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Houseboats built to cruise and travel the Great Loop

Typical route for houseboats on the Great Loop.

Typical route for houseboats on the Great Loop.

We are looking to have a houseboat built to handle the Great Loop? We have sent out a bid to three houseboat manufacturers a list of our requirements for a future houseboat.

This vessel will be 95' x 22' in length, and needs to be capable of navigating around the Great Circle Route.

Can someone provide proper recommended design (structural) characteristics, that will be necessary to handle the great lakes, across the Gulf from Mobile to Florida and other potentially rough water areas?

I currently have the prospective manufacturers and their respective marine architects studying the issue.

Would also appreciate any experiential stories or recommendations relative to taking a houseboat on such a journey.

Thank you, Robert W. Steen

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Reply - Answer
Well Robert, congratulations on your decision to do the Great Loop, and also on your decision to have a new houseboat built to handle it all.

If I was to have a new houseboat built to do the Great Circle, I would definitely have Pluckebaum Houseboats on my list of potential manufacturers. Skipperliner Houseboats would also be on my potential builder list.

You would want a vessel that can handle some of the following conditions:

1) I'm not a Marine Engineer, however most manufacturers that build cruising houseboats are generally incorporating many of the
stringent ABYC - American Boat & Yacht Council Standards.

2) A vessel with a fair amount of freeboard for wave handling capabilities. It makes cruising less stressful in difficult conditions.

3) Sufficient engine power to be able to get out harms way, and to handle the current and rough water conditions.

4) If you're building a large houseboat, than a good windlass and bow thruster would be on my list of necessary options, amongst many other options :)

5) The list could go on, and on, and on ....

I just wonder why you're having a 95' x 22' wide houseboat built to go long distance cruising. I don't know how many people you expect to have on board, it just seems like a large vessel to handle with two people, considering some of the marina sizes along the rivers.

Either way, we are all curious and eagerly looking forward to any updates that you have, since this article about a houseboat cruising the Great Loop is surely to be on many houseboaters minds.

Lastly, hopefully some of our readers will share and post comments about their houseboat cruising experiences. If anybody is knowledgeable in the structural and construction standards, please share any information for us all.

IAN from all-about-houseboats

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Comments for Houseboats built to cruise and travel the Great Loop

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Loire River boat
by: Brian


I have been looking at a toue cabanee. Wdyt?

I wonder if they would be any good in open water.

Modifying house boat do Great Lake conditionings
by: Anonymous

Hello I am not a boat smart person but I also had the same question regarding the houseboat ability to withstand. Harsh congratulations. I love fresh water lakes but I love exploring different pleases. I was looking into Yacht you can customize the
Yacht ,you can have it designed for how you are going be using the boat. I am still downing research. I wander if that is the same you want done.

Yes, with caution and time
by: Eschaton

We tell people, 'we did the Loop in a houseboat before we were told we couldn't.' Traveling from Cuba Landing on the TN River, we cruised on a 37' Gibson Sport Series 2009-10, as recent retirees plus a dog and 2 cats. With lots of river and lake experience but little to no gulf and ocean experience, we learned a lot, and quickly.

BUT, we had a great time! The boat size and layout was great for the trip, and once we learned to watch the forecasts and learned what we and the boat could stand (us less than the boat itself), we were both safe and confident. The Gibson had the comfort, handling, and power (twin engines) for the task. We did carry about 40 gallons of gas in additional tanks, which was more than sufficient.

We affirm the previous comments, re size, both regarding marinas and bridge and lock restrictions. As to style, V hulls and walk-around access are important considerations.

No matter what, do it! There will be no regrets!

More information needed
by: JohnBerling

With all due respect to Capt John, who has completed the great loop, while I have not, his many replies to this thread seem to be predicated on his own idiosyncratic idea of what constitutes a "houseboat," and what in his mind is a reasonable cost for making the journey.

Maybe the original poster has no real budgetary limits, so if he wants to spend $100K on fuel, that's his business, and the same goes for the boat he proposed having designed and built.

'd say that anyone who can afford to have a 95 foot boat custom designed and built can also afford to have such a vessel built well enough for its intended journey.

