We were anchored in Point Judith, Rhode Island when I realized we could make it home in one jump. Only 39 nautical miles. If we leave early in the morning and catch the fair current, we could be home by early afternoon.
“What! You mean that’s it? One more jump and it’s all over? I screamed to myself. Silently of course; it was an inner scream.
“Oh.” the XO said when I told her about the do-able distance to home. “I didn’t realize…,” she trailed off.
We both fell silent in reverence for what we have accomplished.
This is the last night. The last night we light the gimballed night-light in the head. The last night we check the anchor position on the AIS, check the condition of the batteries, check the bilge, the windows, the screens, the lines, the anchor lights, Salty’s bridle. The last night we plot the next days course and enter it in the GPS. The last weather check, ocean conditions check, fuel check, holding tank check, fresh water level check, and all the other things that must be done to keep us comfortable, safe and afloat. Things that we’ve done every single day, hundreds of times in the past year. Things we’ve done so many times they became second nature. After tomorrow afternoon we will no longer have to do any of them.
“I guess I didn’t really think about this part, the end I mean. I was so busy with planning and the day-to-day,” the XO said.
Well I have thought about it. I totally envisioned Ginger Lee bringing us and everything on her back to Swifts Neck safe and sound. And she did just that. At about a quarter to two on the afternoon of Thursday, June seventh, 2018, after nearly a year of non-stop cruising, and 6,020 miles, she arrived at our home mooring in Wareham, Massachusetts. Her twin Lehman diesels, Castor and Pollux, logged over 900 hours of faithful operation. To put this into perspective, on a normal boating season, they would run less than one hundred hours.
The XO secured the pennants to the bow bitt and I turned off the engines, then the electronics, and then it was strangely quiet.
It’s difficult to put into words the feelings that ran through my head at that moment. All the years of planning and saving. All the preparations and dealings with our jobs and the post office and the bills and the cars and the house. We jumped through hoops, forded rivers, climbed mountains. The triumphs and setbacks. Oh. The setbacks. At times it seemed The Great Loop was impossible. But here we are. Done. Finito. Check that one off the list. It’s gonna take a while for that to sink in.
My wife found her way back to the salon and we embraced for a good long time. Her arms, strong from handling lines, wrapped tightly around my waist. I pressed my cheek against her fragrant hair. Is there more gray than before? I know I brought her way out of her element with this crazy dream of mine. I also know I would not be here without her resolve in making it come true. I held her tighter. An osprey chirped his welcome, gulls called out hello, I could see our neighbor Bernadette excitedly waving her arms on the beach, but this special moment was ours and ours alone. I kissed my wife lightly on her forehead, ending our hug.
“And that’s how you do the Great Loop”, I said.