The Great Loop Adventure is a journey of a lifetime, offering the chance to explore the many sights, sounds, and experiences of the world’s waterways. Boaters from all walks of life embark on the journey, which offers a variety of sights, sounds, and experiences along the way.
The Great Loop Adventure, a captivating boating journey spanning over 6,000 miles (ca. 9,656 km) of waterways encompassing the eastern United States and Canada, offers boaters the chance to explore a diverse range of landscapes, cultures, and experiences. If you are considering embarking on this incredible voyage, choosing the right boat is vital to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable trip. In this article, we’ll explore the Best Boats for the Great Loop— Trawlers, Cabin Cruisers, Power Cruisers (or Express Boats), and Trailerable Boats – each uniquely equipped to make this unforgettable journey worthwhile.
When selecting the best boat for the Great Loop, several crucial factors should be considered to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey. The ideal boat should have a cruising speed of 7–9 knots, providing efficiency and versatility to navigate the diverse waterways encountered during the trip. A good range is essential, with a minimum of 500 miles (ca. 805 km), as long distances between fuel stops are common along the route.
Additionally, air draft is a critical consideration, with a maximum height of 6 feet (1.83 meters) to pass under the low bridges that are part of the Great Loop experience. The length overall (LOA) should not exceed 22 feet (ca. 7 m) to ensure the boat can fit through the locks and marinas along the journey.
Beyond these specific criteria, there are other important factors to contemplate when purchasing a boat for the Great Loop. These include:
- Comfort and Accommodations: Since the Great Loop involves extended periods on the water, a comfortable and well-equipped cabin with sleeping berths, a galley, and a bathroom (head) is essential for the crew’s well-being.
- Fuel Efficiency: Boats with efficient engines and hull designs are advantageous for long-distance travel, ensuring cost-effectiveness and reducing the need for frequent refueling.
- Stability and Seaworthiness: Considering the Great Loop’s diverse water conditions, a stable and seaworthy boat design will provide confidence and safety during the journey.
- Storage and Provisions: Ample storage space for supplies, gear, and personal belongings is crucial for extended cruising. Adequate provisions and water storage capabilities are also necessary for self-sufficiency during remote stretches of the journey.
- Navigation and Electronics: Equipping the boat with reliable navigation tools, charts, GPS, and communication devices is vital for safe and accurate routing, especially in unfamiliar waters.
- Trailerable Capability: If you desire the option to trailer your boat to different starting points along the route, selecting a trailerable boat ensures flexibility and access to various sections of the Great Loop.
- Maintenance and Reliability: A well-maintained and reliable boat will minimize the risk of unexpected breakdowns and ensure a worry-free journey.
- Budget: Setting a realistic budget, considering both the initial purchase cost and ongoing maintenance expenses, is essential to find a boat that meets your financial requirements.
Considering this factors a smaller trawler boat is best for a long trip of the adventurous great loop. You’ll find some examples below.
Everything you will learn here
- The 4 Best Boats for the Great Loop and the Intracoastal Waterway (Sorted by type)
- Features to Look for in the Best Boat for the Great Loop
- Important Considerations: Best Boats for the Great Loop
- Expert Advice: Best Boats for the Great Loop
- Conclusion: Best Boats for the Great Loop
The 4 Best Boats for the Great Loop and the Intracoastal Waterway (Sorted by type)
Trawlers are renowned for their steady and fuel-efficient performance, making them an ideal choice for the Great Loop Adventure. These vessels boast a spacious interior, featuring well-appointed living areas, a galley, and comfortable sleeping quarters. The long-range capability of trawlers allows boaters to tackle the extensive route of the Great Loop with confidence, as they can comfortably cruise at a leisurely pace and take in the breathtaking scenery. With ample storage for provisions, trawlers offer the convenience and reliability needed for extended cruising.
1.1 The Jeannau Merry Fisher 795
The Jeanneau Merry Fisher 795 is a well-crafted and versatile powerboat, measuring approximately 24 feet (7.4 meters) in length. With its manageable size and weight, it’s perfect for navigating the intricate waterways and maneuvering through the locks along the Great Loop route and Lake Michigan alike.
Equipped with a reliable outboard engine, the Merry Fisher 795 boasts an impressive horsepower range, providing sufficient power for comfortable cruising and efficient fuel consumption. This allows you to cover long distances with ease, taking in the stunning vistas of rivers, lakes, and canals throughout the Great Loop adventure.
One of the standout features of the Merry Fisher 795 is its trailering capability. With a boat of this size and weight, you can easily transport it on a trailer to different sections of the Great Loop route. This flexibility enables you to explore various segments, ensuring a diverse and enriching journey as you discover new landscapes and experiences along the way.
