Sailing the Great Loop for Free – The Wayward Travelers – Poulter

Sailing the Great Loop for free? Now that’s an eye-catching idea! What? How?

Earlier this summer, some gorgeous photos started appearing on the Great Loop Facebook page, with very encouraging, emotive posts.

I thought I saw something about looping for free, but then thought I must have imagined it when I didn’t see any more about that on her posts. But no. It’s a real thing.

Roan and Karrie Poulter have a goal of looping with a net-net cost of zero. If the used boat market holds, I think they can do it. They have a history of coming out on the right side of impossible adventures. At the very least, they provide a great example that you don’t have to be rich to do the loop.

Interrupted Plans

They were not even supposed to be on the loop this year. They have a five-year plan of five great adventures, the Great Loop being one. A couple years ago Roan and their high-school graduate son took a motorcycle trip from the Atlantic to the Pacific, sticking as much as possible to unpaved roads! Karrie and their daughter followed in their custom (by Roan) van-turned-camper as support. When the kids left for college, Roan and Karrie drove the van to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska and headed south for an epic trip from the Arctic Circle to the tip of Argentina. They got as far as central Mexico when covid locked everything down.

Enter, The Boat

Regrouping, they bought an older, on-the-hard but sound 30’ Gemini sailing catamaran in Florida for $9,500. Their YouTube channel “The Wayward Travelers” chronicles the sweat equity (and in the Florida summer it really is SWEAT equity) and improvements they made to get the boat sea-worthy and ready for the Great Loop. They put about $10,000 into the boat, including new standing and running rigging.

Roan has some crazy good remodeling skills from a career in construction and figures the boat could sell for $50K-$60K in its current condition. So, if they have ~$20K into the boat and can get $50K+ when they sell, that leaves ~$30K for the cruising kitty! The Gemini is powered by an outboard motor and they sail when possible, so the fuel piece should be exceedingly reasonable.

Real life costs

Their 1st quarter budget video shows them spending less than $2K per month, including food and everything. Like I said, I think they have a very good possibility of achieving their net-net zero goal.

Going back to pre-loop days, their post Eight Years from Broke to Early Retirement details a classic FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) story. They were caught by the great recession with a job loss, took a lower paying job, sold their toys, invested in a rough triplex at the bottom of the housing market, rented it for a few years and sold for a profit, carrying the note.

They bought a rough property in Florida, remodeled it, ran a B&B for a few years, and sold it also on a seller-financed note which provides monthly cash flow. Sometime during of all this they took a year-long trip around the USA in an RV with their kids and later bought a very cheap monohull, fixed it up and learned to sail.

Like I said, they have a history of coming out on the right side of impossible adventures.

I wish them all the best in this Great Loop adventure!