Capt John makes good points, from experience, about bridge clearances, harbor size restrictions, shallow water, and rough water, but to extend those comments to some categorical "no houseboat can ever do it" kind of conclusion (which he then gainsays later) is too sweeping a generalization.

n my area there are multiple Pluckebaum (built in Louisville) houseboats that make the annual journey from Cincinnati or further up river to Ft Myers every year for snow birding, and at least two of those owners have indeed completed the great loop.

Would a 95 foot Somerset make the trip safely? I wouldn't do it, not even if I had ten years to wait for perfect weather, but in perfect weather it certainly could be done.

The point is that size alone doesn't tell enough about the KIND of boat the original poster has in mind. More information is needed.

by: Capt. John

Ever wish you could just 'give someone your experience'? I mean as with a touch, just transfer certain experiences you've had, so someone else could just 'know' and instantly benefit?

That's how I feel about "certain" boats of any kind and especially about some "houseboats" for cruising the full (approximately 6,000 mile) circle around America's Great Loop.

I've done is 8 times. I've done it in a cabin cruiser, a trawler and a sailboat... I would love to do it in a "houseboat".

A houseboat with a 360 degree walk around deck, one floor, no stairs or steps except maybe to an optional flybridge would make for a perfect live aboard cruising vessel.

For sure, a "V" hull would be best. The typical aluminum pontoon houseboats simply (in my opinion) don't offer enough freeboard nor are they strong enough.

However... most any vessel could make this voyage easily enough if every day was a perfect day for all boaters. Problem is, not every day is perfect. Not every waterway, river, bay or sound has smooth calm waters.

The Great Loop is a wonderful, amazing and safe cruising adventure. It offers more exciting and interesting places to see and visit than you can see in one lifetime.

I highly recommend this voyage for every safe American & Canadian boater. It truly is an adventure of a lifetime. I know of no one better or safer.

However, a "houseboat" is NOT the perfect vessel for this voyage. I really wish it was, I would have one. But if you are insisting on a houseboat, get one with a deep V hull or consider a "Tritoon".

Plan on spending questionable weather days at anchor or at a marina - and plan on there being a lot of them...

I normally plan and take a full year for this voyage and I'm always in a safe, seaworthy vessel made for the open ocean...

Houseboats are not and it is that simple. I've been on the Intracoastal waterway, Bays & Sounds and Inland rivers that have treated me much worse than the sea ever has.

So... here's hoping some will at least take heed of what I'm saying when I say "if I thought there was a houseboat safe enough for all weather and conditions I know I will encounter cruising the Loop, I would be living and cruising in one!"

Capt. John

Check out Sunstar houseboats
by: Anonymous

We traveled with our houseboat to Bahamas, along the coast of Jersey, SC, NC , lake Ontario and the Gulf of Mexico has been done, but like most sailors and trawlers you don't go out in rough seas.

You pick your days but in Chesapeake we went 60 miles in 5-7 ft cross waves, but again it came up quickly but we had a Fantasy houseboat as well and it was well built. We had zero problems.

You need several things:

GPS and backup
WIFI and backup
Up to date Nav chips
Waterway guides
Small backup Genie
Hands free walkies. Marriage savers
Do not be in a hurry or on a schedule
Good weather

I have already done this in a houseboat
by: Houseboatcandoit

I know there are a lot of people who can't imagine a houseboat doing the Great Loop but we did it in a 65 x 18 Fantasy houseboat with 19'10" able to go up Erie to Oswego etc...

We have crossed Tampa Gulf north to Alabama many times. Many sailors who haven't even tried it in a houseboat would not know. We were in Houseboat Magazine in March 2011 having gone half way by then.

This is a V hull, twin 240 HP Yanmar diesels, a serious houseboat so for those who ask, can it be done?



The great loop
by: Thomas de Jong

I read about the Great Loop and the possibilities of doing the great loop in a houseboat. That is NOT an good idea. When some say you can do it with a houseboat, they give you the wrong answer.

