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Tom.B 08-05-2010 07:00 AM

Preparing for The Great Loop
Here is an interesting topic to chat about:

The Carbon Wife Unit and I have, again, started talking about our "5-Year Plan" and what to do if/when the time comes we can disappear cruising for a while. Considering that we might not be able to do as much ocean cruising around the Caribbean as we might have liked, due to the limitations of our little boat. We are considering a trip around The Great Loop. It also might be a good precursor to a Caribbean trip in the future, but go with me on this.

What should we be doing, aside from the obvious, to be preparing for a journey of this magnitude? At possibly five years, or more, before we might go, IS there anything we can/should be actively doing? What other skills should we work on? What kind of money (I know this is a hard one to ask) should we be saving? Any systems we need to pay particular attention to and electronis fiddley-bits we should look at?

Facts: 35' Senator, single 135h.p. Perkins with 2100 hours, 300g fuel capacity, 150g fresh water, 30g waste, minimal electronics (2 radios, older chartplotter and GPS, flakey depth sounder), 4-6v golf cart batts as house bank, single Series 31 starter battery, Lewmar windlass, 35# CQR anchor with small Danforth as backup, approx $50k still owed on loan, $120k owed on house, I'm a Gemini and like long walks on the beach All-in-all, a pretty solid craft that was well cared for by the previous owner.

Looking forward to the advice.

Capn Chuck 08-05-2010 08:03 AM

RE: Preparing for The Great Loop
Everything on our Beach House blog is preparation for just the trip you are thinking about. One issue to watch is the Asian Carp lawsuits going on in the Great Lakes States. Unless alternatives are found, closing of the canals will put an end to the loop. Having said that, we are still preparing for the trip, and if that loop is closed there is still more waterways to cruise along the US coast than we could cover in a lifetime. Every boat is going to be different. Each crew has there own comfort and safety levels and what equipment and systems you install will depend on yours. My advise would be to either join the AGLCA or at the least spend some time on their web site and read the many, many posting on members sites for some real world accounts of the trip. Then start making your plans for the boat and the crew. Lots of short term local cruising will also give you some insight on your to do list. Start with, MUST HAVE, move to SHOULD HAVE, and then the final list should be, LIKE TO HAVE. Hone your skills with the boat every chance you get and be sure every crew member is proficient at operating and docking the boat as well as man overboard drills. Take courses on diesel engines, electrical systems and plumbing. By the time you have done all of this, it will be time to go. Chuck

Anode 08-05-2010 08:32 AM

RE: Preparing for The Great Loop
We've been working towards the same for several years. I can say that didn't really start enjoying life until we were debt free. I mean everything. Then we could start socking the $$ away for a few years. I retired in April and life is good.
Hopefully we'll get the boat completed next spring and plans are to splash in the Mississippi and get a slip for a year. I grew up on the river so I know the area but it will give us chance to really get to 'know' the boat and work through all the systems as everything will be new.
Then we're off.
I've done enough off-shore and coastal cruising to know what's important to me. Up-to-date chartplotter, radar, AIS, auto-pilot, comfortable reliable dinghy*and enough creature comforts to keep my old bones rested.
Good luck.

JD 08-05-2010 04:18 PM

RE: Preparing for The Great Loop

You have a wealth of knowledge right there at your hands.* Doug and Kathy King did the loop on their Sundowner 36 just a couple of years ago.* They are in the circle .* My boat was in 36A at the steps*and they are in about 50A or so.* They are right next to the C&C38 Landfall with the green canvas.* They live right there in Fairfield. The gray condos on the left at the stop sign before Broad Creek Road.

Here is there Blog

Doug will always help someone.* He is an engineer and Kathy is an anesthesiologist*both very nice folks.

Larry M 08-05-2010 06:11 PM

Preparing for The Great Loop
Gonzo:* My idea would be to spend as much of*your free time that you and the admiral feel comfortable with on the boat, away from the dock.**You'll see what works and doesn't work.**You'll find out if*your battery bank is big enough or do you have the right electronics.* Electronics change so fast maybe you want to wait for the*year before you leave to upgrade or just upgrade the must have now.

It's always nice to have a plan.

