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Old 30-01-2013, 11:52   #1
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America's Great Loop

I have do quite a bit of research and read several sites on the Great Loop.

I know very little about boats. It is common for me to see a word I don't know and have to look it up to see what it means.

So far, the best presentation of the Great Loop has been from Captain John's website.

I will be 46 this year. I have a wife and 2 daughters who are 16 and 6 and home schooled.

For several years we lived in a 33' motorhome and traveled quite a bit. We have been to all the lower 48. Needless to say we are used to conserving water and living in very tight quarters. Most of the time we boondocked and only occasionally stayed in RV parks where we had full hookups. Most of the time we lived off our Solar Panels and a generator.

I give some of this back story to show that we are a very close family and used to living a close quarters.

I have several questions:

I understand that draft and bridge height is an issue, but why do they recommend a boat no larger than 60' for the Great Loop?

Will a watermaker function properly when used in both salt and fresh water...and do they all include reverse Osmosis in the systems to purify the water?

Is hiring a captain for a week or so the only way to learn operation of the boats systems in a safe manner for a novice?

Do charts show acceptable places to anchor for the night or is it a free for all as long as it is outside shipping channels.

I have a LOT of questions, but I'll just stop here for now. I know much of what I read prior to living the RV lifestyle did not prepare me for the realities and it is difficult to convey those things to others.
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Old 30-01-2013, 12:18   #2
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Re: America's Great Loop

"I understand that draft and bridge height is an issue, but why do they recommend a boat no larger than 60' for the Great Loop?

Will a watermaker function properly when used in both salt and fresh water...and do they all include reverse Osmosis in the systems to purify the water?

Is hiring a captain for a week or so the only way to learn operation of the boats systems in a safe manner for a novice?

Do charts show acceptable places to anchor for the night or is it a free for all as long as it is outside shipping channels."

Just to get the ball rolling I'll just try to answer a couple of your questions. I don't know specifics but will give you just a bit. There are others here who have a lot more experience in the Great Loop adventure.

60' feet is a lot of boat. If its a sailboat there will be many bridges that you will not be able to get under without removing your mast. The beam and draft may be too great to get you into a lot of spots you will want to go. Just like an RV, if you are too large to go down some of the narrow roads and under overpasses it will restrict your experience. Go check out some boat sizes to see what a 60' boat really looks like. I would imagine that you are looking at powerboats.

Watermakers work in both environments. Look at the specifications on a few and you'll see how they are set up.

Hiring a Captain is an expensive option. Certainly not required. You are a smart guy so you can learn the systems on your own. Learning to handle your boat will be by experience. You can get pointers by taking classes. U. S. Power Squadron and Coast Guard Auxiliary are a couple of organizations that offer inexpensive classes.

Most charts and guides offer anchoring recommendations. Do a search here using the search engine and you'll be able to pick out the proper guide for the Loop.

Good luck and I hope this helps get you going.

kind regards,
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Old 30-01-2013, 12:41   #3
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Re: America's Great Loop

Welcome aboard the forum! A very good resource is the American Great Loop Cruisers' Association (AGLCA). Its website is at America's Great Loop Cruisers' Association (Waterway Guide and Skipper Bob sites and guides have a lot of info too).

60 feet is a lot of boat, but that is not the limit for doing the Great Loop. You do need to clear 19.1 feet of height in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal (most sailboaters will unstep the mast for the canal sections, and many trawlers need to lower their masts, too).


Good luck in your planning, and hope to see you on the water soon!
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Old 30-01-2013, 12:58   #4
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Re: America's Great Loop

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Originally Posted by SkiprJohn View Post

60' feet is a lot of boat. If its a sailboat there will be many bridges that you will not be able to get under without removing your mast. The beam and draft may be too great to get you into a lot of spots you will want to go. Just like an RV, if you are too large to go down some of the narrow roads and under overpasses it will restrict your experience. Go check out some boat sizes to see what a 60' boat really looks like. I would imagine that you are looking at powerboats.
Yes, I am looking at powerboats. I like the idea of a sailboat, but for some unknown reason, I am partial to the catamaran. But several things I've read lead me to believe that's not a good choice for the loop. I see some issues with sailboats that I don't care for. Deck space doesn't seem as good a sailboat as it is on a powerboat. I don't like the idea of a 50' lightning rod. Stepping the mast seems a bit of a hassle. I like sailing, my family owned a HobieCat back in the day and a lot of fun was had spent flipped over all the time and trying to right it. LOL

Quote:
Hiring a Captain is an expensive option. Certainly not required. You are a smart guy so you can learn the systems on your own. Learning to handle your boat will be by experience. You can get pointers by taking classes. U. S. Power Squadron and Coast Guard Auxiliary are a couple of organizations that offer inexpensive classes.
I plan on paying for safety courses for my 16 year old daughter, wife, and self. As a matter of fact, I was under the assumption it was required to operate a boat.

