Monday, November 8, 2010

GREAT LOOP: Couple completes 6,889-mile cruise

Tom and Diann Lanum stand on the swim platform with the American Great Loop Cruising Association burgee at Grafton Marina in Illinois. They had just “crossed their wake,” which is how they describe completing the 6,889-mile Great Loop down the inland waterways, around the Gulf Coast, up the East Coast and back.

After cruising more than 6,889 miles and spending 360 days on their boat since Sept. 12, 2009, Tom and Diann Lanum are back on home turf.
The couple from Hampton, Ill., were honored by their friends and family at a reception after their return at the end of September at the Hampton Heritage Center.
They had spent years planning for the trip they now describe as "one of the most fantastic experiences of a lifetime."
They say it is difficult to put into a few words the enjoyment they shared together on an incredible voyage.
To travel the Great Loop, they went down rivers through the middle of the country to Mobile Bay, over to Florida and down to Marathon, Fla., where they spent six weeks.
Then they went around the Keys and up the East Coast to New York, farther north to Montreal, across the Trent Severn Waterway to Lake Huron, then down Lake Michigan and the Illinois River. They officially crossed their wake in Grafton, Ill., where the Illinois flows into the Mississippi.
Tom's meticulous records show they consumed 2,842 gallons of diesel fuel at an average price of $2.93 a gallon. He notes the very high fuel prices in Canada bumped up the average.
They put 888.6 hours on the engines; spent 162 days underway; traveled an average of 42.7 miles on those days at 7.75 mph for a daily traveling time of 5.49 hours.
They spent 50 nights at anchor or at a free dock and 310 nights in a paid slip in a marina at an average price of $1.05 a foot.
They visited 21 states and transited 130 locks. To do all this, they needed paper charts that make a stack about 24 inches high. They also added about $400 of new electronic charts.
While picking out favorite this and that is difficult for them, they did single out some highlights.
One was meeting fellow travelers along the way. "Our travels introduced us to so many interesting, fun, good quality people whose friendships we will cherish forever," Tom says.
For Diann, the times dolphins traveled and frolicked alongside their boat was a thrill. They say their best sunsets were probably in Marathon and their favorite anchorage was in the North Channel on Lake Huron.
If they had to pick places they found memorable, they would mention Kentucky Lake; Port St. Joe, Fla.; St. Augustine; the Dismal Swamp in Virginia; the Thousand Islands along the St. Lawrence River; Montreal; Georgian Bay and the coast along the state of Michigan.
They had very few boat problems. Their refrigerator gave out in Florida, and Tom had to replace some parts and wiring in the upper deck crane in North Carolina.
Underwater mishaps included hitting a rock on the Mississippi after their first night at anchor, then bending a shaft in North Carolina in very shallow water.
But those situations are common events for Loopers, and Tom says that overall, they had the perfect boat for them - a 39-foot, 1991 Ocean Alexander Sundeck dubbed Noah Genda ("no agenda," get it?) - and it performed beautifully.
The one thing they did miss was an unending supply of hot water and a shower with some elbow room. Other than that, they didn't want for anything, found none of the routine boat maintenance tasks burdensome and had no cravings they couldn't satisfy. In fact, one of Tom's joys was sampling a great number of ice cream parlors.
From a daily task standpoint, they quickly learned watching the weather was job one. Where that became most intense and anxiety-producing was while they waited five days for a good weather window to make what turned out to be a rough, 21-hour crossing of the Gulf of Mexico to Tarpon Springs, Fla.
For now, the boat has been winterized and put ashore for the winter while the Lanums catch up on some land-related tasks and visit with friends and family. But they learned they love the cruising lifestyle, so are starting to look ahead to a long river cruise north next summer and a possible future return to Florida for the winter on the boat.
They figure they can do all that because when they totaled all their expenses, their first year-long cruising adventure actually came in under budget.


By: Integrity on November 8th, 2010, 6:09 pm
Caution! Long post!

I posted a while back that I would be happy to share some detailed costs for our Loop. Requests for that data have been numerous, so I thought it would be helpful to just blurt it out for all to see....

Some good comments have already been made, but below is actual data.

Some total costs by category that we spent on our Loop:

First some facts and considerations: We did the Loop from April, 2005, to April, 2006, traveling 7300 statute miles (includes about 3-4 weeks on side trips up the Tennessee and St. Johns rivers). We were in a Monk 36 (single Cummins 220 turbo diesel), burning just under 2 gph at about 7 mph (3.5 mpg). We spent about 69% of the nights in a marina, and the rest of the time at anchor or on a free dock or lock wall. We had intended the reverse, 30% in marinas and the rest on the hook or free wall. However, the lure of the nice towns and Looper friends staying in the marinas was too much temptation. Also, our dinghy was a b*tch to lower and raise, so that was discouraging of anchorages.

What we spent:

Groceries -- $4,469 (you would spend this whether on the Loop or at home)

Moorings -- $12,295

Gifts, entertainment, meals ashore -- $5,172

Miscellaneous supplies -- $2,507 (stuff like soap, TP, bucket, postage)

Booze/beer -- $2,206 (we are heavy boozers)

Fuel/gas -- $4,943 (avg. cost per gallon: $2.17)

Repairs/maintenance -- $2,072 (oil changes, bottom check, etc -- nothing major)

Boat "stuff" -- $2,231

Charts -- $1,448 (bought most used from finishing Looper)

Rental cars & Trips home -- $1,637

Grand total: $39,417

Of course, none of this includes the cost of ownership -- loan payment, home dock rent, insurance, etc., because we figured we would spend that even if we didn't go on the Loop.

If we had anchored versus stay in a marina as much as half the time (instead of our actual of 69%), we would have saved some $3,400. Much of what we spend would have been spent anyway -- booze, groceries, gifts, meals and entertainment -- so it is hard to count that so fully. We had a house sitter who took care of the house as a "quid pro quo" so those costs went away. Also, you have to remember we didn't drive our cars, cut our grass, etc., so there were some savings there, too.

I think if you wanted to save money, and if you didn't count what you would spend anyway, you could budget about $15,000 less than what we spent using a similar boat.

I hope this is helpful. Please feel free to ask any questions at all. I'll be happy to answer all I can.

Smooth seas,

Bill Donovan

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