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Old 07-28-2015, 01:24 PM   #1
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Great Loop Budget

My wife and I have decided to buy a trawler and take off enough time to do the Great Loop. We're trying to estimate costs (ballpark) for the trip. I find a lot of extraneous information on the web but nothing that pulls it all together in one budget, i.e, fuel, marinas, food, repairs, transportation, etc. Any advice on where to find more helpful information.

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Old 07-28-2015, 01:33 PM   #2
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Here's a link that may interest you including a section on budgets. Welcome!

http://captainjohn.org/GL-2-Intro.html
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Old 07-28-2015, 02:43 PM   #3
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Here's a great resource, as is the Great Loop email list on Trawlers and Trawlering. Have fun!

America's Great Loop Cruisers' Association
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Old 07-28-2015, 03:24 PM   #4
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Welcome to the forum! Went through the same process when planning for my 2017 trip. Concluded that the best plan was to cruise the boat for a month and then see what sort of numbers I came up with. Multiplying that by 12 would give me a rough estimate. Plan to add that to my normal cost of living. There will be some overlap such as food, but then there will be some expenses such as repairs and trips home from the loop that will consume the extra money. If you don't have a boat already, buying one and setting it up for the trip will be your largest outlay by far.

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Old 07-28-2015, 07:13 PM   #5
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Captain John is proud to have proved that he could buy the boat and cruise, fuel it, stay in marinas two nights a week and do it all for under $10,000. That doesn't include food, entertainment and other normal living expenses. So, that's the incremental costs.

At the other end could be a multi-million dollar boat plus $70,000 in fuel vs. his $3,000 plus marinas totaling $30,000 vs. his $3,600.

That's where it gets difficult as one person can spend ten times what another spends. Most cruisers have their boat expenses down fairly well. If not, OC Diver's suggestion is excellent.

To me, the cost of a year doing the loop is something like this.

Normal Living Expenses
+
Fuel for 7,500 nm (upper end of mileage)
+
Docking for the number of nights you figure at marinas
+
Maintenance for those miles based on your repairs and maintenance history
+
Travel to and from for any breaks you take
+
Entertainment. Allow yourself enough to enjoy all the areas

On top of that I'd have funds set back to cover major maintenance if it did happen.

If you're inclined to be exceptionally frugal, want to cruise in a small boat, and are ready to anchor most of the time, then Captain John's numbers might come close for you. But most people are not that frugal. I have read of a lot of people spending about $40,000 for the year including all living expenses. They minimized restaurants and emphasized free or very cheap municipal docks. They enjoyed free entertainment as much as possible.
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Old 07-28-2015, 09:25 PM   #6
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Two members I think would be interesting to hear from in this thread are psneeld and FF. Neither of them "run the loop" per se rather both run north and south in the ditch every year. One living aboard and the other as a commuting snow bird.
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Old 07-28-2015, 09:59 PM   #7
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Two members I think would be interesting to hear from in this thread are psneeld and FF. Neither of them "run the loop" per se rather both run north and south in the ditch every year. One living aboard and the other as a commuting snow bird.
I think running the coast some prior to looping can really assist with preparation.
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Old 07-28-2015, 10:30 PM   #8
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In the summer of 2000 we took off from New Jersey in a well maintained single engine 34' Marine Trader to do the little loop for the summer. It cost on average about $100 per day. Some days more - some days less.

Once you get into New York, there aren't many places to anchor but lots of places to eat out and much to do on land. Sometimes you want to stay in a marina other nights you just tie up to a lock's dock. The exchange rate with Canada was great (almost 2 for one) but everything costs more up there.

OTOH no one seemed that pressed to collect the full amount for anything: Marinas would round down the boat length and add a free day, restaurants gave free dockage, park rangers and lock masters would go home early and not collect fees.

In Y2K diesel was $1.00 US/gallon and no one heard of Bin Laden. Adjust your numbers accordingly. Your experience may be different.
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Old 07-29-2015, 04:35 AM   #9
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I would add that the Skipper Bob book on the Great Loop is a good resource for figuring out how to do it economically.

Having done virtually all of Florida and the US east coast and the Hudson system, multiple times: as others have mentioned, it is driven by your boating lifestyle more than anything: how fast, how big, anchor/moor/free docks vs marinas, cook on board vs restaurants, how much repair and maintenance you do vs pros... these are the things that really add up quickly.
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Old 07-29-2015, 06:44 AM   #10
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I can agree with Alomar with the $100 per day as a ROUGH esrimate.