Safety is paramount during any boating adventure, and the Merry Fisher 795 is designed with your security in mind. With its solid construction and well-engineered features, you can confidently navigate the diverse water conditions encountered on the Great Loop. From sturdy handrails for stability to strategically positioned navigation lights for optimal visibility, this boat is crafted to keep you safe and at ease throughout your trip.
To sum it up, the Jeanneau Merry Fisher 795 is a practical and adventure-ready boat for your Great Loop expedition. Its optimal size, horsepower, trailering capabilities, and focus on safety make it a reliable and enjoyable companion as you embark on this memorable nautical odyssey. So, prepare to set sail, embrace the journey, and let the Merry Fisher 795 lead you to extraordinary moments along the Great Loop! It’s big size make it one of the best boats for the wide Intracoastal Waterway as well.
1.2 Jeannau Merry Fisher 695
The Jeanneau Merry Fisher 695 is a compact and capable Trawler, measuring approximately 22 feet (6.55 meters) in length. While slightly smaller than its sibling, it remains a highly suitable vessel for navigating the Great Loop’s waterways and passages.
Equipped with a reliable outboard engine, the Merry Fisher 695 offers ample horsepower, ensuring smooth cruising and efficient fuel consumption. Its powerful engine allows you to cover significant distances while appreciating the diverse landscapes and captivating sceneries along the Great Loop route.
As with its larger counterpart, the Merry Fisher 695 is designed for easy trailering. Its manageable size and weight make it simple to transport on a trailer, granting you the freedom to explore different segments of the Great Loop. This feature adds a delightful sense of flexibility to your journey, allowing you to tailor your itinerary to your preferences.
Safety remains a top priority in the design of the Merry Fisher 695. Despite its smaller size, this boat is constructed with robust materials and incorporates safety features such as secure handrails and strategically positioned navigation lights. You can navigate the various water conditions with confidence, knowing that your safety is well-considered in every aspect.
In summary, the Jeanneau Merry Fisher 695 is a capable and adventure-ready boat for your Great Loop escapade. Its compact size, reliable horsepower, trailering convenience, and focus on safety make it an excellent choice for exploring the enchanting waterways and captivating landscapes that await you on this remarkable journey. So, get ready to embark on a memorable voyage, and let the Merry Fisher 695 lead you to an unforgettable experience along the Great Loop!
1.3 Ranger Tugs R 29 CB
The Ranger Tugs R-29 CB is a top-tier cruising boat that offers both comfort and practicality for your boating adventures. With its smart design, efficient power, and trailerability, it is an exceptional choice for embarking on the Great Loop journey or any other nautical exploration that sparks your imagination. So, get ready to set sail, create lasting memories, and let the Ranger Tugs R-29 CB lead you to unforgettable moments on the water!
Size and Layout: The Ranger Tugs R-29 CB boasts a length of approximately 29 feet (8.8 meters) and a beam (width) of around 10 feet (3 meters). This size provides ample space for a thoughtful and well-designed layout, ensuring comfort and convenience during extended voyages.
Cabin Comfort: The R-29 CB features a spacious cabin equipped with all the amenities needed for a comfortable journey. Inside, you’ll find a cozy and inviting living space with a fully equipped galley, comfortable sleeping quarters, and a well-appointed head (bathroom). The cabin’s smart design makes it an ideal home away from home during your cruising adventures.
Cockpit and Deck: The boat’s cockpit and deck area are intelligently designed to maximize space and functionality. The cockpit provides a social and entertaining area for family and friends, making it perfect for relaxing, dining, or simply enjoying the stunning views along your journey.
Performance and Power: The Ranger Tugs R-29 CB is powered by a reliable and efficient diesel engine, offering excellent fuel economy and long-range cruising capabilities. With its sturdy hull and stable design, this boat performs admirably in various water conditions, making it suitable for both protected waterways and open-water cruising.
See the R-29 in action on YouTube:
Trailerability: One of the standout features of the R-29 CB is its trailerability, allowing you to transport it easily from one destination to another. You will require a big truck to haul it. Trailers have 3-axis to hold the weight of this boat.
Great Loop Suitability: The Ranger Tugs R-29 CB is an excellent choice for the Great Loop adventure. Its size, layout, and trailerability make it well-suited for navigating the diverse waterways and locks along the route. You’ll have the freedom to explore various sections of the Great Loop, ensuring a rich and diverse boating experience.
1.4 Ranger Tugs R27
The Ranger Tugs R-27 is a remarkable cruising boat that packs a punch with its clever design and practical features. Whether you’re exploring coastal waters or embarking on the Great Loop adventure, this vessel is sure to deliver an unforgettable and enjoyable boating experience. So, raise the anchor, chart your course, and let the Ranger Tugs R-27 lead you on a captivating voyage filled with endless possibilities and cherished memories on the water!
