Port #1 – Bimini Bahamas

Good evening blog followers,

We are on the fast track to get to the Exuma Islands, so we only spent one day in Bimini.
Here are the highlights.

We started the day by renting a golf cart from “Pedro”. I ran into a couple pulling into the Big Game golf cart corral yesterday. They were staying at the Hilton, but having dinner at Big Game. They said That Pedro had the best golf carts on the island.

We started out our golf cart exploration, researching a couple Beaches for a potential beach trip later in the day.
The water at the beaches was again superb, but a lot more people than we had expected or desired.
The first stop was Shipweck Beach

You can’t see it in these photos which look pristine, but there were a lot of people at the Shipwreck Beach.
If it was deserted, it would have been a great place. Jerry says that we will get many beautiful secluded beaches later in the Exumas (humm, spoiled already ??).

Next was Radio Beach – Yuk, way too commercialized !

The next stop on the agenda was The Dolphin House.
This stop turned out to be the best of the day !
We almost didn’t go into it because of the whopping $10/PP ticket price.

The dolphin house was created by a guy named Ashley Saunders – a local author, artist, historian and retired teacher on the island of Bimini.

Saunders whose family has lived on Bimini since the American Revolution has built a unique house and a landmark tourist attraction. In 1993, he began construction of a house unlike any other, using found recycled materials to decorate every inch of the concrete structure.  The Dolphin House is a thick and sturdy building, purpose-designed to withstand the ugly forces of passing hurricanes, yet also embellished by the careful touches of an artist. The interior and exterior walls are completely covered in mosaics composed of colorful tiles, shells, bottles, coins, and all manner of other “found objects“. He has used materials from demolition sites and shoreline cast-offs from various places.
Ashley considers himself a dolphin inspired artist who tells a story of swimming with a large pod of wild Bimini dolphins and attributes his artistic vision to that inspirational experience.
Ashley himself, gave us a great 1 hour tour.
We are told (by other locals, not Ashley) that Ashley did all the work on the house himself except for Electrical & Plumbing.

This is the first room we walked into. There were also 2 bedrooms on the 1st floor equally decorated.

The artist Ashley Saunders.

In various places throughout the house, in addition to all the mosaics & dolphin decorations, Ashley had “Welcome to the Dolphin House in over 100 languages (shown below). He had license plates from every state in the USA embedded into the walls, there were sea shells embedded into the corners of each room, there were dollar bills from over 100 countries epoxied to tables. For a “Dolphin House”, one got a lot more than just dolphin art. It was a mish-mash of a lot of materials.

But the best part for me was the view from the rooftop of the Dolphin House.

After the Dolphin House, we went on an extended ride to the north side of Bimini to see –
1. Resorts World Bimini
2. The Bimini Hilton Resort
3. The Bimini Bahamas Casino Resort

The traffic was chaotic on the 2 lane road, with a mixture of Golf Carts, Cars, Trucks, Motorcycles, and Bikes.
The steering wheel on the Golf Carts & Cars are on the same side as the USA, but you drive on the LHS of the road.

The trip going from the south to north side of Bimini was very surprising.
It was like going across the border from Detroit to Gross Point, or crossing 8-mile rd.
From a relatively poor surrounding, to opulance at it’s best.
Here are some photos of the folks that we will call “The Haves (have money)” !

I was kind of busy driving to take photos, but here are some shots of “The Have Nots”

I guess that puts us into the category of – Having enough $$ to have some Fun !
Our Marina “Big Game Marina & resort was $4.25 per foot ($178 / night).
Resorts World & The Hilton Marinas were $7-8 per foot ($315 / night).

Big Game Marina & Resort is on the south side of Bimini, but is kind of it’s own secluded territory – with 2 restaurants, 3 bars, and a nice pool.

We had several more stops planned on the Golf Cart Tour, but were all starting to get hot & tired. So what do you do when you’re getting Hot & Tired – You go to the Bar !

So we skipped ahead to the last planned stop on our list – The End of the World Saloon (aka The Sands Bar).
It was truly the “Hole in the Wall Bar”.
For me, it had a very Key West feel (Jonell & I spent 6 weeks in Key West during our Great Loop).
It had dollars on the ceiling, black marker signatures on the bar top & every wall, and a toes in the sand floor.

The history of the bar is long but mysterious. Hemingway is known to have frequented the place, along with musician Jimmy Buffett, who, like many visitors, signed his name on the bar counter. Civil rights icon Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., popularized the place when he made frequent sojourns to Bimini in the 1960s.
Powell was known to dock his fishing yacht, Adam’s Fancy, at nearby Brown’s Dock, and when controversy arose in New York he set off for Bimini, frequently entertaining the visiting press corps at the End of the World.
Most of Bimini’s octogenarians say the bar has been around at least as long as they can remember, but none is quite sure when it opened.
Even Presidents Truman and Nixon were said to have had a brew at the place.

During our visit, we did not see Hemmingway or Buffet or Nixon – the place was empty.
Except for the bartender who called himself “Commander” (aka Steve).
Commander treated us to some sort of Rum based drink, the house special.
It definitely had some kick, but cost Captain Luck $40 for 4 drinks.
But it was well worth it, Commander was very entertaining & full of stories.

notice the “Sand Floor”

The next step plan for tomorrow is another long 100 mile day from Bimini to Chub Cay. The wind is already kicking up tonight and will be higher than the beautiful ride to Bimini, but should to be manageable.

Sea you next post at Chub Cay !

Bimini Bahamas – We made it !

It was an early morning start for the 85 mile ride from Key Largo to Bimini, Captain Luck said “Departure at 07:00, be ready to go” !

We were under way right at sunrise, and it was a BEAUTIFUL sunrise 🙂

Our delayed departure from Key Largo (2 days) was very worth while. The ride today from Key Largo to Bimini was SPECTACULAR, WONDERFUL, INCREADIBLE.

