Experience?  Just how much experience does one need to safely cruise
America's Great Loop?
  Fact is, you need to be a good safe boater in a good safe suitable seaworthy boat.
You need to know the navigational rules of the waterways. You need to know your
boat and all the equipment on it. You need to know how to anchor safely in tidal
waters. You need to know your vessel's fully loaded draft, and you need to know
your fuel burn rate in "GPH" - that's "gallons per hour" at your normal cruising
  For sure you need to know a lot more than the State's required Boat Safety
Course will teach you, but you don't need a Degree level of education in navigation,
weather forecasting, or Boats & Boating. You need a minimum level of skills to
handle every day care of your engine and electrical system.
  For the most part, if you are a 'safe boater' in a safe seaworthy boat, the only way
you will gain the experience you need to make this trip - is to make this trip! It is a
lot easier & safe than anyone can imagine in advance!
“I've been living aboard and cruising the Great Loop full time  for the
past 23 years. During that time I made eight complete trips around, and
many more long extended detours. I can honestly say I have never felt
in danger of any kind in any way. I have never felt threatened by
anyone, and never felt in danger of loosing my boat. This is a wonderful
safe voyage. The natives are friendly and their food is fantastic."
Experience cruising around America's Great Loop
  As you can see from the maps, the Atlantic ICW is a
very protected waterway that runs from the Florida Keys
to New Jersey just 40 miles from NY Harbor and the
Statue of Liberty.
 Certainly, no one needs a P.H.D. level of education in
anything, much less navigation or weather forecasting.
Two things work well in your favor on this voyage:
  1. We are never out of sight of land unless we choose
to be.
  2.  Every night we are safely tucked away in some
anchorage or docked in a Marina.

  This voyage is a slow voyage. Most Loopers average
near 50 miles per day. A "fast" boat is totally
unnecessary! Between speed limits and wait times at
Locks and Lift Bridges - the 'fast' boat and the 'slow'
boat end up at the same anchorages & Marinas come
   Cruising at night is simply not smart or safe and on
the Canals it is impossible. It is best to be tucked in for
the evening before sundown to make sure you have
safely anchored in a safe area or safely docked at a
  Anchoring out in tidal waters on the Gulf & Atlantic
ICW can be tricky. If you have no experience in tidal
waters you will need to study up on it. At night when
tides change, you boat "swings" in a 180 degree circle as
it makes an about face with the changing tide.
   Having a quality  'heavy' anchor (and spare), 'strong'
anchor rode and lots of heavy chain is key to anchoring
out safely.  In addition, tide changes also change the
depth of the water beneath your boat. You must make
sure when the tide goes out, your vessel is still afloat and
not resting on the bottom. This is why it is critical to
know what your fully loaded draft. There are tidal charts
that tell you what the low water depth is or will be when
the tide goes out.  

  The bottom line is, there is no greater, safer long
distance voyage in the world than this. The adventure,
the experience, the voyage, the wonderful destinations
along the way. . . They all combine to make this the
adventure of your lifetime.
-  Capt. John
   You will meet an awful lot of friendly people. You will make some of your most memorable and favorite
memories. You will fall in love with life all over again!
   From St. Louis on the mighty Mississippi River to St. Augustine on the Atlantic ICW, this is a journey that
will change your life for the better. It is an awesome experience. It is a voyage of discovery. It is a journey you
will remember (and talk about) the rest of your days. It is an accomplishment that will fill you with pride, not
only in yourself, but in America. This voyage is what freedom is all about.
  Your best experience will be obtained along the way.  I seriously doubt any one making this voyage had
all the experience before hand.  Some of us have lots of experience boating withing 25 or 50 miles from
home. Some have experience on the rivers, but not in tidal waters. Some have off shore experience.
Others have experience on lakes but not rivers. America's Great Loop gives you all that experience.
  It is important to learn all you can, but don't devote so much time to 'learning' that you miss the boat.
Remember the old saying: "Don't wait so long for your ship to come in, to discover when it does; your
dock has rotted!"
  Time is the most precious asset we all have. While we can choose when and where to spend our last
dime, we simply don't have that luxury when it comes to spending our last moment. This is a voyage that
is easily attainable. It can also be accomplished and completed safely and comfortably even on a very
frugal budget if need be. It is a dream worth living!
The most experienced of boaters have spent years on the water. . .
just to discover they had the best times and most fun
on the most humble boat they ever owned.
- Capt. John
© 2017 www.thegreatloop.org
America's Great Loop
You don't just cruise it. . . You live it!