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Old 08-26-2019, 09:14 PM   #1
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California boater interested in Great American Loop

Just discovered this great forum. I recently learned about the Great American Loop and it sounds fascinating. Living in Southern California and a former Grady White owner, my offshore experiences have been trips to the Channel Islands. I’m nearing retirement and the Loop sounds like a great adventure. Not living on the East Coast, have any California boaters dealt with the logistics of the adventure? I realize I would need to purchase a boat on the East Coast. Are there dealers that specialize in Loop boats? I’m not sure of full retirement plans so want flexibility in terms of resale or keeping it if we decide to escape tax heavy California. We are several years off, but want to start thinking and researching it. When we got married 33 years ago, my wife and I decided whether we would be a ski or boating family and she agreed to boating, so I believe I have a head start on the selling job! Not asking about specific boats at this point, just looking for advice from people that don’t live on the Loop and how they made it happen.
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Old 08-27-2019, 04:34 AM   #2
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Start with the AGLCA (America's Great Loop Cruising Association) Website. Lots of information and, if you decide to join, the membership will be invaluable as you decide your level of interest. You will learn that the exact route will determine your draft and air draft restrictions of future loop boat.

Curtis Stokes is a broker on the East coast who is an AGLCA sponsor, attends the various rendezvous and works a lot with folks who buy a boat specifically for the loop then sell it as soon as they finish the trip.

I find "loopers" tend towards 2 general categories: Those who start from Fl in the Spring and race around the loop in approx 1 year, They move in a large wave - meeting up loosely with fellow loopers at each night's destination for docktails. Their schedule and timing is determined by the May - October season of the NY, Canadian & Chicago canals.
The second group take several years, often stopping to explore each region more extensively, lots of side trips, may get off the boat for weeks or months at a time for family of other reasons then resume the trip. No fixed schedule.

It's a great opportunity - hope you enjoy it!
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Old 08-27-2019, 05:03 AM   #3
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Don't buy on the east coast, buy in great lakes. You can start your loop there instead and if you do the leg work and are patient, you can get a beautiful, fresh-water boat that's been stored indoors 6 months of the year. That's how I got my boat that I now keep on the east coast.



The trip home on the Erie Canal, etc. was a 1000 mile section of the great loop and was a blast. When I actually start my great loop cruise, I will likely pick a different route around the Erie Canal (Champlain, Chambly, St. Lawrence, Ottawa River, Rideau Canal) just so I can see more.
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Old 08-27-2019, 05:20 AM   #4
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The easiest way to have a ZERO round trip (you sell for what you paid) is with a very common smaller , say under $10K gasoline boat.

Seaworthy or sea kindly are hardly required , its been run in outboards and jet skis.

The big question is how small the boat can be and still be comfortable for a 6 month full time operation.

Simple , no noisemaker, air cond or heat will mean more time for wandering and less for chasing repairs. .
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Old 08-27-2019, 06:12 AM   #5
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Simple , no noisemaker, air cond or heat will mean more time for wandering and less for chasing repairs. .
... or a lot less because the crew is uncomfortable.

We'd put ourselves in the multi year approach. There are so many prime cruising ground outside of the Loop, the Bahamas and New England in particular. And places you want to hang out and explore for awhile.
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Old 08-27-2019, 06:52 AM   #6
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Congrats on catching the boat fever, hopefully both of you will have an equal passion for it and you might decide to do more than just the loop, there’s another one called the Down East loop that goes up around and past Nova Scotia. Here’s the AGLCA site: https://www.greatloop.org/
AGLCA does a rendezvous twice a year, open to anyone even considering it. There’s a guy called Captain John who does a pretty good summary of looping boat requirements here: Your Great Loop boat requirements and restrictions
Finally I’d recommend going to as many trawlerfest events (https://www.passagemaker.com/trawlerfest) as you can while you’re searching, great way to figure out what kind of boat you want. IMHO you need a decent size diesel trawler that’s efficient with a range of several hundred miles.....
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Old 08-27-2019, 08:20 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Mischief Managed View Post
Don't buy on the east coast, buy in great lakes. You can start your loop there instead and if you do the leg work and are patient, you can get a beautiful, fresh-water boat that's been stored indoors 6 months of the year. That's how I got my boat that I now keep on the east coast.
After years of harvesting by loopers, trawler type boats on the Great Lakes that have not been in salt water are becoming scarce, and the owners know it. There is typically a price premium on the few that remain. Guess you got lucky. Plenty of fresh water Carver, Cruisers, Sea Ray type boats, though. That said, even the "affordable" diesel versions of those boats are dwindling. Sad to see these nice boats being sacrificed to the ravages of salt water and the loop.
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Old 08-27-2019, 05:01 PM   #8
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After years of harvesting by loopers, trawler type boats on the Great Lakes that have not been in salt water are becoming scarce, and the owners know it. There is typically a price premium on the few that remain. Guess you got lucky.

