In this final entry of our Loop 2 Blog series, we review some statistics from the trip and give our overall thoughts on our Second trip around America’s Great Loop.


Number of days (not counting while our engines were rebuilt)313
Stops along the route (marinas & anchorages)114
Nautical Miles Traveled5,365.6
Statute Miles Traveled6,174.6
Total Engine Hours623.8
Average Speed8.7 kts (10 mph)
Gallons of Diesel Used4,422
Average price per gallon$4.45
Oil Changes5
Locks Transited98
Lift Bridges Opened76
Nights spent at anchor5
Nights spent in Marinas303
Average Slip Fee (including electric)$104.46 night ($2.59/ft)
Trips Home (one Home to New Hampshire)3
New boaters met217

Frequently Asked Questions about our 2nd Loop Trip

On our first Loop trip, we stuck to the Michigan side. The Michigan side has lots of stops with many protected harbors. We especially enjoyed Harbor Springs, Leland, and Frankfort. On this Loop Trip, we did a highbred run. We started down the Michigan side, stopping in a few new places we missed on our first trip. We stopped in Petoskey and Traverse City before revisiting Leland and Frankfort.

From Frankfort, we cut across Lake Michigan to Sturgeon Bay. Sturgeon Bay was very nice, with a great Maritime Museum. We then went to Green Bay. Green Bay is probably on our list of least favorite stops. The city was okay, but the marinas are in a very industrial section of town. Also, aside from the Green Bay Packers, there is not much to do. We did find a small railroad museum and a botanical garden that was okay but not worth a 50-mile run down the bay.

We should have done better research and chatted with the locals because if we had taken a right and gone north into Dorr County, we would have found some quaint little villages. Maybe next time!

The rest of the Wisconsin side was nice. We stopped in Kewaunee, Sheboygan, Port Washington, and Milwaukee. Sheboygan and Port Washington were our two favorite stops in Wisconsin. They are smaller ports with lots going on nearby. Check out our blog posts Days 107-128 for Michigan and Sturgeon Bay/Green Bay and Days 129-139 for Kewaunee to Chicago.

So, which did we enjoy more, the Wisconsin or Michigan side? Both were worth the trip. Even though Wisconsin, especially Milwaukee, is known for beer, I found better microbreweries on the Michigan side. Michigan has more choices for stops in smaller towns that cater to the boater/tourist trade.

If you are into cheese, then definitely the Wisconsin side is for you!

Our recommendation is that first-time Loopers stick to the Michigan side and just take your time. Make as many stops as you can, even if it’s just one day. Each town has a lot to offer. You’ll travel 50 miles some days but only 15-20 miles on others, giving you plenty of time to spend an afternoon checking out the towns before moving on. We found that there was more to do and see on the Michigan side and more options for protected harbors.

The northern portion of Lake Michigan on the Wisconsin side, until you get to the Dorr Peninsula, has very few harbors, and there isn’t much to see. We understand it has many anchoring options similar to the North Channel, but that’s not our thing.

For second-time Loopers that did the Michigan Side, we would encourage you to consider crossing the lake around Frankfort (that’s the narrowest point) and going to Sturgeon Bay, then exploring the Dorr Peninsula before heading south to Chicago. If we get back to Lake Michigan, we plan to explore Dorr County.

If you have the time to do both, then by all means, do it! Because of the weather and distance, (once you get below Sturgeon Bay, the lake starts to widen out. Criss-crossing back and forth between the sides is probably not an option. Frankfort, MI, to Sturgeon Bay, WI is 54 miles. Grand Haven, MI, to Milwaukee, WI, is just under 90 miles.

Our first loop was from 2019 to 2020; the second was from 2023 to 2024. In a word, Yes!

Fuel prices were higher. Our average price per gallon of diesel on Loop 1 was $3.05, and on Loop 2, it was $4.45, a 68% increase.

Dockage was slightly less expensive. Our average price per foot on Loop 1 was $3.08, and on Loop 2, it was $2.95. On Loop 2, we stayed at smaller marinas or had longer stays to get weekly rates, saving us money.

Food was more expensive. We tend to eat out frequently and noticed that restaurants, in general, were more expensive by about 15%. Also, groceries were up by about 12%. This is in keeping with inflation pretty much everywhere.

