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Old 04-02-2017, 11:45 PM   #1
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New Member wants advice about Great Loop boat selection S/H

Greetings everyone! Great forum with lots of good information here. Definitely a no-brainer decision to register and jump in.

I'm looking for advice about what y'all think is the best boat for cruising the Great Loop single-handed. I know that's not the ideal way to do it but my wife doesn't share the same enthusiasm for boating that I do, not to mention she has responsibilities on land that require her attendance. If she does tag along on the journey, it would be infrequent and for short periods.

My personal boating experience is owning/operating a 20 ft. Penn Yan on Lake Huron, mostly for fishing. I have a private pilot license and engineering degree so I think the skills are there to learn the mechanics of navigation, large boat operation & maintenance, etc.

As for boat size, I wouldn't be looking at anything that requires space for more than two people. Easy to handle and dock single-handed, and comfortable in inclement weather, are prime considerations for me. Also, I can't afford new so something used is fine.

Looking forward to your thoughts. Thanks for your help!
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Old 04-03-2017, 03:58 AM   #2
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You will not see agreement on what is the best "looper" boat for a singlehander.

My thoughts:

Key will be ability to dock the boat and then step outside to handle the lines. This argues against a boat where you dock from the flybridge, or from an inside steering station without immediate access to the sides. Take a look at the Nordic Tugs or American Tugs and consider singlehanded docking from them versus docking from a flybridge.

You will be doing a lot of docking so twins or a single with a bow thruster would be useful.

The loop is 6,000 miles so the difference between 4 mpg and 1.5 mpg is a large financial issue. The locations were speed would be valuable are few on the loop so the mileage loss by having bigger engines is not as justified as in other uses.

Size, for a singlehander I would suggest between 32 and 40 feet.
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Old 04-03-2017, 06:22 AM   #3
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Our Mainship 34HT is a great boat for 2, easy to single hand, and might be worth considering.
Not as many available as 34Ts w a fly bridge but if it has a lower helm you can single hand easily from lower.
More pics and info on the linked Bacchus site in the signature.
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Old 04-03-2017, 06:33 AM   #4
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It really depend on whether you need all the creature comforts....and whether you plan on keeping the same vessel after the loop. Which is always a crap shoot as some wary spouses still don't like cruising after short parts, some are all in to move aboard.

I would look for a Rosborough type vessel with an outboard unless you love creature comforts.

If you need creature comforts, then smaller and lighter is always easier to singlehand given the same deck layout for those times pulling the boat around by hand for various reasons.

But many will agree you can single hand up to and beyond 50 footers set up correctly. I do too but that's a lot of boat for a single hander without Madison Ave. needs.

To me a custom interior on a 35 foot or so downeast type boat is my dreamboat single handler but it's not easily upscale for 2 if your wife does decide to like it.
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Old 04-03-2017, 06:37 AM   #5
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Greetings,
Welcome aboard. Another PY owner here. 23' SF.
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Old 04-03-2017, 06:38 AM   #6
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Ranger Tug would bear a good look. Huge following, well made and newer design and build. Low maintenance in comparison to an older build. Plus, good resale. Speed when you need it, slow cruising speed acceptable to new design engine.
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Old 04-03-2017, 06:58 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by psneeld View Post
I would look for a Rosborough type vessel with an outboard unless you love creature comforts.
The Rosborough is a real nice boat but unless you are 5'6" and 130 lbs, you will find the head very tight as are most 25' boats.
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Old 04-03-2017, 07:20 AM   #8
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Many thanks for all the thoughtful replies so far to my RFI!

Good points about (1) creature comforts and (2) cabin headroom.

(1) I spent 2 years each living/working in Iraq and Afghanistan on military bases, some of which were remote combat outposts with plywood shacks for quarters. You'll never appreciate indoor plumbing as much as when you don't have it! Given that experience, I can tolerate 'rustic' living conditions and certainly wouldn't need a high level of interior finish. Anything better than a plywood box or shipping container would be an upgrade for me. Of course, the wife's expectations are much different. But since she isn't a full partner in the expedition, my input carries more weight.

(2) I'm 6'2" tall so I wouldn't want to have a permanent crook in my neck from not being able to stand up straight. Cabin interior height is definitely a concern.

A friend of mine has a 34' Mainship that he let me run on Lake Ponchartrain. It has a flybridge and I really liked the view and ride up there. But it seemed like it would be tough for someone not very athletic to dock single-handed. Of course, practice makes perfect. I'd fear falling off the ladder at a crucial moment. Thus the interest in a helm-side door to be close to the lines.
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Old 04-03-2017, 07:24 AM   #9
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One rule that never seems to change.....

Every boat is a compromise.

If I were doing the loop, and not buying a full time liveaboard or constant cruiser when done the loop....I definitely would look for a boat that was reasonably economical for fuel but had some speed.

The best compromise in my mind for economy and speed is downsizing (sure there are exceptions and those are compromises too).
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Old 04-03-2017, 07:27 AM   #10
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Knowing your budget would be helpful.

I would recommend a early model Mainship 34, a diesel powered Bayliner 3218,3270,3288 for an under $40,000 budget. For under $25,000 a gas powered Bayliner 32 would work well.

