Live on a boat? For how long? Doing what? What is “The Great Loop”??? Schiesse, you’re serious! Those were some of the thoughts going through my head after Tom approached me with this idea. There were many more questions to come.
As I would soon find out, America’s Great Loop is a route that circles the Eastern third of the USA and Canada. You can begin the journey from any point along the way. The main route travels through the intercostal waterways, up the East coast to the Hudson River, through the Erie Canal, Great Lakes, down the Mississippi to the Gulf.
After he explained it to me, my husband, Tom, said, “I want to show you something.” Because we were in bed at the time, I panicked just a little, if you know what I mean. He pulled out a book (whew!) and held it up. It was titled “Honey, Let’s Buy a Boat,” or something. I don’t remember exactly, because it was close to two years ago and now I can’t find it. Anyhoo, it’s the story of a couple who decided to chuck it all and find a boat to cruise the Great Loop (and I think it was HER idea). It was a sort of log of their journey and the experiences they had along the way. It also contained advice for future adventurers, which, I’d deduced at that point, was going to be us.
Tom asked me to read it to gauge my level of interest about the whole thing. I took it and thumbed through it as he attempted to explain the process. There were many skills we would have to learn that included navigating locks, driving a honker of a boat and parking— sorry— docking it without destroying it. Heavy stuff for this delicate thing.
Now, we’re no strangers to boating, but our expertise is limited to sailing. See, when I met him, Tom was on his second sailboat: a 27 foot Catalina. During our dating years, he taught me the ins and outs of sailing which I have come to love (with a capital “L”).
First step: research and buy a boat (they don’t rent boats for this adventure).
Sounds easy enough, right? Think again, sister. I don’t know about him, but I had no idea the number of styles and models of boats available. It’s astounding. So, what better way to research them than attending a boat show in Florida, of course. Where else would you go?
We attended a couple of boat shows, hopping on and off several varieties of boats, trawlers, motor yachts, power catamarans, etc. It became overwhelming to say the least. They all had their pros and cons. We found out that the type of boat for this adventure should have the features that are most important to the individuals living on it. After almost a year of looking, we had decided that a 50 ft Prestige was the boat for us! We researched several online, made plans to head south to look at a handful, and prepared to make an offer.
Tickets to Florida in hand and Thanksgiving 2018 upon us, we were getting excited about our plans. Enter fate. Just as we were preparing to head out to our Thanksgiving day neighborhood Turkey Trot, Tom called out to me from the basement. “Julie, can you come help me?” I really thought he was trying to juggle the turkey from the downstairs fridge and needed help, but that’s not what I found. He was experiencing some stroke like symptoms. Being an RN, I did a quick assessment and called 911.
I told the kids what was happening and one of them offered to wait outside for EMS. The others dressed quickly in anticipation of going to the hospital.
EMS arrived in 5 minutes and did the same stroke assessment. They loaded him up and took him by ambulance to the hospital.
We look at the stroke not as a major setback, but more of a slight delay in plans. It, in my mind anyway, fortified my belief that one should travel (or do whatever physical activities) while they are able. As the saying goes, “Tomorrow is not promised.”
Fast forward to March 2019. Tom decided that he felt good enough to travel and climb on and off boats again, so we bought our tickets and attended the West Palm Beach boat show. We figured it would give him a chance to test his balance and stamina while confirming our decision to purchase a Prestige.
The weather was as beautiful as you would expect it to be. We had free passes on Friday of the show and met up with our broker, Michael from Galachti Yacht Sales. He showed us around a bit then let us take off on our own. We climbed around many types of boats and were ready to call it a day, when we decided to see just one more. It was a 2007 Navigator 5400 priced to sell. It was a nice boat and when I mentioned that I could see myself living on it for a year, Tom’s ears perked up. We thanked Michael and headed back to the hotel to pack up for home.
While our hearts had been set on a Prestige, the Navigator was looking like a better option for us. It didn’t take long for Tom to make an offer. By the end of May 2019, we were motor yacht owners.
We appropriately named our boat “Therapy” .
Tom spent time in Florida living on it and having some work done in preparation for our adventure then eventually moved it to Kentucky Lake for the summer. That’s where the actual Great Loop begins for us.