Maintenance Costs were lower. On our first Loop, we had the Oops in Canada when we hit the rock. That cost us about $45,000 (insurance covered about 80%). On Loop 2, we had an upfront expense when we rebuilt both of our engines, but actual maintenance on the loop was just oil changes and regular old boat maintenance things like pumps, etc. Our biggest maintenance item was a new refrigerator at $1,300.

We think that we were smarter on Loop 2 as to where we stayed and for how long, so that kept our costs down. Also, we purchased electric bikes and used them instead of Uber or Lyft, which saved us quite a bit.

Well, probably not. We said we wouldn’t do it again after our first loop, mostly because of the rivers (Illinois, Mississippi, and Ohio), but we did in the end. Our answer is pretty much the same this time. We plan on revisiting some major portions of the trip, including a trip back up to the canals in Canada and a trip backward up the Tenn-Tom Waterway from Mobile, AL, to Green Turtle Bay, Kentucky.

We would also like to return and visit some of Lake Michigan someday. If we go back to Lake Michigan, we will probably do a third loop by default, just because the logistics are easier than getting to Chicago, turning around, and coming back. Time will tell!

This is a combination of lessons learned on both our first and second Loops. This may come across as scare tactics and doom and gloom. Our intent is not to scare you away from doing the Loop, but to make sure that you consider everything in advance to make your trip as enjoyable as possible.

#1 Make sure your boat is ready

This is probably the most important lesson and the number one piece of advice we can give aspiring Loopers. Have your boat professionally inspected by a qualified mechanic well before you leave. Don’t skimp on maintenance items. We have seen multiple people’s Loop trips severely delayed or ruined due to engine issues.

Finding a qualified mechanic on the Loop can be difficult. Mechanics, in general, are busy, and good mechanics are few and far between. If you break down on the loop, you are pretty much at the mercy of the closest marina to you.

Parts, too, can be hard to get and take time. The last thing you want to end up doing is sitting at a marina for weeks waiting to get your boat repaired. This can put you way behind the season, causing you to have to rush and skip stops or, in some cases, put your boat up for the rest of the season and resume your trip the next year.

Basic maintenance items like Impellers, Belts, Hoses, and ALL Filters (engine fuel filters as well as the primary fuel filters) should be changed prior to leaving on a 6,000-mile trip. I also recommend carrying spares so you don’t have to wait for them or pay higher prices, especially in Canada.

Many people don’t have their engine coolers inspected. (Water, Air, Oil, Transmission) A leak in any one of these can ruin an engine in minutes. Engine rebuilds can easily run $100,000. and take weeks, if not months, to complete. Make the investment BEFORE you leave to have them inspected and, if necessary, replaced.

The same goes for your air conditioning and heating systems. It gets cold in Canada, even in the summer. We’ve had freezing temperatures, snow, and ice on the river system on both of our trips. We have had freezing temperatures and temperatures approaching 100° in Florida the same week! The inspection and maintenance of HVAC systems is another item that is frequently forgotten. An ounce of prevention and all that! While it won’t necessarily interrupt your trip, losing an AC/Heating system can take the Pleasure out of Pleasure Boating.

Hoses are another area where we have heard of Loopers almost losing their boats due to lack of maintenance. Many Loopers have older boats. Most hoses have a date code on them, and the ABYC recommends replacing them every ten years. A burst cooling or raw water hose can ruin an engine or even sink a boat! I’m not saying to replace every hose, but closely inspect cooling and raw water hoses as they are most critical and replace them when necessary.

And finally, Toilet systems. If I had to count the number of boats that spent hundreds of dollars having their toilets fixed, I’d run out of fingers and toes! Having your toilets stop working is, well, shit! No one likes working on them, and boat yards seem to charge a premium for repair. This is especially true for Vacu-Flush systems. We know of at least four boats on our second loop waiting over a week for Vacu-Flush parts and repairs. Have your system inspected and serviced before you leave. Replace seals and maintenance valves even if they look good. Clean your tanks before you leave with a good quality black water tank CLEANER (not just the normal maintenance digester)

#2 Make sure YOU are ready

For most Loopers, doing the Great Loop is a once-in-a-lifetime event. Try to arrange your personal and family obligations to minimize the impact on your Loop trip. With most people taking a year on average to complete the Loop, some family or work issues are inevitable. Keeping those to a minimum is important.

We have seen many Loopers rush along and miss many of the Loop highlights because they have to get somewhere that they can travel home to. Also, anytime you have a Schedule when boating, you increase the likelihood of taking risks with the weather, making travel uncomfortable.