In the over $75,000 I would pick a NT 32/34.
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Old 04-03-2017, 07:41 AM   #11
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Knowing your budget would be helpful.

I would recommend a early model Mainship 34, a diesel powered Bayliner 3218,3270,3288 for an under $40,000 budget. For under $25,000 a gas powered Bayliner 32 would work well.

In the over $75,000 I would pick a NT 32/34.
It always comes down to the expenditure. My weakness is spending more than I originally budget. At this point, I'm looking at the $50-80K range. Value is everything though.

Appreciate the interest in my situation!
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Old 04-03-2017, 07:50 AM   #12
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TF has at least one member who single handed the loop. I believe it was in a 34' Marine Trader. There was at least one woman who single handed on a 25' Ranger Tug. She was probably small and petite.

You might want to consider a Nordic Tug 32'. There are doors on both sides of the helm. That will come in handy during locking or docking.
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Old 04-03-2017, 08:22 AM   #13
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Contact ARCH on this site. He has been out for 4-5 years by himself
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Old 04-03-2017, 08:45 AM   #14
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What about a dismasted sailboat?
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Old 04-03-2017, 08:51 AM   #15
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Unless it has a pilothouse, either I would add one or go power.

While efficient, most sailors don't look very comfy compared to power boaters, for many reasons.
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Old 04-03-2017, 08:53 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheCommissioner View Post
..........I'm looking for advice about what y'all think is the best boat for cruising the Great Loop single-handed. I know that's not the ideal way to do it but my wife doesn't share the same enthusiasm for boating that I do, not to mention she has responsibilities on land that require her attendance. If she does tag along on the journey, it would be infrequent and for short periods.............
You realize you will be gone for a year or more? Your wife is OK with that? You are OK with that? That's a long time to be talking to yourself.

There are some locks that require more than one person to handle lines. Even where it's not required, locking through single handed will be pretty difficult.

That said, you can do the Loop on a jet ski if you really want to. The best I can do is recommend a smallish trawler style boat. One with easy access to the bow for line handling. One with twin engines, a single engine and a bow thruster or a stern drive or outboard for maneuverability. There are dozens of choices so look at a bunch and pick one you like.
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Old 04-03-2017, 10:59 AM   #17
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You realize you will be gone for a year or more? Your wife is OK with that? You are OK with that? That's a long time to be talking to yourself.
Like I said, not an ideal situation but perhaps better than sitting at the computer watching YouTubes of Loopers and living vicariously through their voyages. When I was working overseas, I saw my wife for a couple of weeks every three months. We missed each other for sure. But the fact that I'd be on a boat not getting shot at or blown up would be a much more tolerable separation than before.

I'll paraphrase George Thorogood here and say, 'When I cruise alone, I prefer to be by myself.'
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Old 04-03-2017, 11:55 AM   #18
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Lots of boaters do it in under a year or break it up and store the vessel for months or even seasons.

Certainly there are legs that may be more interesting to your wife...sit down and discuss what she would like to see and do...make a rough outline and start from there.

That's why speed can be important....there are lots of places you have to go slow, but probably just as many where going fast and nothing to see can be a blessing.
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Old 04-03-2017, 02:37 PM   #19
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I'm going to throw a curve here.

Single-handed, I'd go with something small, light and fast for the loop. My old 2003 Bayliner 285 would work, as would the smaller 265. The model numbers changed year-to-year for the same boat, so just look for a 26- to 29-foot, single engine express cruiser. SeaRay had a bunch of these too, if you don't mind paying a little more for a more polished finish. There are others, but Bayliner by far made the best use of the available space.

Here's my logic. There are only two places on the Loop that are "outside"; the coast of NJ and the Big Bend. Being able to go fast in those places, to take advantage of a weather window, is a good thing. Likewise for the Great Lakes portions. Being able to go fast on a long, boring river stretch can be a huge plus, too. Docking a small single outdrive with or without a bow thruster is easy. Anchoring, mooring and locking through are also easier.

The express cruiser layout typically includes a full vinyl camper enclosure, allow all-weather operation from the helm deck and a cockpit that can be used enclosed or open. Both offer ample headroom, and you won't be standing very long below decks anyway.

Dockage fees are usually per foot, and sometimes having less than 30' gets you into places the larger boats can't go, or gets you a cheaper rate.

Fuel burn won't be bad with a light, planing hull. We got the same mileage from the 285 (a 29-footer) at 23-25 knots as we do with our present 36-footer at 7 knots. We also had the option to go 7 knots, although the fuel economy at that speed was only a little better.

Our 285 had a relatively spacious interior with a full-sized bed in the "cave", full head with wet shower and galley. The one issue was the wet shower; you had to wipe the head dry after a shower, before someone else could use the toilet. But with one person on board that's not really a problem.

Smaller draft and air draft help in finding good anchorages and getting under bridges.

We had 5 people on board for two weeks once, along the Erie canal (which is part of the Loop) and it worked out fine.
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Old 04-03-2017, 02:46 PM   #20
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If you go small, light and fast....even the NJ Intracoastal can be done.

But there still is a short outside run between Manasquan and NYC.
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