My first year South and return was maybe 25% higher.....but the last 2 back and forth have been right at $100 per day. That is my target based on my style. I have been anchoring more and have found many free dock stops, so I wind up tossing that money back into dining out and happy hours. Fuel is also way down so that $800 dollars a trip also got recycled back into "fun".

I know the costs right down to every quick grocery stop or quart of oil added as I kept accurate spreadsheets till I saw the numbers settle out.

Move faster, you burn more fuel.

Anchor more, less for marinas unless you love the resort 5 star types.

Eat out a lot, pay more.

Until you have a boat and determine your cruising style...that $100 per day could vary from $25 to $200 a day for many loopers....

If need be, you can work it the other way...figure out what you are willing to spend per day...then start cruising to see where you are falling above or below the line and start bracketing the target line.
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Old 07-29-2015, 10:08 AM   #11
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I think it will be less about budget and more about desire, large undertaking and certainly worthy of the challenge, but it all comes down to the couples desire, I've followed more then one blog that ended the trip early for one reason or another.
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Old 07-29-2015, 10:29 AM   #12
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One thing working in favor of loopers is they're well known as a group. They're also known as cost conscious (ok tightwads? no). But as mentioned above they're expected to ask about pricing and regularly do get discounts. Most marinas and providers recognize them loopers as cruising long trips on limited budgets. So all that works in your favor. Also, there are many restaurants that cater to loopers and other similar boaters. At least one at most stops.

I suggest reading as many books written by loopers as possible. You'll see the differences between styles but also how many made it affordable. As most loopers are older and eat lighter, you see many couples who find moderately priced restaurants with specials running and then find it's enough food for them to take half of it back and have another good meal (I must admit we haven't hit that point as I don't believe I personally have yet ever had leftovers to box up and take with me. Have gotten dessert to go).

Loopers also share information along the way and that includes discount or free dockage, bargain restaurants, even bargain washers and dryers.

I'd say step one in preparing a budget for the loop is knowing your costs today. Again, I go further in my financial background obsessive way than most do but we know everything spent on boating. If we provision food from the house to the boat, we record that as a cost of boating. Everything except tips and a few places that require cash is paid by card and all the cash payments are entered as well. We don't use it to change habits, just to know. However, I would say for anyone looking to manage costs, that is the starting point.

By budgeting and knowing costs you also know when you can splurge and not feel guilty nor risk destroying your budget. There are options everywhere. We left NYC yesterday. Expensive place, but options even there. Broadway musical at full price. Or locals often get their tickets at the half price booth, day of the show. But they also learn to take advantage of free entertainment like shows in Central Park or Washington Square.

There are some ordinary living expenses that most people find reduced when looping. Clothing is one often mentioned. We forget the cost of clothes to work in most 9 to 5 jobs. Auto costs and a reminder, if you're keeping a car then contact your insurer as not using it to commute to work and low mileage both can lead to rate reductions.

I would really do some coastal trial runs. They'll help in so many ways.
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Old 07-29-2015, 10:38 AM   #13
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When I run in trawler mode, that $100/day works out about right. A one month trip, get credit card bill and divide by 30. Comes out to around $100/day. Few marina stops, little eating out. Fresh fish, beans and rice!!! About 15-20gal of diesel per day, avg $3/gal. And then there is the beer cost, we won't talk about that!!

When in go fast mode, much worse due to fuel.

Lots of stupid land based expenses don't show up while on the water, that has a big effect.
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Old 07-29-2015, 11:20 AM   #14
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We cruised all summer in 2012 and 2013. 1st year we did the Trent system to the N Channel and back to Ct. 2nd year we did the Champlain/Rideau Canal loop and then back.
We were no where near $100 per day, probably closer to $60 + per day. And we spent more than we thought we would.
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Old 07-29-2015, 02:10 PM   #15
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We've been "doing" the loop since Oct 2012, when we repositioned from Orange Beach to Tarpon Springs. In 2013 we traveled to Norfolk and spent the summer of 2013 exploring Chesapeake Bay. Last year we traveled from Norfolk to Lake Barkley, KY. This year we have done the Cumberland River and will do the Tennessee in the Fall. Don't know when we will "finish" the loop, right now we like the inland rivers.


How much does it cost to "do" the loop? It depends on how you do it, i.e., marina's vs anchoring out; dining out vs dining in, etc. We found our habits didn't change much, didn't eat out more often than we normally do, eat most meals on the boat; didn't have slip fees and anchor out most of time, so cost of marinas was similar to normal slip fees when not cruising, etc.


