Buy a Boat, Sell the Boat, Start a Movement – Stob

[Book Review. This is the book that first piqued our interest in the Great Loop. Here’s a review through a “financial backstory” lens. ]

Honey, Let’s Get a Boat by Ron and Eva Stob is the book that really started it all. The Stobs travelled the loop in 1994 and published a book about it 1999. They went on to form the “America’s Great Loop Cruiser’s Association”, the AGLCA, which continues today.

The Story

The Stobs were in their fifties when they were ready for a break in their careers, a sabbatical, if you will.

They had chartered a boat on the Canadian Trent Severn waterway a few years earlier. While there, they met a boat that had come up from the Gulf of Mexico through the rivers.

It blew their minds that it was even a possibility (“How did you get from there to here???”) and it planted a seed. Later, when they heard about the protected Intracoastal Waterway on the US east coast, they started connecting the dots and the idea became a dream and then a plan. They spent a couple of years taking boating classes and getting prepared.

To pay for the trip and boat, the Stobs used savings and home equity. The plan, from the beginning, was to take a year to do the loop and then sell the boat.

“For us it was not prudent to accept the notion of losing the money we had invested in our boat, even though it did not represent our entire life savings. We intended to buy right, improve the boat while we owned it…and break even when we sold it”

Honey, Let’s Get a Boat, pg 265

They had rental properties that provided an income stream during the year. Ron was a travel writer, so he saw the trip as an opportunity for more content and some income.

The Stobs got what they thought was a good deal on a good boat. Unfortunately, it ran into some major repair bills just a few days into the trip. As they saw the bills mounting, they considered abandoning the trip, but were able to make it work. And aren’t we glad they did!

When the trip was done, they were, as Ron describes it, “in a financial deficit situation”. Eva went back to her job in a hospital lab and Ron put his writing skills to use. They got creative. They created a publishing company to publish their book (books, actually) when no other publishers would pick them up. There was no Amazon, so they got into internet marketing when the internet was still new.

In the course of selling their books at a boat show, they started the AGLCA and it has truly become a movement!

  • Great Loop Financial Model:
  • Buy a boat using savings and home equity
  • Do the loop
  • Passive income (rentals), work while looping (travel writing)
  • Sell the boat, replenish savings, pay back home equity
  • Go back to work, if still of working age

Great Loop Radio interview with Ron and Eva Stob about their trip and the founding of the AGLCA. August 2019