Copyright © 2015
We did it!
Bridges: too many to count
Would you do it again: Yes
It's wonderful to be home back in Minnesota! It's hard to believe that we are done with the Loop. After three years of talking and planning, we actually now have completed it.
It's kind of funny looking back, when we were in the planning phases, when asked, we'd nonchalantly tell folks, when asked the route, "Well, you go down the Mississippi River to the Ohio River, then you take the Cumberland to the Tennessee, then the Tenn-Tomm to Mobile Bay where you cross and get on the Intra-Coastal Waterway until you have to cross the Gulf, and then yada, yada, yada. We got really good at verbalizing the route, but when you actually get underway on the route, it's a whole different story. Every section of the Loop is so different. Every day of the Loop is different from the day before and no matter how much you plan and think you have it figured out, Mother Nature rules and the "water", whether it's a canal, river, bay, gulf or ocean, is the boss!
We thought we were fairly knowledgeable boaters, but we learned sooo much. For instance, tides. Now that was a learning curve! Timing your travel around high tide and making sure you leave and enter a marina/port on slack tide was definitely something we became familiar with. Tying your vessel up in tidal water was also something we got pretty good at. And of course, once you figured a particular challenge out, it was replaced by a new one!
I'm not gonna lie. We both will be happy not to worry about having enough drinking water on board or if there is enough water in the holding tank to take a shower or how many flushes we have left before the waste holding tank is full or where the next fuel stop and pump out will be. Truly, first world problems, but when you're living on a boat, they are the issues you think about daily, along with where will we be tying up tonight and do we have anything on board to eat!
Some Looper friends of ours have a saying that they have adopted since starting the Loop:
"Live with less, experience more." I love that statement. It pretty much says encapsulates the Loop. You don't need much as you travel the Loop on a boat, but you experience so much. Not just places and cool destinations, but people, regional culture and incredible natural surroundings that change from place to place.
I also have to mention BELLA. She was amazing. She never skipped a beat. For a 13-year-old, weekend, fast boat she was the bomb! She kept us safe traversing thru wind, weather, waves, low water, high water and crazy currents. We both were amazed at her performance and perseverance! She was a wonderful home while on the Loop and we are so thankful for her.
We are also incredibly thankful to everyone at Jimmy's for taking care of business while we were away. We could have NEVER been gone this last year without all of you and we appreciate EVERYTHING that you did while we were on the Loop.
Thanks too, to Sam and Griff for supporting this Loop dream of ours. For taking care of home and business and for coming to visit us along the way. Love ya boys!
Since we started the Loop, people have asked us to name our favorite destination on the Loop. It's hard to say which port or destination was my favorite. Every place we saw or stopped was part of the journey, so to pick one or even three places is too hard. But I can tell you my favorite part of the Loop was doing this epic adventure with my best friend. He was an incredible captain and companion. It was amazing doing the Loop with him. We grew as individuals and as a couple. We didn't always get along (he told me the other day, he only wanted to kill me three times!), or agree on everything, but we'd figure it out. I know I can speak for Tom when I say, we both feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to travel the Loop and return home safe and sound.
It was an epic adventure that we'll have memories of the rest of our lives and who knows, maybe we'll do it again someday!
From Captain Tom
What an unforgettable journey… can’t believe we did it and it’s now over. Driving a boat around the USA at 8-10 mph the majority of the time gives you a LOT of time to think and reflect. GRATITUDE on so many levels is what I’m walking away with from this last 11 months. So many people to thank to receive this gift… My traveling companion, navigator, best friend, wife, made it all possible by doing everything to help us get it done. My son Sam and the awesome team at Jimmy’s doing an INCREDIBLE job! Great boat, electronics, advice from fellow boaters, the AGLCA forum, were all instrumental in helping us complete the route… I thank them all. I also know we had angels with us keeping us safe… what a blessing.
If you’re taking the time to read this and dreaming about doing something “someday” my advice is, someday is here… start planning and make it happen, whatever it is.
Final thought on the trip is summed up by a toast I heard in a bar… no really, I was in a bar!
There are all kinds of ships…
Big ships, small ships, but the BEST ships, are friendships!
Tom & Sue Slightam
Read along as we circumnavigate the eastern half of the United States and southern Canada on the Great Loop on our boat BELLA, a Cruiser 460 Express.