“More fun than fuel” – Captain John

Is there any looper out there who has not read at least some of Captain John’s many Great Loop webpages?

He has had a website almost as long as there has been an internet!

His first loop was in 1971. He’s owned boats his entire adult life.

Captain John has been looping and living on a boat since he retired in 1995. With 10+ loops under his belt, he has plenty of opinions and views on various aspects of cruising the Great Loop, including the financial aspect.

He lets us in on his financial point of view. And since his point of view is formed by several well documented years of experience, I’m going to take the liberty of calling this a “financial backstory”.

Number 1 financial viewpoint. Be fiscally responsible.

Don’t push the limit, including your budget. In no way does he suggest anyone attempt this voyage without having the income or money to complete it successfully. However, he is equally clear that you don’t need to be wealthy to have a successful trip.

How is that? Don’t try it without enough income or money, but you don’t need to be rich?  He himself has been cruising for a long time on his retirement income.  He has written several best-selling books, but apparently donates the profits to charity, so it is his retirement income and savings which fund the cruise.

Fortunately, his books and website are chock full of recommendations on how to make the kind of choices that make the trip affordable.

For instance, the type of boat you buy really sets the cost for the rest of the trip.

There are two (yes 2) price tags…One is your purchase price. The other is your cost of cruising.


Certain types of boats cost more to operate, way more.

Captain John is strongly in the camp of buying a fuel-efficient boat. His second loop was in a brand-new, twin-engine live-aboard sized vessel. He was unpleasantly surprised to find it took 5 x the amount of fuel he had planned on and budgeted for! Yikes!

He lost a lot of money on that boat, both in the operation of it and in selling it fast to get out from under it.

That experience gave birth to his signature tagline, “More fun than fuel”. He’d rather run a fuel-efficient boat and use his cruising kitty on fun activities and good food rather than just fuel.

One year, Captain John and his son decided to see “how low can you go” cost-wise when buying a boat and doing a loop. They purchased a $3000, 27 ft sailboat and did the entire loop.

Two adult men. On a 27 ft sailboat. Not the most comfortable of situations, but it was an experiment and they did it.  They haven’t repeated it, but they did it once. The fuel cost for that year was $1600.

They did it to show that it isn’t necessary to have an expensive boat and a fortune in the bank to do the Great Loop.

He makes an interesting point if you are considering buying a boat just to do the loop and then sell it.

Many Loopers purchase a good used vessel knowing that they are going to sell it after completing the Loop. The only suggestion we make on this is, this might be the best time to work with a good experienced boat broker. Let them know of your intention to buy, cruise the Loop and sell. We know several instances where the “Great Loop Veteran” boat was sold for as much or more (in some cases) than the Looper originally paid for it. Most likely, some improvements were made to the boat. Still, this is a great option.


I’ll leave you with a couple of Captain John quotes which emphasize his stance of buying a safe, used, modest boat.

“If your dream is cruising America’s Great Loop, don’t let your dream boat be your dream buster.”

“Once I realized my dream was “the voyage” and not “the boat”. My dream became an instantly affordable reality.”


Great Loop Financial Model

  • Buy a modest, fuel efficient boat
  • Use retirement income and savings to cruise
  • Use the loop to share knowledge and make the world a better place
  • Lather, rinse, repeat

Captain John’s newest book, The Looper’s Companion Guide: Cruising America’s Great Loop, is available on Amazon.

2 Replies to ““More fun than fuel” – Captain John”

  1. I have two of Captain John’s books. I have read, and re-read “America’s Great Loop and Beyond” several times. Through this book I learned about the FABULOUS whale watching in the area of the Saguenay Fjord and the St. Lawrence River. Our Great Loop trip will definitely include this side trip! Thank you Captain John!

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