I may have, not sure. I certainly have no qualms about paying extra for a cream-puff though and I got a cream puff in my Tollycraft.



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Sad to see these nice boats being sacrificed to the ravages of salt water and the loop.

I dunno, when I look at the hardly-used boats deteriorating in my marina with 20% of the hours my boat has, I can't think of anything happier than a boat being worn out by heavy use.
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Old 08-27-2019, 05:44 PM   #9
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Mischief is absolutely right. My marina is small, less than 50 boats. About 10 or 15 are sailboats, the rest are every imaginable variety. A couple of the sailboats go out once or twice a month, a couple smaller fishing boats go out pretty often. Most of the cruisers never leave the dock, and I really mean NEVER! Mine sat all July due to the engine being out of it. In June and August I put more hours on it than probably the rest of the marina put together.

That leaves lots of Carvers, Searays and Bayliners with very few hours on them. Probably 5 - 8 come up for sale yearly. I'm not really sure if I would want them though. Dock Queens with outdated or non functioning electronics and engines which although not abused are really not maintained.Why pay to have the oil changed on an engine with 2 hours on it for a season? Batteries are 10 years old but can manage one more start to get from the well to the dock. Many are gassers which I would avoid for the Loop and a 20 year old diesel with 700 hours on it may not be the bargain you are looking for.

Still, there are plenty of boats on the Great lakes which were loved and used by their owners. Always kept clean, updated canvas and electronics, new lines, and a few new gadgets. The owner gets into his 80's or 90's, the kids don't want it, or know what it is worth and often sell cheap.

Come East, tour marinas, talk to owners or employees and you will find these great bargain boats. (Talk to my widow or kids in about 15 years)

Go For It

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Old 08-27-2019, 06:50 PM   #10
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If you want to cruise the great loop, find the limiting air height and draft requirements for where you want to cruise. Then spend time reading the Boat Search 101 thread to help you narrow you wants and needs. Your boat requirements would be influenced by how and where you want to use the boat. Maybe this use is just the loop, or it could include before and/or after as well.

Personally, I'm thinking about a boat to do half the loop (Chicago to Florida via the east coast, or vice-versa) and maybe the Bahamas. I'm thinking about a boat that can be hauled either to (or from) Chicago.

My dream boat is different than most of the other forum members, as I'm thinking about an express cruiser, an early 2000's SeaRay Sundancer 360.

Lately, however, I've been having 'crazy' thoughts of a Pacific Seacraft Dana 24 (27' LOA). Beam of only 8'7", but with 6'1" headroom below. Here's an example grabbed off the internet:





I'm also thinking, wouldn't it be cool to buy a boat in Washington State, cruise Pugent/Desolation Sound for a few months, truck the boat to Chicago, and do a reverse half-loop down to the Florida Keys!

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Old 08-27-2019, 08:34 PM   #11
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Pacific Seacraft is a fine boat. Consider also a Fantasia 35, an incredibly roomy boat, complete with a walk-in workshop, & capable of a safe circumnavigation. Peruse Katy Burke's classic "The Liveaboard Book" to see it in detail.
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Old 08-28-2019, 05:32 AM   #12
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"Personally, I'm thinking about a boat to do half the loop (Chicago to Florida via the east coast,"

That portion of the loop is about 10x more interesting than down the Missiissippi or Ten Tom.

We enjoyed the loop but today would make a U turn before Chicago and head South.

If you have the time using the Rideau and lake Champlain would be a great return trip.

Beware , By Lingual usually means the kids will speak English.

MY High Skool French was so hard to listen too, the adults would attempt to converse in English!