I thought that paying a captain $200 a day would be a good investment to learn all the systems of a boat. There seems to be a lot of complicated workings and I don't want to invest in a boat only to sink it because I left some valve open.

Quote:

Most charts and guides offer anchoring recommendations. Do a search here using the search engine and you'll be able to pick out the proper guide for the Loop.
I was hoping the naval charts had "no parking zones" listed

We plan on living aboard at a marina for a time before heading out.

I am prone to seasickness but have never had problems except when loosing sight of land.

I once did a ride along on a small boat that a friend was delivering from Centreville, MD to Baltimore. It ended up being an all day ordeal crossing the Chesapeake Bay as the boat suffered from overheating. We ended up lost and docked in a Coast Guard station in the dark and had to be towed to the marina we couldn't find. That is another story all in itself.

I never got sick.

I can only assume that after a trip on the ICW, Great Lakes, and Gulf that my family and myself will have our sea legs and be ready for the Caribbean.
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Old 30-01-2013, 13:14   #5
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Re: America's Great Loop

I've been trying to convince people that the East Coast is an island. Here's proof.
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Old 30-01-2013, 13:22   #6
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Re: America's Great Loop

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I've been trying to convince people that the East Coast is an island. Here's proof.
I consider myself as living on the mainland in Iowa. I thought everything east of the Mississippi was an island... It's not?
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Old 30-01-2013, 13:40   #7
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Re: America's Great Loop

Where do you live in Iowa...East Coast or West Coast? (My dad grew up near the West Coast).
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Old 30-01-2013, 15:00   #8
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Re: America's Great Loop

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Where do you live in Iowa...East Coast or West Coast? (My dad grew up near the West Coast).
I'm not from Iowa <smirk>.

I was born in the Detroit area and spent my High School years in North Myrtle Beach, SC.

Since High School, I've lived in Seattle for 4 years and back in Detroit. I spent a few years in Lincoln, NE <where my mother is from> and several years in California.

I came to Iowa for a job offer last year but finding it is very hard to settle with this free spirit of roaming I have.

I've been almost everywhere you can go on wheels and now my dream is to break the boundaries of land.

When I say dream, I literally fall to sleep at night dreaming of being on the water.

I ran into RV'ing blind and it ended up being costly to learn. My hope is to not make the same mistakes going into boating as I did going into RV''s.

I am trying to learn as much as I can before making a purchase. I don't want to a boat that is inadequate for full time living nor buy one that is too monstrous to be usable.

There are so many What if's.... Especially on older tubs. I would prefer to purchase something newer, with the latest tech and safety features than to buy something older that forces me write an "I Wish I Had" list.

I am very fortunate to be in a position where location doesn't effect my income. Thus, it gives me the ability to live a wandering life.
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Old 31-01-2013, 16:42   #9
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Re: America's Great Loop

TD, I would recommend you join the AGLCA. You will find a wealth of information and you will be able to post all of your questions to very helpful folks that have done the Loop, some more than once. The listings of members blogs and the discussion board there is chocked full of information. It will keep you reading for months if you like. Captain Chris Caldwell is a member and is a training Captain either on his trawler or on your boat, or both. The Loop is restricted by Height in a few areas and besides dealing with bridges, you will transit hundreds of locks. All of this a consideration for the size and type of boat you choose. 60 feet is a lot of boat for a short handed crew in any circumstances. My guess based on your family would be in the 45 to 50 foot range. Get out and look at lots of boats. Contact a local broker and search the for sale listings. You will quickly get a feel for what will be comfortably. It's a great adventure and we are just beginning our Great Loop trip now. Chuck
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Old 31-01-2013, 22:36   #10
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Re: America's Great Loop

Terry,

The best advice I can give you is to not worry about what boat you need now, or what systems you want, but to identify what you want to do on it, what accommodations you consider acceptable, and what must have lifting issues you want. Then decide on where you plan to go.

Once you get all that sorted out you need to find a buyers captain NOT a broker. The difference is that a buyers captain is responsible for going through the SOR (the list from above) and helping you choose the right type of boat to meet you requirements. They get paid by the job, not when you buy a boat, so the financial incentive is to help you find what you need, not just sell you whatever piece of junk they have the sales listing for.

If for instance you plan on doing the loup, then a sailboat, no matter how much you want one probably isn't the best option. It may be fine coming down the east coast, and across the gulf, but as soon as you hit the river system you won't really be sailing from Mobile until the Great Lakes.

