An increasingly popular boating vacation for seniors is the “Great Loop Cruise,” a voyage up the East Coast Intracoastal Waterway from Southern Florida to New York, into the Great Lakes region of Canada and the Northern U.S., and then down the Mississippi through America’s Heartland before arriving at the Gulf of Mexico to return to the West Coast of Florida.
Explore, Dream, Discover
It’s an incredible trip — not often out of sight of land, but filled with a Mark Twain sense of adventure that is infinitely appealing. The entire journey is adaptable to personal styles, time frames and desires. It’s also suitable for those with little previous boating experience. While it is possible to do the entire route quickly, it is more often undertaken as a journey of several months, or a voyage broken into segments that might span several years. Experienced cruisers enjoy the solitude of evenings spent “on the hook” in secluded lagoons, while dedicated sightseers prefer to marina-hop and explore land-based attractions at every opportunity. Some live-aboard cruisers travel from port to port, spending as much time as they wish along the way.
“Loopers,” as they are known, can be identified by a distinctive burgee that flies from a boat’s bow or upper mast. Power cruisers and sailors alike become members of an exclusive fraternity of boaters who are almost evangelical in their praise of the experience, and some regularly attend reunions to relive their “on the water” experiences. America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association is the go-to source of information for anyone interested in learning about this extraordinary adventure.
Even those who complete only a portion of the loop wax poetic about the waterways, their fellow travelers and the sights they have seen. But, things go awry along the route as well. Weather is sometimes less than ideal. Vessels run aground or have mechanical problems. Engines fail and boats can be leaky, drafty, and cold. The trip can be long or lonely, and traveling companions may be less than compatible over the long term. Humans also get sick, and accidents occur. Advance planning for a way home by Medical Transport in case of emergency can be just the ticket to complete peace of mind.
Just What Is the Appeal of a Long Boat Trip?
Going to sea has been a dream of little boys and older adventurers seemingly from the beginning of time. In today’s shrinking world, the possibilities for travel multiply, but the sense of adventure seems to diminish. It is, perhaps, this spirit that make the Great Loop so appealing for Baby Boomers with time, energy and dollars to spare. Buying a boat is, in some ways, equivalent to buying a recreational vehicle and setting off to explore the back roads of America. It is, however, more romantic and, because it is not as common, is seen as a bit more adventurous. Even experienced recreational boaters rarely take extended trips aboard their vessels.
There are certain limitations, both in draft and in height, for vessels on the Great Loop. A bridge in Chicago is a factor for sailboats with tall masts; there are some extremely shallow portions of inland waterways; and interior space shrinks quickly with people and belongings on board. The desire for personal comfort cannot be discounted. While there is no need to navigate offshore into the Atlantic, even the Great Lakes, the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico can be turbulent, so seaworthiness is a prime concern. Wisdom and safety also dictate the necessity for advanced technology in terms of navigation and communication equipment.
If you’re intrigued by the Great Loop, read about the day-to-day experiences of some fellow travelers before rushing off to find the perfect boat. Then, if it still seems right, prepare to cast off those lines with confidence!
Article Submitted By Community Writer