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Trawler finishes 5,137-mile Great Loop adventure

After 5,137 nautical miles and nearly four months circumnavigating the Great Loop, a Swift Trawler 34 that Beneteau named The Greatest Loop returned to its home port of Annapolis, Md.

The Beneteau Swift Trawler 34 had a rotating crew during the 4-month voyage.

When the busy boat, which was used in a marketing campaign to promote Beneteau’s push into the North American powerboat market, arrived Sept. 6, it had logged 570 hours on its Cummins QSB5.9 diesel and burned 4,638 gallons of fuel at a cost of $20,870.

“We were pretty realistic. We figured it would take about 600 hours,” says Patrick Hopkins, powerboat sales coordinator for Annapolis Yacht Sales, which handled the logistics of rigging the boat and keeping it on its tight schedule.

“One factor was a lot of time spent idling and waiting to transit locks along the way. Most people ran between 14 and 18 knots the whole trip. With the locks and a lot of no-wake zones, especially around Chicago, the overall average speed was probably closer to 10 to 12 knots. Sixteen knots and 2,100 rpm seem to be the sweet spot for that boat in terms of fuel burn and ride comfort.”

With a light displacement of 16,356 pounds, the Swift Trawler 34 is designed for optimal cruising performance at 17 mph, at which speed it burns about 11.6 gph. (With a top speed near 24 mph, the 34 burns 20.5 gph, according to Beneteau). The trawler’s fuel capacity is 211 gallons, which the builder says gives it a cruising range of about 936 miles at 7 mph and about 200 miles at top speed.

The Greatest Loop — Swift Trawler 34 hull No. 202 — was built in Challans, France, and delivered to Baltimore in March. The trawler was outfitted with equipment and products supplied by sponsors that included Cummins, Cummins Onan, Raymarine, Dometic Group, Interlux, DeLorme and Zodiac. Valued at about $423,000 outfitted for the voyage, she left Annapolis in May. Soundings contributing writer Stephen Blakely was on board for the first leg, to New York City, and chronicled the passage in the August issue.

Crewmembers rotated on and off the boat during the 12 legs of the voyage, and organizers were pleased with The Greatest Loop’s performance, which included no major mechanical problems. There were two groundings — on the Trent-Severn Waterway in Ontario and on the Intracoastal Waterway near Myrtle Beach, S.C.

“Other than two bent props and a bent rudder we had no major mechanical problems, so we thought that was amazing for a trip that long with a standard production boat,” says Garth Hichens, president of Annapolis Yacht Sales.

“The second grounding was a surprise, but we got lucky and the marina I called nearby took care of everything — fixed the prop and bent rudder — and had it back in the water and under way within 24 hours,” says Hopkins, who was tasked with rigging the boat and troubleshooting problems on the fly. “The ICW is one of those areas where you have to pay attention all the time.”

The trawler had no major mechanical problems during the trip.AC

At each of the stops during the voyage Beneteau invited potential customers to board the boat. More than 14,000 unique visitors viewed The Greatest Loop Facebook page. Beneteau plans to display the trawler at the U.S. Powerboat Show Oct. 11-14 in Annapolis.

The Swift Trawler 34 is the smallest of Beneteau’s trawlers. It has an overall length of 36 feet, 7 inches and a beam of 13 feet, 1 inch. There are aft and starboard entrances to the pilothouse/saloon, along with transom and starboard hull-side doors. The standard 34 has helm stations inside and on the flybridge, both to starboard. (The 34S model has no flybridge.)

The layout below features a stateroom forward, a cabin to port with twin single berths and a head to starboard. The settee in the saloon converts to a double berth. The saloon/pilothouse is offset to port and includes a U-shaped galley with a double sink, refrigerator, two-burner stove and microwave.

The Greatest Loop’s 570 engine hours are roughly equivalent to a 3-year-old boat, Hichens says, and Annapolis Yacht Sales has already found a buyer. The Baltimore buyer had looked over the boat before the start of the Great Loop voyage and returned for another inspection when it returned. The customer signed a contract to purchase the Swift Trawler — warrantied and priced as a 3-year-old boat. “It was a win-win situation all around,” Hichens says.

Beneteau continues the evolution of the Swift Trawler range with a 50-footer, which will be shown at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.,

See additonal photo

November 2012



Helping Hands on the Great Loop

After they completed their own America’s Great Loop cruise, a couple volunteered as helpers for other Loopers cruising near their hometown of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, on Lake Michigan.