You also are going to have the option of staying close to shore, so off shore capability is not going to be high on the priority list, but with four people living aboard accommodations will be much more important.

As for size... It depends. Some people are fine in a 30' sailboat, others need/want more space to spread out. How do you see you time underway being spent? Are you going to anchor off most of the time, or be at port? Do you want to be fully independent for weeks, or just a few days?

All of these things effect boat selection, and there really isn't a one size fits all answer.


Btw I have acted as an owners captain before, figure it will cost you about 3% plus expenses of your expected budget, including having their expertise in selecting gear, outfitting the boat, helping to explain how to use the boat ect...
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:05   #11
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Re: America's Great Loop

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Terry,

The best advice I can give you is to not worry about what boat you need now, or what systems you want, but to identify what you want to do on it, what accommodations you consider acceptable, and what must have lifting issues you want. Then decide on where you plan to go.

Once you get all that sorted out you need to find a buyers captain NOT a broker. The difference is that a buyers captain is responsible for going through the SOR (the list from above) and helping you choose the right type of boat to meet you requirements. They get paid by the job, not when you buy a boat, so the financial incentive is to help you find what you need, not just sell you whatever piece of junk they have the sales listing for.

If for instance you plan on doing the loup, then a sailboat, no matter how much you want one probably isn't the best option. It may be fine coming down the east coast, and across the gulf, but as soon as you hit the river system you won't really be sailing from Mobile until the Great Lakes.

You also are going to have the option of staying close to shore, so off shore capability is not going to be high on the priority list, but with four people living aboard accommodations will be much more important.

As for size... It depends. Some people are fine in a 30' sailboat, others need/want more space to spread out. How do you see you time underway being spent? Are you going to anchor off most of the time, or be at port? Do you want to be fully independent for weeks, or just a few days?

All of these things effect boat selection, and there really isn't a one size fits all answer.


Btw I have acted as an owners captain before, figure it will cost you about 3% plus expenses of your expected budget, including having their expertise in selecting gear, outfitting the boat, helping to explain how to use the boat ect...
Thank you so much. That is fantastic information. I struggling right now between a Cat and a Mono Hull. Isn't that strange considering... I certainly do not want to start a thread asking which is best because I hear those kind of threads turn into train-wrecks that never really provide an answer. I guess that is what is nice about Google, you can find a hundred threads where they have argued the subject.

Cost isn't too much of a factor for me. I mean so long as it's not a $1 million dollar yacht. So my options are pretty open.

The argument between Cat and Mono are very much like the arguments with photographers between Pentax Or Canon. Except Canon Cameras don't flip over in the water if used incorrectly. Nor do they go stern over bow when you stick the nose into a 15 foot swell.

There are pros and cons for everything.

As far as slip or dock time... I would say 2 out of 7 days. We plan on living on the anchor a majority of the time. Also, we plan on living on the boat full-time. Both of my daughters are home schooled and only require internet for their curriculum. When we RV'd full time, we had a cellular Air Card that was perfect.

Fuel costs are a consideration too. I don't want to spend 80k in fuel a year.

I had no idea about a buyer's Captain. Having someone like that would be worth the cost for a person who is inexperienced.

I really appreciate your post, it was very informative.
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:18   #12
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Re: America's Great Loop

I can't help you too much , but I would like to do the same thing you are planning.

I would look at water levels (lake, harbor, and river) and see if a V hull mono or a catamaran would be the better choice when it comes to that. Also look at how big the locks are going through Canada if you think that might be a option. I'm not sure about size restrictions at different places, but that is something to know before you start looking.
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:23   #13
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Re: America's Great Loop

Check the bridge heights throughout the loop, the shortest one will define your boat size. A catamaran is more comfortable for a family, just easier getting around. Much of your use is inland water anyway right?
Many charts define areas of "no anchoring" , cruising guides help you find areas that are best anchoring.
Hiring a professional is a good way to get a jump start in using your boat. Maybe if you take a navigation class or etc, you can jst meet someone to help....
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Old 04-02-2013, 14:38   #14
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Re: America's Great Loop

I have been looking at the brand "Grand Banks"; I am very impressed with what appears to be well thought out construction and elegance of design. Is this a popular manufacturer?
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Old 04-02-2013, 14:52   #15
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Re: America's Great Loop

Great boats. Taiwan built. Solid. Try to find one without teak decks, those can be problematic... if you're inclined to worry about it anyway! Also, early ones may have plywood cabins sheathed with fiberglass. These tend to rot and it's a big job to fix them up.
A late 70's or 80's might have neither of those issues and be priced accordingly. An earlier version might have those issues and be less. Earlier versions yet are actually wooden hulls.. some are actually teak hulls ....I think!
Another boat along those lines is the CHB/Marine Trader 34...
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