A houseboat is not nor was it designed to go in open water such as the Gulf or along the Atlantic coast. I sailed for seven years crossing through the Gulf and the Atlantic.

Lake Ontario can be very bad, I know as I had to chip five inches of ice from our deck. Not that you are going to sail Lake Ontario in the winter, but I have been on all the Great Lakes and encountered lots of rough weather.

In short I would get a European Barge these are designed to handle class C ocean. The British boat builder Branson designed houseboats (barges) that you can order and they cut all the steel for you and ship it over, and you can have it built at your own yard, or you can do it yourself.

Google Branson boats and find out. Next check out Youtube videos and you can watch a barge being towed by a rescue boat and you see it for yourself that this kind of boat is suitable to do the loop.

A houseboat absolutely no way. wrong and dangerous. I sailed the oceans for seven years and saw the good, bad, and the ugly weather.

Travel safe and prepare. Thomas

House Boats on the Loop
by: John R @ Polestar

First thank you to all the comments on this topic. I especially appreciate the knowledge for Captain John.

I purchased a 43' Nautaline houseboat that is 14 ft wide. It has two 351 Ford engines. One rebuilt 5 years ago, the other is a new Jasper motor.

I have become intrigued about the Loop. I come from houseboating on a lake to the Mississippi River around Grafton - which I love.

I am learning the river but would like to take trips to Peoria and to Nashville. And with more experience one day to the Gulf.

I am learning about cost of operation which may prohibit me with my present boat.

My boat is very sound and I would like to hear any comments on a Nautaline's capabilites to handle the mentioned trips.

Thanks - any comments will be appreciated.

95 x 22 feet houseboat?
by: Anonymous

I don't mean to pop anyone's bubble - but a 95 x 22 foot houseboat to cruise America's Great Loop is a "very expensive" idea - and I'm not referring to the cost of the vessel.

I am a 7 time Great Looper. I've been living and cruising it for 23 years. And you can't do this in just any "houseboat". Believe me, if there was such a houseboat made, I would own one - but there isn't.

I wouldn't own a 95 feet long however - a 40 footer would be just about perfect. But it needs to be more of a catamaran design than a houseboat design - which can be done.

But aluminum pontoons and superstructure won't cut the mustard crossing the 75 miles across the Gulf, and the 26 miles out from the New Jersey ICW. Then, you still have some really tough Bays & Sounds, not to mention tides and river currents.

It's a great idea, it's just way too big to be safe and practical. You need to rethink what you really need - not what you would dream of having.

FYI - if such a boat was given to you free - it would cost you near $75,000 in fuel alone, and another $25,000 in over night Marina fees if you only docked at a Marina 50% of the time.

It's a fact, when it comes to long-distance cruising & living aboard - "dream boats" are usually the "dream busters" about 99% of the time.

I have a 38 foot sailboat with the mast cut off. I cruise (motor around) the Great Loop averaging near 6,000 miles a trip, taking the best part of a year, and my total "boat fuel and boat related expenses" average near $10,000 a year. That's the total cost for my transportation and lodging.

For "safety" in handling your boat in all kinds of current and weather conditions, smaller is better.

If you want to learn all about what you need to cruise the Loop, including boat size restrictions and minimum fuel requirements. You'll learn a lot about what to expect along the way, as well as best boat choices.

My 65' Pluckebaum did it
by: Whit

FYI, I have a 65' Plucky that did the loop just fine, but it was designed to do it. Has done the Bahamas too.

Houseboating the Loop
by: Capt. John

The first tip off that someone is a rookie, novice or new boater is the size of their "dream boat". People without any real life long-distance cruising experience always dream of 50-100 footers - where those with experience are in something near 36 feet and wishing they could have ample space and comfort in something even smaller.

To cruise the Great Loop, your boat cannot be higher above the water than 19' 1". Your draft should be no greater than 5', and your length is limited to 99 feet if cruising the Canadian Trent Severn, and your beam limit is 23 feet.

But lets be practical about this, and safe! Running aground and dragging your anchor especially in tidal waters is a constant risk. So the less draft to about 4 feet is better. If you can clear a 15' 6" fixed bridge you have unrestricted route options. If you can clear 17' you can boat right through downtown Chicago.