About 20-30 miles out, the water changed to the beautiful dark blue water. I have some really good video of the wake behind the boat. But downloading of simple photos is taking a while, so no probably videos on this trip.

As we approached the entrance to Bimini and Alice Town from a distance you could see vivid Light Blue water, which got even more vivid & lighter Blue the closer we got to Bimini.

Finally, after a long 8-1/2 hour day (85 miles), we made it to Big Game Marina & Resort.
It is kind of a small place but one of the nicer places on Bimini Island.
It has an on-site restaurant, 3 Bars, and a pretty nice Pool.
The beach is supposedly a short 5 min walk across the 2 lane road on the Atlantic side of the island.
It was time for the Looper Ritual – The Safe Voyage Toast.

We decided to stay at the Big Game Marina & Resort because their website said “Customs On-Site“.
That sounded Easy !
I had even spent 2 hours on the computer during early March to get our advance “Cruising Permit”.
The computer based Cruising Permit Application required me to enter –
All the Mahi Mahi Boat Info – Vessel Federal Documentation Number, Engine Brand, Engine HP
All 4 of our 4 Passports Info – Passport Numbers, Date of Birth, Addresses, etc.
The Dinghy Info + Dinghy Motor Info
The Ship Stores Info (Alcohol) !!!
And then pay on line – $320 (but that included the Fishing License – Humm, No Fishing Poles ?)

Based on the advanced Crusing Permit Pre-Approval, I thought that our welcome to the Bahamas would be easy – show the permit, show the passports, and start drinking !

Until just after we docked the boat.
The dockmaster Robbie told us that we need to –
1. Fill out 4 Immigration Forms
2. Walk a quarter-mile to the Immigration Office.
3. After Immigration, come back to the “on-site” Customs to get your Cruising Permit approved ??
4. Then come and pay your marina bill ($$$ 4.25/ft)

The Immigration Office was supposedly, just down the road, on the left hand side, in the pink building.
Captain Luck and I set off on the hunt for Immigration.
We traveled down the narrow road.

We finally came to “the Pink Building on the left hand side”

We went to the door that said “Immigration”
The girl in the office said – Not Here, it’s in the office down the hall on the left.
Oops, it was the Police Station (yes alcohol was consumed before we went to Immigration).

Ok, then we went to the office down the hall on the left hand side.
Captain Luck was very nervous about our documentation.
They wouldn’t let the vessel secretary in (me), only the Captain was allowed.

Jerry entered the office with high trepadation.

But due to the enthusiastic personality of the Captain on the Mahi Mahi, all ended well and we were approved to enter the country.

The rest of the afternoon & evening was spent sitting on the Adirondack Chairs looking out at the beautiful Marina, Swimming in the Big Game Pool, doing some marina fish/shark watching, eating an incredible on-board dinner prepared by Deena, and walking the grounds at the Big Game.

As a final note on our 1st day, let’s see if the video works for the first of what I think will be many marina Shark sightings., Click Link = Shark Video

Exumas – Key Largo to Bimini -Delayed Departure

Hey Blog Followers,

Jonell & I drove from Fort Myers to Key Largo yesterday, to join Jerry & Deena Luck, on our adventure to The Exuma Islands.

Today, Friday March 31st was supposed to be our departure to Bimini Bahamas, then on the The Exumas.

Unfortunately, the weather gods were not with us today and high east winds will delay our departure, probably until Sunday Apr 2nd.

You can see below the Windfinder Pro Forecast.
There are 2 charts ; one for today Friday Mar 31st & one for Sun Apr 2nd.
The Top line of each chart shows wind/wave forecast – Day by Day.
The lines below show the wind/wave forecast – Hour by Hour
You can see that the wind on Friday is 20-25mph east wind.
You can see the wind on Sunday is under 10mph out of the south.
Note = North wind (north to south) is worst for crossing the Gulf Stream

Hopefully we will cross to Bimini on Sunday, spend 2 days on Bimini (85 miles), 1 night at Chub Cay (90 miles), then on to Nassau Bahamas (40 miles), the The Exumas – Highborne Cay.

We anticipate our next post on Monday (4/3).

Mike, Jonell, Jerry, Deena

The Next Boating Adventure – The Exuma Islands

Hey Family & Friends,

It’s been a long time since we went on the boating trip of a lifetime – America’s Great Loop.
We haven’t Blogged since 2018.

Since Looping, we have been staying 4 months in Fort Myers during every Michigan winter, and had a few National Park trips (hiking Angels Landing in Zion National Park).
But other than that, it’s been a bit boring on the Lifetime Adventures List.

Until now – this coming April, we will be joining our friends Jerry & Deena Luck on the 43ft vessel Mahi Mahi for a 1 month adventure in the Exuma Islands. We would also like to welcome Jerry & Deena’s friends, who we recently added to The Exuma Trip Blog.

The Exuma Islands are a series of small islands just east of the Bahamas, south of Nassau.

The Exumas are renown for their sapphire-blue waters—waters so stunning, their brilliant colors are visible even from outer space. This chain of 365 islands is home to secluded footprint-free beaches, deserted cays, and ultra-exclusive resorts.
We will visit about 15 of the islands.
They are well know for their Giant Iguanas, Feeding the Swimming Pigs, swimming with the Nurse Sharks, and a dive cave called Thunderball Grotto.

Here is a link to some of the sights & things to see & do in the Exumas – (fast forward the video to the 0:30sec mark to skip the intro advertising) – Clink Link

We will be departing from Key Largo to Bimini Bahamas to clear Customs (85 miles), then to Chub Cay (95 miles), Nassau (35 miles), and then on to the top of the Exuma chain of islands – Highborne Cay !
Our original plan was to depart from Miami (50 miles), but we could not get a marina in Miami because of a large music festival that week, so we had to replan to depart from Key Largo (85 miles).

