Everywhere is Walking Distance If You Have the Time
Comedian Steven Wright dropped this on one of his unexpecting audiences several years ago and got a lukewarm reaction. Sometimes humor hides in the fine detail, as is with the story of the “loopers”, accused of having too much time on their hands.
The circumnavigation of Eastern North America by water is known as The Great Loop or Great Circle Route (although technically a loop is not a circle). Boating enthusiasts and retirees with an adventurous spirit must have “done” the loop for many years, but it was not until 1999 when America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association saw first daylight.
The Great Loop trip varies from 5,000 miles to 7,500 miles depending on the options (shortcuts) used, but in general takes anywhere from 6 months to a year to complete. The boats used, range from personal watercraft (jet-skis) to 60-foot yachts. Both sailboats and powerboats are used but the most common boats are 34 – 45 ft Recreational trawlers. The main factors or bottlenecks that govern the size of the boat is the limited draft (5 feet) in some locations on the loop and the height of one bridge (19 feet) in Chicago, Illinois.
A growing number of retiring baby boomer sailors are putting the Great Loop on their Bucket List which is witnessed by the sharply increasing number of registrations every year at AGLCA. Some 200 enthusiast vessels have registered for coming spring.
The AGLCA website appeals to any seafaring baby boomer with a sense of adventure when it opens with the sentence:
“Have you ever dreamed of leaving it all behind, hopping on your own boat and casting off for an adventure like no other? Do the ‘blue highways’ beckon you? Do you love boats and all things connected with cruising? You’re not alone!”
That’s right, the membership of AGLCA is growing as more sailors opt to go on what is described as the ultimate boating excursion, as this mega-mile adventure affords boaters majestic views from the waterways that pair the Nation’s past with the present. Twice a year they organize reunions and seminars to exchange friendship and educate those who are ready to take the trip. There are those who take the trip constantly and are up to 9 or 10 circumnavigations!?
I became first aware of this trip when my friend Jamie Deonas expressed the desire to undertake the circumnavigation about 18 months ago, before life started throwing some heavy duty curve balls. Lately however I have been doing some intensive research and found out that most “loopers” start their adventure in the early Spring by heading north from Southern Florida, completely navigating the IntraCoastal Waterway to reach the Great Lakes via New York, no later than August/September and start coming down the available River systems, using their southward current to reach the Gulf Coast by late Fall, before the winter cold hits. There are several short cuts that create the difference between 5,000 and 7,500 miles and progress in the face of the seasonal changes often defines which route is selected.
Just wondering if there is anyone in our community up for a bucketlist adventure like this?