I will celebrate my 70th birthday on this, my 8th voyage around the Loop. What most inexperienced boaters just don't seem to understand is that when it comes to cruising the Great Loop a "BIG" boat has very real "safety" issues.

With the exception of two couples (two strong men aboard) people that dream (or even think) of making this voyage in anything over 48 feet are simply quantified delusional and asking for trouble. For a single person or cruising couple noting over 40 feet should be considered.

Your boat should never be 1 foot smaller than your comfort requires nor 1 foot bigger than your safety demands.

It is one thing to run a big houseboat (or any boat) in calm protected waters on days God made for us boaters - it's entirely different when in tidal waters with tide changes, and running across big Bays and Sounds and big powerful rivers.

People always talk about "the Gulf crossing" as if that was the big bad wolf - but it's not. Crossing Albemarle Sound is worse, and then there is Pamlico Sound, the Delaware River, and the part of the Atlantic between Manasquan Inlet and New York Harbor. . .

It is a safe voyage for those in a safe seaworthy boat - but not in a 95 foot houseboat with top heavy high windage and low stability.

I agree one sees houseboats all along most everywhere around the Great Loop - but I've never heard or known of one that has actually cruised it. Houseboats are great for protected waters and predictable weather.

Capt John.

Reply - Answer

Capt John, thanks for posting a great reply to cruising the Great Loop. I do have to add that plenty of houseboaters have done it in houseboats, but they used the more traditional "cruiser style houseboats" like Holiday Mansions, Gibsons, Harbour Masters, and the such.

The houseboats listed above have higher freeboard, and are made to get up "on plane". They would all generally range in size from 32 to 45ft boats. I hope this helps potential houseboaters out there, and I agree, there's different houseboats for different tasks.

Sincerely, IAN from

Is a Gibson houseboat the right or wrong boat?
by: Rich

I have a Gibson 44ft 14ft wide, with twin Yanmar diesel's. Do you think I could make the loop?

Houseboat for Great Loop
by: Capt. John

Robert, Yes great idea, but way too big a boat. 95' x 22' will cost you far too much in fuel to make this voyage sensible.

For a cruising couple 48' x 16' would be as large as you should go. It would be very roomy and extremely comfortable and still be economical enough for cruising the Loop.

I don't believe I have ever seen a "Great Loop" boat over 60 feet, and they are so large they stick out like sore thumbs. Most Loop boats are Trawlers and most Loopers' boats are less than 40 feet. There are lots of good reasons for this.

I've made this trip 5 times in 5 different boats. My humble opinion is, (the more or less) perfect Great Loop boat would be no higher above the water than 15 feet. It would have a draft of 3 feet or less, a beam of no more than 16'. This would allow one to cruise the Loop without any route restrictions.

FYI - a vessel that can not clear a 19' 1" fixed bridge can NOT do the Loop. A vessel that can NOT clear a 15' 6" fixed bridge can NOT take the Erie Canal to Lake Erie.

On average, cruising the Loop is about a 6,000 mile journey. This will put approximately 1,000 hours on a boat's engine(s).

Because regardless of speed capability, speed limits and wait times at Locks and Lift Bridges, along with distances between fuel stops, anchorages and Marinas, etc... one will "average" only about 50 miles per day.

Your 95' x 22' houseboat will require a minimum power of twin 5.0L Mercruisers and will burn about 20 gallons an hour each at minimum cruise speed, so you're looking at about 40,000 gallons of fuel to make the Loop. At today's price for marine fuel - that's $120,000 (or more) just for fuel - now that's nuts!

Capt. John

Houseboat for Great Loop
by: Capt. John

I have been living full-time on one boat or another for the past 20 years. I've made the Great Loop 5 times. While the idea of a "houseboat" for cruising the Great Loop is a great idea - problem is 'all of them I know of' are simply too structurally weak. Furthermore, your suggestion of anything over 48' is absolutely fuel foolish.

