"What is America's Great Loop Cruise? It is the circumnavigation of Eastern North America -- along the Atlantic Seaboard, across the Great Lakes, through the inland rivers, and around the Gulf of Mexico. (It is frequently called the Great Circle Route."*
*Definition taken from the Membership Directory of America's Great Loop Cruisers' Association.
The beauty of the concept is that it takes on many different variations and side-trips depending on the starting and ending point, and the particular interests and time available of the individual voyagers. For example, our beginning in MN actually connects with the "defined Loop" where the Illinois River enters the Mississippi north of St. Louis. And the Ohio, the Tennessee, and Cumberland Rivers offer substantial side-trip opportunities. In FL, there are several departure and arrival points for crossing the NW corner of the Gulf, and there are two options in South FL: Cutting across the Okeechobee Waterway from Ft. Myers to Stuart, or going around the Keys. Then of course a side-trip to the Bahamas is a possibility. In upstate NY, one could cut across from the Hudson River to the east end of Lake Ontario on the Erie Barge Canal and Oswego Canal. Or continuing north through the Champlain Canal and Lake to the St. Lawrence Seaway could add substantial mileage. And of course there are endless ways to customize the journey across the Great Lakes.
Typically the basic Loop can cover over 6,000 statute miles and over 100 locks. Again, a wide variety of approaches may take only a few months to complete it, or in segments over a year or more.
More importantly, the opportunity to see the diverse cities, villages, scenery and sights along the various waterways, and meet the people in the marinas and along the way, including other Loopers pursuing their own dream, is what makes it so fascinating. Finally, the challenges of navigating the course with the locks and commercial traffic, dealing with the weather and water conditions, and fueling and maintaining the vessel, make the adventure all the more gratifying.
By clicking on The Plan button above, you can review the description of the ten Stages of our current plan, and an estimated schedule of completing The Loop in approximately one year. Then we'll add the Log, and Story, and Photos of each Stage as we go. Or you can explore the other pages of the Web site you may not have seen by clicking on the hyperlinks in the left column. Enjoy the trip with us!
Here's a map that generally shows our Great Loop track, segmented into the 10 Stages: