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Life on the Loop

Odds & Ends


The Great Loop is the trip of your life. If you’re not looking at it that way, you should go to the beach instead. You’ll definitely want to keep some type of Log. If for no other reason, after some time on the water, towns, locks, marinas, bodies of water, days of the week and even months start to blend together – the older you are, the faster this happens. Eventually you or your Grandchildren will want to be able to sort it all out.

​I am not at the forefront of social media. My kids would say that I'm not even on the ass end. I only grudgingly accept that Google knows where I am as the price to pay for something as useful as Google Maps. I am less than charmed that Google thinks it knows what kind of restaurants I like, Amazon what I want to order, or You Tube what I want to watch. And thank you very much, but I prefer to look at (and actually read) a wide range of news and opinions.

​Having gotten that off my chest, there are log keeping downloads available as well as apps that will do much of keeping a log for you. Some act as a tracker so that fellow boaters as well as family and friends know where you are. A lot of Loopers use Nebo. I didn’t. I’m not on Facebook either. I kept a relatively simple excel spreadsheet of my own design for my log. I may succumb to the Brave New World eventually, but not just yet.

I finally realized (with a sense of relief, as I’m not good with names) that most Loopers remembered their more casual acquaintances by boat name, cross referencing with Boat Cards if they needed people names. That makes boat cards a social necessity, something that never occurred to me prior to the exasperated looks I got when I finally started catching up with the Looper fleet after my late start on Kentucky Lake.

I commissioned an artist I found at the Historic Charleston City Market to design one for me. I was in Delaware before he got it done and on the Erie Canal when I finally got it printed and shipped to where I could pick it up – he’s an artist, what did

I expect? The nose didn’t have to be quite so accurate and I never wear a Captain’s hat but at least the grey in the beard doesn’t show too much.

My card shows a yellow kayak mounted on top of L.T.’s cabin, a rigging that had the unintended benefit of quickly identifying L.T. to my boating friends. The kayak was my Dingy, pretty much required for all Loopers, not as a lifeboat (though it could be that too), but as your way to explore or get to shore when anchored. Getting your dingy into and out of the water is one of the many mechanical challenges you’ll face, but there are myriad ways of doing it. All of them are more expensive than the muscle power I used, but then, I’m not sure how many more years I’ll be able to wrangle that thing out of the water and up to its perch.

​There’s a lot of discussion about Buddy Boating among Loopers, most of it mired in semantics. Buddy boating, as in traveling together or within sight of each other really doesn’t work that well – similar to trying to herd cats. Some places along the Loop merit the effort: crossing the Gulf, a serious amount of open water, and canals where locks are bunched together and lockmasters frown on locking through single boats.

If buddy boating means meeting at a particular marina or anchorage, that actually happens a lot, but that’s more a social matter. Bottom line, all boats should be willing and able to travel on their own. If that’s a scary thought, make sure you have good tow insurance.

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