You can see our rough “Timing, Distance, Marina” plan on the attached excel chart (1 page) – click this link

You can see our “Trip Outline” on the attached Powerpoint (22 pages) – click this Link

We will be going on this great adventure with our dear friends Jerry & Deena Luck. We met them at Miller Marina in 2016 via mutual boating friends John & Cheryl Nelson.
Jerry & Deena went on America’s Great Loop 1 year after us in 2018/2019.
For the last 4 years while we are in Fort Myers for the winter, we have traveled from Fort Myers to Marathon Key & lived on their boat with them for 1 week each winter. So we are quite confident that we can co-habitate for a month quite nicely.

We will spend the month of April together on the SS-Mahi Mahi, a beautiful 43ft Best Way Trawler.
Jerry & Deena spend their winters each year on the Mahi Mahi in Marathon Key Florida.

Jonell & I will leave Fort Myers & meet the Luck’s in Key Largo on Thursday.
Weather permitting, we will depart for Bimini on Friday March 31st.

Well, that’s the intro for now.
Stay tuned for upcoming Blog Posts during the month of April !

Mike, Jonell, Jerry, Deena

The End !!

Hey Kids remember us ?
It’s been a while since we have posted & this will be The Final Post for Gettin’ Looped.

This morning we watched our baby sail off with her new owner, Micah Graber.
Micah is a music professor at Toledo University, who has every summer off work.
He plans to make Gettin’ Looped his summer cottage, stationed in Saugatuck Michigan.

It was a wonderful 4 years of ownership, with memories we will never forget.
We loved her & will miss the Gettin’ Looped like we miss our dog Chelsea !

But as everything in life, it’s time to turn the page.
The plan after The Loop always was, and still is – a 1 year motorhome trip to about 40 of 59 National Parks.
This trip will probably occur in 2021CY.

Farewell Gettin’ Looped, we love you !




The Murphree’s Great Loop Adventure -The Final Blog Post !

Hey Blog Followers,

Did you miss us ?
It has been a very hectic couple of weeks since we returned home.
But this is it, this will be The Final Gettin’ Looped Blog Post !

I want to start by thanking all of you readers (176 of you now) , who helped to keep me interested in doing the blog. Your comments & compliments definitely gave me energy on some of those tired late night blog updates.

This blog posting will be a summary of what Jonell & I have experienced over the last 13 months – giving a brief recollection of what we remembered from all of the 133 ports.

In each of the short summaries below, if you have a specific memory and want to go back & re-read the initial full posting, there is a link to jump back to the original Full Blog Post.

The entire post is VERY LONG.
I made it mostly for Jonell & I, to be able to easily look back on the journey, and as a summary for the hardcover book we will make from The Blog.

But before we start, I just wanted to let you see what life is like before Looping & after Looping.  These 2 pictures pretty much describe the situation.

Life Before Looping – the excitement of over 50 people showing up at Miller Marina for the awesome Farewell Party. Bagels, Beer, Bloody Marys & a lot of Farewell Love !

Life After Looping – Mike & Nellie packing up all the boat stuff back to the Land Home !

Ok folks, here we go – The summary of a 13 month adventure that we will never forget & that changed our lives !
This is one vacation that is going to be hard to beat !

Here we go – 133 Ports in 13 Months
0. St Clair Shores – The very exciting start to The Loop. Between 9am & Noon we enjoyed Bagels, Beer, & Bloody Marys. Eric Vrabel played bartender, the Wheelers brought Mimosa’s, sister Brenda brought bagels & doughnuts, & Nancy & Joe took photos. The farewell was attended by over 50 people. It was a very special event that Jonell & I will never forget.
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1. Algonac – After leaving all the excitement of the Miller Marina Farewell Party, we went a whopping 20 miles north to the Algonac Harbor Club & continued the farewell party with our boater friends Dave Vrabel, Carol Perotta, Rich & Anita Cook, and my last FCA boss Dave Herzog & bride Shelly.
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2. Lexington – From Algonac to Lexington we crossed under the very high current Blue Water Bridge into the calm-ness of Lake Huron. When we arrived at Lexington – Guess what, more friends & Family in Lexington. Have we really left on The Loop yet, doesn’t feel like it, just feels like were having fun boating. We were greeted by my ole pal from WSU college days Eric Deloney & 1st mate Nancy, and an FCA coworker Kenny Luchkovitz & 1st mate Cathy.
The marina was nice, After the visitors left we chilled watching beach volleyball.
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3. Harbor Beach – A nice quiet town, nice bike ride, we saw some deer, and ate at Smallie’s Bar & Grill – which had the coldest tap beer on The Loop. There is a beautiful morning photo of a sailboat leaving the harbor in the full blog post.
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4. Caseville – Caseville is not normally on The Great Loop Circuit. We stopped there to see my cousin Sue & Ron Grobbel. Ron & Sue had purchased a new cottage in Caseville that we had not yet seen, and they had not yet seen our boat. We had dinner & a bon fire with Ron, Sue, daughter Katie & husband Mike. We were also visited the first of 3 times by one of my FCA engineers, Brian Agar. Brian took us by his shop of over 10 boats & to the unique Huron Yacht Club. We also saw the 1st of several seaplanes, and watched a violent storm pass through the area.
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5. Harrisville – Harrisville was pretty Low-Key. Not much going on except the trains tracks going to “anywhere USA”. It was a quiet town, with a nice bike trail, & Shot Maker’s Bar/Grill.
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6. Presque Isle – We stopped in Presque Isle Michigan to see my Aunt Angie and cousins Kathy & Dan Serre.
We did do some interesting touristy stuff like going to the Presque Isle Light House & also took our 1st dinghy ride to Albany Bay to see the shipwreck , the SS Albany – sunk in 1853.
But the highlight of the stop in Presque Isle was a surprise visit from my family in Detroit, who came up for my August 5th birthday. Sister Brenda & 1st mate Joe, brother Kenny, our son Dan, his then girlfriend Megan, and my Dad – all drove 5 hours from Detroit to Alpena & then back in one day (10 hours of driving – Ugh !).
The highlight was – our son Dan proposing to Megan, and letting us know that we now had to be home by September 16th, 2018 !
It was one of the most memorable days on The Loop.
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7. Cheboygan – We stopped here simply as a lay-over on the way to Mackinac. The highlights were the bike ride thru downtown Cheboygan looking at local street art, and dinner at Mulligan’s restaurant.
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8. Mackinaw City / Mackinac Island – Memories from Mackinac include meeting some of our best early Looping friends, Tom & Sue Ann Rushing from Galveston Texas on the boat Tag Team & Dana & Dennis Hahn on the boat Pharm Life. We all took our bikes on the ferry and went on a nice ride of Mackinac Island seeing sites such as the Arch Rock, Fort Mackinac, and the Grand Hotel. We went to the Grand Buffet Lunch, and had drinks in the balcony rocking chairs at the Grand Hotel.
It was also our first significant event to miss back home – the wedding of my cousins daughter Jaime Cicchelli to Mr. Don Blevens.
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9. Beaver Island – On the way to Beaver Island, we passed under the historic Mackinaw Bridge. We then arrived at Beaver Island to Crystal Clear Water, a Beautiful Island w/ lots of Morman history, & an Incredible day long tour by Doug Edgar & Sharolyn Hun, in a police car !
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10. Harbor Springs – LARGE Boats, Beautiful flower lined homes, waterfalls in front yards, great downtown, & new friends Oat & Rose Whitney.
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11. Bay Harbor (+ Charlevoix & Boyne by car) – After all the hype that I had heard about Bay Harbor, I expected more. We actually enjoyed Harbor Springs more and thought that it was prettier.
But the highlights of Bay Harbor included a day spent with friends Shannon & Scott Knight. Shannon also used to work for me at FCA on the Fiat 500 program. Her family owns property in nearby Boyne City.
In one afternoon/night we were able to; 1) Have drinks aboard Getting Looped, 2) visit downtown Charlevoix by car, 3) see the Four Winns estate on Lake Charlevoix, 4) run into our new Looper friends from Mackinac – Tag Team & Pharm Team, 5) have dinner on the deck of the Landing Restaurant, 6) take the Ironton Cable Ferry across the south arm of Lake Charlevoix, 7) have drinks in Boyne City at Stiggs, 7) & meet up with co-worker Brian Agar (3rd visit).
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12. Leland – Just a very nice small Lake Michigan town, one of our early favorite ports. It’s history is of a fishing village, and the town today is a combination of fishing work boats & tourism.
