What is the Great Loop?

The Great Loop is a circumnavigation of Eastern North America that runs from the Great Lakes down through Tennessee, on to the Gulf of Mexico across or around Florida, up the Eastern Seaboard to the Hudson River, the Erie Canal and back to the Great Lakes. There are myriad variations and side trips but it's roughly a 6,000 mile trek. Some people refer to it as the Great Circle Route.

It's not unusual for folks to take a year off or retire and do the loop. Most, however, choose to do it in stages. There's an entire looper culture that has grown up around it which has it's own club, America's
Great Loop Cruisers' Association (AGLC). Captain John is one of the more famous loopers and he maintains a web site dedicated to helping boaters get the most out of their looping experience. 

Since almost all of the loop is either along rivers and the Intracoastal Waterway there are no long periods at sea and there are marinas along the way with all the amenities of home. People normally take care to make sure they're not looping in the Gulf during hurricane season.

What is the ideal boat for the Great Loop? The only restriction is your boat can't have a height over 19 feet 1 inch. There's "that bridge" in Chicago that you won't be able to pass under. What a pain that would be to realize it only after you get there. You'd have to 'unloop' and that wouldn't be much fun.

You don't have to have a luxury yacht, just comfortable accommodations, and that varies from person to person. The loop has even been done on a jet ski but we wouldn't recommend it. This web site gives detailed recommendations on what you need to make the trip.

It's the adventure of a lifetime, one that's taken on a near mythical reputation. The scenery is breathtaking. The people are friendly. And the Great Loop is calling your name.


  1. Bon Voyage. If you're still in Ft. Pierce and have time, check out the Navy SEAL Museum. A SEAL artist (Pete Carolans) and friend of John Wayne, painted the mural at the entrance. Wish I had a boat like yours and was heading out. Take care & be safe.

  2. Have a blast, Uncle Phil! Bring me back some Maryland crabs!

  3. Phil, there is a reason people do the Loop counter-clockwise. If you really want to do the Loop, go back to Stuart and turn left. Hope you have a good trip anyway. Love the show.
    Captain Mike

  4. Phil, This old retired Navy Chief used to love listening to your show, now I'm just jealous.
    Pensacola, Mayport, Chesapeake Bay, MAN, enjoy it all, have fun.
    Please give the Norfolk Naval Base a saltue for me as you pass. Ben