#1 such a vessel MUST be able to clear a 19' 1" fixed bridge south of Chicago. To make the full length distance on the Erie Canal, it has to clear a 15' 6" fixed bridge.

#2 the pontoon diameter must be large enough to maintain at least a 3' clearance between the water and the bridge deck. If not, such a vessel will trip when hit by following seas or simply high rough water/waves.

#3 If you think crossing the 73 miles of the Gulf from Carrabelle to Steinhatchee is the toughest or worst part of the voyage - better think again. There are two places one has to 'go out' on the ocean. The other is in New Jersey 20 plus miles to NY Harbor. However, in fact neither of these is the worst. Crossing a number of Bays, Sounds and Inlets on the Atlantic ICW can most often be much more troublesome than the ocean.

#4 With regard to length - absolutely this is the tip off to a novice boater. Did you know that out of 13 Million registered boats in the US - fewer than 1% are 40 feet or over? Did you also know that 9 out of 10 "experienced" cruisers have "downsized" their vessels vs upgraded to larger? Boats should be as small and comfortable one can live and cruise on safely.

Bigger is not better. Bigger is often more dangerous - and always more costly. The goal needs to be minimum size for maximum comfort and fuel economy - otherwise, no one will dare buy such a boat, much less pay for the cost of cruising in it, even if it were given to them.

Maximum length
by: Anonymous

You're size requirements had me wondering. In order to go through the Trent-Severn waterways; To enter the system from Georgian Bay (clockwise on your drawing), you do so through lock 45, at Port Severn.

It is the smallest of the whole system of 44 locks and it has a maximum length of 84 feet by 23 wide. So, while your width would be OK, if a tight fit, your length definitely would not.

Also, you should be aware that under normal conditions the depth goes from 6ft within locks 20 to 45, to 8ft through locks 1 to 19. With the size of your boat you describe, I wonder if 6ft might be a little shallow. The lowest bridge clearance of 22ft might be ok, again depending on your boat specs.

Gook luck, though, it does sound exciting.

What abouta Coastal Commander for the Loop?
by: Boathpy

I am in the process or restoring a 49ft 490 Coastal Commander by Holiday Mansion with the intent of doing the loop. I have removed both engines and out drives. I plan on either a single or twin 4 stroke Outboards.

This boat has a 12ft beam and a very aggressive bow but the hull bottom flattens out quickly and with an outboard(s)will have a pretty shallow draft. The original gross of the boat was 22K. I would appreciate any and all input.


Houseboats on parts of the Loop
by: Graeme

Sorry, I didn't mean for my questions earlier to go under 'anonymous'. If you have feedback for me, it's Graeme.

Another section I like is Chicago down to Nashville. I was told to avoid the lower Mississippi as it would be too choppy for a houseboat with the barge activity. Is it much better heading up the Ohio?


I did half the loop on a houseboat.
by: dc9loser

OK, as a complete houseboat novice I purchased a Catamaran Cruisers 40x12 near Atlantic City, NJ and then sailed it on the ICW to my home Northwest of Tampa. It really was not that hard. It took about 19 actual sailing days to do the roughly 1700 miles.

Since that time I have repeatedly sailed on the Gulf of Mexico back and forth to points north of here, as far as 80 miles up the Suwannee River. I once sailed from Homossassa to my home while a Cat 4 hurricane was in the gulf and in spite of gusts to 40 mph and two feet of storm surge it was bumpy but perfectly safe.

The biggest threat to your safety on such a trip is the calender. Only go when the weather is perfect or nearly so. I was in a hurry and ended up crossing St. Andrews sound in Georgia in very bad conditions. I made it, but it was a handful.

My boat is powered by a single 115 hp Yamaha outboard which is ideal for shallow water operation.

I know the experts above want you to buy a deep draft boat for safety? Frankly that is the dumbest suggestion possible. It will ruin your ICW experience. Shallow draft is safer and give you the peace of mind 99% of the time, whereas that deep draft boat will do the same less than 1% of the time.

Shallow draft give you more places to hide out bad weather and more places to explore. It also does not constrain you to sailing only at high tide.

