The great loop is one of the few remaining truly wild adventures. Covering 6,000 nautical miles of waterways, including stretches of nearly 200 miles without any services, it’s full of dangerous storms, romantic sunsets, frustrating mechanical breakdowns and peaceful sunrises. At least that’s what they tell me — we haven’t done it yet.
But, the great loop is definitely on our bucket list. And, like any good adventure, the first step is to do some research and get the right supplies. In this case, that means a good boat (among other things).
Types of Boats
Some boats are better suited for the great loop than others.
There are motor yachts, trawlers, cruisers, express cruisers, sedans, coupes, sailboats, catamarans, and the list goes on! Unfortunately, some of these terms have become meaningless as many boats are marketed as one type but more closely resemble another.
For example, many boats are marketed as trawlers today because the term brings a sea-worthy, old-world cachet to a brochure. However, the similarities end there. Instead of a single engine, full displacement, heavy keel boat, they’re semi-displacement, multi-engine cruisers that look trawler-ish above the waterline.
This doesn’t mean they aren’t good boats — it just means it’s difficult to find a boat of a specific type. So, we’re going to approach this post a little differently.
What do you want in a boat for the great loop?
|Draft||Required: less than 5 ‘|
Preferred: less than 4′
|Air Draft (Max Height)||Required: less than 19′ 6″|
Preferred: less than 17′ (Chicago)
Best: less than 15′ 6″ (Erie Canal)
|Beam||Required: less than 23′ (Canada Canals)|
Preferred: 16′ (some marinas)
|LOA (Length)||Required: less than 90′ (Trent Severn Canal)|
Preferred: less than 42′ (some marinas)
|Range (Fuel)||Required: 208 miles|
Best boats for the great loop
Below is a table of several potential great loop boat models. This is by no means a comprehensive list and we will continue to update this list with additional boats and post follow-on articles in the future.
All of the boats below meet the great loop requirements in the table above, meaning each boat is one of the best boats for the great loop.
Sabre 42 Flybridge
- Type: Motoryacht
- Length: 46′ (LOA); 42′ (Hull)
- Draft: 3’4″
- Range: 350 NM @ 23 knots
- Zeus Pod Drives give 1 MPG @ 23 knots
- Used 2006 w/ 885 hours $409,000
- Virtual Tour
- Type: Trawler
- Length: 41′ (LOA); 40′ (Hull)
- Draft: 4′ 6.5″
- Range: 3400 nm @ 6 knots
- Two Beta Marine 75HP engines give ~4 MPG @ 6 knots
- Very large tank capacities (water, fuel, holding)
- Very seaworthy
- Very high quality
- Probably overkill for an inland route like the great loop
- 2002 Nordhavn N40 (older model) $407,000
- Type: Trawler
- Length: 41′ 8″ (LOA); 34′ 11″ (LWL)
- Draft: 4′ 8″
- Range: 2200 nm @ 6 knots
- One 230HP Cummins diesel gives 4.6 MPG @ 6 knots
- Very roomy ( 2 cabins, one walk-around berth)
- 2005 Selene 40 (older model) $295,000