Just who are these people who do The Great Loop? It’s said that fewer than 200 boats complete the loop each year, but many more do at least part of it. We’ve met at least 70 if them in three months under way. I began to ask them the same questions: Where and when did you begin, and why?
Here’s the first installment of “Who Are The Loopers?”
Mike and Jeannie on Wind Shift
Began: March 2021 in Fla.. (They are from Edgewater, Md.)
Why: “We like to travel, cruise, and see interesting cities.”
Interesting fact: I met them when I paddled over on my board to say hello while they were at anchor in Harbor Springs, Mich. We’ve been in touch ever since, though I don’t recall the last time we saw them.
Loren on Das Boot
Began: April 2021 from Daytona, Fla. (He’s from Portland, but I don’t remember which state. Maine, I think!)
Why: “It’s on my bucket list.”
Interesting fact: He is “single-handing,” meaning cruising alone, with his dog Zoey.
Ray and Shelley on Shellerina
Began: May 2021 from Long Island, NY
Why: “Because we can.”
Interesting fact: Shelley has MS and is blind in one eye.
Loren and Lisa on Irrational Exuberance
Began: Nov. 2020 from Demopolis, Ala.
Why: “We had nothing else to do.”
Interesting fact: They were already worldwide travelers, teaching English as a second language in places like Serbia, India, and Greece. COVID hit the world and travel stopped. So they began to cruise.
Fawn and Dan on Royal Coachman III (sailboat)
Began: May 2021 in Manitowac, Wisc.
Why: “It was primarily her idea. We had a “bucket-list” discussion and it fell together kind of naturally.”
Interesting fact: They keep a toy mermaid and unicorn on board, and the toys have their own blog, aimed at their 7-year-old grand-daughter.
Ike and Terry on Paradise Falls
Began: Oct. 2019 from Madison, Ind.
Why: “The adventure after retiring.”
Interesting fact: They got caught in COVID closures (marinas and fuel docks), then ran into hurricane season, and spent almost a year in Jacksonville Fla.
Mike on Gratitude
Began: July 2021 in St. Claire, Mich.
Why: “The adventure.”
Interesting facts: He is single-handing a 26-foot motor-sailboat and works while cruising. His engine died in Kentucky Lake and he had to be towed to safe harbor. (It’s quite a story!)
Steve and Jane on Sabbatical
Began: Jan. 2018 in Placida, Fla.
Why: “Because my wife wanted me to.” (I’m not sure that’s all of it! 😉 )
Interesting fact: They finished in Jan. 2019 and started to cruise again in May 2021 from Jacksonville, Fla. Some Loopers just can’t stop!
Rick and Christie on Inked Mermaid
Began: Oct. 2020 from Alton, Ill.; completed The Loop in Sept. 2021
Why: “We are lifetime boaters and she wanted to live on a boat. I wanted to see the country.”
Interesting fact: They sold their house before starting The Loop and plan to keep cruising.
Roger and Chris on Betty Gail
Began: Jan. 2021 from Bradenton, Fla. (They are from Nebraska.)
Why: “We wanted to see the U.S. on the original highways, from the water.”
Tom and Val on Wine & Roses (sailboat)
Began: May 2021 from Newport, Rhode Is.
Why: “We want to see this country.”
Brenda and Dave on Slo Pace
Began: March 2021 in Coco Beach, Fla.
Why: “I love the water; it’s peaceful and calming.”
Sonny, Linda and Terry on Beachfront
Began: March 2020 in Fort Myers, Fla.
Why: Sonny: “Because I’m crazy? Hehe.” Linda: “In order to have something to do in retirement.” Terry: “I quit my job. I was tired of where I was living and what I was doing. And, the adventure of it.”
Interesting facts: Terry is Linda’s brother, who joined the cruise later. It’s the cruise that couldn’t get started. On Day 2, they hit a rock and took a month or more to repair the damage. Then a mechanical problem held them back. They went home for the winter and restarted months later. More mechanical issues beset them after we met them, but they are still going. They live in Fort Collins, Colo. and Kansas.
Chris on Destined Nomad
Began: March 2021 from Mobile, Ala. (He’s from Port Angeles, Wash.)
Why: “Because it’s there.”
Interesting fact: He is single-handing. (This isn’t very common, even though I have several in this blog post.) He runs Toys for Tots in his area, as local warehouse manager, so will go home for the holiday season.
Nick and Ginger on Ginger Gail
Began: Nov. 2020 from Scottsboro, Ala.
Why: “I wanted to travel the U.S. by waterway” and “Being on the water brings me joy.” (Ginger)
Interesting fact: Ginger developed heart disease recently and wears a pacemaker. She and Nick are on sabbatical from a retreat center which they opened together.
(Many Moons was tied up to Ginger Gail inside Pickwick Lock. They crossed their wake–i.e., completed the 6,000-mile loop–right after exiting the lock.)
Jim and Paige on Legasea
Began: June 2021 from Stafford, Va.
Why: “We talked about it for 20 years.” (Jim) – “I needed a break from teaching.” (Paige)
Interesting fact: He’s a civil engineer and still does some consulting. She took a leave of absence from teaching.
John and DeeDee on War Eagle
Began: August 2020 from Sarasota, Fla.
Why: “We like the freedom — not being tied to our house or a job.”
Interesting facts: These are some of the youngest Loopers we’ve met, both around 50. They retired in their 40s and traveled by RV for nearly four years before getting a boat.
(Many Moons traveled with them for four days.)
Summary – Based on three months of interaction and observation: Loopers are adventurers with either the income or flexibility (or both) to drop their more traditional lives for a life on the water. Most are long-married couples who are retired, though we’ve met a few families with young children and a handful of single guys and one boat crewed by two male friends. They are courteous, sociable, and quick to lend a hand. It’s interesting that I’ve seen no racial diversity so far. (I notice this because of my federal and military careers and my home outside Washington D.C., all of which are racially diverse. Without that experience, it’s probably not something you’d notice.)
Bottom Line: Meeting Loopers has been an unexpected joy!