Looking for a new bucket list-worthy sailing trip or just some nautical inspiration? Here’s an idea! Every passionate sailor should try to sail the famous Great Loop at least once in their lifetime. So, here is Click&Boat‘s breakdown of everything you may want to know about sailing North America’s Great Loop.
Are you ready for this adventure?
What is the Great American Loop?
The Great Loop is a sailing route that circumnavigates the entire east coast of North America. Those who choose to sail it will be able to explore at least 15 U.S. states and some Canadian provinces. Cruisers generally end up sailing between 5,000 and 7,500 miles (8,000-12,000 km). The mileage depends on the route sailors take. Some choose to make an extra stop in the Bahamas and some might choose to cut through Central Florida instead of sailing around the Florida Keys- it is all up to the sailors!
According to the American Great Loop Cruisers’ Association, about 150 people set sail on this route every year. Sailing the Great Loop is much more than just an achievement, it is also an eye-opening experience that allows sailors to discover the rivers, waterways, and coastlines through a unique experience.
Where do you start?
You can start anywhere! However, remember that where you start influences the time of year that you will endure the winter season. Ideally, most cruisers tend to spend the winter season in the South by Florida in order to avoid the brutal winters of the Northeast and instead enjoy the warmer temperatures of the South.
Just like how you can start from anywhere, you can also sail in any direction. It is your choice. But most people tend to sail counter-clockwise so that they are sailing with the currents on the inland rivers.
How long does it take to complete?
Sailing the Great Loop can take as long as you want it to take. It has been completed in as little as two months and as long as twelve years. Some have decided to turn this sailing trip into a lifestyle! On average though, most people complete this route in about one year. Cruisers make their own decisions about how long they want to stay in certain places. Sometimes, cruisers choose to stop at a certain destination for weeks at a time!
Choosing the best boat for the Great Loop
Here are the Great Loop boat requirements to consider before you embark on your journey:
- The ideal length of the boat should be between 28 and 36 feet (8.5-11 metres). This means there is enough space and comfort for two people, but it is not excessive and can be managed by one person.
- In terms of height, the boat must be able to clear a 19′ 6″ (6m) bridge.
- The boat should have a draft under 6′ (1.82m), but ideally under 5′ (1.5m).
- Your boat should have a fuel range of +200 miles (322 km) between fuel stops.
Most people choose to sail via motorboat however you can complete the Great Loop boat route route with a sailboat! The sailboat has to have a draft of less than 5′ (1.5m) and a mast that is less than 65′ (19.8m) above water. At certain points like before entering Chicago or the Erie Canal, sailors must remove their masts. But don’t let this discourage you from travelling with a sailboat! Sailboats are much more cost-efficient for those trying to complete the Great Loop on a budget.
Stops to make along the way
Spending days out on the water and exploring new destinations is what the Great Loop is all about. It is a chance to discover North America from a different point of view. Along the way, cruisers have the opportunity to visit some of the biggest cities in the United States.
- New York City
But also the chance to visit other areas that are known for great boating!
- Annapolis, Maryland: the sailing capital of the United States. Discover the Chesapeake Bay and all of its historic waterfront towns.
- Florida Keys: home to miles of islands stretching from Key West to Key Largo! Find Caribbean-like waters and stunning landscapes in Florida.
Looking for More Adventure?
From Great Loop to Great Lagoons: The Caribbean Awaits
Sailing the Caribbean shares a familiar rhythm with the Great Loop, with its changing landscapes and navigational challenges. While the Great Loop offers a mix of cityscapes and nature, the Caribbean adds a touch of tropical charm, sunlit beaches, and diverse cultures.
Both routes are truly a sailor’s dream. Ready for more? Dive into the Caribbean’s top sailing destinations next and discover your next adventure with Click&Boat.