Also, make a good, honest health assessment. It is not uncommon to hear of Loopers who have to put their trip on hold to get surgery on a knee, hip, back, etc. While it is “pleasure cruising”, manhandling a boat into a slip in wind or current can put a strain on your body. Delay your trip a year if you need to and get yourself in shape. The Loop will still be there!

#3 Finances

Most people who plan to do the loop have done their research and saved enough to afford the trip. You can do the loop on just about any reasonable budget. How much the Loop is going to cost you is difficult to predict as there are so many variables. How much fuel does your boat use? Do you anchor out or stay in marinas? Do you cook onboard or go out to restaurants? It’s easy to plan and budget for the normal day-to-day expenses of a Loop. The AGLCA has a Loop Planning Guide and Cost Calculator that can help with your planning.

Where the stress and disappointment come in are the “unplanned” expenses. Easily, 60% of Loopers will experience a propeller issue due to a strike. A propeller straightening can be as low as $600-$800, calculating the cost of a haul-out or diver and the straightening. Or as high as $50,000+ if you have Pod Drives and tear one off. Bending a propeller shaft can be run to $10,000. And, heaven forbid, you have an engine that throws a rod or needs rebuilding, that can easily run $100,000. We know of several Loopers whose trip ended due to a major mechanical bill. We have seen boats sit in marinas for two years being repaired.

On our first Loop, we hit a rock in Canada, resulting in a $15,000 towing bill and $45,000 in repair costs. While insurance covered most of it, we had to pay out of pocket to get our boat back in the water and then wait a month for the insurance check to reimburse us. Also, we had the unplanned expense of renting a car and hotel for three weeks while the boat was being fixed.

My goal here is not to be the prophet of doom and gloom! My point is that you need to have a contingency in place before your trip in case something unthinkable happens. This may be backup savings, a line of credit, several high-limit credit cards, or a friend or relative you can call on. A dramatic event of engine failure or severe damage to your boat is stressful enough without the added stress of worrying about how you are going to pay for it.

#4 Insurance

This sort of goes hand in hand with #3. Just about every boater has boat insurance. However, not all insurance is created equal. Here are a couple of considerations when choosing insurance for your Great Loop trip.

  • Are you covered for the inland rivers? Some insurance policies are for “coastal cruising” only and do not cover you on the Great Lakes and Inland Rivers. Confirm that you are covered.
  • Are you covered in Canada? Most policies will cover you while cruising in Canada, but it’s best to confirm before you cross the border.
  • Are you covered in the Bahamas? If you plan on visiting the islands, make sure you are covered. Most policies do NOT include coverage for the Bahamas, or if they do, there are restrictions. Confirm with your insurer. You may need to purchase a separate rider.
  • Are you covered for “Continuous Cruising” or “Live Aboard” status? This one has bitten a few people! Your policy may cover you for “casual cruising,” but you may not be covered if you are on board full-time for an extended period.
  • Do you have seasonal restrictions? This is a common issue. If your boat is south of a particular point, you may not be covered during hurricane season. On our first Loop, we had to be above the 30th parallel (out of Florida) before June 1st. You may be able to get a rider if you need to. The important thing is to know in advance.
  • Is towing covered? Most insurance policies have some towing coverage. Also, I encourage all Loopers to get BOTH Seatow and TowBoat US coverage. It is cheap compared to the cost of towing without, and neither company covers every area. Towing coverage falls short (both with insurance and the towing services) if you cross from towing (breakdown or minor grounding) into the category of “Salvage.”

    Salvage is if you are stuck to the point that they can’t just pull you off. It also applies if you have a major leak (broken thru-hull, burst hose, etc.) and they need to bring out pumps or if your boat sinks and needs to be recovered. If you are in Canada, you will rely exclusively on your insurance towing coverage, as there is no SeaTow or TowBoat coverage. There is a company called C-Tow that provides service in Canada that you may want to look into. These all fall into the category of “Salvage.” TowBoat and SeaTow agreements do not cover salvage, which will be out-of-pocket and expensive! Your insurance also may not cover salvage in specific situations. You need to understand what is and is not covered.