In the Gulf when it gets rough I just stay shallow. Look if you are in 3 feet of water it is IMPOSSIBLE for huge scary waves to develop. If I were going to go from here (Tampa) to Carrabelle I would hug the coast which is pretty easy since in the entire big bend area of Florida the Gulf gets deeper at the rate of 1 to 3 feet per mile. I can be five miles offshore and in less than 5 feet of water.

If I were to do the trip in a houseboat I'd probably get a 55x16 Catamaran Cruisers boat with twin 4-stroke outboards. It has about 18 inches of hull draft and will be able to make 12 mph when you need it, or cruise at 6 to 8 mph and not burn much gas.

Having said all the above, I am eventually going to get a more seaworthy boat for deep water cruising, which is not the conditions you see on the ICW.

Just my thoughts.

Houseboats on parts of the Loop
by: Anonymous

I am wanting to purchase a used houseboat, because of the comfort and space that come with longer hauls. I also openly admit a lack of serious experience, so I think it would be easier to handle something with less draft (since running aground seems to be quite frequent) and that would mean coping with limited chart-reading experience and understanding of shoaling difficulties, etc.

I have read all the Dozier Waterway Guide books, and agree that the houseboat is not suitable for the Gulf and Lakes portions and even have my trepidations about some of the Carolina and Georgian Sounds.

My compromise is therefore to do parts of the loop that will give great variety and viewing without too much difficulty, and after years of more experience perhaps I could tackle another boat and the uncharted parts.

My initial best parts would be the Florida east coast all the way to the Keys. I also am desperate to do the New York canals and go right up the Champlain canals into the St Lawrence, the Ottowa River, Rideau to Kingston and back to Oswego. Not sure if this Ontario crossing from Kingston to Oswego is possible though in a houseboat?

I was thinking of a single-motored 36' Holiday Mansion or Gibson with about a two and a half draft; or even the one foot draft 30' Adventurecraft. Would anyone care to comment or advise which parts of the loop are do-able in a similar houseboat?

Houseboat on the Loop.
by: Anonymous

Just to clarify - houseboating on the loop:
I have taken an 85' houseboat, no pontoons but a V hull, from Sarasota, up the coast and crossed the gulf on a 34 hour journey to Appalachicola. I left the crew at that time, and the boat then continued up to Tennessee. It can all be done.

We have a 65' V hulled houseboat, and with proper planning for the loop, this can be completed. Wouldn't catch us doing the loop in a sailboat….heights and drafts are restraining. Our height can be under 19' and our draft is 3.5 feet.

It is all personal preference as to what vessel each of us prefers. We are just saying that it can be done. I wouldn't suggest a houseboat any longer than what we have at 65' and never would suggest any boat with pontoons trying the loop.

Our boat has been out on the ocean many times, bypassing the inland waterways because of the hazards, and being responsible about our home, don't take any chances.

PS: this boat has been to the Bahamas, and up north to the 1000 islands. It all comes down to responsible planning. And in our years of travel, it always seemed that at the end of the day doing the loop, at the marinas, everyone ended up on our boat to talk about travels and experiences.

Which makes it very worthwhile as we have met and maintained awesome friendships with sailors and power boaters alike.

Just to clarify.

Our houseboat did half the route
by: Anonymous

Our houseboat started in Tennessee to the Gulf to the Great Lakes in a 65 foot Fantasy houseboat and it was an awesome trip.

We stopped there only because of time constraints and hurricanes. We were in Houseboat Magazine in March 2011.
The only tough part is paying for fuel but we burn a gallon a mile at 9 knots with twin Yanmar diesels and our genny running.

Our awesome Fantasy intercoastal took 3-5 foot waves really well but was a handful at 5-7 footers but then that was quite rare as we usually waited out any weather like that.

It can be done and is a fantastic trip as we did 4k miles that trip and loved it. Don't let anyone tell you it can't be done.

Juts our thoughts…

The great loop
by: Tom

Hi Robert:
Doing the great loop is not easy. I don't see anywhere where you indicate you have experience in sailing. I sailed the great lakes for more than six years and the waters can be very dangerous for a regular house boat and I don't recommend for you to get a regular house boat.

