The Great Loop – Our dream trip about to become a reality

FINAL_MAPWe’ve been avid boaters for 20 years and the cruising “bug” bit us some 10 years ago. Then we read Eva and Ron Stob’s book “Honey, Let’s Get a Boat” chronicling their cruising experience first as new boaters then as veteran cruisers as they made their way around The Great Loop. We were hopelessly hooked on the idea of living aboard a boat and cruising the Great Loop.We joined America’s Great Loop Cruiser’s Association (AGLCA) and read everything we could about the journey.

We’ll be cruising in our 1990 Marine Trader trawler “Island Time”.  In some of our prior posts, there’s more information on our trawler and the projects that we’ve completed to get us ready for our grand journey,

Now for The Great Loop.  First, we’ll give a little background on the Loop and in later posts, we’ll give updates on our preparation and finally, the journey.

The Great Loop is a 5,000-6,500 mile journey, depending on the route and side trips, of the eastern U.S. and Canada. Most cruisers travel the Loop counterclockwise, taking advantage of the seasons and the downstream current on the river system from Chicago to Mobile.

Our tentative plan, is leave our home port of Cape Coral, Florida around March 1 and return to Cape Coral by Christmas.  You will note we say “tentative” because cruiser’s never have a firm itinerary.  Just as soon as you have a firm plan, either weather or mechanical “challenges” change the plan.

We’ll cruise across Lake Okeechobee, and at Stuart, head north on the Atlantic ICW (AICW) to Norfolk and the Chesapeake by May.  From the Chesapeake, we’ll travel to New York Harbor.  From NYC, we’ll take the Hudson River to Waterford and then take the Erie Canal to the Ottawa River to Lake Ontario. We’ll be in Canada as we travel the northern side of Lake Ontario

From Lake Ontario at Trenton, we’ll follow the Trent Severn Waterway to Port Severn on Georgian Bay. The Georgian Bay and the North Channel are usually one of the hightlights for most loopers.  We hope to spend much of the summer on the Georgian Bay.

Lake Michigan will be next for us as we cruise the east side of the lake to Chicago. From here it is down the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers, up the Ohio and Cumberland Rivers, then the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway to Mobile.

After we leave Mobile, we’ll be back in Florida as our route will take us on the Intracoastal Waterway going east on the Florida Panhandle to Carrabelle, Florida.  We’ll wait there for a weather window to cross the Gulf of Mexico (usually a 22-hour crossing) to Tarpon Springs or Clearwater.  Once we arrive on the west coast of Florida, we’ll almost be home where we’ll “cross our wake” in Cape Coral.

That’s our grand plan.  Stay tuned to our blog as we begin our journey.  In the meantime, we’ll post on our preparations for this exciting journey.

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