Beneteau Swift 34: Last Leg of the Great Loop - 08/22/2012

As you read this the Beneteau Swift 34 "Great Loop" will be making its way on the last leg of its 6,000 Great Loop Route voyage. She left Charleston, SC. on Monday headed for Annapolis, MD to close the loop on September 7th. Aboard is BoatTEST.com's crew of two couples who plan to put the Swift 34 through her most rigorous "in-use" test so far. Of course we will have a full report -- called the "Test of Time" (the best test of all!) -- in a future issue of the newsletter. In the meantime those interested can check on progress on the Great Loop Facebook page.

Beneteau Swift 34: Making the Great Loop Route
The Beneteau Swift 34 is caught here racing past downtown Chicago after crossing three of the five Great Lakes. The last leg is from Charleston, SC to Annapolis, MD.
We appreciate Beneteau inviting the BoatTEST.com's crew aboard for the final leg of the Great Loop voyage. We have lots of questions about the Swift 34 and our 16 days on the boat should answer most of them. Obviously, the first thing we will be looking at is how well the boat has held up after over 5,000 miles of what sounds like some pretty hard driving to make the schedule. We'll be taking a good look at the engine room, the topsides and furniture and noting any wear and tear.
Beneteau Swift 34: Making the Great Loop Route
The Great Loop Route as made by the Swift 34 is shown here on a map from Beneteau's special website. We'll be starting from Charleston, SC.
With seven different crews aboard, each taking a leg of the trip, there was bound to be a reasonable amount of abuse to the vessel simply because there is a learning curve with a new vessel for any crew, ours included. The Swift 34 is equipped with many optional systems including a generator, air conditioner, head, and full electronics. The BoatTEST.com crew will be giving the boat a thorough "in-use" trial of all systems, plus will answer the more important question of her liveability. Two Couples Aboard Specifically, we will be looking at how well the boat can actually accommodate two couples. To our knowledge, all of the previous crews have been the two-man variety. We will have two couples. The ladies have already packed their hair dryers, so we will discover how the boat's electrical system will handle them. Further, at least one of the ladies is bringing a suitcase aboard that one normally uses just on airplanes for short trips instead of a proper duffle bag -- so this should be interesting, as well.
Beneteau Swift 34: Making the Great Loop Route
The Beneteau Swift 34 in New York Harbor in May just a few days after she left Annapolis, MD, her home port, on the first leg of her journey.
Both of the ladies are good cooks so the galley and its propane stove should get a workout. They are used to 8-burner Viking ranges, huge refrigerator/freezers, deep double sinks and lots of counter space in their kitchens at home, so we will see how well they cope on a 34-footer with a smaller galley. Clearly, the Swift 34 is quite suitable for a couple or even single-handed operation. But two couples for 16 days aboard a 34' (10.36 m) boat will certainly be a test for all concerned, and we shall report on it all. Different Conditions Most of our passage will be made in protected water until we arrive in the Chesapeake Bay. It can get quite rough at the bottom of the bay, particularly if the tide is contrary to the wind, so we'll also be taking careful note of her handling in all conditions. We plan to explore some rivers and creeks on the Eastern Shore of Maryland which is notorious for shoal conditions. Again, we will report on how she handles in skinny water.
Beneteau Swift 34: Making the Great Loop Route
Toronto, Canada is in the background as the Swift 34 "Great Loop" makes her way across Lake Ontario.
Float Plan -- Places To Visit the "Great Loop" Some of the stops we will be making along the way include Georgetown, SC, Southport, NC, Wilmington, Beaufort, and Oriental, NC. We will arrive in Oriental on August 24th. The boat will be tied up at the Oriental Marina and Inn, and will be available for viewing all day on Saturday, August 25th. Later on we will be going to Ocracoke, Roanoke Island on North Carolina's Outer Banks, then on to Norfolk, VA. In the Chesapeake Bay we plan to stop for a couple of days in Deltaville, VA. We'll be arriving there on Aug. 31st, and the boat will be available for viewing all day on Sept 1st at the Deltaville Marina. The following day we'll be off to Tangier and Smith islands. Later "Great Loop" will make several of the usual stops the on the Eastern Shore. We plan to end up in Annapolis on the late afternoon of Sept. 7th. The boat will be docked at the marina behind the Marriott hotel. Along the way we will be filming short reports on the Great Loop Facebook page-- 
A full "in-use" report will be published in the newsletter in late September. In the meantime, visit our full boat test of the Swift 34 along with four videos--
Below are some pictures of "Great Loop" as she made her way along the route.
Beneteau Swift 34: Making the Great Loop Route
"Great Loop" as she looked as she started her circumnavigation of the American East Coast last May.
Beneteau Swift 34: Making the Great Loop Route
"Great Loop" in a canal in the Trent-Severn Waterway in Canada.
Beneteau Swift 34: Making the Great Loop Route
"Great Loop" heads down the Illinois River toward the Mississippi.
Beneteau Swift 34: Making the Great Loop Route
Taking a break in Pirate's Cove, Alabama.
Beneteau Swift 34: Making the Great Loop Route
Stiltsville off of Miami in Biscayne Bay always makes a compelling photo op. The water is quite skinny here but the 34 seems to be taking it in stride.
Beneteau Swift 34: Making the Great Loop Route
This photo was taken August 14th just south of Charleston, SC in the "low country." It must have been fun meeting up with a sistership.

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