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Old 07-04-2016, 10:55 PM   #1
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New to the forum, with questions

Hello to All,
I have been a pleasure boater for years, and own 3 boats ranging from 18 to 24 feet. We have rented houseboats on Lake Cumberland for years as well, but never owned one. We are very interested in making the Great Loop adventure and are looking at boat ads while reading and researching as much as we can find. The short version of what we've learned so far has torpedoed my original idea of using a 50 foot Gibson houseboat, and instead suggested the best craft for the job would be a trawler, single diesel engine, 38-42 feet in length with a RIB dinghy. Of course, we are looking at boats with enough fuel and water capacity to get us from marina to marina, but don't yet know exactly what those capacities should be.

We would love to hear words of wisdom, opinions, experiences, anything the members have to share on this subject including what you think of our boat choice [length, propulsion, etc.], suggested boat models, or actual boats for sale. We are located in Ohio, but not averse to traveling to see an available boat.

Thank you in advance for your responses, and we look forward to reading about your experiences!
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Old 07-05-2016, 06:50 AM   #2
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Welcome to the forum! You're on the right track as far as boats. There are air draft (height above water) and water draft limitations depending on the route you take. A 15' air draft and 4.5' water draft should let you go anywhere you want. Depending on your route, a 200 to 300 mile fuel capacity should be fine.

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Old 07-05-2016, 06:59 AM   #3
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Welcome aboard!

There are a couple of web sites that cover the Great Loop fairly well and perhaps you have already reviewed them.

Home - America's Great Loop Cruisers' Association

Cruising America's Great Loop

You haven't mentioned your requirements for the boat so it is somewhat difficult to comment. Your budget for both the boat and the trip will dictate a lot. The Great Loop route you want to take would also factor into the decision. For example, do you plan on doing the Trent-Severn or taking the Great Lakes exclusively? Is just the admiral going with you or are other family members involved?

My advice would be to read some of the blogs of people who have or are looping. I have read several of boats from 27 to 44'. They will give you a good idea of what you will encounter and also help you decide on what you want in a boat.
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Old 07-06-2016, 12:27 AM   #4
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Thanks to both OC Diver and Donsan for your replies. OC, it was great to have you confirm the draft requirements [both air and water] that we have been finding, and that you think we're on the right track. That is a handsome vessel in your profile picture! I hope we are lucky enough to find something as nice. Donsan, we plan to budget $40,000-$80,000 for our boat purchase, realizing that if we buy a boat at the low end we'll probably spend quite a bit bringing it up to what we want for the trip. The advantage of doing that is it would allow us to equip it the way we want. Budget for the trip itself? I don't want to say the sky's the limit, but we own several boats, two RVs and half of an airplane [yes, we give new meaning to "disposable income"] so I think we understand the $$$ we'll need. It will be just "The Admiral" [she loves being called that, now!] and me, and we are quite comfortable in either our 24' travel trailer or our 38' diesel pusher for as much as 8 months at a time, and if we ever are able to bring ourselves to sell our houses and land it could easily be longer than that. I have not completely gone through the two links you provided, but they look like they will be interesting.

Do either of you have any opinions/suggestions on the electronics you like or use? GPS, Radar, Marine Radio? Are there any GPS units that help you plot your course according to the deepest part of the waterway and show hazards like rocks or sandbars? Are you still using paper charts, or have you gone all electronic?
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Old 07-06-2016, 06:28 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by lensming View Post
Do either of you have any opinions/suggestions on the electronics you like or use? GPS, Radar, Marine Radio? Are there any GPS units that help you plot your course according to the deepest part of the waterway and show hazards like rocks or sandbars? Are you still using paper charts, or have you gone all electronic?
I like the Garmin stuff. For the loop, a plotter with Garmin maps, depth transducer, and radar will work very well. No longer do paper charts. My back up is the same chart software and GPS input on a PC and a tablet.