Size and Layout: The Ranger Tugs R-27 showcases a length of approximately 27 feet (8.2 meters) and a beam (width) of around 8 feet 6 inches (2.6 meters). Despite its slightly smaller size compared to the R-29, it is designed with efficiency and practicality in mind, offering a thoughtfully designed layout to maximize space and functionality.
Cabin Comfort: The R-27 features a well-appointed and comfortable cabin, complete with all the amenities necessary for extended cruising. Inside, you’ll find a cozy living space, a fully equipped galley with modern appliances, a dinette area that converts into a berth, a private head (bathroom) with a shower, and a comfortable sleeping area. The clever use of space ensures a welcoming and relaxing environment during your boating escapades.
Cockpit and Deck: Just like its larger siblings, the R-27 boasts a versatile cockpit and deck area. The cockpit offers a social hub for gatherings, outdoor dining, or simply taking in the breathtaking views. The open deck space allows for ease of movement while handling lines and anchoring, making your boating experience hassle-free and enjoyable.
Performance and Power: The Ranger Tugs R-27 is equipped with a reliable and fuel-efficient diesel engine, providing excellent cruising range and economy. Its semi-displacement hull design ensures a comfortable ride and steady handling, allowing you to navigate different water conditions with confidence.
Trailerable Convenience: Like other Ranger Tugs models, the R-27 is designed for trailerability, giving you the flexibility to explore various water bodies and embark on adventures beyond your home port. This feature allows you to tailor your boating experiences to your desires and take your vessel to new and exciting destinations.
Great Loop Suitability: The R-27 is well-suited for the Great Loop journey, thanks to its manageable size, efficient power, and trailerability. It offers a perfect blend of comfort, performance, and convenience, allowing you to navigate the diverse waters, locks, and canals encountered along the Great Loop route.
2. Cabin Cruisers: A Perfect Blend of Comfort and Versatility
Cabin Cruisers, with their stylish design and comfortable cabins, are another popular choice for the Great Loop Adventure. Equipped with amenities akin to a small apartment, cabin cruisers offer a delightful living space with a galley, bathroom, and sleeping accommodations. Their ability to navigate both inland and coastal waters makes them versatile, ensuring you can explore various waterways along the Great Loop route. Cabin cruisers strike a balance between comfort and maneuverability, providing a delightful boating experience for extended voyages.
Cabin cruiser boats offer a wonderful and unique experience, essentially being mobile mini vacation homes on the water. They provide the perfect platform to take your entire family on exciting waterborne adventures and create lasting memories.
Whether you opt for a small cabin cruiser or a larger one, the possibilities are endless. These vessels grant you the flexibility to explore new ports, navigate scenic waterways, and embark on thrilling journeys to various destinations. Long weekends become a delightful opportunity to immerse yourself in the boating lifestyle, soaking in the beauty of nature while enjoying the comforts of your onboard cabin.
Imagine leisurely cruising to new coastal towns, each offering a unique charm and culture to discover. Spend your days exploring picturesque harbors, quaint marinas, and charming fishing villages, all from the comfort of your floating vacation home.
But cabin cruisers don’t just cater to wanderlust; they also provide a fantastic platform for relaxation and fun. Picture a lazy afternoon anchored in a secluded cove, where the family can swim, sunbathe, and enjoy water sports to their heart’s content. You can even organize impromptu beach picnics or grill mouthwatering meals onboard, all while savoring the tranquil surroundings.
These versatile boats truly offer the best of both worlds—a balance between adventure and relaxation. Whether you’re an avid boater or a first-time explorer, cabin cruisers are the perfect vessels to embark on unforgettable waterborne journeys, bonding with loved ones and creating cherished memories that will be treasured for years to come. So, pack your bags, hoist the anchor, and set sail on your floating vacation with the delightful cabin cruiser—a true gateway to the boating lifestyle and endless waterborne adventures!
3. Power Cruisers or “Express Boats”: Unleashing the Thrill of Adventure
For those seeking a combination of speed and luxury, Power Cruisers, commonly known as “Express Boats,” present an excellent option. Designed for swift travel, they allow you to cover more ground in a shorter time, leaving ample room for exploring the charming towns and attractions along the Great Loop. With their sleek designs, spacious decks, and modern amenities, Power Cruisers deliver an exhilarating adventure without compromising on comfort. However, due to their faster pace, careful planning for refueling and docking is essential for an enjoyable journey.
4. Trailerable Boats: Flexibility and Accessibility
Trailerable Boats provide the unique advantage of mobility, enabling boaters to begin the Great Loop Adventure from various starting points along the route. These boats are designed to be towed easily, making it possible to explore different segments of the loop at your own pace. With a range of sizes and configurations available, trailerable boats are suitable for adventurous individuals and families looking to customize their Great Loop experience. However, it’s crucial to choose a trailerable boat that strikes a balance between size, comfort, and seaworthiness to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey.