There is a small section of the town known as Fishtown, with fish stores, cheese shops, candy shops, hand crafted stores, restaurants, gift stores, etc.
The highlights of the visit may have been – The Chubby Mary at Rick’s Bar (bloddy mary with a chub fish), and our 1st of many meetings with Tim & Alice from Boston on the vessell Observer. We also met new friends Bill/Deborah from Gross Pointe. Oh yes – I also had one of the best meals on the Loop , pan fried Bluegill.
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13. Frankfort (+Manistee by car) – The most memorable event from Frankfort was the visit of our daughter Ashley & 1st mate Dave Lyman (1st of 3 visits on The Loop). They flew into Detroit Metro, got Ashley’s ole 1988 Dodge Omni out of storage in Waterford (it started right up after 8 months) drove the Omni from Waterford Michigan to Frankfort Michigan, and drove all the way back to Oakland California. The car is an eyesore, but you can’t argue about it’s dependability, it just won’t quit. We spent most of the week on the Frankfort Harbor Beach, and hanging at the park. We also did some day trips via the Omni to Manistee & Luddington.
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14. Ludington – Ludington was a great stop for us.
The city is beautiful, they have flower lined streets, a beautiful park surrounding the harbor, a couple beautiful marinas, a wide assortment of restaurants, bars, gift shops.
The city park on the water also had a lot of street art. There was also a very large beer festival the weekend we were there – with over a hundred Michigan based beer vendors. We partied with our new Looper friends that we met in Mackinac – Tag Team (Tom/Sue) & Pharm Life (Dennis/Dana).
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15. Grand Haven – Grand Haven was a wonderful stop, they had Waterfront Music Concerts, a Great Beach, Trolley Cars, Freighters on the Grand River during dinner, the Best Bike Trails & Boardwalk, and are known as the Coast Guard City. But the best part of Grand Haven was the Musical Fountain Show – a mini Bellagio Fountains in the hills, across the river, right behind our boat.
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16. South Haven – Shortly after arrival we met new friends & had dinner with Ken & Chris Smyth from Schwartz Creek Michigan at the Idler Riverboat Bar & Grill – an old moored boat being used as a waterfront restaurant.
We spent the weekend touring Harbor Village – Bars Restaurants, ate dinners at the South Haven famous “Captain Lou’s” & “Clemontines”, and I snagged a last minute walk-in ticket to the Mayweather/McGregor fight at the Black River Tavern.
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17. St Joseph – What we found in St Joe was – a wonderfully quiet marina, a charming city with lots of street art, a beautiful downtown, a nice beach, nice restaurants, a historical area of an old amusement park from the 1950’s with indoor carousel, & a huge water fountain park for kids.
We remember the wonderful RyeBelles Restaurant – which had a beautiful rooftop bar, a swank restaurant, and a “bathroom waiting area for the 4 private bathrooms”.
This was in the Top-5 of restaurants that we went to on The Loop.
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18. Michigan City Indiana – Michigan City is for sure our favorite port in Indiana !
Actually, it’s our only port in Indiana. We came to Michigan City for two reasons ;
1. Stepping stone to the next stop of Chicago.
2. To meet my cousin Tony, who lives in Fort Wayne Indiana.
But during the stop we also met Gold Loopers Jim & Moe (Malinda) Jablonski, who live in Michigan City and invited us to a Pizza party for all the Loopers staying at Michigan City this weekend. There were about 20 Loopers/10 couples at the party. We did not know it at the time, but within the 20 Loopers was Craic & Pharm Life, among our best Looper pals of the entire Loop !
Nellie had casino night #2 at The Blue Chip Casino – she did not win again.
Mike installed fuel vent line whistlers.
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19. Chicago Illinois – It was everything we had hoped for !
After a rough crossing over southern Lake Michigan, the approach into Chicago watching the sky-scrapers get bigger & bigger was awesome. DuSable Harbor was a very large mega-harbor right in downtown Chicago. We had our 1st of 4 visits from brother Kenny & 1st mate Carla D’Arca. We went to the Sears Tower (now called the Willis Tower), the Navy Pier, Wrigley Field, Daley Park, Millennium Park with “The Bean” & the Face Fountains, China Town, had Deep Dish Pizza at Lou Malnati’s, & a Nite Cap at The Green Mill Jazz Club.
The best part by far was the drive thru downtown Chicago on our boat – going under some bridges with only inches to spare, while gazing up at all the sky-scrapers.
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20/21. Joliet & Ottowa Illinois – No we did not see Joliet Jake from Blues Brothers. But we did go thru the famed “Asian Carp Electronic Fence”. It turned out to be a big nothing.
We went thru our first 5 locks of the trip, we met new Looper friends Leon & Karen Scott from British Columbia Canada on the boat Scott Free, and some Loopers who became very good friends of ours – Beth & Rip Tyler from the boat Lab Partners.
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22. Henry Illinois – More Locks, more time spent with Lab Partners, and our 1st anchorage of the trip just past the north tip of “Henry Island”, just off of the primary sailing line of the Illinois River.
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23. Peoria Illinois – Illinois Valley Yacht Club (called IVY) in Peoria Illinois. A beautiful marina with a very friendly local boaters who bought us several rounds of drinks. We celebrated Octoberfest in downtown Peoria.
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24. Beardstown Illinois – Our 2nd anchorage at Bar Island.
