Over the last few weeks, we’ve been fortunate to see a ton of family and friends from DC to NJ to NY. It’s so fun to share our adventure with others. So we wrote out some of the most common questions we got--in case you were wondering too.
Sweet Day's FAQs
How much fuel do you use?
The faster we go, the more fuel we use. So we try to keep it around 8-9 mph. At this speed, we burn about 2 gallons an hour. We hold just under 100 gallons of diesel. We try to keep our tanks with no less than ¼-½ a tank, so we fill up maybe 1-2x a week depending on how far we’re traveling.
How do you know where to dock?
We use an app called Navionics, which is like Google maps for boating. You can put in your route, find marinas along the way, and places to stop/see which also are reviewed by other boaters. Some docks/marinas are free, but most charge by the foot (anywhere from $1-$5/foot) for transient boaters to stay for a night or more. They are like campsites for boaters--most have showers, bathrooms, electricity, laundry, grills, are often in fun spots to explore.
Where can you anchor?
Navionics and Aqua Maps (a similar map service for boating) identifies anchorages. They also are reviewed by other boaters so we get helpful tips to find the best spots. Anchoring laws are primarily determined by each state, but generally, as long as you are outside a navigation channel and commercial fishing areas, and you have enough water to avoid running aground, you can anchor (and it’s free!)
How do you know where you’re going?
Cruisers have been looping for years, so there are tons of resources that help you plot out your route. Our navigation apps like Navionics and AquaMaps also make it easy to chart your route and ensure you’re staying on course. And when we’re actually on the water, we follow channel markers to make sure we’re staying on course (like lanes on a highway). AGLCA, Alan Lloyd's Great Loop Navigation Notes, and Waterway Guide, are also helpful resources to keep us on track.
Where do you drive on the boat?
We usually drive from up top on the flybridge. We have better visibility and it’s usually great to be outside. But in rougher water or if it’s raining/too cold, we’ll drive from below.
Do you get hailed on the radio?
Yes, and it is a very handy tool to have. We use it to communicate if we want to pass another boat, chat with other boaters, hail a marina to let them know we’re pulling in, hail a lockmaster to open a lock, or ask for a bridge to open if we’re too tall to go under. The Coast Guard will also use it to broadcast local messages (weather, obstructions in the water, etc). We’ve even been called by a government boat to instruct us how to stay out of a naval firing practice.
What does the flag mean?
AGLCA stands for American Great Loop Cruisers Association. If you are currently looping for the first time, it is customary to fly a white AGLCA flag. If you have already completed a loop, many fly a gold flag. And if you’ve done more than one, you can fly a platinum flag. It’s a great way to easily spot and meet other loopers!
Do you see other loopers or the same people along the journey?
Yes, all the time. When we pull into a marina, we are often greeted by other loopers, people doing the same trip we are. You can identify us by our AGLCA flag. A lot of loopers also use the Nebo app, where you can see where other loopers are on the map and can message each other. Sometimes we travel a few days with the same boats, others you may see one day and then meet up again a few weeks later. It’s fun!
What do you eat?
We eat about 75% of our meals on the boat. We have a tiny kitchen that has everything we need--a small oven, 3 burner stove, microwave, fridge, and some pantry space. It depends on what’s going on for the day what our meals look like, but on a regular cruising day (5+ hours of traveling) this is generally what we’d eat:
Breakfast: coffee and banana/fruit/granola bar
Lunch: Tuna fish or PB&J sandwiches or leftovers from dinner
Afternoon snack/happy hour: cut veggies, hummus, chips, cheese, crackers
Dinner: stir fry, pasta, soup, roasted veggies, chicken/steak, rice, and beans
Dessert: Oreo Thins. (It’s embarrassing how many packs we’ve gone through)
We eat out in town if there’s a must-see place to go, bakery to try out, or we are exhausted from a long day and not in the mood to cook. (Check out our favorite places on our route). But often we find ourselves not close to a restaurant and are learning how to be creative with what’s in our pantry.
How often do you stock up on food?
We go to a grocery store probably 2-3x a week when we pull into a town and one is within biking distance. We aim to get enough fresh food for about 3 dinners (and snacks for lunches, etc), but are limited by what we can carry on our bikes and what we can store in our boat. We always have some dry goods for a meal or two on board if we’re in a spot where we run low on food. Since we don’t have space for a ton of food, and sometimes our meals are whatever we have on board, we waste a lot less than when living on land!
Do you sleep on the boat every night?
Since we started the loop, we only spent 3 nights off the boat. Two were when we came to MD for Tim’s grandfather's funeral, and another at Kate’s family home when we visited DC. Generally, we like to sleep on the boat. Like a house, it has the comforts of home, we are there if anything should happen to the boat, and we don’t have to pack a bag!
Those seats didn’t come with the boat?
Our flybridge “couch” is one of our favorite spots on the boat. When we bought the boat, there was only a large white chest up top. But we knew we wanted a place we could hang and entertain. So we removed the chest and installed pontoon seats and many people have commented it’s like they were always part of the boat! (Check out our other Sweet Day upgrades here).
Have you been stuck in any bad weather?
We’ve been in storms, but luckily we’ve always been tied up at a dock or in a protected anchorage. We’ve had some rough waves in the Chesapeake Bay, but managed to get through them. And one time while at anchor while we were working on our engine, a short, but strong storm came through. We thought our anchor was dragging, but we couldn’t turn the engine on because we were in the middle of a project. Luckily we realized we only swung 180 degrees, and the anchor was still snug.
Do you ever get sick of one another?
Mostly no, but sometimes we are very aware we are living together on a 31 foot boat. We are learning communication is key and more times than not feel really lucky to be on this journey together. Before the trip, we heard about the "80/80 Marriage" which is the concept that spouses should not try to ensure each is doing their fair share (or 50/50), but each should aim to do 80%. This mindset also helps a lot. If we're lying in bed, I may say, "I forgot to turn off the water pump--Tim can you do an 80 for me and get up and turn it off?" Or Tim would comment, "Kate, you really pulled an 80 on cooking dinner and doing the dishes."
Who’s the captain?
We consider us both the captain. While we both have our strengths, we both are involved in almost every aspect of the boat. We both drive, troubleshoot boat problems, navigate, plan our routes, grocery shop, clean, and so on. From a safety standpoint, it’s important either of us could take on responsibilities should something happen to the other. This is our journey, and important to us that we both are involved in decisions and operations that make this adventure possible.
Big shout out to all our visitors! So glad to have you on board.
We also have covered some miles and new waterways since our last post. Here are some of the highlights and links to see more on our Instagram @lifeonsweetday.
Exploring Cape May, NJ
Reliving a small piece of our life in NYC in Brooklyn
Beginning our journey up the Hudson with Tim’s mom
Exploring Hudson River Valley hikes and towns
Great food and drinks in Hudson
Beginning our adventure through the Erie Canal and journey through 57 locks
Being in a lock while it is being repaired
Seeing family in Sylvan Beach