Features to Look for in the Best Boat for the Great Loop
When it comes to planning your Great Loop adventure, you’ll want to make sure you choose the right boat. To make the best choice, there are a few key features you’ll want to look for. Firstly, you’ll want your boat to be durable and suitable for long-term use. The size of the boat should also be taken into account, as you will need enough room for yourself and any other passengers. Additionally, the structure of the boat should be considered, as it will need to withstand the elements and any rough waters you may encounter. Finally, you’ll want to make sure your boat is equipped with the necessary amenities to make your journey comfortable and enjoyable.
Pros and Cons of Each Boat
When embarking on a Great Loop Adventure, it is important to consider the pros and cons of each boat type before deciding on the right boat for the journey. Cruiser boats are usually heavier and more stable making them perfect for longer journeys. Trawlers are ideal for those intending to take slower and more leisurely journeys as they have slow-speed engines. Catamarans are great for open waters, as their twin hulls provide more stability in choppy waters.
Motor yachts provide a luxurious and comfortable journey, while sailboats are ideal for those who enjoy the challenge of sailing. Finally, houseboats are great for those who want to take their home with them, as they come decked out with all the amenities of a house.
However, each boat type comes with its own set of drawbacks. Cruisers can be expensive due to their size and weight. Trawlers have limited speed and cannot outrun storms. Catamarans are hard to maneuver in tight spaces and require a lot of maintenance. Motor yachts are not suitable for shallow waters due to their hull depth. Sailboats require a crew to operate and cannot travel as fast as motorized boats. Lastly, houseboats can be hard to maneuver and require plenty of fuel to power them.
Important Considerations: Best Boats for the Great Loop
When choosing the best boat for your Great Loop adventure, there are several important considerations to keep in mind. Cost is an obvious factor, as the boat and associated fees can add up quickly. Maintenance should also be taken into account, as some boats require more upkeep than others. Additionally, the fuel requirements of the boat should be taken into account when deciding which one to choose. Finally, make sure you have the proper insurance for the boat to ensure you are covered in the event of an emergency.
Expert Advice: Best Boats for the Great Loop
To ensure a successful and safe journey, there are a few significant things to consider when selecting a boat for the Great Loop. First, consider the size and weight of the boat—the more weight the boat has, the tougher it will be to navigate the Loop, and to haul it. Additionally, it is indispensable to inspect the boat for any structural damage, as well as check the boat’s fuel capacity to make sure it can handle the journey. Lastly, insurance and maintenance costs must be taken into account, as well as the cost of the boat itself.
For those with no experience in selecting a boat for the Great Loop, it is best to consult an expert who knows the ins and outs of the journey and can help you pick the best boat for your needs. They can provide valuable advice on what features are most important and can help you find the best boat for you.
The best boat for the Great loop has a cruising speed of not more than 7–9 knots, providing efficiency and versatility to navigate the diverse waterways encountered during the trip. A good range is essential, with a minimum of 500 miles (ca. 805 km), as long distances between fuel stops are common along the route.
Additionally, air draft is a critical consideration, with a maximum height of 6 feet (1.83 meters) to pass under the low bridges that are part of the Great Loop experience. The length overall (LOA) should not exceed 22 feet (ca. 7 m).
Conclusion: Best Boats for the Great Loop
The Great Loop is a fantastic adventure that many people aspire to achieve. It is critical to have the best boat for the trip to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey. Durability, size, structure, amenities, cost, maintenance, fuel, and insurance are all important factors to consider. Cruisers, trawlers, catamarans, motor yachts, sailboats, and houseboats are all popular boats for this adventure.
When shopping for a boat, make sure to look for features such as a sturdy construction, plenty of storage space, and fuel economy. Additionally, make sure to take into account the cost of maintenance and fuel, as well as the right insurance coverage. With the right boat and a bit of expert advice, it is possible to make the Great Loop a reality.
Embarking on the Great Loop Adventure promises a once-in-a-lifetime experience filled with stunning landscapes, diverse cultures, and cherished memories. Selecting the right boat type is key to enhancing your journey’s comfort, safety, and overall enjoyment. Whether you opt for the stability of Trawlers, the versatility of Cabin Cruisers, the excitement of Power Cruisers, or the flexibility of Trailerable Boats, each boat type has its unique advantages that can make your Great Loop Adventure truly unforgettable.
Before setting sail, thoroughly research the specifications, features, and reviews of different boat models to find the perfect match for your needs and preferences. Regardless of the boat type you choose, the Great Loop Adventure is sure to be a transformative experience that will stay with you forever. Bon voyage!
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