If crossing an ocean or sailing is not your cup of tea; you can cruise America's
Great Loop in a very leisurely style, and in a very "budget controlled" manner. Living and
cruising around the Great Loop offers over 6,000 miles of safe, scenic, protected waters to
voyage without ever having to make a "U" turn. From the Florida everglades to the Statue of
Liberty, down the Erie Canal to the Great Lakes and down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico
and the ICW - you not only cruise through America's heartland and most historic areas of our
county - you are almost never out of cell phone range, and closer to a hospital then many rural
Americans. If you are not familiar with America's Great Loop, we have a "sister-site" that is
solely dedicated to cruising America's Great Loop. There are links to it on our link page. So, if
your not familiar with it - be sure you check it out. It is a fabulous boating adventure that no
American, and no boater should miss; and it makes for a fabulous retirement plan.
For retirement sailing. . . The Caribbean is the most popular (and safe) places in the world
for retired boaters. Many cruise the islands, living aboard their boat in this beautiful
adventuresome paradise. Others, have found some favorite secluded beach and permanently
In some Caribbean locations, living is very cheap. In Haiti for example the locals average
income is but $2.00 a day. On the islands of Trinidad, Tobago and Jamaica, it is $20.00 a day.
If you were living on your paid for boat (free), and sailing to these islands (free) your major
expense is food... Just think how wonderful you can live off shore in an area where the average
income is only $20 a day or less then $7,000 a year.
For sure, you will not have to worry over your needs. With an average American's Social
Security Retirement check, it is considered a Kings Ransom on most islands in the Caribbean.
So, when we say you can live very frugal, and live very well - we know from experience.
Still however, this is not for everyone. It is a long way from home, family and friends, and
there are other things, like health insurance needs and medical care to consider. One of our
favorites is Saba Island which happens to have no beaches but an absolutely unspoiled rain
forest and the best and largest hospital and Medical School in the entire Caribbean!
|You don't have to cross oceans. You don't have to cruise the Bahamas or Caribbean,
or even voyage around America's Great Loop to retire on your boat.
There are plenty of places you can go in your boat to retire. From the Great Lakes to the Florida Keys, you will find full
time live aboard boaters (both employed and retired) living on their boats. Some are slowly cruising around America's
Great Loop. Others are permanently docked, moored, or anchored out.
|Is cruising and living on a boat for you?
It is for me, it is for many, but it is certainly not for everyone!
How many times have you heard someone say that “The best thing about boating is the people you meet?” There is more to that
statement than you might think. Cruisers tend to enjoy each other’s company. I think mainly because we have much in common, and we are
by far the most friendly. "Loopers" are the friendliest boaters of all! We also are very good at looking out for one another; much more so
then your average, typical, land loving neighbors.
If you are friendly, and love your independence and freedom, have the ability to fix things when needed, and possess a healthy sense of
humor; you probably have what it takes. If you enjoy meeting new people, love the water, boating, fishing, travel, nature, adventure, and are
a “make it happen” person, and not afraid of a challenge. You have the right kind of personality to live on your boat.
So… What are the pros and cons?
The pro is that you have a “portable home” which you can move from place to place, according to your mood. If you understand this
concept, and look at it like this, there really aren’t any negatives. There are things you do differently, and options you have that you didn’t
have before, but overall, I can’t think of any negatives.
Of course, we have all heard the saying "a boat is a hole in the water you pour money in". And to a point, that is true. . . But that only
applies when you have boat payments, terrible boat insurance, lots of dock fees and boat maintenance - all on top of your land loving house
and house hold expenses on land and related property taxes. You may say “But, what about dock or slip fees and what about boat
maintenance?” I say think about it. . . Your dock fees are likely to be less than your property taxes, and your boat maintenance is much
cheaper than house maintenance.
“What about bad weather? or “What about pirates?”. I have trouble putting either of them on a list of “cons” because you can easily
avoid both and all of it is under your control.
There are many cruisers who have become very good at finding places to anchor year round, that don’t cost a dime. So, how can dock
or slip fees be an issue? As to maintenance, once again, whether or not it is better or worse than a house is up to you. If you load your boat
up with lots of gadgets, and sail to White Cay in the Caribbean, and find you have to fix things yourself, and this annoys you – then don’t
load it up with gadgets, or don’t sail to the middle of the Caribbean. Or, simply, be prepared to pay someone else to fix them.
My point is that you control the level of maintenance you sign up for. There are plenty of cruisers out there, with boats that are simpler,
and require less maintenance, than the homes they sold to buy the boat. Thus, how can I put maintenance on a list of cons? As to bad
weather, once again, if you take the position that you are going to keep the boat in good weather places, and not go out when the weather is
bad, then shouldn't this really be described as a pro, not a con?
Cruisers don't control the weather, but neither does the weather control them. If you decide to go to the Mediterranean, it’s because you
decided to do so. That’s hardly a “con”. Planned for the right time of year, you can sail around the world in 90% near perfect weather.
