreatloop.org
|America's Great Loop
You don't just cruise it. . . You live it!