As soon as I heard about them, I wanted to be one.
“One what?” you ask.”
“A Looper,” I answer simply.
It’s a boater who is cruising on one of the premier American adventures: The Great Loop. It’s like the Holy Grail of boating. In a nutshell, ya cruise north up the Hudson River through New York, west through the Erie Canal and the Great Lakes to Chicago, south down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico, around Florida, and north up the east coast to back to New York. It takes about a year.
Years ago, when I first heard about The Great Loop, I had a little bitty boat. As it turns out, smaller boats have an advantage on The Loop. They’re more maneuverable, easier to maintain, and less expensive. “Choose the smallest boat you feel comfortable in” is what experienced loopers say. But I don’t think they meant 15 foot Larson bow-riders. Although, after some research, I discovered this 7,000 mile trip around the eastern United States has been accomplished by all manner of boats including canoes, kayaks, and jet skis.
I hate roughing it, and bigger boats are more comfortable, but because there are restrictions for height and draft, you can’t go too big. For instance, if your boat can’t make it under a 19.1 foot fixed railroad bridge just south of Chicago, you can’t do The Loop. If your boat has more than 5 feet under the water, you can’t do The Loop.
And then there’s the other stuff that stands in the way. Like having enough money. I like to eat. Every day. And fuel for a trip like this is in the 6,000 gallon range. Dockage is rarely free, and health insurance is another major expense. We’re not rich, and we don’t have a trust fund, inheritance, or a “structured settlement”.
“Man. It’s just impossible. I’ll never be a looper,” I said to myself.
But wait a minute. What if a guy had an understanding wife who loves boating, trying new things, and having adventures? And what if that guy’s wife was a Zen Master at money management, and could save like nobody’s business? Well I’ll be darned if I ain’t that very guy. Saving is the XO’s superpower! Granted, we live simple lives. We pay cash for our cars which are all old, but I manage to keep them running. So no car loans, repair shop visits, or expensive insurance. And between the two of us, we maintain the house and yard. Still, it’s not easy tucking away the substantial amount of dough required to bring this amazing adventure to fruition, but we did. I can hardly believe, that after so many years, we are finally ready to do this: a 7,000 mile, year-long cruise in our boat, Ginger Lee. Psyched!.