I would even argue that a discussion of pros and cons is less relevant than taking a realistic look at what your personal cruising lifestyle
would be. The cruising lifestyle comes in different flavors.
There are voyagers in 26’ sailboats with sun-heated hot water for showers. There are voyagers in 46' boats that have all the comforts of
home. Both of these, and everything in between, is a perfectly valid way to live on a boat. There are also live aboards that never move, with
their boat sitting in the same marina year after year, and cruisers who circumnavigate. There are also live aboards that never voyage on the
ocean, and instead cruise the sheltered and protected waters of the ICW, and around the rivers and lakes of America's Great Loop.
I would also argue that these, and everything in between are perfectly acceptable lifestyles. We do after all have our own.
My only point in this is that when someone says “Does it make sense to sell the house and buy a boat?” The answer in my mind, is
“Sure!” But now tell me what boat, and what you plan on doing with it, and then I can give you some clues as to the kinds of things you
should be thinking about.
Success in retiring on a boat really comes down to thinking through what boat to buy. First, you must visualize what your typical retirement
year looks like. Where do you see your self going? What do you see your self doing? Are you on a deserted island in the Caribbean? Are
you at a Tiki Bar in Barbados? Or, are you cruising down the Mississippi or up the ICW in search of a wonderful looking catfish or crab
shack to have lunch?
The point I want to make here is that: For sure, it would be a very expensive, and horrible mistake, to retire on a boat only to decide that
you don’t like it. Or that you bought the wrong kind of boat to take you where you really want to go. These kind of mistakes are really
expensive, and many first time cruisers make this mistake. They sell everything to buy a boat, without really knowing or understanding what
they are buying.
That’s the main reason why you find so many great used boats with more years on them than miles under their keel. It doesn’t mean
their owners made the wrong decision to live on a boat - what it means (in most of these cases) is that they selected the wrong boat!
What happened was they got caught up in the dream, and really didn’t think through the issues of both retirement life, and a boating
Yes! Certainly there are people who aren’t cut out for living on a boat, cruising or not - retired or not. However, one thing is for sure...
Of all those surveyed, 99% of the ones that are doing it, say they wouldn't change their live aboard lifestyle for any mansion on the hill. Now
you know there has to be a good reason for that!
|Where you can go on your boat.
|Is it safe? Don't you ever get scared? What about hurricanes? Pirates?
I celebrated my 70th birthday on my 8th voyage around America's Great Loop.
I've been cruising the Loop full time for the past 24 years. I'm no risk taker!
It is my favorite. It is an absolutely safe, and wonderful
5,600 (plus) mile voyage. It waterway that not only takes you
around the eastern portion of North America, it is an 'epic'
boating adventure that is 1,500 miles longer than the Nile River.
You simply won't believe all the places you can go without
ever loosing sight of land, much less are you ever more than a
stones throw from it.
Based on information gathered from captainjohn.org
Newsletter subscribers; we have good reasons to believe well
over 600 boaters a year are now making this voyage. That
number is pretty much confirmed by the US Army Corp of
Engineers that track "one way" traffic through the Chicago
Canal Locks. So it's safe (I think) to say that over 600 boaters a
year are cruising America's Great Loop and most of our
Newsletter subscribers are retired Baby Boomers who are
making this voyage, or boaters planning on doing it as soon as
they retire. Quite a few in fact have made this voyage more
If you are dreaming or planning of cruising the Caribbean, and
you are new to voyaging off shore - this is the most popular cruising
grounds for boaters from all around the world. You will love it!
However, if you are new to living aboard and cruising - my
strongest recommendation is to cruise America's Great Loop first!
Not only is the Great Loop an amazing 'epic' boating adventure, it
is also a first class 'training ground' for those novice boaters thinking
and dreaming of cruising the Caribbean and on around in the world.
The Great Loop offers most every kind of boating experience one
will ever experience and it does so in a safe (close to home)
The Caribbean is not only 'Red Sails in the Sunset', it is cruising
through Paradise. However, 500 miles out in the ocean, there is no
room for mistakes and turning back can be an awful long and
miserable journey if you don't like it.
Cruise the Great Loop first for the experience. If you love it (and I
know you will), you will love cruising the Caribbean!
If sailing off to Paradise across the Gulf Stream and BIG waters is not your cup of tea, America's Great Loop should be in your
I'm a born "wanderer". I can't sit still in my boat for very long. When I get to one horizon, I find another. Along the way, I stay where the local
natives are friendly and the weather suits me. When I've seen all I can see, I pick up my anchor and move on.
For sure, cruising and living on a boat is NOT for everyone. If you like to travel, and love the water, and you are tired of mowing the lawn,
raking leaves, shoveling snow, and paying all the expenses and taxes of living in a big house on land - maybe, just maybe, this could be the life
and lifestyle for you.
|© 2000 - All Rights Reserved
PONTOON HOUSEBOATS . . .
These vessels are unbeatable when it
comes to living space & comfort, that's why
they call them 'houseboats'.
For those that want to live on the water on
a well protected lake or Inland river, they
make wonderful permanent & vacation homes.