The ride included the start of all the commercial traffic and a 1-1/2 hour wait at the Peoria Lock. We had to wait for multiple commercial traffic to pass thru the lock. The final barge was very large and took up the entire 110ft x 600ft lock. Shortly after anchoring, we learned from other Loopers that the next day was also going to be a challenge. Due to historically low water, there was a reported barge stuck at mile marker 76 on the Illinois River, blocking all traffic. We were told that the “LaGrange Lock” at mile marker 80 was not letting anyone thru potentially for 2-3 days. When we arrived at the lock, lockmaster Randy advised over the radio that he might lock us thru, but the coast guard had made a decision that only boats of draft 3’/6″ or less would be allowed thru, and all others would have to tie up on the downstream wall. The lock operators asked each of us what our draft was – We all responded 3’/6″  (our is really 3’9″). As we passed thru mile markers 79,78,77,76,75,74,73,72,71 we soon realized that this Illinois river barge blockage was more over-exaggerated than the year 2000/Y2K computer collapse or the Giraldo Rivera’s Al Capone’s Vault opening. There was a barge off to the side of the river at mile marker 76, but there was 8 feet of water throughout the channel. If nobody had said anything, we would not have suspected any issue at all.
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25. Grafton Illinois – This stop had a lot of stuff going on.
We almost started the marina on fire, we ate the best bread pudding on the entire Loop, we had dinner at the mountain top Aeries restaurant with my nephew Jake Baldwin & his 1st mate Mollie, we went to the Gateway Arch, Ballpark Village, & Busch Stadium in St Louis. We had a bunch of Looper friends over for drinks ; Lab Partners (Rip/Beth) & Firestorm (Mike/Laurie), One Eyed Dog (Larry/April) & Gypsies Palace (Debbie/Steve). But the nicest folks we met the entire week were the Grafton Harbor residents John & Cindy Roeslien, who we had multiple dinners with.
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26/27/28/29 –  The Mississippi & Ohio Rivers – these ports were tied into one due to lack of internet & cell service coming down the rivers.
We passed by the famed St Louis Gateway Arch, started to encounter all the well advertised debris in the locks & barge traffic on the ole Mississippi, we had a 10 boat regatta going thru St Louis, went thru the very narrow “Chain of Rocks Canal”, a man-made passage which allows vessels to avoid a very shallow section of the Mississippi, and ended the day at the famous Hoppies Fuel Barge, the last fuel stop before Mobile Alabama. We met the famous Miss fern and listened with other Loopers to her 1.5 hour long tutorial of the lower Mississippi River. We had lunch at the famous Blue Owl restaurant in Kimmswick Mo. The Blue Owl & owner/operator Mary is famous for having made pies for Paula Dean & Oprah.
After Hoppies – we had anchorages at ; the Little Diversion Cove & Marker 948.5
During the anchorages we met for the 1st time our future very good friends Mother Ocean (Dennis/Jan), Thistle (Greg/Reenie), and Tyre-Less (Jim/Leslie).
We got much more experience with the 3,4,& 5 wide barges & winding rivers with blind corners. On the final leg into Green Turtle Bay – the Port Engine Died.
This is a very good blog update if you click on the link back to the original post.
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30. Grand Rivers Kentucky – Green Turtle Bay – We spent a wonderful week of time at the beautiful 400 slip Green Turtle Bay Resort, also known as Western Kentucky’s premier resort. The area had limited drawing capability until 1985 when the Army Corps opened the Tenn-Tom Waterway, essentially connecting Tennessee river to Mobile Bay. This area was also heavily invested in by actress Frances Langford & husband Ralph Evinrude, while boating between Florida & Ontario. While at GTB – we went to dinner with Jim/Debbie Pyke who pulled us off the rock pile with their dinghy. We went to dinner at the famous/unique Patti’s Restaurant and had a blast with 6 other Looper Couples; Lab Partners (Rip & Beth), Firestorm (Mike & Laurie), Mother Ocean (Dennis & Jan), Thistle (Greg & Reenie), Craic (Tim & Patti), and Donna Mae (Derek & Lori). Many of these couples went on to become some of our best friends later in The Loop.
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31. New Johnsonville Tennessee – We had a beautiful ride down Kentucky Lake & the Tennessee River to Pebble Isle Marina . Pebble Isle was just a very nice marina with a bunch of good ole boys (Mark, Clay, & Billy), serving up free Cinnamon Rolls every morning. While at Pebble Isle Marina, we met 2 very specials couples, and multiple dinners with  – Gene/Kathy Spears & Mark/Sandee Holtsclaw . We also found out that Mark & Sandee are related to our sister-in-law Patty Silorey. We also visited the birth house of Loretta Lynn. We were reunited with Bud & Sue Hansen on the boat Odyssey. We had initially met them when we were Looper dreaming in 2014, and were reunited when Jonell & Sue recognized each other after a 3 year time period. Bud & Sue went on to become some of our very best pals on The Loop.
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32. Clifton Tennessee – There was nothing fancy about Clifton Marina, there were no “great shots” from a photo perspective, but the folks down here really made you feel special. They made you feel like you were a local, like they truly appreciated having you around, and truly seemed sad when you told them you had to get on down the road.
Gene, Sonya, Amy, and all the locals (Wooley, Coach, Bob) made the weekend very special. We also had more bonding with Bud & Sue, and met new Loopers who also later became great friends –  Heaven to Betsy (Steve/Betsy) & Resolute (Pete/Pat).
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33. Oops – The Editor screwed up, somehow skipped Port #33, there was no #33 post !

