Again, there is a short answer and a long answer. The short answer is YES. In general, all the places on the loop are safe and have reasonable security. As with anything, you have to use good judgment. If you are in an inner-city location like Baltimore, Norfolk, New York City, etc. You must be more aware of your surroundings than in places like Fenelon Falls, Ontario. We found that most marinas provide pretty good security. Also, with “Looper Midnight” being 9:00 PM, the tendency to be out walking around late at night is rare.

On our Great Loop trip, there were only two places where we felt “uncomfortable.” Amsterdam, New York, where the public park that the town docks are located at, was a night-time hangout for the local teens. And Joliette, Illinois, where the “wall” that you tie up to is on the “wrong” side of the river, and there are reports of nocturnal drug traffic. On our Loop trip, we didn’t personally experience any issues with theft or security in general while walking around. When we did our “Loop 1a” makeup trip, we got boarded by kids twice in the middle of the night at the Tampa Convention Center Marina.

On our second Loop trip, we only had one incident in Troy, New York, where some kids set off fireworks on the wall right above the boat, and then there were the bodies floating down the river.

Here are some hints:

  • Lock your boat when you leave for extended periods.
  • Lock or tie down anything you store on the decks of your boat.
  • Get to know your boat neighbors. They will keep an eye on your boat when you are gone.
  • Leave a light on inside of your boat when away.
  • Keep valuables like phones, tablets, binoculars, radios, etc., out of sight.
  • At marinas without controlled access gates, be more conscious about security.
  • Lock your dinghy and motor to your boat, especially if you anchor out!
  • When moored in publicly accessible areas like parks, lock walls, and city docks, run your lines from your boat to the cleat, tie them off, then run them back to your boat, and re-tie them on your boat. Kids will untie your lines as a joke but will rarely board your boat to untie them.
  • Leave firearms, bear spray, and mace at home for the Loop. State laws vary greatly, and guns and mace are a big no-no in Canada! We carry wasp and hornet spray. It will reach 30′ and is a good deterrent for “multiple” types of “pests!”
  • Stay in groups. You’ll have more fun, meet more people, and be safer!

While we Looped we only heard of one or two incidents, none of them severe. There was one case of a boat untied, some petty theft, obnoxious drunks (some of them fellow boaters), and the occasional boarding, either kids as a prank or someone trying to steal something. There were two dinghies stolen, one at a marina and one overnight while at anchor. We did hear of a boat anchored in Canada that was boarded by a bear that swam out while they were away and raided the refrigerator!

We heard of more people who were injured or died due to falling into the water than we did from external risks. Wear your life jacket when docking and locking!

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