MONTHLY EXPENSES ON AMERICA'S GREAT LOOP - OCTOBER 2022

There are many factors that go into creating a budget for the Great Loop, but among all is flexibility. We knew budgeting for our Great Loop would ebb and flow depending on the season and our location. We’re happy to be in the midwest rivers with a lower price for dockage, great anchorages, and some fun side trips!

Harpeth River, Tennessee | Anchored off the Cumberland River

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.

TRAVEL SUMMARY - OCTOBER 2022

Before I dive into our October 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 in Grafton, Illinois, and cruised down the Mississippi River, into the Ohio River, to Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake. We enjoyed eating some local treats including pie, donuts, and local brews, visited some great museums, attended the AGLCA Fall Rendezvous and gave a presentation on Anchoring and Loving It!, and completed one side trip to Nashville. Here is our Nebo travel summary:

Nights at a marina dock: 9

Nights on a marina mooring ball: 0

Nights on a free dock: 1

Nights on a paid dock: 5

Nights on a free lock wall: 1

Nights on a paid lock wall: 0

Nights at anchor: 15

We spent most nights on anchor this month. Yay! We paid for just shy of half of our nights on the boat which is not ideal. Our goal is 4 nights at a marina per month, but that also includes any sort of paid overnight stay. We were thrilled to be cruising in areas with great anchorages again!

GREAT LOOP MONTHLY EXPENSES - OCTOBER 2022

We spent a total of $3,632.40 on our Great Loop expenses for October 2022. This was our fourth least expensive month so far on the loop. 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 was fuel for a total of $1,396.84. We fueled up twice; once at Hoppies and a second at Rock Harbor Marine in Nashville. Hoppies had a great price for diesel and Rock Harbor was a little high because it was conveniently located near downtown Nashville.

Our second greatest expense this month was groceries for a total of $593.70. This month’s grocery bill was low compared to other months because we did a huge pantry haul last month, so all we needed to purchase was fresh food. Most of the meals we eat are cooked on our boat, making this a reoccurring high category for us.

Our third greatest expense was marinas or dockage for $541.57. Our goal is to spend no more than 4 days at a marina in a month to keep our expenses low. This month we spent 14 nights at marinas, paid docks, and or a mooring ball which quickly adds up. We’re grateful to have spent more nights on anchor this month which really helps aid our budget. As we’ve continued cruising on the Great Loop, we’ve met more and more boaters and have wanted to socialize and get to know other people. Since most boaters go to marinas, our “marina or anchor” has been favoring marinas more than we would have liked.

A few of the remaining categories were higher than we would have liked. We would like to have had lower expenditures in restaurants, attractions/tours, 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.

Nashville, TN | Jen and Elliot on the dock by PIVOT in Downtown Nashville

We hope this post provided you with some insightful information on how much it costs to do the loop on a budget. Comment below if you found this information useful. If there is something you would like us to include in our November 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!

8 Responses

  1. As we refurbish our (new to us) 1967, 36 Grand Banks, your videos and the expense breakdown provide valuable information. We likely won’t depart Chesapeake, Va for the loop for about 2 years. But will head for the Keys early this Spring, for a month or so.
    Keep up the great updates, sight seeing, and otherwise good information.

  2. I would love to know how many hours & gallons that cost, $1,396.84 paid for?
    I had the same boat as you guys do and loved it. My wife and picked her up in Naples, Fl and spent the next four weeks bringing her home to City Island, NY. We sold her since there was a change in our lifestyle that it no longer made sense, so now I said from port to port with you and several others. I window shop from another MT but at 78 don’t have the energy for a project boat and don’t have the cash for the newer drawers on todays market. I thought that I had hit the POWER BALL LOTTERY but was off by 6 numbers. shucks! LOL.

    We wish you safe and enjoyable adventures ahead.
    Paul.
    lpaulsaltzman@gmail.com

    1. Hi Paul,

      Our excel spreadsheet gives the details of how many gallons of diesel we bought; 104 gallons on our first fill-up and 141 gallons on our second fill-up. We don’t record how many hours we traveled with each fill-up but we usually cruise at 2 gallons/hour.

      That’s awesome! Sounds like you had a lot of great memories and adventures aboard your trawler.

      Kind regards,
      Jennifer

  3. We met you at the Rendezvous in October. (We are the couple who have lived vicariously through our children’s worldwide adventures . . .but now…).
    Wish we would have known you were coming to Nashville, we could have made some of those expenses free. Hope all is well with you both, we enjoy following your journey.
    We are looking for a similar boat to yours in size and style as our Sea Ray doesn’t have the fuel capacity or water capacity for the Loop. Any recommendations? We will be budgeting as we also have a Minnie Winnie and have some adventure planned on land. Hope to retire and Loop at the end of 2025. Appreciate all your honesty! Eric and Marsha

    1. Hey Eric and Marsha,

      I’m glad our paths crossed! Thanks for thinking of us; that’s very kind of you. As for a loop boat, it really depends on what your budget is and what you’re looking for in a boat (i.e. fuel capacity and efficiency, amount of space, having one engine or two, your budget for marinas as it relates to the size of the boat, etc.). We will say that the two boat styles we saw most frequently on our loop were the Ranger Tugs and the Mainships. If you have some specific questions, don’t hesitate to ask. We’re happy to help!

      Enjoy your land adventures and best of wishes for retiring in the next few years!

      Kind regards,
      Jen and Elliot

  4. Hi Elliot & Jen,
    We met up in Mackinaw City, all of us weathered in. It’s still great following your adventure and the travels of Pivot. I’m slipped at Rock Harbor for the winter and deciding where to go from there, lol.
    Safe travels and fair winds,
    Craig
    – Son of a Sailor

    1. Hey Craig,

      So good to hear from you! Congratulations on crossing your wake and earning your Gold AGLCA flag! Best of luck deciding on your winter plans. There’s so much to see and do with so little time. Hopefully our paths will cross again in the future.

      Kind regards,
      Elliot and Jen

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