How Much Does the Great Loop Cost? [Updated 2024]

Imagine cruising America’s Great Loop, where rivers meet oceans and adventure awaits. We’re here to guide you through the costs of this once-in-a-lifetime boat trip. It’s a big deal for anyone who loves the water, and our team wants to make sure you’ve got your dollars and cents lined up. Knowing what you’ll spend is a must for smooth sailing. Stick with us, and we’ll show you how to budget for the waves ahead on your Great Loop journey.

Estimated Duration of America’s Great Loop

Picture this: You’re starting an amazing boat trip called America’s Great Loop. You can start from big cities like Chicago or Detroit. Most folks go counter-clockwise, which means going the opposite way of a clock’s hands. This way, the water and wind help you out. You’ll see cool places like the Mississippi River, the huge Great Lakes, and sunny Florida’s beaches. There are other neat spots too, like the Hudson River and the Erie Canal.

How long does it take? Well, most people take about a year to do the whole Loop. It’s a big circle that’s around 6,000 miles long. But hey, you might take less time if you keep moving and don’t stop much. Or you might take longer if you want to hang out and see the sights or if your boat needs fixing.

You can pick from different boats like:

  • Trawler
  • Sailboats
  • Big yachts.

Think about a boat that doesn’t sit too deep in the water (less than 5 feet is good) and isn’t too tall (less than 19 feet high) so you can fit under bridges.

Also, make sure your boat can hold enough fuel to get you from one gas stop to the next. The boat you choose will change how much you spend on your trip, so pick one that’s just right for you.

How Much it Costs To Do America’s Great Loop

Embarking on America’s Great Loop is an adventure of a lifetime, but it comes with a price tag. We’re here to break down the cost categories so you can plan your journey with confidence.

#1. Breaking down the cost categories

Boat purchase or rental costs

When it comes to boats suitable for the Great Loop, options vary widely. Purchasing a boat can range from $20,000 for a modest used vessel to over $500,000 for a new, well-equipped yacht. If you’re not looking to buy, rental rates can be around $2,500 to $4,000 per week, though prices can go higher depending on the boat’s size and luxury level.

Fuel expenses

Fuel consumption depends on your boat type and the distance traveled. For a mid-sized trawler, expect to use around 1 to 3 gallons per hour at cruising speed. Given the Loop’s roughly 6,000-mile length, fuel costs can quickly add up, especially as prices fluctuate. Be prepared for this variable expense.

Marina and mooring fees

The average cost for docking at marinas is around $1.50 to $3.00 per foot per night. To save, consider anchoring out, which is often free, but always ensure you’re in a safe and permitted area.

#2. Provisioning and supplies

Stocking up on provisions, including food, water, and boat supplies, is essential. Plan a budget for groceries, which can be around $200-$300 per week, and don’t forget maintenance items like oil or cleaning supplies.

#3. Permits, licenses and navigation costs

You’ll need to budget for cruising permits and licenses, which can range from $15 to $150, depending on the regions you’re traversing. Navigation charts and apps may also incur fees, usually under $100.

#4. Maintenance and repair costs

Regular maintenance for a mid-range boat can average $1,000 per year, but always have a fund for unexpected repairs which can be significantly more.

#5. Insurance and safety gear

Marine insurance can vary from $300 to $2,000 annually, based on the boat’s value and your coverage needs. Required safety gear, such as life jackets and flares, could add another $500 to $1,000 to your initial costs.

Remember, these are estimates, and prices can change. Always check current rates and prepare for the unexpected to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey on the water.

Different Budgets for the Great Loop

Economy Loopers: Saving Pennies

If you’re watching your wallet, you’re not alone. We’ve seen folks do the Great Loop without spending a fortune. They choose smaller boats and skip fancy marinas to anchor for free. Cooking on the boat and fixing things themselves also saves a bunch. These savvy sailors show that with smart planning, you can enjoy the Loop without a big bankroll.

Mid-Range Budgets: Comfortable Cruising

Got a bit more to spend? We’ve seen boaters with a middle-sized budget have a great time. They pick boats that give them a little extra room and some nice features. They mix marina stays with free anchoring, eat out here and there, and check out some cool spots on shore. This way, you get to treat yourself but also keep an eye on spending.

