Stories from the Great Loop
Thousand Islands, New York
I’m a solo boater who completed The Great Loop in September 2019. My boat is L.T. Looper, named for my kids Lize and Tommy, who mean everything to me. When I was in the Army as a wet behind the ear Second Lieutenant, my First Sergeant used to call me LT, which is better than what he likely wanted to call me. So, L.T. doesn’t exactly inspire images of boating into the sunset, but Lize, being the older, probably would have balked if I turned it around to T.L.
L.T. is a 2018 23 foot C-Dory Venture powered by a 140 hp Suzuki outboard. 23 feet is smallish by Looper standards, but I’ve camped and rafted throughout the mountain west the last 40 years so I'm comfortable without many creature comforts on my adventures. Twenty plus days on a raft in the Grand Canyon doesn’t leave much room for anything except food, tents, water and a few stashed six packs.
L.T. has all the essentials: refrigerator, cook top & heater, head and a place for my bike and kayak. I call it my turn around boat because I don’t really go anywhere inside, I just turn around to get things done.
It's safe in bigger water, but usually not much fun because the interior can get rearranged quickly if everything is not stowed or tied down, sometimes even if it is. It planes at about 15 mph, can touch 30, but has a sweet spot at 20-22. I often cruise at a traditional displacement hull speed of 6-8 mph to take in the scenery, especially in the canals and waterways, just like my friends on the trawlers. But L.T.’s speed gives me a lot more flexibility, so I seldom put in the long days at the helm that they do.
I have lived in Breckenridge, Colorado for the last 40+ years but was born and raised on the Chesapeake Bay where my family usually had some type of boat and boating was as natural as skiing became in Breckenridge. As a kid, I dreamed of
boating other parts of the Intra Coastal Waterway. As I moved west, I added the Mississippi to the list. When I stumbled across the concept of the Great Loop, I knew I had found my dream retirement adventure. My wife is both smart and not a boating person and declined to join my adventure.
I remember years ago reading John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley: In Search of America and thinking that would be pretty fun. That’s how I view my trip around the Loop: not so much as boating, but as a road trip on water exploring America. I enjoy both history and writing and the Loop reaches most of Atlantic coast, rivers and canals of early American history before railroads started taking over travel shortly before the Civil War.
I developed this website to share the stories I found.
It’s dedicated to my yet to be conceived Grandchildren. I didn’t marry, much less think of kids until my mid-forties. Since my kids seem to be following a similar trajectory, my chances of knowing my Grandchildren is limited. I’d like them to know their Granddad as more than a tombstone or a slobbering old man wandering around in a nursing home. As much as I can, I want to teach them to enjoy life’s journey and to embrace wherever their interests and talents take them.
I hope they realize how much I hope to read these stories to them at bedtime; if they someday choose to retrace my Loop, all the better.
If you’re on this website, you probably have some interest in the Great Loop or maybe you are even thinking about doing it. I will confirm what you’ve probably already read. It is the trip of a lifetime, and more. The Loop gradually becomes more of a lifestyle than a trip or vacation. If you embrace it, it will gift you a slower heartbeat and a deeper appreciation of what’s really important as well as many good memories and new friends.
This website has become a labor of love. I hope it provides a few chuckles as well as insights. It will continue to evolve and grow as I review my notes and do more research, and yes, prepare for a second go around. If it occasionally bumps into the emotional, please remember to whom it is dedicated.
But anyone is welcome aboard.