The Great Loop and the AGLCA

Author: Cindy Lewis
Marine Finance Representative
Sterling Associates- Mid Atlantic Office
cindy@recreationfinance.com   www.boatbanker.com
410-903-6611

Imagine being a modern day Huck Finn, discovering the waterways, lakes, inlets and rivers that our forefathers transited while mapping out this country, and traveling the same routes that continue to be major supply routes for businesses today. 

Books have been written about the trip, but the short version is that it’s a 6000 mile trip up ( or down) the Eastern Seaboard, through the Great Lakes via a few different routes and down the river systems to the Gulf of Mexico and around to where you started. There is no rule to where you start, and no rule to the direction that you choose to go, but it is always a joyous day when a boat crosses its wake having completed the trip with a lifetime of memories in the books. 

All types of boats have done this trip, and on any given day there are between 150-300 boats on the The Loop journey, or shall I say on “their Loop” journey. The Loop is what you make it. The Loop can take a few months to several years. Many boaters stick to a plan of 1-2 years and some then go on to do it again. Sailboats, power boats large and small have all done the loop. It has been done on jetskis, canoes and kayaks and there is currently a paddleboarder and another intrepid adventurer doing it on an inflatable RIB dinghy. 

Additionally, many people doing this trip or that are planning the trip are not necessarily experienced boaters. They may have smaller boats on inland lakes, or have chartered, but this trip is a “bucket list” adventure for many. There are retirees, people on work sabbatical and there are young couples and young families homeschooling with lessons learned that you will not find in a textbook. 

There is no real rule on the type of boat you need, but there are some things that need to be taken into consideration as far as draft, beam and height to get through the bridges and locks. Additionally, the locks and river systems are not all open year round, so planning on where you wish to be at a certain time of year can and will dictate much of the plan. There are boats that people consider an “ideal” looping boat, however it’s really a matter of personal preference. Many boats have gone from one owner to the next after completing the loop only to do it again with a new owner. As we all know, it’s not one size fits all and everybody has their own personal preferences and levels of things they expect in a boat. 

The one common thread is the journey, friendships and the camaraderie among boaters all doing the trip. The American Great Loop Cruisers Association or the AGLCA is an amazing group of people either doing it, dreaming it, planning it or they have completed the loop and are the most encouraging of all and willing to share their experiences. The internet forums are very active and they all truly care for one another and share a wealth of information. The forums are for anyone that has any kind of question there always seems to be a helpful answer or guidance from a fellow member. 

To discover more about Great Loop is check out www.greatloop.org. Membership is inexpensive and offers many benefits like discounted docking and discounted fuel for members. 

Sterling Associates is an AGLCA sponsor and participates in their annual rendezvous events and their Looper Lifestyle seminars. Upcoming events include the Annual Rendezvous at Joe Wheeler State Park in Rogersville Alabama October 17-20 and the Looper Lifestyle Seminar in Charleston , SC  November 11-12. For more information, go to www.greatloop.org/events 

About the author:

Cindy Lewis has been in the marine industry for over 35 years. Early in her career she worked for a large sailboat dealer in the Midwest , moving to a marketing position at Pearson Yachts and eventually becoming a yacht broker in the Chesapeake. Her path took her into the boating magazine advertising sales and the publishing side of the business for several years, and in 2002, she was offered the opportunity to become involved in the marine lending side of the business. She currently lives in Annapolis, MD .