Hobo* KK42
La Paz, BCS, MX*

-- Edited by Larry M on Thursday 5th of August 2010 06:12:38 PM

Tom.B 08-05-2010 07:40 PM

RE: Preparing for The Great Loop
Good Deal JD. I know the Winnie W. We'll go force our stunning and charming personalities on them. Thanks cousin. V

Good tips from all. We got a long way to go, but there sure time to get there.

FF 08-06-2010 04:20 AM

RE: Preparing for The Great Loop
The loop is an inshore delight , but in terms of requirements a big nothing. Everything from jet skis to outboards in the 1950's have run the loop.

Only structural item needed is a midships cleat of good (12 -14 inch) size, and some fenders for the locks. It is easiest to simply have enough fenders to leave them installed on either side for the trip.

"as much ocean cruising around the Caribbean as we might have liked, due to the limitations of our little boat."

The "Thornless Path " will easily get you to the Carib , there is only one spot of note , the Mona Passage , between Hispanolia and PR.

A 180 or so mile run where you need to check the weather FIRST , and have the boat "Ready for Sea".

Dink aboard , stuff stowed , you will be plugging into the wave system from the Trades , , so a night passage is usually prefered.

Tom.B 08-06-2010 06:23 AM

RE: Preparing for The Great Loop
Thornless Path?

Keith 08-06-2010 06:28 AM

RE: Preparing for The Great Loop
It's a route through the Caribbean, and a book. Can't remember the author's name right off though.

Capn Chuck 08-06-2010 06:56 AM

RE: Preparing for The Great Loop
Bruce Van Sant.

Tom.B 08-08-2010 09:18 PM

RE: Preparing for The Great Loop
I can't imagine investing that much time in it. Maybe, I guess... but FIVE years?

Marin 08-09-2010 12:14 AM

Preparing for The Great Loop

GonzoF1 wrote:

I can't imagine investing that much time in it. Maybe, I guess... but FIVE years?

One could spend five years exploring the San Juan Islands and that's a relatively small area, perhaps 30 by 30 miles or so.* It all depends on what you want out of the journey.* I've "explored" the San Juans in 30 minutes in a de Havilland Beaver and saw every inch of every island shoreline.* Or you could spend a couple of decades poking around in the same area and see something new every day.

It's just a matter of determining how much time you want to spend-- or can spend--- and what sort of things you feel are the most interesting along the way.* Whether you do the trip in three months (or however long it takes to do the loop if you're on the move all the time) or three years, you can have a fulfilling experience either way.

To say it's impossible to have a fullfilling experience unless you take x-amount of time to do it is an unrealistic statement to my way of thinking.* If you HAVE five years and you think this particular cruise would hold your attention for that long, great.* But I suspect that the people who do it in a few months feel just as satisfied with their experience and accomplishment as the people who take several years.

So do it at whatever pace and schedule fits your time and interests and don't lose any sleep over what someone else did.

-- Edited by Marin on Monday 9th of August 2010 01:13:52 AM

FF 08-09-2010 04:07 AM

RE: Preparing for The Great Loop
No way to see the Erie, Champlain and Rideau Canals in one yr.

Actually its really easy , and could be a "warm UP" for turning left instead of right after crossing into AHHH land.

Turning right and enjoying the quiet lakes , and returning south is a grand summer .

Since most of the CN locks are all historic , they are almost all the same, so easy to run.

Only unusual item is when you are UP in a lock , the top of the lock wall is at your water line.

A different fender tie than normal.

Jon 08-09-2010 03:28 PM

RE: Preparing for The Great Loop
Just finished the loop after 2 years, but that included the Cumberland to Nashville, the Tennessee to Knoxville, backtracking from the Florida Keys back up to Demopolis AL and a run down to Kemah TX. We left the boat for 2 months in Mobile the first winter ,and in Alabama between June and October to get out of hurricane season. In addition I ended up having 5 or 6 business trips.
Met someone giving a talk at the Toronto Boat Show who had done the Loop in 16 weeks!!!!!! and it was in a boat.

reefdrifter 08-10-2010 10:02 AM

Preparing for The Great Loop
We've been just now enjoying reading the adventures of Bill and Ruth on

They did their Loop in 2006, but it still is a lot of fun to read.....great pictures, especially of all the locks and stops along the way.

-- Edited by reefdrifter on Tuesday 10th of August 2010 10:03:48 AM

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