So I have been learning about America‘s Great Loop. Two months ago, I’ve had no idea that such a thing existed; today, not only I am becoming an expert, but I started myself dreaming about completing it one day. The Great Loop is on the list of things to do of every boater that knows about it. One usually starts with innocently reading a book called “Honey, let’s get a boat….” There is not much more I can add to that title. Then, years of research take over your life, later you search and find the right boat, start taking short trips, fall in-love with living on the water and cruising…. Did I mention that somewhere at the very beginning you join the America‘s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association (AGLCA) because no one can do the Great Loop alone. Tons of information is needed, even more tips and advices…and AGLCA, or I should say members of the AGLCA, have all the answers one needs. And then, of you go chasing the eternal summer, as it is the main purpose of living on the water for a year or more.
The Great Loop is the continuous waterway that encompasses the eastern portion of North America – including the Atlantic and Gulf Intracoastal Waterways, the Great Lakes, the Canadian Heritage Canals, and the inland rivers of America’s heartland. It is considered one of the safest long distance cruising routes in the world. To travel all or a portion of the Great Loop or any of its magnificent side trips is truly an adventure of a lifetime.
The saga for most begins in the early spring in southeastern Florida. From the sunny state, the Loopers journey north following the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway along the southeastern seaboard of the United States all the way into Chesapeake Bay, along the way discovering charming barrier islands along the coast of Georgia and the Carolinas, mysterious river channels and estuaries, using bicycles to explore state parks and cities. From the crab rich Chesapeake, Loopers head to Montreal in Canada, exploring historic towns of immense charm and cruise by sights such as the Statue of Liberty on the way. The St. Lawrence River carries them into the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes, although uncertain and treacherous, are a dreamland of vacation cottages, picturesque waterways, granite islands, farmland and woods. Boaters must be brave and adventures to take on the Great Lakes. Once they reach Chicago, it is down South again via the Mississippi River and Tenn-Tom Waterway, and then eventually into Mobile, Alabama and the rich and warm Gulf of Mexico. To close the Great Loop, cruisers have to go around the Southern tip of Florida back to the same point where they started. Many choose to spend warm winter months exploring the amazing Okeechobee River and Lake, and tropical Key West before it all ends, and they close the loop in the Southeastern Florida.