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The Great Loop is a system of waterways that encompasses the eastern portion of the United States and part of Canada. It is made up of both natural and man-made waterways, including the Atlantic and Gulf Intracoastal Waterways, the Great Lakes, the Rideau Canal, and the Mississippi and Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. The entire loop is approximately 6,000 miles long.
Traveling the Great Loop
There is no single route or itinerary to complete the Loop. In order to avoid winter ice and summer hurricanes, boaters generally traverse the Great Lakes and Canadian waterways in summer, travel down the Mississippi or the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway in fall, cross the Gulf of Mexico and Florida in the winter, and travel up the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway in the spring. Depending on speed of travel, the route may take as little as two months, although more often people take a year to complete the trip. The route may also be completed in segments.
The first recorded instance of someone completing the Great Loop was three boys who did it in a sailboat in the 1890s.
The America's Great Loop Cruisers' Association (AGLCA) assists Great Loop cruisers by sharing safety and navigational and cruising information, while providing a networking platform for Loopers through its members-only discussion forum. Boaters can exchange information about topics such as marinas, locking through, water depth, hazards, repairs, fuel prices or dinner reservations and sight seeing. The AGLCA also hosts twice-yearly gatherings for Loopers currently on the Loop and those planning a Great Loop trip.