    For example, when we hit a rock in Canada, we had to have our boat towed 75 miles to the nearest open repair yard. That was $15,000. Our insurance coverage had a $5,000 cap on towing. Because of the extenuating circumstances and because we called the insurance company IMMEDIATELY after the incident and before we incurred the charge, we were able to negotiate coverage.

    Another example is that we were near Jacksonville Beach, Florida, and we grounded. When we did, we developed a leak around our rudder post and started to take on water. We made it to a marina and called SeaTow (the closest provider). They explained that because we were taking on water, it was not towing but salvage and, therefore, not covered. They pre-authorized our credit card for $10,000 before they would dispatch a boat with a pump. In the end, it cost us $1,400 plus a nice tip for the guys who came out in heavy winds to get the boat stabilized and figure out where the leak was.
  • Do you have enough Liability coverage? Most marinas will request a copy of your insurance certificate if you stay there for an extended period. Some marinas require it for all boats staying there. Most repair yards, especially if you are getting hauled out, will require a copy, and some will even require that they be added as a named insured. In our experience, the marinas and boat yards are looking for at least $500,000 in liability coverage. We know of people who had policies with only $300,000 of liability and had issues getting into marinas. Check with your insurance company. Also, keep an electronic copy of your insurance certificate in your email so that it’s easy to forward to marinas if they ask. We also keep some printed copies just in case.

    Another side note is that a few marinas and boat yards may restrict your stay if you have an older boat with a Steel or Wooden hull. There are not many, but we have seen Loopers with steel hulls get turned away.

The big takeaway is to know what Insurance coverage you have in advance of your trip and ensure that you have adequate coverage. If you do have questions or in the event that you have a claim, get everything in writing. Don’t just take the word of some agent over the phone.

#4 Loop your own Loop

Some of our best experiences on the Loop were when we were traveling with other boaters. We’ve made lifelong friendships that have extended beyond our Great Loop trip. Traveling with a Buddy Boat can remove some of the planning stress, and following behind another boat is a great way to minimize your risk! (said partially tongue in cheek).

That said, don’t get caught up in feeling that you must do everything together. This includes both on and off the water. As with any relationship, time apart is as important as time together. On our second Loop trip, we traveled with a Buddy Boat for the first third of the trip. They had commitments that put them on a bit of a schedule, and that meant that to stay with them, we would have to miss stops that we were looking forward to. We ended up separating for a while and caught back up later in the trip. It was great because we each got to share different experiences with each other.

While there is a suggested route for the Loop and some “must-see places.” Don’t feel that you MUST do the Loop in the same order or make the same stops as everyone else. Some of our favorite places on our trip were out-of-the-way stops that were not on the regular Great Loop itinerary. If you talk with boaters who anchor a lot, they will tell you that the hidden cove they found just exploring was one of their favorite places.

#5 Embrace Change – Be Flexible

Our last bit of advice is “Embrace Change and Be Flexible.” Your Loop trip will not go according to plan. You will have weather delays. You will hear from locals or other boats about stops that you had not planned but want to visit. There will be local events like fairs and festivals you will want to change your plans to attend.

Because we were still working when we bought our boat, we had three years to plan our Great Loop Adventure. I’m a planner and researcher by nature. I had our entire Loop planned out to the day, with every stop detailed and every marina chosen. Then we heard about the Albemarle Loop in North Carolina, and my detailed schedule went out the window.

Not we try only to plan a few days ahead. Some marians won’t even take a reservation more than a week or two in advance. However, if you plan on staying at a marina for an extended period or for popular destinations like the Keys, you will definitely want to make reservations well in advance. Boaters who want to stay in the Florida Keys for the entire winter need to make reservations a year in advance to get the prime spots in popular marinas.

#6 Panic Slowly!

When we bought our boat, we had almost no boating experience. We had one year of experience in 20′ bow-rider type boats, but nothing in our class of boat. To speed up the learning curve and to be safe, we hired a training captain to teach us while we brought our boat from Florida to South Carolina. We originally hired Chris and Alyse Caldwell (Ask Captain Chris) to do our training; however, due to some mechanical delays on our part and other commitments on theirs, they could not do our training. Instead, they recommended that Geoff Gow do our training. You can read about our training with Geoff in this Blog Post.

Panic Slowly

Hiring a training captain was probably the best investment in boating that we have made. We learned a LOT about boating, safety, navigation, engine maintenance, and how to enjoy boating. One of Geoff’s best bits of advice, and one that we share whenever we can, is “Panic Slowly!”

