Best Boat for the Great Loop

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Key Take­aways:

  • Choos­ing the Best Boat: Fac­tors to con­sid­er when choos­ing a boat for the Great Loop include the size of the boat (usu­al­ly between 30–50 feet long), its fuel effi­cien­cy (with the abil­i­ty to cov­er at least 250 miles with­out refu­el­ing), com­fort and ameni­ties, as well as safe­ty and main­te­nance con­sid­er­a­tions. Some pop­u­lar mod­els for the Great Loop include the Beneteau Swift Trawler 34, Nordic Tugs 32+, Ranger Tugs R‑31, Island Pack­et SP Cruis­er, Sabre 42 Salon Express, Main­ship 40 Trawler, and Kadey-Kro­gen 39. House­boats can also be a suit­able option due to their spa­cious­ness and com­fort.

  • Cost Con­sid­er­a­tions: The cost of doing the Great Loop can vary sig­nif­i­cant­ly depend­ing on the boat’s size, fea­tures, con­di­tion, and whether it is used or new. Used boats can offer a more bud­get-friend­ly option but may require addi­tion­al repair costs. It’s essen­tial to fac­tor in insur­ance and main­te­nance costs, and remem­ber that boats larg­er than 40 feet tend to use more fuel and require more upkeep.

  • Fuel Effi­cien­cy and Com­fort: Trawlers are typ­i­cal­ly the most fuel-effi­cient option for the Great Loop, thanks to their steady cruis­ing speed and hull design. For com­fort and ameni­ties, ensure the boat has com­fort­able liv­ing quar­ters, a well-equipped kitchen, and ade­quate bath­room facil­i­ties. The Island Pack­et SP Cruis­er is a pop­u­lar sail­boat choice for the Great Loop due to its com­bi­na­tion of motor and sail pow­er, pro­vid­ing ver­sa­til­i­ty and effi­cien­cy.

Get ready to embark on an epic adven­ture, my friend! You’re plan­ning to con­quer the Great Loop, a con­tin­u­ous water­way that includes part of the Atlantic, Gulf Intra­coastal Water­ways, the Great Lakes, Cana­di­an Her­itage Canals, and the inland rivers of Amer­i­ca’s heart­land. But wait! Before you set sail, there’s a big ques­tion that needs answer­ing — what’s the best boat for the Great Loop

Best Boat for the Great Loop 

You need a boat that’s com­fy for long hauls, shal­low enough for those tricky water­ways, and effi­cient enough so you’re not spend­ing more on fuel than your favorite sea­side snacks. No wor­ries, we’ve got your back. Let’s dive into the ulti­mate ves­sels that will make your Great Loop adven­ture not only pos­si­ble, but down­right unfor­get­table!

  1. Beneteau Swift Trawler 34: A real crowd-pleas­er, this baby com­bines speed, sta­bil­i­ty, and fuel effi­cien­cy. Plus, it’s got all the com­forts of home, mak­ing it a top pick for live­aboards.
  2. Nordic Tugs 32+: This tug-style cruis­er is per­fect for cou­ples or solo Loop­ers. It’s com­pact, yet offers plen­ty of liv­ing space and stor­age. Plus, it has a sin­gle, fuel-effi­cient diesel engine for that long-haul per­for­mance.
  3. Ranger Tugs R‑31: Don’t let its size fool you. This com­pact com­mand cen­ter boasts a mas­ter suite, a com­fy saloon, and even a guest cab­in. Ide­al for maneu­ver­ing through those tighter spots along the Loop.
  4. Island Pack­et SP Cruis­er: A motor­sail­er that offers the best of both worlds — the con­ve­nience of a trawler with the back­up of a sail. It’s got a fuel-effi­cient engine, and the added sail pow­er makes it ver­sa­tile.
  5. Sabre 42 Salon Express: Look­ing for some­thing a bit more lux­u­ri­ous? This might be your ride. Its inte­ri­or feels like a high-end apart­ment, and it’s equipped with twin engines that pro­vide speed and maneu­ver­abil­i­ty. It might sip a bit more fuel, but hey, who can put a price on com­fort?
  6. Main­ship 40 Trawler: This one’s a Loop vet­er­an. Plen­ty of space, a sin­gle fuel-effi­cient engine, and a killer fly­bridge to enjoy those scenic water­ways. It’s like your per­son­al float­ing RV.
  7. Kadey-Kro­gen 39: A slow and steady long-dis­tance cruis­er, this one offers a stel­lar range thanks to its fuel-sip­ping nature. Plus, its full-dis­place­ment hull ensures a smooth ride, even when Moth­er Nature decides to throw a tantrum.

House­boat is also a good choice. These ves­sels are per­fect for extend­ed cruis­ing, as they pro­vide plen­ty of space for liv­ing and enter­tain­ing. If You decide to do it make sure You have best house­boat gen­er­a­tor.