Great Fun!!!
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Old 08-28-2019, 09:04 AM   #13
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Have you considered boating in the waters from Tacoma, through BC and to Glacier Bay AK? These cruising grounds are an interesting alternative to the loop especially for a CA resident. I've spent time cruising both and can appreciate either one.

Generally, the same boat will successfully suffice in either case. Lots of Grady White's and clones plying the PNW waters. Plus, you'll not have to deal with serious freezing weather when cruising the inside passage. But, sadly ( or happily) you'll miss FL if you forego the loop.

Lots of choices, none bad.
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Old 08-28-2019, 11:51 AM   #14
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Thanks for the idea Sunchaser, but we prefer warmer weather so more interested in the Loop taking seasons into account. Also my wife would be more interested in the side trips available on the loop.
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Old 08-28-2019, 12:55 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by FF View Post
"Personally, I'm thinking about a boat to do half the loop (Chicago to Florida via the east coast,"

That portion of the loop is about 10x more interesting than down the Missiissippi or Ten Tom.

We enjoyed the loop but today would make a U turn before Chicago and head South.

If you have the time using the Rideau and lake Champlain would be a great return trip.

Beware , By Lingual usually means the kids will speak English.

MY High Skool French was so hard to listen too, the adults would attempt to converse in English!


Great Fun!!!
I kind of agree with FF but it depends on what your idea of cruising adventure is. Around the east coast, there's more city life and around the Miss and Tenn-Tom, there's more rustic scenery until getting lower on the Miss where there's a lot of industry.



I've done a lot of the loop by land before I knew about the loop. So when I do it myself, I will be skipping some areas that I've been to frequently. I'm thinking I'll do roughly 1/2 to 3/4 of the loop, SC up the coast around and down to Paducah, KY. I'm planning 16 months, give or take two months. Then trailer my boat over to the Columbia River in WA and start there to do the Inside Passage to AK.
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Old 08-30-2019, 11:30 AM   #16
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Arroyo,
I know you said you prefer warm climate but if I could humbly offer an echo of Sunchaser. The Pacific Northwest has truly magnificent cruising ground that is literally world renowned even if you don’t want to make the trek all the way to Alaska. It has the puget sound, San Juan islands, gulf islands, Vancouver island, etc and all surrounded by deep clean water and views of Olympic and cascade mountains. The myth about rains and cold are overstated there and the majority of boat owners there leave the boat in the water year round with no need to winterize. One of the fun places up there to visit; Victoria, BC, is in an interesting pocket of lovely weather and averages a mere 23 inches of rain/year and lots of sunshine.
Like you, we started a search for a loop boat, but after 2 years finally found the boat that would be absolutely perfect for us happened to be in La Conner, WA.
We ended up falling in love with the region and spent 2 years there before moving the boat to the east for loop prep. Just my two cents....
My point is, if the perfect boat for you is in the wrong coast or location, in our experience anyway it was totally worth it. Sure it can be expensive to move a boat but it tends to be only a fraction of the boat value, as opposed to “settling” for your 2nd or 3rd choice boat just to get it from a certain region.
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Old 08-30-2019, 12:16 PM   #17
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Thanks for the idea Sunchaser, but we prefer warmer weather so more interested in the Loop taking seasons into account. Also my wife would be more interested in the side trips available on the loop.
Having lived and boated on the east coast, in Missouri and on the inland rivers for many years, the PNW climate and marine environment I find much more nautical friendly. No hurricanes nor tornados to worry about in the PNW. The loop does get into some cold spring and fall weather. Then consider the north loop area winterizing, which we don't need to do in the PNW.

That said, the cruising experiences are so different and enjoyable might as well do both as did Sledge.
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Old 08-30-2019, 08:31 PM   #18
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Thanks Sunchaser. Food for thought. Also putting out crab pots in the PNW has appeal. I need to retire and get with the program!
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Old 08-31-2019, 01:01 AM   #19
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South eastern Alaska scenery is awesome.
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Old 09-07-2019, 08:32 PM   #20
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No don't pay any attention to them about the PNW. It rains all the time, there are no fish left, and all pictures they post are fakes. Go east young man! Who wants the scenery of deserted anchorages when you can have the fun of neighbors everynight ?
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