When we first started this journey, we were truly excited about the adventure and we enjoyed our time prepping and planning for the trip. For 8 months before the trip we were engrossed in planning, packing, preparing, checking, and altering, the entire trip.
There are many lessons that we have learned along the way, and many more that we are surely yet to learn, but one stands out more than anything else thus far… there is a reason why more people climb Mt. Everest every year than people who complete The American Great Loop. There are several reasons why this is and I will go into a bit more detail on this topic.
- The trip is not only long, but fast paced. While climbing Mt. Everest is no easy feat by any means, it takes about 3 months to complete the task. The American Great Loop takes about 12 months in most cases. (Yes, some have completed it in 6 weeks, and others have taken years, but the average is about 12 months). Here is the thing, this is by no means a slow paced trip. While talking to Captain Matt, we both had a realization. This is not a sprint, it is definitely a marathon… but it is still a race, and one that can be grueling and exhausting at times.
- Cost is much more than you think or plan for. To climb Mt. Everest, it will cost about $30,000-$50,000 grand total. The Great Loop will cost multiples of that for most people. While the initial boat purchase is a large cost, that is actually not the most expensive bit. You will get most of your initial purchase cost at the sale of the vessel, although not all. Maintenance, upgrades (for convenience and safety sake), tools, materials, and other basic needs will blow through the $50,000 budget that Mt. Everest costs and probably even more than that. That is before you even leave for the trip, after that there is fuel (which for most boats will be about 4,000 gallons of fuel) at today’s prices you can only imagine the fuel bill. Then we have moorage, and before you say “Just anchor” that is not possible or feasible some times. Add food, clothing, toiletries, and that is even before the “touristy” things which are not cheap. Overall, we planned to spend quite a bit on this trip, and our expectations have vastly underestimated the true cost.
- All the planning in the world will not prepare you for freakish and strange things that happen along the way. Accidents happen, mother nature will show you her power in an instant and humble you beyond belief, your own actions (no matter how well intentioned at the start) will make you question your sanity and competence. While many people complete this journey, most places along the route are small towns and villages that have isolated themselves from the rest of the world and only advance if they are forced to do so. Don’t get me wrong, that is part of their charm, but if you need something that only modern world can provide, you better figure out how to go without. I guess that’s where the Mt. Everest and The American Great Loop are aligned pretty well.
- Mental and physical strain that this trip can take on you is huge. Out of 74 days we’ve been on this trip, 49 have been on the move and while some trips have been a couple of hours here and there, others have been for 7 or more hours (one was 11 hours covering nearly 90 miles). And when you get to a place, you don’t get to rest much. Most stops are either enroute to somewhere else (which means you have to move the next day) or they are places where there are activities to do (which means, rest up for a little bit and then get a move on). I foolishly brought golf clubs on the trip… we talked about taking them out several times and every time we realized that we wouldn’t have a chance to play at all.
How it’s going so far
Well, the trip has been an absolute blast but it’s not without some negatives either. The cost has been one, but more than that I believe the mental drain of dealing with constant issues that come up has been even more of an issue. We all had to learn how to deal with the constant changes that pop up, some of us more than others.
We all have lives elsewhere that we had to put on pause to complete this trip, but things don’t pause no matter how much we try. Friendships and relationships have been strained despite best efforts. Even the simplest things, like paying the bills, have been complicated by the distance and delays in time.
Despite all of that, it is by far the best and most amazing adventure that we have gone on so far in our lives, and it might be one of the most amazing things we experience in our lives period.
No matter what, just remember the words of a great Jimmy Buffet song “Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On”