MONTHLY EXPENSES ON AMERICA'S GREAT LOOP - NOVEMBER 2022

The Great Loop is a beautiful adventure full of challenges. One of the challenges that we’re constantly faced with is work-life-loop balance while on a budget. In November, we decided to spend two weeks staying put in Chattanooga. A walkable, convenient, fun city where we could focus on working, visiting with friends and family, and not looping! We knew budgeting for our Great Loop would ebb and flow depending on the season and our location. I’m not sure we considered needing time to just stay still on a trip that requires to you keep moving and traveling at a certain pace. This month was not as focused on keeping under budget for marinas as we splurged and took the time to relish stillness. 

Tennessee River, Tennessee | Battery Hill Anchorage

TRAVEL SUMMARY - NOVEMBER 2022

Before I dive into our November expenses, it’s important to understand where we traveled, how far we cruised, and some specifics in our particular loop experience. We began our travels on Lake Barkley, Kentucky and cruised down the Tennessee River to Goosepond Colony Marina, Alabama after having stayed two weeks enjoying Chattanooga, Tennessee. We enjoyed eating the infamous Mile High Merengue Pie, gorgeous fall foliage along the Tennessee River, and two amazing weeks in Chattanooga, TN. Here is our Nebo travel summary:

Nights at a marina dock: 22

Nights on a marina mooring ball: 0

Nights on a free dock: 5

Nights on a paid dock: 0

Nights on a free lock wall: 0

Nights on a paid lock wall: 0

Nights at anchor: 3

We spent most nights at a marina this month since we stayed two weeks just in Chattanooga. This is definitely not our normal, but after feeling a bit of looper exhaustion from constantly moving, working and running businesses while looping, and wanting to see friends and family, we decided the best thing for us was to stay in one place for an extended period of time.

GREAT LOOP MONTHLY EXPENSES - NOVEMBER 2022

We spent a total of $3,880.38 on our Great Loop expenses for November 2022. This list does not include our healthcare, phone bills, personal subscriptions, and business expenses as those all vary from one person to another. All expenses are in USD.

Our greatest expense this month was groceries for a total of $1,157.46. Most of the meals we eat are cooked on our boat, making this a reoccurring high category for us.

Our second greatest expense was fuel for a total of $903.78. We fueled up once at Goosepond Colony Marina, which had a great price for diesel at $5.29/gallon.

Our third greatest expense was marinas or dockage for $670.08. As we made the conscious decision to linger longer in the midwest rivers for the fall, we’ve gotten the opportunity to take advantage of winter rates at the marinas. Transient marina rates are discounted since the competition for dockage is relatively low. This month we spent 22 nights at marinas and 14 of those nights were spent in Chattanooga.

A few of the remaining categories were also higher than we would have liked. We would like to have had lower expenditures in restaurants, attraction/tour, and boat projects. Unfortunately, boat projects are not dictated by our budget and instead happen as they happen. It’s all part of being flexible. Our budget wasn’t clear-cut but merely a set of guidelines for us to stay within our financial means and goals.

Tennessee River
Tennessee River, Kentucky | Jen and Elliot anchored near Swallow Bluff Island

WHAT KIND OF EXPENSES ARE ON THE GREAT LOOP

Traveling on the Great Loop has many of the same expenses as on land, however, there are a few specific to cruising full time. We divided up our Great Loop expenses into a few categories including marina, fuel, groceries, housekeeping, restaurants, attraction/tours, insurance, and other. Here are how we made these categories and what is included in each of them:

  • Marina. This category is for overnight dockage or mooring. This could be at a marina, a paid dock, or any paid overnight stays. Marinas typically range from $0.50-2/foot depending upon your location in the midwest rivers, which was really nice to see. When available, we try to get a mooring ball as they are a fixed price and provide many of the same amenities as a marina, just without the convenience of a dock.
  • Fuel. This category is just diesel fuel. Our engine and generator take diesel so we have two large diesel tanks that hold about 300 gallons total. When our tanks are getting low, we begin to shop around for diesel before making a large fill-up. We made a video on Tips for Saving Diesel on an Old Trawler which includes searching for the best diesel prices on Waterway Guide and Cruisers Net. When researching fuel prices, be sure to look at whether tax is included or not. That can affect your overall fuel prices when filling up 150 gallons. By doing our homework and searching around ahead of time, we can avoid high fuel prices and can rest assured that we’re getting the best price available.
  • Groceries. This category includes groceries, pantry items, large provisioning hauls from Walmart or Amazon, and alcohol. While we lived on land, we would shop around at various grocery stores for deals. Now that we live on a boat, we’re at the mercy of whatever is most convenient to our boat and shopping at whatever grocery store is available. In some cities or towns, there might only be one grocery store in town, while other locations might have several options available.
  • Housekeeping. This category includes things like laundry, propane refills, pump outs, water refills, and tipping dock hands. We primarily wash our clothes in marina laundry facilities. Each load can cost between $1-4 per load, with the average load costing $2 for a total of $4 to wash and dry one load of laundry. Our galley uses two primary fuel sources for cooking: electricity and propane. We have two propane tanks on our boat for our stove top and grill cooking. Fill-ups usually cost around $5. Pump-outs can range from free to $10, however, we usually see pump-outs costing $5. In Canada, pump-outs cost us $15/tank. Usually, water is free with a diesel fill-up or overnight dock stay. Each time we visit a dock, there are usually people there to help catch lines and assist us when docking. We tip $5/person.
  • Restaurants. Part of the fun of traveling is tasting the delicious food that’s popular in a specific region. This category includes everything from bars, restaurants, desserts, breweries, coffee shops, etc. Anytime we ate out whether it was taken out or dining in, it went in this category.
  • Attractions/Tours. The other part of traveling is seeing various sights and taking tours to learn more about a place. This category will vary significantly from place to place but is something we value to make the most of our Great Loop experience.
  • Insurance. Part of owning a boat includes boat insurance. It’s just part of doing business.
  • Boat Projects. This category is for all hardware, maintenance items, or engine pieces that are completed on the loop. This can range from boat improvements to maintenance items. Basically, anything that’s related to our boat goes here.
  • Other. This category is for any miscellaneous items that don’t fit into the previously mentioned categories.
Tennessee River lock
Jasper, Tennessee | Jen and Elliot in the Nickajack Lock

We hope this post provided you with some insightful information on how much it costs to do the loop on a budget. Share this post with a friend if you think someone else might find this information useful. If there is something you would like us to include in our December Great Loop Expenses that we missed this month, let us know in the comments below!

The ups, downs, and everything in between, we share it all. If you like what you see, there are lots of ways to show your support and say thanks!

15 Responses

  1. Thank you so much for your information. We follow your adventure everyday with the thought that we might follow your wake in some fashion. Your information is very helpful and well documented. Thanks again! Big Fans!!!

  2. Glad to see your boat at the Guntersville City Harbor today. Grandchildren birthday prevented stopping by to say Hi.

  3. Hi you To,
    Happy Birthday Jen!! and many more.
    That monthly expense report is the real deal.
    It’s not cheap to do the loop, you cannot put a price tag on all the experience.
    You gotta do it while you can.

    1. Hi Larry! Thanks for the birthday wishes 😊 It is not cheap to do the loop, but it also doesn’t have to cost a fortune. We’re glad you like the expense report!

  4. Hi Jen & Elliot,
    Just started watching your early videos after your trip from Colombia and have really enjoyed watching and learning from all your experiences as you motor The Great Loop! My husband and I plan to sail TGL next year.
    Regarding the nasty noseums I read they’re worse than mosquito bites…eek! And they hate mint, menthol, lemon or citronella. I’ll be prepared & stocked with these! Oh and I found out the best thing to use that alleviates & stops the itching is to make a paste with baking soda & water and slather it on the bites! It works!!
    Just wanted to let you know that we are big fans and watch your videos religiously!!
    Adios!
    John & Liz/Texas Fans

    1. Hi John and Liz! Thanks for watching our videos and following along on our adventure. We appreciate it 😊 That’s awesome you guys are going to sail the Great Loop next year. Best of luck planning and starting your loop until then. Thanks for the tips on the noseeums. We’ll give your recommendations a try when we return to noseeum territory.

  5. Just found you on youtube. Its been fun watching and learning. I live near Norfolk and hope to run the east coast leg south in the next few years. Thanks.

    1. We won’t attempt another Loop right away, so it’s hard to answer this question. As far as routes go, we’d love to transit the Western Erie and the Rideau Canal and we’d probably go inside for our Atlantic Crossing. We’d stop in new places and some of our favorites while perhaps spending more time in the Georgian Bay and North Channel. It all depends on that Loop and our boat. Cheers!

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