Home Boat Projects

The Great Loop: What’s Next for Technomadia

It was around 10 years ago that Chris and I were chatting online in the weeks leading up to our first in-person meeting on October 18th, 2006.

Our first date - solar powered working with a million dollar view. The perfect introduction to technomadism!

Our first date – solar powered working with a million dollar view. The perfect introduction to technomadism!

During those increasingly deep initial conversations, we were coming to realize that we were attracted to each other for many reasons – and an unquenchable thirst for travel was high amongst them.

He was already living on the road solo, and I was splitting my time between working from home and working remotely as I pursued increasing amounts of personal travel.

We both had nomadic souls – and one of our shared dreams we talked about even before we first met was our ambitions of one day living on the water.

We actually still have the old chat logs from Sept 22nd, 2006:

Chris: I need to make sure I get some international vagabonding in.
Cherie: For sure!
Chris: I had a dream that I built a raft under my trailer and I was sailing it to Africa….
Cherie: ooo.. sailing on the open seas.
Chris: (Very much craving some on-water time….)
Cherie: One of my nomadic cravings is to spend a good bit of time living on a sailboat and sailing around.
Chris: Ditto.
Cherie: I think I should try getting some sleep. Been delightful chatting with you 🙂 And very much looking forward to our time together in a few weeks.
Chris: I am rarely so excited about something so far in advance. 🙂  But I am thinking we will click quiet well.
Cherie: Trying not to get expectations too high as to avoid disappointment. But I have strong suspicions we’ll at the very least get along quite well 😉
Chris: Indeed. 🙂

That first date obviously went well. Extremely well.

Just a few months later we had merged our lives and I had joined Chris in living on the road in his tiny little trailer.

But our dreams of other forms of nomadism were always present for us. We loved RVing – but at our core we were nomads, not just RVers.

We went to the Miami International Boat Show in 2010 to start hunting for a home on the water.

We went to the Miami International Boat Show in 2010 to start hunting for a home on the water.

Long time readers may even remember back in early 2010 we actually started a serious exploration into switching to sailing. We attended the Miami International Boat show, and we started looking at catamarans for sale.

We were itching for a change, but weren’t quite sure WHAT change was calling us next – so we put the boat hunt on the back burner.

Later that year, we had the opportunity to park our increasing small feeling Oliver Travel Trailer to spend the winter subletting a little cottage on the tropical island of St. John in the US Virgin Islands.

It was glorious, and just the reset we needed.

Island life

Island life

Island life gave us the opportunity to hang out with a cruising community, to go sailing with new friends we made, and we came back confident we weren’t ready for open water sailing just yet.

Our careers at the time simply were not compatible with taking on that big of a challenge, especially considering our need for absolute connectivity during weekdays to support our mission critical clients.

Instead we came back to the mainland re-ignited to continue RVing – but to change it up by seeking out a larger and more comfortable home on wheels.

We had some sailing adventures in the USVI, but came back knowing this wasn't our time yet.

We had some sailing adventures in the USVI, but came back knowing this wasn’t our time yet.

That quest led to the vintage bus we call home today.

But Zephyr was always intended to be our land home, a base in which to pursue other adventures from.

We’ve enjoyed several multi-week non-RV adventure here and there. But not to the scale we originally thought. RV life is incredibly comfortable and easy for us.

But we want a new challenge, a new adventure.

This past spring, we made the decision – it’s time to get on the water.

For the quick video version of the upcoming adventure:

 

And the adventure calling us next is…

The Great Loop

The classic Great Loop route.

The classic Great Loop route – not including the many potential side-trips. Courtesy of: AGCLA.

The America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association (AGLCA) describes the Great Loop this way:

“The Great Loop is the continuous waterway that encompasses the eastern portion of North America including the Atlantic and Gulf Intracoastal Waterways, the Great Lakes, the Canadian Heritage Canals, and the inland rivers of America’s heartland.”

According to Wikipedia, the Great Loop is:

“The circumnavigation of Eastern North America by water is known as the Great Loop. Also referred to as America’s Great Loop and the Great Circle Route, the trip varies from 5,000 to 7,500 miles depending on route options and detours taken. The boats used range from personal watercraft to 60-foot-long yachts. Both sailboats and powerboats travel the loop, but the most common boats are 34–45-foot recreational trawlers. The main factors that govern the size of the boats are the limited draft (5 ft) in some locations on the loop and the height of one bridge (19 ft) in Chicago.”

The Great Loop is an epic trip. But according to the AGLCA, less than 100 boats a year complete it.

Compared to other grand adventures like hiking the Appalachian Trail (~ 900 a year completed it) or climbing Mt. Everest (~ 800 year attempt it), that’s a relatively small number.

Especially for an expedition that has an extremely high exploration factor, and a relatively low risk factor.

