How Long Does It Take to Boat the Great Loop? [2024]

Picture this: you’re on a boat, sailing a loop that takes you from ocean waves to big lakes and calm rivers. This trip is called the Great Loop, and it’s a real adventure. We’ve figured out how long it usually takes to boat around this amazing path. We want to share with you how to plan your time so you can enjoy every bit of the ride. Let’s get ready to set sail and make some memories on the water!

Geographic Scope of the Great Loop

We’re diving into the Great Loop, a massive waterway adventure that’s got boaters buzzing. Imagine cruising through 6,000 miles of rivers, lakes, and coastal waters. We’re talking about everything from big city skylines to quiet, leafy canals. It’s a boater’s dream with a view that’s always changing.

Picture this: You’re on your boat, waving goodbye to one town and hello to another. You’ll sail under sunny skies and starry nights, and you’ll see places some folks only get to visit in picture books. It’s a mix of every kind of watery road you can think of, and it’s all wrapped up in one big circle that takes you around the eastern U.S. and part of Canada.

Here’s where you’ll be steering your boat:

  • Big rivers that wind through the land like the famous Mississippi
  • Old-school canals that are like step-back-in-time paths
  • Huge lakes that might make you feel like you’re at sea
  • Ocean edges where the water meets the beach

What Makes Your Great Loop Trip Longer or Shorter?

#1. How Fast Your Boat Goes

Your boat’s speed is a big deal on the Great Loop. If you’re sailing, you’ll likely go slower than someone in a motorboat. Sailboats are chill but take more time. Motorboats zip along but use more gas. So pick your ride based on how fast you want to zip around the Loop.

#2. Your Boating Know-How

If you’re a whiz at steering your boat and have lots of trips under your belt, you’ll probably zip through the Loop faster. New to boating? No worries, but you might take it slower while you learn the ropes. It’s all good, though. Practice makes perfect!

#3. Weather and When You Go

The weather’s boss when you’re on the water. Spring and fall are sweet spots for cruising to dodge the super hot or icy cold times. Keep an eye on the sky because storms can slow you down and change your plans. It’s all about sailing safe!

#4. Taking Breaks and Seeing the Sights

Hey, the Great Loop’s got tons of cool spots to check out. If you stop to take in the sights or chill in a town for a bit, your trip will stretch out. That’s part of the fun, so take your time and enjoy the ride.

#5. Fixing Up Your Boat

Boats need TLC, and sometimes they need a quick fix. If something breaks, you’ll have to stop and get it sorted. Keep your boat happy with regular check-ups to avoid big hold-ups. But hey, always plan for a little extra time just in case.

There you have it. Your boat’s speed, your boating skills, the weather, fun stops, and boat fixes all play a part in how long you’ll be looping the Great Loop. It’s a big adventure, so go with the flow and make some awesome memories!

How Long Does It Take to Complete the Great Loop in a Boat?

Thinking about boating the Great Loop? You’re probably wondering how long it’ll take. Most folks finish in 6 to 12 months. But here’s the scoop: it really depends on how fast you go and how long you chill at each stop.

Average Time on the Water

On average, boaters spend half a year to a full year to circle the Loop. This gives you time to enjoy the ride and check out cool spots along the way.

Speedy Voyages

Got a need for speed? Some zoom through in under three months. These trips are all about going fast and not hanging around too long.

Slow and Steady Adventures

If you’re not in a rush, take it slow. Some boaters spread their journey over a few years, living on their boat and soaking up every experience.

Different Boaters, Different Journeys

We’ve seen all kinds of trips. One retired duo took a leisurely 18 months, while another pair hustled and wrapped up in 8 months. Your trip can be just as unique!

When planning your Loop adventure, think about what you want out of the trip. Fast or slow, it’s your call. Either way, it’s an epic trip with lots of memories waiting for you.

Planning Your Great Loop Adventure

  • Setting Realistic Timeframes

Thinking of sailing the Great Loop? You\’ll need a good plan. Most folks take about a year, but it\’s up to you. Go fast or slow, take your time to enjoy the sights. Just figure out how far you\’ll sail each day, add some days for breaks, and you\’re set. Remember, this trip is yours, so make it fit your dream.

  • Importance of a Flexible Schedule

The Great Loop is full of surprises. Weather can change or your boat might need fixing. It’s best to go with the flow and change your plans when you need to. This way, you can stay safe and have fun without the worry.

  • Recommended Planning Resources

Need help getting started? There’s a bunch of help out there. Check out books like “Great Loop Side Trips” for cool ideas. Websites like the AGLCA have maps and tips from people who’ve done it before. And don’t forget to chat with other boaters online. They can give you the inside scoop to help you on your way.

Navigational Challenges and Solutions

Locks and Bridges

When you’re boating the Great Loop, the times locks and bridges open and close are super important. You might have to wait a bit to get through them, especially when they’re busy or being fixed. We always check the schedule before we set out, so we don’t run into any surprises that slow us down. It’s a smart move to do the same!

Tidal Influences and Currents

Tides can make the water level go up and down, and that can change how and where you can drive your boat. Currents can make you go faster or slower and can eat up more fuel. It’s like riding a bike with or against the wind. We always look at tide charts and current tables so we know what to expect. This way, we can use the tides and currents to help us move along without using too much gas.

Navigation Tools and Technology

We’re big fans of using cool tools like GPS and apps to help us find our way on the Great Loop. Apps like Navionics are like a treasure map for boaters—they show us where to go and keep us on track. And if we want to know where other boats are, apps like Vessel Finder tell us so we can steer clear and stay safe. We think you’ll find these tools super handy, too!


We believe the real treasure is in the journey, not just the finishing time. Sailing the Great Loop is about the places you see and the friends you make. It’s a chance for adventure and to create lasting memories. Whether it’s a few months or a year, each moment on the water counts.

Boating the Great Loop is more than just a trip; it’s a milestone. As you plan your own loop adventure, value the experience over the pace. The stories you’ll gather and the joy of the open water will stay with you forever. So set sail and embrace the incredible journey that awaits!