Marvelous Things Happen

Hi Chris and Alyse,

It was great to see you at the St. Pete Boat show. We have made it down to Marathon and will be staying at the Boat House for about two months. Then we’ll begin our journey back up North…Attached is a brief article about our travels.

Ever onward,
Loretta and Bob McKane

As I write this, I am sitting on a 37-foot Mariner Trawler outside Naples, Florida, on our way to the Florida Keys.  By the time we reach the Keys, my husband and I will have completed 4,000 miles of the 6,000-mile adventure known as the Great Loop.

To envision the Great Loop (or at least the version we are taking), draw a line from NYC to Montreal to Chicago to Mobile to the southern tip of Florida and then back up to NYC. That circumnavigation of the Eastern half of the United States is also known as the Great Circle.  Around 100 boats, most of them members of the America’s Great Loop Cruising Association (AGLCA) complete the trip each year.

We began our adventure on June 1, 2013 from New York. Our trip took us up the Hudson River, through several Canadian canal systems, from the top t the bottom of Lake Michigan, down the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers and across the Gulf of Mexico.  Even our three adventurous sons, who have done such significant things as thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, riding across the country on the Trans Am, and attending the Beijing Olympics, think we are pretty cool.  (Though they usually add, “… for old folks.”)    

As a land-based girl who lived all her life in suburban Boston or New York, sometimes I’m not quite sure how I got here.  As with all things, there were several pivotal factors.

First, in my second marriage, I wed a guy who, in addition to his corporate day job, taught sailing.  Needless to say, he had a sailboat.  Second, my new husband had me read the tale of another couple’s travels on the Great Loop, “Honey, I Bought a Boat.”  Third, he took me to Trawler Fest, the boat show combined with Trawler University in Baltimore.
At Trawler Fest, two marvelous things occurred.  We bought our beautiful, current trawler, Carol Anne, and we took Chris and Alyse’s course “Cruising for Couples.”

Chris and Alyse radiated love of sailing for two days aboard a 48-foot Benetau with four cruising-bound couples.  More importantly, they shared their extensive knowledge of the requirements of cruising.  We learned such things as: the importance of communication and the benefits of echoing statements to give confirmation.  They emphasized giving weather the upper hand in all decisions.  As Alyse said. “Sailing is supposed to be fun; in bad weather, it’s not fun.”  They also taught us many useful skills, such as how to loop a line around a dock cleat while staying aboard the boat.  (If that sounds easy to you, then let me say that the first time I did it, the on-looking dockhand said, “That was bad ass!”)  Cruising for Couples reinforced our confidence and caused us to jumpstart our journey even earlier than we had originally anticipated.

People ask us all the time, “What was your favorite part of the Great Loop?”  Sometimes I name a particular point in the Loop, like the Montreal Jazz Festival or downtown St. Petersburg.  Most often, I say it’s the people we have met.  At no time in our lives, have we met such a congenial group of open-minded risk takers with a cautious and planfull nature.  (Anyone doing the Great Loop has to have that particular combination of adventure and safety in spades.) But perhaps my favorite moment was when I posted a photo to Facebook and one of my former co-workers commented, “You sailed to Kentucky?!!”  Aye, Aye, Captain.