A fair question. One we keep asking ourselves, over and over and over again. At some points it seems the only reason we don’t throw up our hands and quit is to avoid the embarrassment of telling family and friends. Maybe I should back up.
David had sailed a bit on the rivers of Tennessee as a boy, and then later as a student at Swarthmore on an oceanography vessel off the Atlantic coast . He remembers hearing about the possibility of doing a complete loop by boat around eastern North America and was intrigued.
So what is the Great Loop? In the words of the American Great Loop Cruiser’s Association (AGLCA),”the Great Loop is the continuous waterway that encompasses the eastern portion of North America including the Atlantic and Gulf Intracoastal Waterways, the Great Lakes, the Canadian Heritage Canals, and the inland rivers of America’s heartland”. The concept is relatively new. There is a mention of 3 “boys” completing the loop by sailboat in the 1890’s; no doubt there were others who followed. But it wasn’t until “Captain John” started posting about his experiences on the Loop in 1993 (on what was then a fairly new-fangled internet), followed by a humorous best seller published in 1999 called “Honey, Let’s Buy a Boat”, that the Loop popped up on many people’s radar (so to speak). The aforementioned book was written by a couple who ended up founding the AGLCA, which David and I joined when first considering the adventure, and which has been an invaluable resource–we even found our boat “Golden” through their classifieds. When he and I were writing out our “bucket list” of experiences we wanted after retirement, he made the mistake of mentioning his desire to someday sail the Loop, and I was hooked. (He told me later that if he’d had any idea I would go for it, he probably would’ve held his tongue).
Our second mistake was telling others, who also thought it sounded cool, and before you know it, we’re stuck proceeding or else risk terminal embarrassment. So that’s how we found ourselves flying back and forth from Alaska (where we had lived) to Oregon (where most of our kids live) to the East Coast to look at used boats, putting an offer on one (several, truth be told), and eventually actually buying one. Our biggest problem is that neither of us have ever owned a large boat, and by the time we realized we were completely unprepared for the responsibility of owning a huge expensive complicated vessel that could result in our death, or at the very least, bankruptcy, if we make too many mistakes, it was WAYYY too late.
We bought “Golden” in Fort Myers and sailed it across Florida via the Okeechobee waterway (a canal built by the US Army Corp of Engineers) from the Gulf coast to a town on the east coast called Stuart, where it now rests.
But that’s a story for another day….