Luxury Loopers: High-End Hopping

For those who want to live it up, the sky’s the limit. We’re talking fancy yachts, top-notch marinas, and the best food in town. These folks enjoy the finer things as they loop around, from private tours to relaxing spa days. It’s all about traveling in style.

When to Travel: Seasonal Spending

Planning when to go can save you some cash. Summer can be pricey with higher marina fees, but winter might mean spending more to get your boat ready for the cold. Think about when you want to travel and how it can change what you’ll pay.

Extra Costs to Keep in Mind

Sometimes it’s the things you don’t expect that cost you. Tipping the dockhands, fixing sudden boat troubles, or taking a side trip can add up. We always say, it’s smart to have a little extra money set aside just in case. That way, nothing will spoil your fun on the water.

Great Loop map

Planning and Budgeting for the Great Loop

Ready to tackle the Great Loop? Let’s dive into how you can plan your budget to make this dream trip a reality. We’re here to walk you through the money part, step by step to creating a budget plan:

– Counting Your Costs

First up, you gotta know what you’ll spend. Look at your map and write down all the things you’ll need money for, like gas for the boat, places to stay, food, and keeping your boat in good shape. Keep an eye on the latest prices and what other boaters are saying so you don’t get any surprises.

– Divide Your Dough

Now, split your money into pots for each part of the trip. This way, you’ll make sure you have enough for each section and won’t run out when you need it most.

– Smart Saving Tips

Who doesn’t want to save some cash? To keep more money in your pocket, think about doing things like buying food in bulk, using less gas, or getting boat gear that uses less power. Joining a boat club can also save you a bunch on things like marina fees and insurance.

The “Just in Case” Cash

Last big tip: always have extra money for surprises. Sometimes stuff happens that you didn’t plan for, like fixing a broken part on the boat or staying somewhere longer than you thought. Try to put away some money, like 10-15% of your budget, so you’re ready for anything.

Additional Costs and Considerations

  • Fun Things to Do : Let’s talk fun money! You’ll want some cash for cool stuff to do at each stop. Think parks, museums, or boat tours. Prices are all over the place, but for a day out, around $50 should cover it. If you love adventures, maybe save up a bit more, like $100, for the really special stuff.
  • Staying in Touch : Need to call home or check emails? You’ll need a phone or internet plan. Simple ones start at about $50 a month. If you’re after the fast stuff that works almost anywhere, it could be $150 or more. Shop around to find a deal that works for you on the water.
  • Eating : Food’s a biggie. Cooking on your boat saves a bunch, probably costing you $400 to $600 a month. Eating out is pricier, easily $10 to $50 each time you grab a bite. Mix it up! Cook sometimes, and treat yourself to tasty local eats other times.
  • Keepsakes : Who doesn’t love a good souvenir? Little keepsakes might be $5 to $25 each. Set aside some money for these, so you don’t go overboard (see what we did there?).
  • Just in Case Money : Always have a “just in case” fund. We’re talking about 10-15% of what you plan to spend on the whole trip. Use it only for surprises you didn’t see coming, like fixing something that breaks. It’s your safety net!

Remember, these extra costs are part of the journey. Plan for them, and you’ll sail through your trip with a smile, not a worry. Happy Looping!


After diving into the costs of tackling America’s Great Loop, we’ve given you a lot to think about. Remember, planning your budget is key. We’ve walked you through every part, from the price of your boat to those unexpected expenses that can pop up. It’s a big investment, but we believe it’s worth every penny for the adventure that awaits.

We at our team want to remind you that a well-planned budget makes all the difference. It’s what turns a dream journey into a real, amazing adventure. So, take the time to map out your money plan. Think about both the big costs and the small ones. And always, always have a little extra set aside just in case.

With the right prep, you’ll not only sail through the Great Loop but also enjoy every moment. We’re cheering for you to join the community of Loopers who’ve made memories to last a lifetime. So here’s to smooth sailing, smart budgeting, and an incredible trip around America’s Great Loop!