Best Boat for the Great Loop

Great Loop Boat Requirements

Nav­i­gat­ing the Great Loop? Strap in, sailor, because we’re talk­ing boat require­ments — but hey, it’s not as scary as it sounds!

Mind your head because your boat’s air draft (that’s boat­ing lin­go for height!) needs to be under 19 feet to squeeze under those low bridges. Next, your boat’s draft (the part under­wa­ter) should be less than 5 feet to glide through shal­low­er waters.

But here’s the big­gie: fuel range. Your boat needs to cov­er at least 250 miles with­out refu­el­ing, as gas sta­tions are not exact­ly float­ing around every bend. Don’t for­get the crea­ture com­forts, either. You’re going to want a boat that feels like a sec­ond home, with essen­tial ameni­ties and cozy liv­ing spaces.

While small­er boats can do the Great Loop, some­thing between 34 to 45 feet hits the sweet spot between com­fort and maneu­ver­abil­i­ty. 

Size and Design

When it comes to the Great Loop, size mat­ters. The locks along the route can be nar­row, and low bridges can be chal­leng­ing for some types of boats. As a gen­er­al rule, boats for the Great Loop should be between 30 and 50 feet long, with a shal­low draft of 3 feet or less.


Trawlers are ide­al for the Great Loop. They are designed for long-dis­tance cruis­ing, with a shal­low draft and a com­fort­able, fuel-effi­cient ride. Many have a raised bridge deck and a wide beam, allow­ing them to fit through the locks with ease.

Sedan Cruisers

Sedan cruis­ers are also good for the Great Loop. They are designed for speed and sta­bil­i­ty, with a wide beam, low pro­file, and com­fort­able inte­ri­or. They can be pow­ered by either diesel or gaso­line engines, mak­ing them a good choice for boaters who want to cruise at a leisure­ly pace.

Pilothouse Cruisers

Pilot­house cruis­ers are a pop­u­lar choice for the Great Loop. They are designed for long-dis­tance cruis­ing and have a raised bridge deck, allow­ing the cap­tain to stay com­fort­able and dry while nav­i­gat­ing the locks. They also have a wide beam and shal­low draft, mak­ing them suit­able for nav­i­gat­ing the shal­low waters of the Great Lakes.

Fuel Efficiency and Range

Fuel effi­cien­cy is an impor­tant con­sid­er­a­tion when shop­ping for a best boat for the Great Loop. Since the route is so long, you’ll want a boat that can go a long way on a sin­gle tank of fuel. Look for boats with fuel-effi­cient engines and fuel tanks that can hold enough fuel for the entire jour­ney.

Diesel Engines

Diesel engines are one of the most fuel-effi­cient options for long-dis­tance cruis­ing. They are pow­er­ful and reli­able, and can get up to 30% bet­ter fuel econ­o­my than gaso­line engines.

Hybrid Engines

Hybrid engines are becom­ing more pop­u­lar in the boat­ing world, as they offer excel­lent fuel econ­o­my and qui­et oper­a­tion. They com­bine a diesel engine and an elec­tric motor, allow­ing the boat to run on either fuel or elec­tric­i­ty.

Fuel Tanks

When it comes to fuel tanks, look for boats that have large tanks that can hold enough fuel for the entire jour­ney. Some boats are also equipped with aux­il­iary fuel tanks, which can be used to extend the boat’s range.

Comfort and Amenities

Comfort and Amenities

Com­fort and ameni­ties are impor­tant when plan­ning a long-dis­tance trip like the Great Loop. Look for boats with com­fort­able cab­ins, plen­ty of stor­age, and ameni­ties like a gal­ley, head, and show­er. If You are real­ly fan­cy You might think of tak­ing boat grills to com­ple­ment Your adven­tures.


Look for a boat with a com­fort­able cab­in. Some boats have mul­ti­ple cab­ins, allow­ing the crew to spread out and get some rest. The cab­ins should also have plen­ty of stor­age for clothes, sup­plies, and oth­er items you’ll need for the jour­ney.


The gal­ley is where you’ll be prepar­ing and enjoy­ing meals while on the Great Loop. Look for boats with a well-equipped gal­ley, includ­ing a stove, refrig­er­a­tor, and plen­ty of counter space.

Head and Shower

A head and show­er are essen­tial for a long-dis­tance trip. Look for boats with a com­fort­able head and show­er, as well as plen­ty of hot water.

Safety and Maintenance

Safe­ty and main­te­nance are key when shop­ping for a boat for the Great Loop. Look for boats that are well-built, with fea­tures like a strong hull, ample stor­age, and reli­able nav­i­ga­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tems.


Hulls are the most impor­tant part of a boat, and you’ll want to make sure the boat you choose has a strong, well-built hull. Look for boats made of fiber­glass or oth­er durable mate­ri­als, and make sure they have a reli­able keel and rud­der. Always use a good hull clean­er.


Stor­age is essen­tial for long-dis­tance cruis­ing. Look for boats with ample stor­age for sup­plies, spare parts, and oth­er items you’ll need on your jour­ney.