Things will happen on the water, and while panic is a natural response, the quick, knee-jerk reaction is not always the best. During the first part of training, I had the habit of over-revving the engines when I got into a tight situation, which caused me to violate the second rule: “Never go faster than you are willing to hit something!” Geoff’s advice to Panic Slowly has stuck with us ever since his training.

Brenda even makes cross-stitch gifts for our boating friends to pass along the advice. Thanks, Geoff!

Kiss Some Frogs To Find Your Prince
Thanks for visiting! –Tom & Brenda

That’s a hard one. We visited so many amazing places along the route. We love the Hudson River. There is so much history there, and we like the small towns. Also, the Hudson River has lots of unique attractions like the Croton Dam, The Musical Bridge, The Culinary Institute of America, West Point, The Kingston Trolley Museum, The Catskill Mountain Railway, and The Troy Farmers Market, to name but a few.

We also enjoyed the Champlain Canal on this trip and our visit to Burlington, VT. Boating up through narrow valleys was amazing. The small towns after you cross into Quebec were wonderful as well!

Our favorite new discoveries on this trip were:

Tobermory, Ontario – In Georgian Bay (See Days 83-96) with Flower Pot Island, the sunken wrecks in the harbor, and the cute little fishing village.

Sault-Saint-Marie, Ontario—At the entrance to Lake Superior, we visited the Canadian Bush Plane Museum and took a 280-mile train ride up into the mountains and Agawa Canyon. Plus, you have the famous Soo-Locks with the huge Great Lakes Freighters passing by. (See Days 98-106).

Ocean Springs, Mississippi – We stopped here on our side trip to New Orleans. A wonderful little tourist town! Easily accessible from either the Ocean Springs Municipal Marina, Biloxi, or Gulfport marinas. One of our favorite “hidden gems”. (See Days 195-214)

Also, see our FAQ on Lake Michigan, Michigan vs Wiscon side.

I can’t think of a single stop where we were sorry we went there. Pretty much every stop had something to offer. There are places that fall into the been-there-done-that category where we would find an alternative on the next trip, and there are also some that are must-stops if we go to that area again.

As for places that are on Our Personal least favorite list, I’m emphasizing Our Personal because everyone is different, we would say, in no particular order…

Green Bay, Wisconsin—As we mentioned in another FAQ, the marina area is very industrial, and downtown is not easily accessible. From a tourist perspective, a 50-mile trip down the bay offers little unless you are visiting family or going to a Packers game.

Montreal, Quebec—This is my love-to-hate city. I am not a big city person, and I get annoyed easily by crowds. We would suggest a stop because it is a beautiful city with lots of touristy things to do. My personal pet peeve with Montreal is that the residents come across as unfriendly. Perhaps it’s just me. I have spent some time in Paris, which has a reputation for being unfriendly to tourists, and I find Montreal to be worse. My personal opinion is that “Montreal wants to be Paris in the worst way and is annoyed that they can’t be, and lets everyone who visits know it.” We’ve met lots of very friendly people from Quebec Province, and we really enjoyed our time cruising through Quebec; it’s just Montreal that we don’t care for. That said, we plan another stop in 2025 when we go back up through the Rideau Canal and to Quebec City.

Sarasota, Florida—Again, this is a personal vibe thing. I found the locals and restaurant/retail staff snooty. Sarasota is one of the more affluent cities in Florida, and a sense of elitism permeates the culture there.

Atlantic City, New Jersey—While for most Loopers, this is a must-stop on the crossing from Cape May to New York City, it’s not one of our favorites, and on our next trip to the area, we’ll try to find an alternative. We have stayed there twice. The marina is attached to a casino, and we dislike the whole casino culture. We find that they reek of cigarette smoke, and seeing people stuffing their retirement into slot machines is depressing. Both times we stopped there, we didn’t venture out to the beach or boardwalk, so perhaps that would change our opinion. Hammond, Indiana, falls into that category as well, where the marina is part of a casino and is your only easy dining option. One positive thing about casinos is that there is usually a good show going on, and they are typically pretty reasonably priced.

That’s pretty much it. We would not say, “Don’t stop there.” You will want to experience each of them for yourself. Some places are must-stops for logistical reasons. Others, depending on what you like, you might enjoy!

Kiss Some Frogs To Find Your Prince
Thanks for visiting! –Tom & Brenda

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