For the Great Lakes and the gulf you NEED a deep hull with a high free board or you will scoop water from your interior and you will hate the day that you did this to yourself.

If the funds are there for you to finance a boat why not look at a Dutch Barge, Branson Boats, English barge builder, construct live a board barges and they have or can constructed for a class C ocean that will help you to navigate open waters.

Tom de Jong,former Dutch mariner

Houseboats cruising the Great Loop
by: Capt John

If I thought there was a good seaworthy houseboat capable of cruising America's Great Loop in it's entirety - I would have one.

I live a-board and cruise the Great Loop on a full-time basis. Furthermore, I am a very frugal voyager.

Right now I am averagng 0.4 gallons per hour motoring around in a 32' sailboat. Needless to say, if I could do even 1.0 gallon an hour in a nice little "houseboat" I would - simply for the open air, flat deck, and additional space.

However, not only does one have 70 miles of open Gulf to cross (between Carrabelle and Steinhatchee - one has to cross a good portion of open waters across NY Harbor, Chesepeake Bay, and Albermarle Sound. Albermarle Sound can (and usually is) worse than the Gulf.

Now. . . some have 'done the loop' in everything from jet skis to open skiffs and motor boats, and in fact it has been done in a sooped-up customized tri-toon.

But a houseboat on pontoons especially, would (in my opinion) be a very bad idea unless one was able to trailer around these areas.


What about trailerable houseboats?
by: fsta

Can a trailerable go the Great Loop, or substantial parts thereof?

Great Loop Travels - doing the loop in a 65 ft houseboat
by: Anonymous

Last year we left Sarasota and went up to the 1000 Islands in Canada and then returned in December. We will be continuing the loop this year yet starting a little earlier than last year.

Our story will be in the Houseboat magazine in March or on our blog. You need to research it properly and be prepared because it is not a cakewalk nor is it cheap.

Great Loop Houseboats - no houseboat I know of...
by: Capt. John

Sorry guys, but no "standard production" houseboat I know can "for certain" handle that open 160 mile stretch of the open Gulf of Mexico from Caravelle to Tarpon Springs.

I am on my 4th time around the Loop. Did it once when I was too young to appreciate it, and have done it twice more. Now, I am retiring on the Loop, on the long slow route.

So, just to let you know, I have "first hand" seen aluminum style pontoon houseboats head out into the Gulf, and come crippling back looking more like trapezoids then rectangles. Furthermore, low "freeboard" both swamps and flips these babies.

You need a very high freeboard, and a solid hull to make that Gulf, and so you know, the Great Lakes can be just as bad.

Houseboat on the Great Loop- doing that now
by: Fantasy

We have a 65x18 Fantasy houseboat that we have begun our loop travels with this April. Just the two of us manage this, and that is as large a vessel as one should have! We have been on the Atlantic side and done the locks and the ocean.

The great loop contains every body of water imaginable and every condition weather wise. I highly recommend not going to 95x22 unless you have crew onboard. There will be some places that it could be difficult to maneuver through with a boat that size. Good luck!

Great Loop Houseboat
by: BillG

I have a similar thought (dream). I found several Cari-Craft houseboats for sale 45' to 63' and they seem large enough for my needs. They are catamarans.

One pilothouse looks more like a tug with its custom bow, all seem to have sea going capabilities. I read an article about someone taking one to Belize and Bahamas, another down the Baja. Any opinions on this vessel?

Houseboat Travels - doing the loop 18x65 houseboat
by: Fantasy

We are doing the loop with just the two of us and you just need to pick your times and weather. So if we can make it, well, anyone can as this is our first voyage in this great intra-coastal (Fantasy)

Your size is too big for most marinas and will be impossible on some of the ICW waterways but rock on and just modify the boat.

Choice of houseboats
by: Atlantis Blues

Robert; the Great Loop, what a good time. I would strongly recommend looking at a Pluckebaum houseboat. I lived a few miles from their boatyard for many year and watched them build the boats.