Navigation and Communication

Nav­i­ga­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tems are essen­tial for stay­ing safe on the Great Loop. Look for boats with reli­able sys­tems, includ­ing GPS, radar, and a VHF radio.

How much does it cost to do the great loop


Cost is always an impor­tant con­sid­er­a­tion when shop­ping for a boat. Boats for the Great Loop can range from $50,000 to over $500,000, depend­ing on size, fea­tures, and con­di­tion. Look for a boat that fits your bud­get, but also has the fea­tures you need for a safe and com­fort­able jour­ney.

Used Boats

Used boats can be a great option for bud­get-mind­ed boaters. Look for boats that are well-main­tained and in good con­di­tion.

Repair Costs

Repair costs are an impor­tant con­sid­er­a­tion when shop­ping for a boat. Make sure to fac­tor in any poten­tial repair costs when cal­cu­lat­ing the total cost of own­er­ship.


Insur­ance is also a must when shop­ping for a boat for the Great Loop. Make sure to get an insur­ance pol­i­cy that cov­ers the boat and its con­tents for the dura­tion of the jour­ney.

Most fuel efficient great loop boat

Drum roll, please… Step right up and meet the trawler. With its slow­er, steady cruis­ing speed and hull design, the trawler sips rather than gulps fuel, mak­ing it the marathon run­ner of the boat­ing world.

Now imag­ine this: You’re cruis­ing along Amer­i­ca’s beau­ti­ful water­ways in your trawler, bask­ing in the scenic views, and feel­ing the breeze. All the while, your boat is run­ning effi­cient­ly, sav­ing you time and mon­ey at the fuel dock. It’s not just an adven­ture, it’s a smart adven­ture. Hop aboard a trawler, where effi­cien­cy meets explo­ration. The Great Loop is call­ing!

Best sailboat for the great loop

Seek­ing the best sail­boat for the Great Loop? Say no more, the Island Pack­et SP Cruis­er is your tick­et to a smooth voy­age! This beau­ty isn’t just a sail­boat, it’s a motor-sail­er, offer­ing the best of both worlds.

Roomy, com­fort­able lay­out per­fect for long-term liv­ing, com­bined with a robust motor for those tighter, trick­i­er parts of the loop. And let’s not for­get her sail per­for­mance for those days when you just want to shut off the engine and glide along with the breeze.

Did I men­tion the pilot­house? It keeps you cozy in rough weath­er and offers unbeat­able views. So pack your bags and raise the sails, the Great Loop is call­ing and the Island Pack­et SP Cruis­er is ready to answer the call!

Cheap great loop boats

Con­sid­er look­ing into used trawlers or motor yachts. These stur­dy ves­sels are built for the long haul, and you can often find pre-loved mod­els that offer fan­tas­tic val­ue for mon­ey. Their spa­cious lay­outs mean you’ll be cruis­ing in com­fort.

Don’t over­look small­er cab­in cruis­ers or even pon­toon boats with the nec­es­sary ameni­ties. These might be on the com­pact side, but they can be incred­i­bly cost-effec­tive and still pack a punch in terms of reli­a­bil­i­ty and per­for­mance.

It’s not about the price tag on your ves­sel; it’s about the price­less mem­o­ries you’ll make nav­i­gat­ing the Great Loop. Now, go snag your­self a bud­get-friend­ly boat and start the adven­ture of a life­time!


What factors should I consider when choosing a boat for the Great Loop?

When choos­ing a boat for the Great Loop, con­sid­er fac­tors like fuel effi­cien­cy, com­fort, draft, air draft, and reli­a­bil­i­ty. Your boat should be eco­nom­i­cal on fuel, com­fort­able for long dura­tions of time, and capa­ble of nav­i­gat­ing shal­low waters and fit­ting under low bridges. It also needs to be reli­able, as you’ll be out on the water for a con­sid­er­able amount of time.

Can a sailboat be used for the Great Loop?

Yes, a sail­boat can be used for the Great Loop, but there are spe­cif­ic chal­lenges to con­sid­er. The mast height must be able to clear a 19-foot bridge, which might require a col­lapsi­ble mast. Also, many parts of the Great Loop are bet­ter suit­ed for power­boats, so a motor-sail­er could be a more fit­ting option.

How big of a boat do I need to travel the Great Loop?

Boats as small as 25 feet have suc­cess­ful­ly nav­i­gat­ed the Great Loop. How­ev­er, for opti­mal com­fort and ameni­ties, a boat between 34 to 45 feet is often rec­om­mend­ed. Keep in mind that larg­er boats may face more restric­tions in terms of where they can moor and the depth of waters they can access.


The Great Loop is a pop­u­lar and excit­ing route for boaters, but not all boats are up to the chal­lenge. When shop­ping for a boat, look for one that is the right size and design, has good fuel effi­cien­cy and range, and is com­fort­able and well-equipped. Make sure to fac­tor in costs like insur­ance and poten­tial repairs, and you’ll be ready to hit the open water.

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