Top 10 Guides for Cruising the Great Loop in 2023
Top 10 Guides for Cruising the Great Loop in 2023

America’s Great Loop circles over 6000 miles of the U.S. east coast and whether you fly a white or gold burgee a detailed and up to date guide is invaluable. Loopers need to plan routes well ahead of time to optimize fuel, select best anchorages, calculate water depths and bridge heights, and account for weather. Below we have listed the top 10 guides which each have something to offer the experienced or amateur looper.

Planning & Cruising Great Circle Route

10. A Guide to Planning & Cruising the Great Circle Route
This book documents a motor yacht's circumnavigation of the Eastern United States. The author shares the details of his 5 years of planning and 18 weeks of journeying with his wife aboard their 36-foot aft-cabin motor yacht Nittany Navy. The cruise took Bick and Jeri through several of the Great Lakes, down the Mississippi, across the Gulf of Mexico, up the coast of Florida, north through the Intercoastal Waterway, up the Jersey Shore, and finally back to home port in Avalon, New Jersey. Things to note are that this is a story of amtateurs on their first loop and the navigation advice within is over 14 years old at this point.

Honey Lets Get a Boat

9. Honey, Let's Get a Boat... A Cruising Adventure to America's Great Loop
A fun cruising book with first hand accounts from Loopers Ron and Eva Stob. The writing is light and appealing, but there is a serious strain running through the book for those who relish history and graphic descriptions of the landscape. Astute and attentive to detail, they chronicled every event and kept an accounting of expenses, equipment and charting. As a result, the appendix is worth the price of the book for anyone interested in learning what charts are needed, information on locks and their fees, details on equipment and the best place to become educated about boating. Keep in mind this edition has not been revised since 2003.

Great Loop Side Trips

8. Great Loop Side Trips
Another entry from Ron and Eva Stob, this book may be perfect for the experienced Looper looking for something different. Includes over 20 adventures off the main route as well as information on charts, guidebooks, marinas, and launch ramps. This edition was released in 2007.

Seven Miles an Hour

7. Seven Miles an Hour: Retiring on a Trawler with Cats
This comb-bound book is for anyone who wonders what it’s like to live on a boat and follow the seasons up and down the coast, all Trawler owners and Wannabes, everyone approaching retirement with little enthusiasm, all those who enjoy a good read and a chuckle, as well as cat lovers everywhere.After reading this book, you will understand what retiring and living aboard on a trawler entails. You will read about the good, the bad, and the ugly, all the time gaining an insight as to whether this is for you. Light hearted and phylosophical, Seven Miles an Hour is a unique offering on our top 10 list though it's not going to be a practical resource compared to true cruising guides.

Great Loop Experience

6. The Great Loop Experience, from Concept to Completion
This publication from 2014 helps prepare you to efficiently carryout the journey of a lifetime. It covers topics such as important trip costs resulting from medical, insurance, home, time-frame, and life-style factors that should be considered before starting. Authors, George and Patricia Hospodar, also give detail on choosing and outfitting your boat for the journey, route planning, guidebooks, and charts to have on-board, types of locks, dealing with customs, negotiating open water passages, and more.

Waterway Guide Bahamas 2021

5. Skipper Bob, Cruising America's Great Loop 2021
This bare bones but annually updated cruising guide brings the latest information at a low price and presentation. In this 18th edition you can expect high quality information in a budget package. Black and white printing with classic spiral binding make Skipper Bob's offering simple and easy to read. This guide discusses what charts and cruising guides you need, how to schedule the trip, what to expect and when and where to go. Alternative routes via the Great Lakes are also outlined in detail. The disadvantage of this guide comes in the lack of detailed information that most cruisers will value from the higher end guides in our top 3 spots.

100 Great Stops

4.100 Great Stops On Americas Great Loop
Owen Schwaderer's 2017 book is a guide to 100 of the most charming waterfront towns and cities along the Great Loop. It's safe to say there will be exciting new stops to be found by any Looper. This book is quick and to the point with a simple premice for those of you looking to quickly add interesting stops along your journey.

Seaworthy Guide to the Bahamas

3. Quimby's 2022 Cruising Guide
Big things come in small packages, and this 250 page spiral bound staple covers over 9000 miles on 23 waterways and features more than 1250 individual entries for marinas, docks, dams, and fuel and service facilities. Technically this cruising guide only covers "America's Little Loop" but the wealth of information in this annually updated publication have made Quiby's a must have guide for nearly 60 years.

Maptech Guide Chesapeake Bay to Florida

2.Maptech Embassy Guide: Chesapeake Bay to Florida
Maptech has several Embassy Guides to choose from such as the Long Island Sound to Cap May, or New England guides. However Chesapeake Bay to Florida offers the largest amount of coverage and matches perfectly with the Maptech Chartkit 6 Norfolk to Florida. In 576 pages, Maptech's guide features aerial harbor photos, detailed navigation and achorage advice, destination and dining tips, GPS waypoints, and detailed listings for 1350 marinas and facilities. Anyone with Maptech guides or Chartkits will feel right at home with the practical format that has made them such a popular option for American boaters.

Waterway Guide Atlantic ICW 2023

1.Waterway Guide Atlantic ICW 2023
And finally the top spot goes to one of the most trusted cruising guides on the market, the Waterway Guide. With annually updated guides running from Maine and the Great Lakes to the Keys and Bahamas, Waterway Guide as a whole simply offers the most coverage and latest information. In the 2023 edition of Waterway Guide Atlantic ICW, Loopers will find mile by mile navigation information, aerial photography with marked routes, marina listings and locator charts, anchorage information and expanded "Goin' Ashore" articles on ports along the way. You'll also find helpful cruising data like GPS waypoints, detailed planning maps, distance charts and bridge tables help get cruisers there safely. You will also want to check out the Waterway Guides to the Great Lakes, Chesapeake, and Southern and Northern US.

For a complete list of charts, guides, digital charts, and flags for the Great Loop, visit our Great Loop Passage Planner.

Happy Cruising!
James Henjum
Content Writer