34. Counce Tennessee – We spent a wonderful week at The Grand Harbor Marina at Pickwick Lake. We lived one of our dreams, which was going to the home of Elvis Presley at Graceland. While going to Graceland, when in Memphis, we had a great night at the Madison Hotel Rooftop Bar & ate dinner at a famous BBQ joint called The Rendevouz Cave Bar. We also visited the famous Freddy T’s restaurant in Counce.
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35. Rogersville Alabama – We spent a week at the AGLCA Rendevouz, continued to make significant friends with many Looper boats, had many social dinners, went to a Polo match, and participated in the very fun blind-folded dinghy races. It was one of the most fun weeks on The Loop. At the end of the week, we were joined by my brother Kenny & 1st mate Carla (2nd of 4 visits).
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36/37. Florence Alabama & Counce Tennessee – This posting was a wonderful, fun filled week with Kenny & Carla. During 1 week we did the following ; went thru the tallest lock on The Loop (Wilson Lock – 100ft) , anchored under the ole train bridge. partied with Mother Ocean, visited the Muscle Shoals Recording Studio, visited a place called “Tom’s Wall”, went to the Shiloh Battlefield, & went to the Hellen Keller birth home. It was an action packed, fun filled week. This post is definitely worth reading again, especially the sections on Muscle Shoals & Tom’s Rock Wall.
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38. Fulton Mississippi – Another very fun and very interesting stop. We completed the Elvis Presley tour by going to the birth home of Elvis in Tupilo (remember we had went to Graceland at port #34) . We also met “kin” of my family at the “Murphree’s Landing Marina”.
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39. Columbus Mississippi – We went thru a few locks with another boat called Grayling out of Michigan, and later had dinner with Bob & Jean Wilson of Northville Michigan and found out that Robert C Wilson was actually an award winning author, and had written a very successful book called “Crooked Tree”.
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40. Demopolis Alabama – We stayed at King Fisher Marina in Demopolis, where we again had a 4 star rated marina with an open pool, cable TV, slip side pump outs, fast WiFi, multiple showers, golf carts, courtesy cars, shuttle van – all the comforts that the Gettin’ Looped team had gotten’ used to.  We went to dinner at the haunted Foscue Plantation House, had 10 Loopers over on the aft deck of Gettin’ Looped for some drinks, and went to the rustic Red Barn restaurant with by now – great Looper friends Odyssey (Bud/Sue) & Ramble On (Scott/Linda). We ended the week by visiting the Bluff Hall Plantation, built in 1832.
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41. Silas Alabama –  we went to one of the iconic places on The Loop – Bobbies Fish Camp, where we enjoyed some of the best catfish on The Loop. We also had went 100 miles in one day to catch up at Bobbies to Loopers Odyssey (Bud/Sue), Rula Bula (Mike/JoAnne), and Bucket List (Larry/Cindy) – all of whom went on to become some of our favorites.
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42. Three Rivers Alabama – This was one of the anchorages in the top-10 list. This is the anchorage where Bucket List led a 4 boat flotilla into the entrance to Three Rivers, which began wide & deep, but got very narrow & shallow – then opened up into a beautiful lake. We had a wonderful 4 boat raft off & pot luck dinner. It was one of the magical nights on The Loop.
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43. Mobile Alabama – We stayed for a week at the Dog River Marina. This port included – the exciting ride into Mobile with all the commercial traffic & military ships. We visited the USS Alabama warship on Memorial Day, watched memorial day sky-divers land right in front of us, went to the Dauphin Island Sea Lab Estuarium, and had dinner on Dauphin street in Mobile.
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44. Orange Beach Alabama – This was one of my favorite ports, it was our first experience in the Gulf ICW, and is located in the pan-handle area of Alabama. The Wharf was a beautiful marina in the beautiful city of Orange Beach. We spent only 3 days but did the following – hired a diver to install the spare props, went to Lulu’s restaurant (owned by Lucy Buffett, sister of Jimmy Buffett), and went to the famous Flora-Bama bar where Kenny Chesney has done beach-side concerts for crowds of 10,000. While at the Flora-Bama bar , we were treated to the once/year Frank Brown Music Festival – where we experienced singer/songwriters from all over the world, with a new act on stage every 15 minutes for over 6 hours. It was one of my favorite days on The Loop.
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45. Pensacola Florida – We entered Florida and spent 2 days at the Santa Rosa Yacht Club. We did the following ; we went to dinner on Friday night with Pharm Life in downtown Pensacola which was highly decorated for Christmas, we spent Saturday in the fine white sand of Pensacola Beach, & we set the alarm system off at the Santa Rosa Yacht Club on Saturday night.
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46. Destin Florida – We were only in Destin for 1 day on our way to Panama City. We had our first dolphin sightings between Pensacola & Destin.  We toured a very nice Destin waterfront tourist area with Dennis & Dana from Pharm Life.
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47. Panama City Florida – We spent Thanksgiving at St Andrews Marina. The marina at St Andrews is a combination of pleasure boats & working fish boats. There is also a large gazebo with swings looking over the St Andrews Bay. We saw The Governor Stone – a historic schooner built in 1877 (140 years old), and is the oldest active vessel in the country. We spent Thanksgiving Day watching our beloved Lions lose to the Vikings on the Biker Bar TV, only place open at 1pm in Historic Panama City (not the main Panama City). We saw a 4-armed palm tree, and we had T’Giving Dinner at the Thai Basil Restaurant – a Thai/Seafood place, & the only place open for dinner on the holiday night.
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48. Appalachicola Florida – Appalachicola is a town of about 2000 people, and seems to be a combination of ; active fishing town, tourist-hotels/inns/bed breakfast places, restaurants/bars/music clubs, knick-knack shops, art galleries, historic homes, & botanical gardens. We spent most of our time here with the lovely Ronzello Family – Dominic, Lara, Josephine, & Jamieson. Dominic & I worked together for many years on the Dodge Truck programs in the mid 90’s and have been great friends since. Some of you may recall that prior to The Loop, we had a nice pre-trip party at Dom/Lara’s 5600 sqft house in Richmond Michigan.
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49. Carrabelle Florida – THE GULF CROSSING !
This was the departure point for our 20 hour, night-time crossing of the Gulf of Mexico.
This blog posts lists all of the pre-game preparations before we crossed.
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This was a great blog posting to pull back up and look at again. For me it was the most exciting time of The Loop and brings back a bunch of great memories. The original post describes our emotions during the crossing & has some beautiful photos of the sunset, moonset, and sunrise. The post goes on to describe our fatigue the morning after the over night ride, and our welcome of Jonell’s cousin, and our Lake St Clair boater pals –  Anita Cook & husband Rich Cook.
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51/52. Sarasota & Pelican Bay – I’m not sure why we combined these 2 ports, but we did. This was a very fun week for us, and also for our guests for the week –  Rich & Anita. Rich/Anita flew into Fort Myers & were supposed to meet us there. But we were delayed in our Gulf Crossing, so they rented a car and met us in Clearwater. The change in plans worked out wonderfully. With Rich/Anita we traveled thru 2 ports, saw 3 dolphins swimming right next to the boat for 15 minutes, went to a Christmas festival in Clearwater, stayed at the opulent Marina Jacks in Sarasota, had dinner with Looper pals Steel-Away (Shaun/Cindy), went to a very cool outdoor Tiki-Bar restaurant named O’Leary’s – Cocktails in Paradise. The restaurant was located on the Marina Jacks harbor water, with all tables being picnic tables in the sand surrounded by Tiki Torches, accompanied with live music. It was a spectacular setting. We all ate dinner with our “toes in the sand”.