For those that want to cruise long
distance, the voyage is limited to protected
Pontoon houseboats are especially
vulnerable to rough waters. Cruising the
Great Loop in one of these vessels would
NOT be safe.
Disadvantages are - they are built for well
protected lakes and calm inland Rivers.
These boats are NOT safe for cruising many
of the ICW Bays, Sounds, Gulf or Coastal
waters. Heading out into the open ocean
could result in loss of your vessel. Certainly a
pontoon houseboat is NOT recommended for
cruising America's Great Loop.
MONO HULL HOUSEBOATS. . .
Unlike pontoons, these vessels can be
used on rougher waters. You will see several
on the Intracoastal Waterways. Still however,
they were never built for the wide open
ocean and even some Bays, Sounds, and
even big Rivers can make for a terrifying ride
when the wind & waves kick up.
While some have been extremely daring in
these vessels, they are also NOT built or
recommended for a trip out in the ocean.
Great for living aboard and spending
weekends on the water, but not good for long
distance cruising that involves spending time
cruising or crossing big or rough waters and
the open ocean.
THE SAILBOAT . . .
The right live aboard sailboat is the
utimate 'go anywhere' boat. This vessel
cannot be beat when it comes to fuel
economy or going anywhere.
Advantages include you can go
around the world if you wish. When
sailing the wind is free. When motoring,
they will still beat the socks off anything
that floats when it comes to fuel economy.
The only disadvantage is that some
have very deep drafts that limit shore
access. Most cruisers have a dinghy for
Accommodations are more compact
than that of a Trawler, but a 36' to 46'
sailboat offers plenty of comfort for a
cruising couple. Several couples have
cruised around the world or all around in
it, in sailboats as small as 26' - but that's
really cramped quarters - if you ask me.
Sailboats are very popular for cruising
the Caribbean as well as America's Great
Loop. Even "motored around" the entire
Loop, they will be the most economical
vessel on the water.
The larger 32' plus sailboats have
great inside cabin space.
THE TRAWLER . . .
The Trawler is absolutely the best live
aboard size pleasure powerboat on the
water. The right type of Trawler would
make a great 'go almost anywhere' boat.
You can cruise America's Great Loop,
voyage out to the Bahamas and into the
Caribbean, assuming you have one
economical enough and fitted out with
plenty of 'fuel range' and fresh water.
These vessels offer the best livable
space for their size. They are without
doubt a great 'couples' cruising boat.
A "true" trawler - that is one with a
"full-displacement" hull and small single
engine and they are second only to a
sailboat when it comes to fuel economy.
A "Fast or Swift" Trawler offers about
a 50% increase in speed (8 to 12 knots),
but that speed comes at a 200%
increase in fuel. For real long voyages
and the very best fuel economy, a
"True" Trawler is highly recommended
for cruising couples. They offer inside
and outside helm stations and open
roomy cabins with good stand up
|Boats for long distance cruising & living aboard.
TUG BOATS . . .
Pleasure Tug Boats are much like Trawlers
when it comes to fuel economy. With an inside
helm station, cruising in bad weather is not a
problem and many have the option of an
outside upper helm station Fly bridge.
Ranger Tugs (pictured above) offer an
economical 'trailerable' version that is also very
suitable for long distance cruising.
Tug boats have full displacement hulls and
come with smaller single engines which
makes for smart economical cruising. They
also have all the comforts of home (well
almost), and make great cruising boats for both
singles and couples.
CATAMARANS . . .
Power or Sail - many boaters love them, many
boaters don't. I happen to be one that does. They
are great boats, have minimum draft, and are very
suitable for Looping as well as cruising the
Advantages - smooth ride and economy.
Disadvantages - Most Marinas now charge
twice as much because of their wide beams -
some take up two slips in a Marina.
Sail or power they are 'go anywhere' boats
depending on fuel range.
For sailing, the catamaran offers a steady
speedier pace with no healing, which makes for a
very comfortable voyage. A Catamaran is a
fantastic choice for families and two couples
I love it. I've been doing it for 24
years. It has to be the most stress free,
peaceful lifestyle imaginable. Seriously, if I
was any more laid back - I'd have to be
I have no property taxes, school taxes,
sewer taxes, water taxes, mud tax, utility
taxes, and no taxes at all except on my
miserly income and retail sales tax.
My boat is not only comfortable, it will take
me anywhere in the world I want or need to
go. I live in air conditioned comfort, and I
have a cell phone, TV, Stereo, Microwave,
a full (kitchen) galley with double sink, two
small refrigerators, and a (bathroom) head,
with enclosed shower.
I wake up to fresh brewed morning coffee,
fix breakfast, go fishing, and take a shower
while listening to my favorite home town
radio station or local news. After that...
Since I have no yard to mow, leaves to
rake, or gutters to clean... The rest of my
day is free to do what I want.
If I don't like my new neighbors, I pick up
my anchor and move on down the
waterway. If my next destination offers
something special, I may stay awhile.
Now. . . How much more convincing
do you need?