And it strikes a deep chord in both of us.

So why the Great Loop?

This adventure has been on our radar for a long while. Even way back when we were catamaran shopping in 2010, a prime goal was to find a boat that would be able to tackle the Loop before heading out towards bluer waters.

We’ve chosen this as our next adventure for these reasons:

  • Like RVing, most Loopers seem to be retirees. But this is also an obtainable adventure for folks like us who can work remotely. We’ll have similar challenges as we do in RVing as far as managing connectivity and balancing work, life & travel.
  • We feel it’s safer than blue water or even coastal cruising, as we’ll (almost) always be within sight of land.
  • It keeps us close to friends & family, with easy access back ‘home’ if we need it.
  • We feel it’s different enough from RVing to be a new challenge (exciting!), but similar enough to have familiar elements (safe!). Heck, many of the stops we make in our RV now are already along the Loop – and we already have this ‘living in a small space together’ thing down.
  • It’s something Kiki can join us for, and she’s already shopping for a kitty life jacket and Captain’s hat.
  • Career wise, it makes sense. Loopers face similar connectivity challenges as North American RVers. This will allow us to keep deeply focused on the topics we cover over at RVMobileInternet.com – cellular, Wi-Fi, signal enhancing and satellite. All the while getting us more familiar with marine challenges & equipment – thus expanding our knowledge.

The Intentions

Attending the Newport Boat Show.

Attending the Newport Boat Show.

We kicked off our official start to our boat hunt last month when we attended the Newport Boat Show in Rhode Island (our 50th state!). We also attended a Great Loop Seminar, and got to hang out with a bunch of Loopers to pick their brains. (Gotta say, it’s nice being on the other side of the brain picking for a change!)

We’ve spent the time since then figuring out what we want in our ideal Loop boat, and we’ve just started touring a few contenders as we refine our focus.

We’re working with a buyer’s broker, and are meeting up with members of their team along our route to Florida to look at boats to continue learning and narrow down our preferences.

Introduction to the Great Loop Seminar.

Introduction to the Great Loop Seminar.

We’ll also be attending some organized rendezvouses along the way (seems kinda like the boating equivalent of an RV rally), and will hopefully have the opportunity to cross paths with more Loopers and other live-aboard boaters too.

Our intention is to get to Florida within the next month for holidays with family (routing coastal for optimal boat shopping), and to then get serious about finding the right boat for us.

We’d love to have our boat and be aboard by Spring to start (literally) learning the ropes.

The Boat

Boat shopping!

Boat shopping!

While the Loop can be done in a sailboat, and many do – it’s not the most ideal.

Because of so many fixed bridges along the route, you would spend a good portion of the time with the mast stepped down – missing out on a lot of great sailing opportunities. And because you’re in rivers and canals a lot of the route, you end up motoring most of the way regardless.

So the sailing dreams will stay on hold, and we will be getting a motorized boat of some sort.

We’re currently leaning towards a 36-45′ trawler or motor yacht.

 

Update: We shared our boat hunt parameters 

The Pace

The bus will remain our winter home base,

The bus will remain our winter home base,

Many Loopers set out to do the Great Loop over the course of a year – following the seasons. But there’s no right way to do the Loop – it’s really more of a choose-your-own-adventure sort of thing.

We contemplated just parking the bus, buying a boat we could be minimally comfortable with for a year, doing the Loop all at once, and then selling the boat to return to RVing.

But we ultimately decided not to push ourselves. There’s so much awesome along the route, that we don’t want to rush it. Some might notice we’ve been hitting many spots along the Loop route by RV this summer (yes, intentional) and we’re so charmed we know we want to take our time.

If there’s anything that we’ve learned over our 10 years on the road is that we can’t see it all. We don’t like keeping schedules and commitments.

We're not keen on trying to cram lots of miles into a year. (2009 travels)

We’re not keen on trying to cram lots of miles into a year. (2009 travels)

The 6,000 miles of the Loop is also about our preferred pace for RVing in a year. But you move a LOT slower on water (and it costs a lot more per mile!) making the distance more equivalent to 25,000+ miles on land. And that’s just too much for a year for us!

We’re well past the ‘must see it all in a year’ phase of our nomadic lifestyle.

We want a slower leisurely pace. That spreads out the fuel costs and increases the time we can spend in each segment of the Loop.

So, we’re starting out intending to spend at least 3 years splitting our time between the Loop and RVing. Boating will become mainly our spring/summer home (putting the boat ‘on the hard’ in storage once it gets too cold) and we will continue RVing in fall/winter in warmer climates.

This will allow us to take side trips along the Loop, such as exploring Lake Champlain.

And it allows us to spread out the much higher costs of boating balanced with lower cost RVing time.

