Frequently Asked Questions

Friends and random strangers love the idea of our trip but always have lots of questions for us, so here is a brief FAQ for some of the top questions.

Why are you doing this?

Foster has wanted to take this trip since he was a young teen.  I love spending time on our boat and have always wanted to travel extensively.  We’re doing it now while we are still young enough to handle some of the more strenuous activities that take place on a trip of this kind.

What about your jobs?

We both left our jobs in order to take a year off and plan on returning to work at the end of the year.

What happens if you get lost at sea?

We are only going to be in the ocean once, or possibly twice.  When we go around Cape May and up the New Jersey coast we will be in the ocean for part of that trip but very close to shore.  If we decide to go to the Bahamas when we’re in Florida, we will be in the open ocean.  Other than that, we will be traveling on inland waterways, rivers, canals, and lakes, including 3 of the Great Lakes.

What are you doing with your house, renting it or selling it?

My youngest son Dave will be house sitting for us.  He was living in his own rental house for the past year and a half and agreed to give up the lease so he can watch the house.

What are you doing with your cars?

We’ll be parking our cars at a family member’s house with car covers.  That way they’ll be available if we come back for a visit (or an emergency).

What will you do with your cat?

Belle is going with us!  She spent last summer on the boat and liked it just fine.  She’s an elderly cat at about 15 years old, and we don’t believe she would do well in a new environment or without us at home. The boat has lots of room for her to walk around and spots to sunbathe.  She never tries to get off the boat, but we have a cat life vest (and a net) just in case.

Will you have cell service?

Yes, between the two of us we have two different cell providers.  We should have phone service where ever we are going, unless the area is very remote.  When we travel to Canada we will probably get temporary prepaid phones there.

What about internet and TV?

Foster has a me-fi that we have used quite a bit on the boat.  Lots of marinas also have wifi available for free, and there are hotspots in a lot of places.  We’ll probably use the internet for watching TV and movies.  We have Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Chromecast, which allows us to watch Hulu, YouTube and a variety of movies and TV shows that are available for streaming. We don’t plan on spending too much time watching TV or on the internet (other than email and posting to the blog).  We’re traveling to some of the most beautiful areas in North America and plan on taking advantage of that!

What are you going to do when you get back?

We’ll be going back to work, and will be sailing the Quo Vadimus some more around the Chesapeake Bay.  We love our current marina, Bohemia Bay Yacht Harbor , and they are graciously holding our current slip for us. At some point the Quo Vadimus will be too much for us and we will look at a smaller boat.

How many miles/how long will your trip take?

We’ll be traveling 6,000 miles before we are finished, and using 6,500 gallons of diesel fuel on the way.  While there are many Loopers who take less time to complete a circuit, we plan on taking about a year for our trip.  That allows us to take days off from travel, and travel shorter daily distances when we are on the move.  We’re not alone out there – at any one time there are about 200 people doing the loop. Over 50 have done it more than once.

What route will you follow?

We will start in the Upper Chesapeake Bay, down the Delaware Bay, up the New Jersey coast into NY. We travel up the Hudson, take a left at the Erie Canal and follow it for about 100 miles. Shooting across Lake Ontario we enter the Trent/Severn waterway. This leads us up to the Georgian Bay and the Northern Passage across the upper edge of Lake Huron and then into Lake Michigan.

Down the eastern edge of Lake Michigan into Chicago and the Illinois River. Now heading south we enter the Upper Mississippi. Only about 200 miles and we join the Tennessee River. We follow that south and pop out in the Gulf of Mexico. We then follow the Florida Shore line until we hit the Atlantic Ocean and Georgia. Coming inside off the ocean we travel up the Intracoastal Waterway to the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.   Here’s a map of the route.  We’ll be posting additional details as we travel.

Where will you sleep?

Our boat has 3 staterooms – the master is a queen size with its own bathroom (head).  We have a 2nd queen size cabin, and a smaller space with two single bunks that doubles as an office (or closet).  We will stay in marinas for about 300 nights, the remaining 100 we will anchor out on the water.   We have a generator for those times when we are anchored out.

