The Great Loop
We are often asked "What is the Loop?" Basically 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 voyage can travel as much as 6,600 miles (depending on the route and the extra side trips), travels through 19 states and 2 countries.
where will you stay?
Well naturally, we will stay on our boat. All the facilities I have at home are here too ... just in a smaller space. We have several options on where to put the boat.
staying in a marina
The best part of staying in a marina is hookup to electrical service, and easy access to the town. But also the marina gives us the opportunity to meet other loopers at the nightly "docktails".
Mooring differs from being at anchor because you are actually tied to a ball that has been anchored to the bottom of the waterway. Bring your boat alongside the ball, pull up the line and attach it to your cleat.
Find a safe spot to drop you anchor, using your own gear, and make sure your anchor sets well. Don't want to wake up in the middle of the night to find out your drifting toward those rocks
Remember, every journey starts with one step, or in our case, releasing the lines from the dock to start our cruise - - - taking it one day at a time. It's not too long before you're in a routine of heading out each morning to our new destination and adventure.
Going up the east coast is not an open water adventure. For the most part travelers are using the Intercoastal Waterway, navigating between channel markers and staying in safe harbors or docks at night. And each Looper has their own preference of staying at a marina, anchoring out, going out to a restaurant with other Loopers or eating on your own boat. Next morning you start the day with a cup of coffee, read your email, handle the task of online banking or catch up with your blog friends.
A typical Looper day travels about 5 hours covering approximately 50 miles at a speed of 10 mph. Once at our next destination our first priority is to make certain the boat is safely and securely tied down (either in a marina or anchor). Now we have the entire day to visit local fresh markets, museums, historic sites or just taking a walk through the town. It has been said that the average days traveling is about 130 days and the remainder of the time is shared to enjoy the destination or simply enjoy the peace and quiet of nature. Being on the water all day can tire out any boater, so it's not a late night for many of us. In fact, 9:00 pm is often referred to as "Looper Midnight".
We are beginning our Loop from central Florida, and are often asked "What route?" Our typical response is that we start in the Stuart FL area and head north. We pass the Carolinas, go through the Chesapeake Bay and exit through the Delaware River. Once we get to the Statue of Liberty we turn left and head up the Hudson River to Canada; then transit Lake Erie, Lake Huron and Lake Michigan to Chicago. Now we're headed South again down the Tennessee and TomBigbee rivers to Mobile, across the Gulf and back to the Tampa area.
In many other tips about completing this voyage, Loopers are encouraged to arrive in Canada later than May 15 and be out of Chicago by Labor Day. Weather is always an issue and these dates coincide with colder temperatures. Being Floridians, we plan to abide by this suggestion.
As our trip progresses we will keep you up to date on where we stayed, seasonal events, historic sites we plan to visit, great food, and the wonderful people we will meet along the way.
Talk to any Looper and they will all tell you the new friendships are the most significant memory of the trip. I hope you stay with us to meet them too.