The Obvious Questions

What about the Airship?!!?

The Zeppelin Eureka at sunset.

The Zeppelin Eureka at sunset.

Back in April we announced plans to move into a flying RV.

But unfortunately an affordable used Zeppelin has proven to be very hard to find.

Hopefully we will have a much easier time finding a boat suitable to tackle the Great Loop in.

(You did notice the date of that post, right?)

Are you getting rid of the bus?

No. Absolutely not.

We LOVE our bus. We’ve put a lot of effort recently into renovations and maintenance to make Zephyr an even more super awesome home on wheels. We love the RVing lifestyle, and we’re not ready to give it up or switch away from it.

We look at this as getting a second home – and we’ll still consider Zephyr our primary residence.

You know The Wynns and Our Odyssey beat you to the whole ‘Switch from RVing to Boating thing’ right?

There’s a reason we connected with these two other couples the first moments we met in person.

It wasn’t just because we were RVers pursuing our dreams – but because we all shared a core trait of wanderlust and a nomadic spirit. None of our adventures have ever been confined to just one style of travel, and we all had intentions of shaking it up. We’ve talked about our boat dreams for years.

Visiting Sean & Louise and their boat Vector.

Visiting Sean & Louise and their boat Vector.

Sean & Louise (Our Odyssey) switched to trawler life nearly 4 years ago and recently sold their awesome bus conversion (and they were instrumental in inspiring us to getting a bus too). While they are currently exploring inland waterways, they sought out a boat specifically built to cross oceans.

Nikki & Jason (Gone With The Wynns)  just earlier this year switched from RVing to a sailing lifestyle, with intentions of Caribbean cruising and blue water adventures around the world.

Our Great Loop inland adventures are as unique to us as theirs are to them.

No one is copying anyone here. This isn’t a race of who gets there first.

We’re in touch with them both – and deeply value the learned experiences they’ve been able to share with us about the boat buying and transition process.

And of course, none of us are alone in being drawn to both boating and RVing. With so many traits shared (all of the advantages of traveling in your home), it’s actually a pretty common nomadic choice.

You know what BOAT means, right?

Yup, we’re prepared for hearing these phrases often:

  • ‘BOAT = Bring Out Another Thousand’.
  • ‘You know what the two best days of my life where? Buying my boat, and selling my boat’.
  • ‘Boats are holes in the water you throw money into.’
We're checking out lots of boats, and going in eyes WIDE open.

We’re checking out lots of boats, and going in eyes WIDE open.

We’ve heard it all. We know these aren’t just trite sayings, and they have some hard realities behind them.

We know fuel will be expensive to move a boat of the size we’re planning on. We know marina slips charge by the foot. We know it’s constant maintenance.

These are all valid reasons we’ve put this adventure off in the past.

But we ain’t getting any younger. We’re at an ideal time in our lives to do this. And life is too fricken short to put our dreams off.

The past 10 years on the road, we’ve been able to maintain a decent income while decreasing our costs of living – which means we’ve been saving up for this while transitioning our careers to support it. We fully intend to keep working and earning an income to continue to afford the lifestyle we want. And we are not touching our retirement savings to do this either.

What about your RVing Content?

Boat shopping is getting difficult up north, most are already on the hard and wrapped for winter. Time to head SOUTH!

Boat shopping is getting difficult up north, most are already on the hard and wrapped for winter. Time to head SOUTH!

RVing has been such a big part of our lives for so long, that we know many of you have likely tuned in for the RVing specific content. And yes, you will start seeing boating content too from here on out.

But we’re not departing from RVing. It’ll still be half our year. And thus, likely still at least half our content.

Please keep in mind, we identify as nomads. Our blog name is Technomadia (technology enabled nomads), and it’s about our lives – not specifically RVing. It’s so happens that RVing has been our primary nomadic substrate.

We’ll try to keep the balance going forward to apply to both RVers and Cruisers. Things we’ve written about such as lithium batteries and solar are well established in the marine world too, and cruisers deal with many of the same issues (technology, getting their mail, domicile, healthcare, etc.)


We also host the RVMobileInternet.com resource center - where we track and writing about mobile internet options for RVers. And perhaps boaters too?

We also host the RVMobileInternet.com resource center – where we track and writing about mobile internet options for RVers. And perhaps boaters too?

And for sure, our business pursuit – RVMobileInternet.com – will continue to be our focus.

We’ll be dealing with many of the same connectivity challenges on the waters we’ll be exploring, that we’ll still be on top of the issues North American RVers face (and of course, RVing ourselves half the year). The waterways we’ll be following are also popular RVing routes, and not all that much different connectivity wise than RVing east of the Mississippi River.

We’ll still be testing out gear for cellular, signal enhancing, WiFi and covering the news stories for mobile internet consumers. And of course helping our members navigate their RVing connectivity challenges.