The workmanship and quality of materials is of the highest order. And the resale is very high. I worked with them at one time on a boat I wanted to build and found them very easy to work with. Also their hulls are very deep affording a great deal of storage, an important consideration on such a long trip.

On the boat your are looking at building I would offer the following comments. The beam you are looking at is pretty wide for many of the areas you will venture into. If you can keep it to 18 foot it will be to your benefit.

I would also suggest building the houseboat with Kort nozzles if you plan on cruising at or near displacement speeds. They will cut your fuel consumption and if they are directional type will aid in handling in tight places.

I looked at buying a 50 foot steel double ended trawler with a single engine and no bow thruster and the Kort nozzle was amazing in tight quarters. If you plan on cruising at palnning speeds the Kort nozzles are not the way to go though.

A single level deck is something that is very nice on a cruising boat. When you basically spend 24 hours a day on the boat the steps get to be a pain.

Have fun on your trip.

I hope to make it one day.

AGLCA site for Great Loop info
by: Dave

Robert, I am also looking forward to doing the Great Loop in a houseboat with the knowledge that this type of boat requires a greater awareness of weather and sea conditions.

But whatever boat you choose, you would be wise to become familiar with the America's Great Loop Cruiser's Association (AGLCA) and their website for the information and tools available there. They offer a set of free tips sent to your email.

From tip #2- 19.1 feet is the lowest unavoidable structural clearance you will face. And the smallest lock at Port Severn is 23' x 84', so a 95' vessel would not be able to use the dock.
In any event, happy cruising.

by: beached guy

My mind boggles me at the thought of such a huge houseboat. You didn't write if you had prior experience with the ICW.

So here are some of my observations at random.

I can tell you firsthand that some of the Sounds and the Great Lakes can get more then just a little bit bumpy. How much crew (not passengers) are you counting on?

Some of the docks in Florida are specifically designed to hurt your boat unless you got substantial rubstrakes on the hull. Fenders will be not enough.

New Jersey's locals like to park their butts (boats) right in the ICW channel (which is narrow and convolted) to do their fishing and consider transient boat as an intrusion.

In other narrow sections further south, we found swimmers in the water not heeding any boat traffic.

I am presuming that the "Skipper Bob" publications are still available. These are low cost no pictures cruising guides for the entire Loop and are of outstanding value in what you get.

There is also a organization that deals with folks that do the Loop. You can probably find it easy on the net and they have a large amount of up to date info and first hand reports.

There are several fixed bridges with limited air clearance that you need to be aware of, the lowest just south of Chicago if memory serves me.

I could see a houseboat your size may be too tall, something around 15 feet was the height that would pass underneath.

I agree with Ian, why such a size houseboat, and would a different style boat for the same $$ be more suitable for such an undertaking.

The Great Loop
by: Anonymous

I read the last comment about you doing the Great Loop and rightly so, with a deep V hull it is possible, but definitely not with a two pontoon type houseboat.

Pontoon houseboats were not designed to go out in the open water, and yes luck might have been on your side. Those Pluckebaum houseboats are very nice and should be able to do the loop, but not with your regular two pontoon houseboats.

Do your research and talk with the manufacturer and see how they put the boat together, they will tell you the same thing. Check out Branson boats and they will have models, in kit form, to do the job.

Check out Youtube for "Dover RNLI volunteers rescue 65ft barge in heavy seas". A regular houseboat will not survive off the Atlantic coast or the Gulf.

This boat featured in this video is your best bet. Thomas

Something a little smaller?
by: Richard

I have been thinking of building a Glen-L, 45' Bon Voyage. The product literature states " though the hull is intended primarily for protected waters, a vee-form with long skeg assures good handling when the weather kicks up, while the topsides feature a good flare that combines with the forward bulwark to knock down spray for a dry ride."

There's lots of cabin space and I thought if a person raised the forward bulwark another foot it would stay pretty dry. Why go longer than you need to.

I would add a small bulbous bow with an integrated bow thruster for docking and I think things should be pretty good. You could get one of these built for a reasonable price (I would use the fiberglass version). I look forward to hearing your feelings.


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