Budgeting for America’s Great Loop comes with challenges. Some areas of the loop have abundant anchoring options while others have very few options. Some regions have higher fuel prices while other regions have relatively low prices. There are many factors that go into creating a budget for the Great Loop, but among all is flexibility. Our time in Canada has been incredible, however, it’s also been some of the most expensive months for us on our Loop. We planned to anchor out as much as possible, but our need to run our online business had us staying at marinas more often than we had initially planned so we could use the marina wifi, visit coffee shops, and go to the public library for wifi. This is obviously very specific to our data and connection needs and not a necessity for all loopers. By sharing our Great Loop monthly expenses with you, we hope to inspire other people that you can do the Loop on a budget at any age.

Great Loop Budget August 2022
Ontario, Canada | Long Point Anchorage in the North Channel


Before I dive into our August expenses, it’s important to understand where we traveled, how far we cruised, and some peculiarities in our particular loop experience. July was our favorite month on the Great Loop until we experienced August and then August surpassed July. We were blown away by the natural beauty of the Georgian Bay and the North Channel. When we initially decided to do the Great Loop, we didn’t know that we would be visiting such beautiful places on our trip.

We began our travels in Orillia with two locks remaining on the Trent Seven Waterway. Throughout August, we traveled in the Georgian Bay, the North Channel, and returned back to the US where we ended in Mackinaw City for a total of 411 nautical miles. We enjoyed tucking into many different anchorages and finding a lot of spots to play whether that be hiking, swimming, or paddle boarding. Here is our Nebo travel summary:

August Nebo Great Loop
Nights at a marina dock: 10
Nights on a marina mooring ball: 0
Nights on a free dock: 0
Nights on a paid dock: 1
Nights on a free lock wall: 2
Nights on a paid lock wall: 1
Nights at anchor: 17

We spent most nights on anchor this month, which we were so happy about! It felt great to be back on anchor, however, we did stay at several marinas for the internet. About 2/3 of our nights were free, which we’re happy about because staying out of marinas and on anchor or at free docks is a HUGE part of how we try to spend less on the Loop.


We spent a total of $3,714.53 on our Great Loop expenses for August 2022. This was another expensive month on the loop since we docked at marinas more than we would have liked and refueled twice. 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.

August Great Loop Expenses

Our greatest expense was fuel for a total of $1,637.98. We fueled up twice this month, once at the start of the Georgian Bay and the second in Mackinaw City in preparation for Lake Michigan. For both fuel ups, we searched for the most competitive prices ahead of time which helped us save money.

Our second greatest expense this month was groceries for a total of $852.18. This month’s grocery bill was average compared to other months. 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 $557.05. 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 10 nights at 6 different marinas or paid docks, which quickly adds up. We stayed at the Little Current Marina for a day longer than we would have to go to the local library and try to upload videos. Looking back at our time in Canada, we would have prioritized getting StarLink to solve our lack of wifi/connection before getting into the country. Once we were there, we didn’t want to mail the hardware to a marina only to have delays so we waited until we arrived back in the states. The most expensive dockage was at Mackinaw City, Michigan where we stayed for 4 nights (and counting) due to weather that is causing all loopers to be patient and wait for a good weather window.

The remaining categories were pretty nominal. While we were on Mackinac Island, we rented bikes to explore the island because it was the most recommended thing for us to do on our Google Form from our viewers. We also paid the most for housekeeping this month, which was attributed to pump-outs. In the southeastern and northeastern US, we saw pump-outs for $5 or $10 maximum. In Canada and Mackinaw City, pump-outs have been $15 a tank, making it $30 for us to pump out. Some looper friends told us they were charged $75 for a pump-out at the marina next to the Big Chute Marine Railway, Lock 44 on the Trent Severn. Pump-outs are part of the cost of doing business but are something to be mindful about. Since the pump-outs have been so expensive, we began using the marina restrooms more throughout our stays to reduce the amount we use our heads onboard.


If you’re interested in our
Great Loop Budget Calculator,
check it out here!


Trent Severn Waterway, Lock 44 | Jen and Elliot going through the Big Chute Marine Railway

We hope this post provided you with some insightful information on how much it costs to do the loop on a budget. We will continue to make these monthly expense reports as long as they continue to be helpful to our viewers. If there is something you would like us to include in our September 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!


13 Responses

  1. Thank you both for sharing your adventures, I first learned about the Great Loop about 5 years ago and cannot get enough of the blogs/vlogs/books and articles.
    5 more years and it will be my turn 🙂

  2. We love what you are doing and that you are sharing your experience. It’s something we want to do in the future. We recently bought our first boat (except for my 16 foot Carolina Skiff). We bought a used Sea Ray 260 which is of course not a loop boat but we wanted to start somewhere to start learning. Also I can pull it out of the water on its trailer when I’m deployed. I’m an unlimited tonnage ship captain but I have been really surprised at how much I do not know about small boat / yachting.
    My wife (Jennifer( and I hope you are having a ton of fun. We will follow you here and on our youtube channel.
    Smooth winds and following seas,
    John and Jen

    1. Hey John and Jen, thanks for watching our videos and following along on our adventure! We really appreciate it.

      That’s a great boat to learn and start practicing your boat skills with. Wow, I can only imagine the difference in scale between a large ship and a trailerable boat. Best of luck learning more about your Sea Ray!

    2. I recently discovered a couple that did the loop in a Searay 270. She shared their “basic numbers” with me. I didn’t realize what boat they used until I saw their gasoline number.

  3. Thanks for sharing your adventure with us. Back in the early 90s wife and I took our 26 footer from Chicago down the Illinois river/Mississippi river to the gulf for our honeymoon. Had a great trip that I’ll never forget. No more wife or boat but your videos have inspired me think about the doing the loop with my dog. Starting to look at loop boats the her and I can handle by ourselves . Hopefully next year.
    Stay safe and have fun, life is short.

    1. Hi Pete, thanks for following along on our adventure. So sorry to hear about your wife. It sounds like you have many great memories with her and the adventures you went on together on the boat. Best of luck starting the loop with your dog! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. We’re happy to help!

      Life is short and is meant to be lived.

  4. Did you need anything different when docking in Canada? Did you have to call in to immigration? Did you ever have to show a passport or enhanced license? Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Jane! We checked into Canada upon arrival. We used their ArriveCAN app, called an immigration officer, and got our approval number which was important if we were stopped by the Coast Guard. We did not have to show our passports, but we did have to share our passport information, immunization cards, and Ollie’s vaccination records, specifically for Rabies. Regulations and requirements can change from year to year so we’d recommend checking their government website for the most up-to-date information.


  5. This was so cool to read! Pete and I came up from Sandusky, Ohio and TJ and Julie on Halfling were the first Loopers that we encountered as we headed North towards Mackinaw and they invited us over for Docktails! Lol You always remember your first!
    And we have enjoyed watching your progress and have learned so much from you guys too!
    Hugs, Cheri and Pete on Spring Fling

    1. Thanks for reading, Cheri! So good to hear you had such a fun first docktails experience with TJ and Julie. We first met them in Staten Island, NY, and loop-frogged with them in Mackinaw City, MI.

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