Ted
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Old 07-06-2016, 08:59 PM   #6
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Back to air draft a moment. It depends on the route you choose. You can take the Erie Canal to the Oswego and it to Lake Ontario, Welland Canal to Lake Erie, and the lowest bridge you'll face will them be 19'1" clearance just south of Chicago.
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Old 07-06-2016, 10:12 PM   #7
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I like the Garmin stuff. For the loop, a plotter with Garmin maps, depth transducer, and radar will work very well. No longer do paper charts. My back up is the same chart software and GPS input on a PC and a tablet.

Ted
Thank you, Ted, that was EXACTLY what I was hoping to hear. I am also a pilot, and we have gone to what we call EFB-Electronic Flight Bag-and although I carry my local sectional just for fun, I fly almost totally using GPS for navigation. And yes, it's Garmin. GNS 430 WAAS in the panel, GPSMAP 696 on the right yoke and an old 96 in my flight bag for extra redundancy. Thanks again for sharing information as I enter this new endeavor. -Lee
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Old 07-06-2016, 10:19 PM   #8
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Back to air draft a moment. It depends on the route you choose. You can take the Erie Canal to the Oswego and it to Lake Ontario, Welland Canal to Lake Erie, and the lowest bridge you'll face will them be 19'1" clearance just south of Chicago.
That's GREAT! I'm looking at online ads and this boat makes me think it has what I need, but I was a little iffy about the air draft of 16'4". If there's an alternate route, maybe I shouldn't worry about it.

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Old 07-06-2016, 11:42 PM   #9
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That's GREAT! I'm looking at online ads and this boat makes me think it has what I need, but I was a little iffy about the air draft of 16'4". If there's an alternate route, maybe I shouldn't worry about it.

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The 15'5" height is the limit for the western part of the Erie. So 16'4" would eliminate that choice. The advantage of taking the western Erie is it shorcuts your route to Lake Erie. The negative is that then you miss Lake Ontario completely.

Also, the Champlain Canal is an optional route but it has a limit of 17' at normal pool and 12'1" at maximum pool level.
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Old 07-07-2016, 04:34 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by lensming View Post
Do either of you have any opinions/suggestions on the electronics you like or use? GPS, Radar, Marine Radio? Are there any GPS units that help you plot your course according to the deepest part of the waterway and show hazards like rocks or sandbars? Are you still using paper charts, or have you gone all electronic?
There are several manufacturers that sell complete electronics packages or single components such as Garmin, Raymarine, Simrad/Lowrance and Furuno. Boaters tend to debate them like auto buffs debate Ford and Chevy. If you are familiar with Garmin, you probably will want to stick with it. You might want to do some research on the NMEA 2000 bus and how marine electronics interface to it and share data.

Garmin carries marine radios but ICOM and Standard Horizon get most the radio business. Don't think you can go wrong with either of them. You will want to have at least 2 working marine radios and might want to supplement those with a portable marine radio. Having a radio with AIS is also very useful for awareness and safety.

Do not overlook a good autopilot. The Great Loop is about 6,000 miles and you will probably average 6 miles per hour or less while underway. That is 1000 hours holding the wheel without autopilot.

Also, don't overlook the depth finder and you should have 2 of those. They will tell you when the channel ain't the channel.

IMHO, a cellular model iPad is one of the most handy things you can have on a boat for the loop. I often think of it as my Swiss Army knife of electronics.
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Old 07-08-2016, 02:01 AM   #11
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Lots of awesome info here..not just for looping...Thanks folks!

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Old 07-08-2016, 06:55 AM   #12
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The 15'5" height is the limit for the western part of the Erie. So 16'4" would eliminate that choice. The advantage of taking the western Erie is it shorcuts your route to Lake Erie. The negative is that then you miss Lake Ontario completely.

Also, the Champlain Canal is an optional route but it has a limit of 17' at normal pool and 12'1" at maximum pool level.
Welcome aboard TF
There are several route choices when looping... we've never done it but have cruised extensively in the NE. You might want to do some route exploring before your final boat decision.
The Champlain, Rideau, and Trent Severn canals provide some really great cruising. Some folks spend an extended period in the area vs just passing thru...even store the boat and take a winter break traveling....home...visiting etc...with an RV it presents many opportunities.
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