Will you be passing through any locks?

We will travel through just over 100 locks.  We actually come out of the water to go over land at the Big Chute Marina Railway in Canada.


Locks in order of appearance:

New York State Canal System: Hudson River (Troy Lock) – 1 lock.

Eastern Erie Canal (Waterford to Three Rivers) – 22 locks.

Oswego Canal – 7 locks,

Trent-Severn Waterway (Main Channel only): 43 locks. Google map of the lock locations

Illinois Waterway (Chicago to Mississippi River): 8 locks.

Mississippi River (Illinois River to Ohio River): 2 locks.

Ohio River (Mississippi River to Cumberland or Tennessee Rivers): 2 locks.

Cumberland/Tennessee Rivers (Ohio to Tenn-Tom Junction): 2 locks.

Tenn-Tom Waterway: 10 locks.

Black Warrior/Tombigbee River (Demopolis to Mobile): 2 locks.

Okeechobee Waterway (Florida): 5 locks.

Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway: Dismal Swamp – 2 locks. (This will be our second time, our first day as boat owners we went through these locks)

What kind of boat do you have?

Our boat is a 1993 Bayliner 4588 Pilothouse.  Link to pictures here. This will be our 4th summer on the boat.

  • Length at the waterline is 45′, length from the bowsprit to the swim platform is 49′
  • Draft (how much water we need is 3′ 6″
  • Air Draft (height) is 17′ 6″
  • Beam (width of the boat) is 15’11
  • Weight is 23,000 empty, with 400 gallons of fuel, 200 gallons of water, the two of us, the cat and our stuff, ~29,000 lbs (fuel and water weigh 4,200)
  • Two Hino diesel engines at 250 HP each
  • We average a mile a gallon of fuel
  • There is a 12.5 kWatt generator that can power the entire boat for overnight stays

8 thoughts on “FAQ

  1. Greetings,
    Congratulations on a great website and wonderful posts and information.
    We have just had our offer accepted on a 2000 Bayliner 4788, with which we plan to do the loop in a few years. We will be bringing the boat back to our home waters (Mississippi and St. Croix rivers around Mpls. and St. Paul) from Charlevoix Mi. early this summer.
    I am interested in what you are using as navagation equipment, software and other electronics? We will be updating 14 year old gear in the coming months.

    Thanks for sharing your trip!

    Mike Ahern

  2. We are considering the Bayliner among 2 others for doing the loop.
    No one has mentioned how they liked their boat.
    1. What did you feel are your boats attributes?
    2. What do you feel are your boat’s short comings?
    3. How do feel about the costs to operate this boat?
    4. Knowing what you know now, would you have purchased a different boat?
    Thank you for you candor.

  3. Enjoy your AGLCA posts. Next time we are in the keys, we would like to stop and visit.
    Hope you are doing well, we enjoy your web site.
    If you need one, I can do A VSC for you when we visit.
    all the best!

  4. Hi – can you send me a copy of your spreadsheet. I want to have documentation as to where the inheritance has gone! Thanks Jim
    PS The Admiral says we leave Algonac MI to start the GL Mon June 8.

  5. Hi Foster, have read your posts often. Re your latest on Mike Dickins, your little voice was correct,I used him as a buyers broker, there is nothing good I could say about him, made the purchase of my loop boat very stressful. Many other Brokers wont deal with him, he is not a good ambassador for the Great Loop organisation.
    We are in Port Orillia at moment.
    Due to tech difficulties I coudnt reply via looper blog, Cheers Colin

  6. HI QV
    Its been so fun to see you on the forum frequently – and your website is beautiful.
    We got your “hi” message a couple of times now and have been trying to find an email address to keep in touch. Today we are in Joliet, waiting at the wall until the lock can take us down in a few hours. We will be traveling as far as Punta Gorda Florida this trip, where we bought a new home. If you are ever in Florida, come look us up. Traveling with you guys was such a treat – wish you were along this time too.
    Best to you and Susan
    Carol and Dennis
    MV Reunion
    Currently in the Illinois River

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