New OR Members Planning Great Loop Adventure

The friendliest place on the web for anyone who enjoys boating.
If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.
You two Gurus have summarized our decisions perfectly! The simple answer is "Yes." Making the final choice and saying "No" to all but one path is complicated.

Yes, we have to spend more for what might be the same boat in the PNW, and the selection is more limited than looking all across the eastern half of the USA. That's a bummer that might direct our choice.

1. We could buy and learn with the best boat we can find in the PNW, staying close to our home base and family, and
a. We could put only sweat equity into that imperfect boat and spend as little cash as possible while learning what we'd really prefer, and then sell it, buying something the same or different out on the Loop after a year or so.
b. We could decide that it's pretty close to the perfect boat for us, and spend both sweat equity and cash making it our own while learning, and then truck it to Green Bay for $30k or so (assuming we got something of a truck-able size.)
c. We could buy something bigger in the PNW (but not too big for the Loop) and after we're comfortable with it, cruise the west coast to the Panama Canal. Delays for Weather considering that the boat's still small, of course. That would certainly add to the adventure.

2. We could skip all of that and dive right in, buying from a larger pool of boats and maybe saving a buck or two in (take your pick) Lake Michigan. Carolinas. Chesapeake. Toronto. Etc. That would be an easier Snap decision if there weren't grandchildren and parents in the mix.

3. Two boats? Not unless our new best friends on the TF contribute generously to our Boat Fund. Big smile, feeling the love here in Tigard.

Many thanks for helping us articulate the thoughts,


And welcome aboard. Looking forward to how 2 works for you. :)
CCS, it turns out that there is a current and very active discussion on the French Canals in "Voyagers and other Travelers on the Go." 60 messages, and my scan of the discussion shows broad agreement with our experience: 9.6, top marks! We did the Canal du Midi on the biggest 14M classic Penichette with two other couples (was going to be 8 total and that would have fit, with 6 there was lots of room.) The whole experience was easy, very relaxing, great fun with very little strain on the captain. No way to get lost! Lots of bicycling into town for wine, cheese, bread, croissants, etc etc. The photos shown by Pascal match some of ours. Small caution: choose another route if you want to be closer to cities, our 160 kM was very rural villages. Perfect for us. Some routes have stairstep locks in spots, which we avoided but could be a great adventure for some.
Thanks very much to the Trawler Forum for being such a valuable resource!
We are a newly-retired couple with many years of small boat experience, living on an island with boat-only access. How do you get a (refrigerator, carpet, table saw...) onto the island? It goes in the 14 foot jonboat!

Now we're ready for a new adventure, and have chosen to pursue a long-held dream of cruising the Great Loop! We've been researching, training and chartering, knowing that owning and running a large boat requires different skills and breaking some bad small-boat habits. (Like "when in doubt, gas it!" is a particularly bad habit for a larger boat!) We're not newbies by any means, having done our own outfitting several times, but we're definitely stepping up in weight class, by a couple steps!

We have a range of maybe ten boat designs that we're interested in, 15 to 25 years old in the 35 to 40 foot range. We're not focused on one particular design, but types like a Monk 36, Mariner 40 Europa, North Pacific 39 and the other makes that are similar to those three styles.

Our big decision is whether we buy a boat in the Pacific Northwest and do our learning locally, versus jumping in with both feet and buying a boat that's in the East on the Loop. We know there's no way to decide that other than to choose; coming soon!

There's our Welcome Mat introduction; we look forward to learning, exchanging experiences and data, and having some big-big fun! Thanks again for the learning opportunity!


Stay here, cruise the inside passage. All the experience you could ask for in a magnificent setting.
I've only done the "little loop" (NE and Canadian canals) so my experience is bias but:

The full loopers we met said this was the best part of their trips. Some had done multiple loops and I have to agree with them. Still...

I would not worry about boat handling or locking. Within the first week you will be proficient. And then you get really good.

You will be doing boat maintenance on anything you buy. Yacht quality mechanisms are not up to daily use but spares are only an overnight shipment away. You'll learn.

Fresh water mid-western boats are always better looking because of their short season and covered storage. Florida boats look fried from the sun but they are usually mechanically fresh because they are used all year. NE boats are a nice compromise.

Pick the smallest boat you will be comfortable living on because you do have to dock and lock that sucker. Also locals are more friendly towards smaller boats. You will be relying on the kindness of strangers on this trip.

Untie and go. Do it. You won't regret it.
It was 25 years ago at a Trawlerfest we met Ron and Eva Stob. They had just published their book "Honey, Let's Buy a Boat" and we became AGLCA members 252 of more than 6500 today. We did NYC to Tennessee clockwise on a Grand Banks 42 Classic and spent time going to Cuba and the Yucatan/Belize/Honduras areas in the early 00's. Lots has changed since then.
We are now starting our 4th year in the PNW with a goal to do the Inside Passage on our 5th year. Then we will sell this perfect PNW boat and get a cruiser/trawler for warmer coastal and inland cruising. We want to finish the loop in the proper direction, counter clockwise. These are both beautiful and vastly different cruising grounds and like others have noted, require different boats and skill sets.
Sure there is much overlap on both skills and boat features in both areas, but there is much that is unique to each coast and then again, inland/heartland cruising.
Best of luck and enjoy whatever you decide. Seize the day.
Top Bottom