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Great Loop Solo Loopers Ambassadors
No crew? No problem! You absolutely CAN complete the Great Loop solo, regardless of the size of the boat. Let these Loopers give you the information and inspiration you need to get cruising.

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Herb Seaton
Herb Seaton
Herb completed his loop aboard Phantom, his 53' Trader Powerboat. Because he planned to live on the boat full-time, he wanted something a little bigger that would be comfortable and be equipped with everything on his wish list.

When he purchased Phantom, he had never heard of the Great Loop! His nephew-in-law told him about it and after doing some research, Herb joined AGLCA and signed up to be a Harbor Host. This way, he was able to meet several Loopers, make friends and ask questions before he took on the adventure for himself.

While his original intention had been to have other people accompany him on his Great Loop, as the time grew nearer, scheduling conflicts meant no one was able to go. He had company at the beginning of his journey, but after leaving the boat in NY for a week to go home for his brother's 90th birthday party, he couldn't find anyone who was able to go along. Herb was not about to miss out on the adventure of a lifetime, so he decided to continue on alone. 

"It was not going to be something I couldn't handle by myself." He added, "some people thought I wouldn't go alone. I had to show people the Great Loop is doable by someone in a big boat by themselves, so they can do it with help in a 35-40' boat."

While he enjoyed the solitude, there are certainly challenges of Single-Hand that require a bit of planning. It's nice to have another set of eyes on the water around you, another set of hands to assist in docking and taking photos.

"The one thing I think I missed the most is I couldn't take a lot of photos."

He has outfitted Phantom with a stern thruster to go with the bow thruster, along with a wireless control for each. He also has a wireless control for his autopilot, enabling him more freedom to do other things, but retain control. 

"There's every opportunity to STOP and ENJOY."

 
 








Bob Frederick
I had planned on doing the loop for several years, but like most loopers, I had to wait until retirement to do it. I didn’t want to wait TOO long, figuring that at age 68 I was able to do it, but if I waited very long, I might NOT be able to.

 

I planned on doing the loop in one lengthy voyage. I knew I would be single-handing, so I determined that a boat around 35 feet was the maximum length to comfortably handle. My 80 lb dog would be with me, so I needed enough space for the two of us; thus I figured that something around 35 feet would be the minimum length. I decided on a Mainship 34-1….single diesel, upper and lower helms, and a cockpit for boarding ease. The one I bought also had a transom door (mandatory for getting the dog onto the swim platform to board the dinghy), generator and air conditioning, and a bow thruster for those tight spots getting alongside a lock or dock.

 

I ended up spending 4 years of off-and-on cruising, mainly due to mechanical problems with an older boat (mostly transmission issues, including it being an old design that had inherent weaknesses). El Nido turned out to be a good compromise of size and cruising economy (other than mechanics, that is).

 

I had some trepidation initially. I had experience with boats that size, but only in rivers/bays. Open water was new to me, as were locks. The first lock I encountered was Federal Lock One, on the Hudson River. I called and told the lockmaster that I was single engine, single-handing, and had never seen a lock before. He assured me it was no big deal, and he was correct. From then on, locks didn’t phase me at all.

 

The first year I went from Hampton, VA to Brewerton, NY. I elected to do the entire Erie Canal, since I had 4 inches of overhead clearance. The second year I did the “Triangle Loop”, and spent the winter in Brewerton again. The third year I made it to Indiantown, FL, where I put the boat on the hard for hurricane season. And finally, in 2016, I went “gold” in Hampton, just in time for the rendezvous.

 

Other than the mechanical problems, the loop was a breeze. The only 2 times I experienced difficulty handling the boat were wind related. Once I had a strong wind blowing off the town wall, and by the time I could get from the helm to the side of the cockpit where the lines were, I got blown too far away. After 3 tries, a helpful passerby grabbed the midship line and made me fast. The second time was in a down lock with a good tailwind. The bow thruster was inoperative, and as I turned to align with the lock wall the wind spun me around 180 degrees. A lockmaster grabbed the bow line and between us got secured.

 

I spent the vast majority of nights tied up. It was much easier getting the dog to shore that way, plus, in some anchorages, there was no readily available landing spot for him. Frankly, I was more comfortable not having to worry about dragging an anchor, too.  Another factor is that the loop is a great social experience, and if you anchor out a lot, you miss the camaraderie, as well as exploring the many small towns along the way. The trip is not so much about sailing as it is exploring.

 

Doing the loop solo is not a problem. You might miss some underway companionship (I knew Duncan was not much of a conversationalist), but you also don’t have to check out EVERY gift shop in every town.

 

Just do it.





















Curtis Stokes and Associates
Green Turtle Bay
Knot 10