In many ways, we look at exploring the Great Loop as expanding our scope of services, and in no way have any intentions of reducing anything we currently offer (and perhaps expanding in the future).

So to our readers at RV Mobile Internet, and in particular our premium members – rest assured, we’re not going anywhere. In fact, it gets better as we’ll personally be navigating Canadian options too.


Heck – a lot of serious offshore boaters look down on the inland waterways as “RVing on the water”.

That is music to our ears, because that’s exactly what is so appealing about it to us!

 

So there it is! We’re excited to finally share with you what’s next for us. And we’re excited to have you along for the continuing journey.

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120 Comments - Still Plenty of Room for Yours!

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  1. I am so excited for both of you and your new adventure! I have never thought about the Great Loop but will certainly start to learn about it! Looking forward to “seeing” what you are “seeing”. Hugs, Marcia

  2. Hi-
    We are excited for you about your new adventure and look forward to your posts. The Great Loop is on our bucket list, but we are just not there yet. We hope to learn a lot about it from you. Safe travels! Jim, Melinda, Tianna, Scampy & Daisy in Central Ohio.

  3. Just to note, our lake place is on Lake Simcoe — part of the Trent-Severn Waterway on the Great Loop. You are welcome to anchor and visit with us for whatever time you need.

  4. I hope you love northern Wisconsin and Door County on your boating adventures. The fall colors and fish boils are amazing! Thanks for bringing us along

  5. I recently found you in Youtube looking at RV videos. I am a life long boater and a Navy Veteran that recently purchased a motor home. I currently own a 4788 Bayliner which in my opinion is a Great boat for the Great Loop (not for sale). So much to talk about, but I will make this short. If you haven’t already seen one, I recommend that you review the model to see if it meets your needs. Good luck and I look forward to seeing you in the upper Chesapeake Bay. P.S. A must stop is Baltimore and a visit to Fort McHenry.

    • We’ve actually had an online crush on the 4788 for a while now (it’s the first non-aft cabin to pique our interests), and finally saw one in person about 2 weeks ago. It’s currently at the top of our list. 🙂

  6. Are you still planning a followup post on your Lithium system on the bus? I am about to convert my travel trailer to LiFEPO4. I’d be interested in your results.

  7. I was so jealous that you are getting to embark on my dream journey ahead me. Then I realized, this is great, here are two smart adventurous people who are going to do, and document all the leg-work for such an awesome adventure, After having followed your blog for over a year now, I know that you are going to research, innovate, and introduce a lot more people to The Loop and the inland cruising community.

    My dream great loop boat is a Greenline 40 – and knowing both your affinity for technology, solar, I’m sure you’re both aware of the Greenline Hybrid boats, but if not look into them – they are so freaking cool.

    I am looking forward to following the next chapter in your nomadic adventures. Cheers!

    • The Greenline hybrids are amazingly cool and incredibly lust-worthy – but they are priced accordingly.

      Someday though I imagine hybrid designs will be very common (and hopefully affordable). I look forward to it!

  8. Wish you the best on your next adventure. Doing the great loop sounds like fun and I hope to do it sometime myself. I’m an avid sailor out of San Diego though presently boatless but chartering. For the loop I totally agree with the approach of getting a power boat, for all the reasons you mentioned. Sail on the other hand is my passion and sailing at Sea in particular. I’ve been doing offshore racing for 30 years or so. Don’t be too uncomfortable about going out to sea. The two of you are normally thorough in planning and preparation which makes things dramatically safer at sea. Get in touch if you are passing through San Diego and want to go sailing.

  9. We are a little behind on reading the blog but our excited to read about the next phase of your nomadic life. We recently started full time and like you talk about decided we needed to start this adventure while healthy and able to enjoy it. We look forward to reading about the upcoming adventures. – Kim & Alan

  10. Congrats on the new adventure! We keep a boat in Palmetto Fl. and hope to do the loop or at least a portion of it someday. We bought a motorhome a year ago after much reading of both yours and Nina’s blogs and are figuring out working, boating and rv ing. We hope to rv in the summer to escape Fla. heat and boat in the winter. We just left Maryland/Delaware (so sorry we missed you and wheelingit)and are in West Virginia admiring the fall colors. Best of luck in your search for your loop boat. Maybe we will cross paths or wakes in Fla.

  11. You will have a ball doing the Great Loop!!!! We have been boaters for 15 plus years and are just going nomad this year. Sold everything except the boat, got an RV and are going to also split time …RV in the winter and boating in the summer. The Great Loop is on our bucket list in a few years after we get done exploring the PNW and beyond.

    A new adventure is always on the horizon and you will love being on the water. Happy to share any boat knowledge if you want to reach out. Have fun boat shopping!!!

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