The big variables are fuel and boat repair. Fuel can be planned using known burn rates and distance of about 6,000 miles. Boat repair is unexpected and consists of mechanical breakdowns of engines/systems, bent props and damaged hulls, etc. Our largest single expenditure (aside from fuel) has been $1000 deductible for fiberglass repair. We know folks who have had engine and transmission rebuilds, trashed 1 or more pairs of props, lost refrigeration, etc.


There are people doing the loop on a shoestring and those spending multiple thousands of dollars a month. The experience is the same for everyone, regardless of the amount spent.
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Old 08-23-2015, 11:05 AM   #16
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We were planning the Great Loop in 2011 but Deltaville Boat yard scuttled our plans and we were going to head back south but got caught in snow and ice so we wintered at Atlantic Yacht Basin.

Met several boaters who stopped over at AYB and were going to winter at Tidewater in Norfolk. We stayed and moved on to Norfolk in April and started a early loop with 4 other boats.

While traveling north on Chesapeake water was really rough so we stayed at marinas. Got to New York mid June, most boats stayed in New York but being a cajun had no interest so we headed on north.

Have twin 3208's and stated looking for free tie ups and anchoring. Put lots of hours on gen set.

Fuel, marinas, fees, food and repairs were the major budget item.

Our first year got us to Paducka, Ky. That is about halfway(leaving from Norfolk) out total cost was 28,000 but we spent lots in money in Canada renting cars and exploring.

We loved the inland rivers of KY, TN, Alabama and Mississippi so we spent a year making the treks to Memphis, Nashville, Florence and the best marina in the world..Turtle Cove in Ky. That year was 33,000.

We made it back to Mobil and put the boat up for sale. I will not include the shafting we got in Deltaville, but to enjoy and explore, plan more time in Marinas. My excel file total was 76K, met lots of loopers and budgets run the gambit. One couple on 34 single engine Albin had two year plus from Fl to Ky and spent less than 20K. Saw lots of sail boats with mast stepped doing the loop.

Budget is how you want to travel. Found loopers who doggely fought to stay in budget were not very happy.

Our boat was a 43 sundeck with washer and dryer and they eat water. Want to save money don't use them.

My two cents.

DT

The bigger the boat the bigger the budget.
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Old 09-01-2015, 04:56 AM   #17
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Don't forget that anything you still own on land likes houses and cars, have their fixed costs.
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Old 09-01-2015, 07:58 AM   #18
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Loop spending

We are on the loop. We started in Solomons Maryland in May and are now just north of Chicago. We have paid for dockage 90% of the time in the first three months, We had a haul out and prop repair in NY. We enjoy experiencing the restaurants and the towns. The data below is 90 days. It does not include dirt home expenses. This is an adventure that we don't mind spending more to enjoy. If we backed off the marinas and anchored out more as well as not eating out as much I believe the $100/day is a good number as stated above. We have a 2 mile/gal boat.
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Old 09-01-2015, 10:08 AM   #19
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We are on the loop. We started in Solomons Maryland in May and are now just north of Chicago. We have paid for dockage 90% of the time in the first three months, We had a haul out and prop repair in NY. We enjoy experiencing the restaurants and the towns. The data below is 90 days. It does not include dirt home expenses. This is an adventure that we don't mind spending more to enjoy. If we backed off the marinas and anchored out more as well as not eating out as much I believe the $100/day is a good number as stated above. We have a 2 mile/gal boat.
Very good information. Thanks for sharing.

It's like most great adventures. Some go hitchhiking through Europe and stay at hostels. Others drive around in Limo's and stay at five star resorts. Most are somewhere in between. You've set out to make this a grand experience. You could do it on $100/day, but you've planned more as you want to enjoy some things that are beyond the $100/day level.

Hope you're having the time of your life.
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Old 09-02-2015, 09:28 PM   #20
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If I spent a year on a boat my "normal expenses" would change a lot. Even if I didn't rent out my house while I was gone and get income from that, I'd cancel the phone, cable, internet. The home heating/AC/and electric bills would be a lot less. No more newspaper or magazine subscriptions. Not driving my cars would save on gas and maintenance expenses. Car insurance might go down from driving a lot less miles.

Some of this would be countered with other costs. I'd have to pay a lawn service to take care of the yard. The savings from not driving would be more than offset by the boat gas and boat maintenance. If I bought newspapers off the street they would cost more.

Basically, my point is you have to look at the whole picture carefully to see how much it would actually cost to do the loop.
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