When most people start planning a cruise on the Great Loop, they have to decide whether they want to do it on a 30-foot, 40-foot or even a 50-foot boat or more. Not John Cacciutti, a builder of luxury vacation homes from Ocean City, New Jersey. Cacciutti thinks outside the box. He and Barbie Evangelisti, his riding partner, are doing the 5,800-mile Great Loop on their Yamaha WaveRunner. And they’ve already put 1,700 Loop miles behind them.
Cacciutti and Evangelisti are not the first people to do the Loop on a PWC. Indeed, Larry Harcum completed the Loop in 87 days and published a book about it, Dreamrider: Adventures on America’s Great Loop, in 2006. Kim Russo, the director of America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association, says that a handful of others have done it and a few are on the Loop right now. But I think it’s safe to say none of them are having as good a time as Cacciutti and Evangelisti.
“With all the money that we save from doing this in a yacht,” he told me, “we try to pick real fun cities to get great meals and stay in the finest resorts. We may arrive dirty sometimes, but we clean up well.”
And then, despite their limited stowage space, they pack what’s important. On the Loop, he said, Evangelisti acts as the sommelier. She carries a cheese board and bottles of wine in their saddlebags, and when they’re waiting in a lock she’ll break them out and offer a glass of wine and some cheese to other cruisers who are waiting too.
So far, Cacciutti and Evangelisti have cruised from Georgia to Key West and from North Carolina to Sorel, Canada, at the top of the Richelieu Canal and the St. Lawrence. They generally go 100 miles or so a day, and then get an Uber to a hotel.
They carry two extra five-gallon cans of gas on the WaveRunner, and Cacciutti says that gives them a range of “about 110 miles at highway speeds up to 75 mph; at slower speeds, maybe 135 miles.” And they can pack enough clothes in their two 30-pound, dry-bag saddlebags that they don’t have to worry about what to wear at the end of the day.
They do the Loop in segments, usually five to 12 days, because that’s how much time Evangelisti can get off from her job. They plan to rejoin the Loop on May 17 in St. Augustine, Florida, and ride up to Hilton Head, South Carolina, for the next segment. Then they’ll fly back home, and get on the Loop again in mid-June.
If you see them on the Loop, wave, but wave quickly. They’ll probably be going a lot faster than you are.