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53. Fort Myers Beach – Rich & Anita Cook
We completed our voyage from Clearwater to Fort Myers Beach. We arrived at the spectacular Pink Shell Marina & Resort on Dec 5th, and had a wonderful week with Rich & Anita. We started our visit at the Pink Shell – Bar, Pool, and Beach.
With Rich & Anita we also went on an 18 mile dinghy ride to Lovers Key Beach, had dinner multiple times at Nervous Nellies, had breakfast at The Pink Shell Buffet, spent a lot of time on the Pink Shell Beach, went to the Lana-Kai swing chairs, hung out at Times Square, went to the Edison/Ford Winter Estates, went to the Firestorm Rooftop Bar, and ended the week at the famous Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grill.
It was one very fun filled 1st week in Fort Myers Beach !
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53. Fort Myers Beach – Dave & Michele Sylver
While in Fort Myers Beach we had a very special visit from Dave & Michele Sylver, the couple we purchased the boat from, and the couple who basically helped us initiate all the sequence of events that led to us challenging ourselves with this adventure called America’s Great Loop.
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53. Fort Myers Beach – The Murphree Kids Christmas Visit
This was a special visit, and long-awaited reunion with our children Ashley & Daniel.
Ashley arrived from California with 1st mate/boyfriend Dave Lyman.
Dan arrived from Michigan with 1st mate/fiancée Megan Durrant.
During our 1 week visit, we spent a LOT of time on the Pink Shell Beach, Ashley won the pool-side hula hoop contest, we had another dinner at Nervous Nellies, sat by the Pink Shell Fire Pits, had highly competitive Putt-Putt Golf & Bowling matches, had dinner at the Yucatan, took a dinghy ride to Doc Fords, fixed the cabin door, went to the Lana-Kai swing chairs, walked around the north pointe of Estero Island, went to a Jazz Club, went Parasailing, and watched “It’s a Wonderful Life”.
It was a great week.
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53. Fort Myers Beach – Merry Christmas from Mike & Jonell
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53/54. Fort Myers Beach/Marco Island – Sister Brenda, The Vrabels, & Doug/Sharolyn Edgar.
This blog post shows what Nellie & I did on Christmas Eve & Christmas Day. But most of the blog is about a fun-filled week spent with my sister Brenda, the family of my great pal Dave Vrabel, and an afternoon with our Beaver Island guides Doug Edgar & Sharolyn Hun. The week included a lot of time on the Pink Shell Beach, a day at the Vrabel’s Christmas rental house, a bunch of fun dinners, some beautiful sunsets, and a lot of holiday toasts. The month of December & New Years Eve was celebrated with a peaceful ride from Fort Myers Beach to Marco Island, where we enjoyed a week ending farewell with The Vrabels at the Marco Island Speak-Easy, a waterfront Restaurant/Bar.
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55. Key West – New Years Day Arrival in Key West with Sister Brenda
The post describes our New Years Day 110 mile crossing from Marco Island to Key West, and our arrival at Conch Harbor about 3 hours before a major storm.
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55. Key West – Sister Brenda
The week began with a bunch of excitement with our arrival in Key West. We attempted to see everything in 1 week. With Brenda ;  we walked Duvall street, went on a trolley tour, went to Sloppy Joes Bar, the Hemingway House, the Blue Macaw, Willy T’s, the Truman Little White House, Grunts Bar, Fort Zachary, Mallory Square, Kevin’s Bar, & spent zero time at the pool due to cool weather. It was a fun week with #2 (Brenda).
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55. Key West – Sister Paula & Michael Cairns
Michael & Paula were only in Key West for 3 days, but we used them 3 days up good. With our Key West excitement level still high, we saw & visited the following ; Dante’s Bar at Conch Harbor, Willy T’s, the Viva Saloon, the Southernmost Home, the Southernmost Beach Café, the Iconic Southernmost Buoy, the Green Parrot Bar, Better than Sex dessert bar, the Fort Zachery Beach (with blankets), the Half Shell Oyster Bar, the Conch Republic Seafood Company, the Pier House Boardwalk, music at Sloppy Joes, $5 appetizers at the Bagatelle, finally a warm pool day at Dante’s Pool, and a final night at the Blue Heaven restaurant. It was as much activity as a group could jam in to 3 days.
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55. Key West – Ron & Michelle Kline
Ron & Michelle spent 4 days with us. Their visit started with the ceremonial walk down Duvall street. Then we proceeded to Mangoes restaurant, all the Southernmost Pointe Stuff including the iconic Buoy, Pizza at Onlywood’s, a ride to Fort Zachery in the rental Mercedes Convertible, an attempted rainy beach day, a very cool tour of the original Key West Firehouse, drinks on the Sunset Pier, hunting for my lost Visa Card, dinner at the Commodore restaurant, music at Sloppy Joes, a sunny day at Smather’s Beach, Mallory Square, a night at Ron’s favorite place – The Drag Show, a luke warm pool day at Dante’s Pool, Manatee sightings, & a wonderful dinner at  The Flaming Buoy restaurant. It was a fun week with good friends.
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55. Key West – Pat & Jenny Haggerty
Pat & Jenny spent only 3 days with us. By now the “Key West Fatigue” was starting to set in, the visit also included a lot of rain & Jonell getting sick. In spite of poor weather & health issues, we had a very fun 3 days with my pal of 38 years from the early American Motors days. Our itinerary with Pat/Jenny included ; the walk down Duvall street, Willy T’s, Blue Heaven, the Southernmost Homes & Buoy, the Truman Little White House, the Ernest Hemingway House, Grunts Pub, the Blue Macaw, Martello Tower Gardens, the Half Shell Raw Bar, Pats Birthday at the restaurant Off-the-Hook, music at Grunts & the Smokin’ Tuna, the Key West Aquarium, Fort Zachery, Mallory Square, Onlywood’s Pizza, and a week ending visit to The Cigar Bar. It was again, a jam packed week, and more memories, with great friends.
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55. Key West – Brother Kenny & 1st Mate Carla D’Arca
Kenny & Carla were with us for 4 days in Key West, It was their 3rd Looping Visit. Kenny & Carla were our 8th & 9th visitors in Key West, and Jonell &  I had a pretty bad colds the entire week, so we had muted fun. I hope they had a good time. We did with Kenny & Carla, much of the same stuff we had done with ; Brenda, Paula/Mike, Ron/Michelle, & Pat/Jenny. We did go to The Hogs Breath Saloon, and actually had some sunny days for the Beach.
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55. Key West – The Spraggs & The Schellers
After nursing our bodies back to reasonable health, we welcomed The Spraggs & The Schellers together – 6 people on the boat for 1 week. Anytime you get 6 partiers together, especially the Spraggs & Schellers – it makes for a very fun, high energy week. We did a lot of the same stuff as other visitors, but also did some new activities like ; Lunch @ Latitudes Restaurant on the beautiful Sunset Island, drove to Islamorada & Lori achieved a bucket list goal of swimming with a Dolphin, Jonell & I had an awesome dinner with several of our Looper pals, at a 60th birthday party for Greg Boyer from the vessel Thistle, We went to a comedy show at a place called Bottlecaps, took dinghy rides around the Key West Harbor, & we went to the very fun “Aqua Drag Show” and got some great photos of Jerry with the women/men singers. Check out the full blog post, there are some funny photos.
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55. Farewell Key West – The last few days at Key West were spent prepping for travel after 5 weeks of being in Key West. We said farewell to the Schellers & had a 1-day visit by our final Key West visitors – Fiat/Chrysler coworkers Pat Morin & 1st mate Emily. Also, 1 of us did check out the “Garden of Eden, clothing optional” rooftop bar. On Monday Feb 12th, we left Key West with the Spraggs, and headed up to Marathon Florida – the 1st of several islands on our way up through the Florida Keys.
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56. Marathon Florida – We checked in for a week at the beautiful Fara Blanco Resort. We had our great friends Rick & Linda with us, and were reunited with Loopers ; Rula Bula, Ramble On, Craic, Pharm Life, & First Forty. We had many wonderful dinners with the other Loopers, played bag toss on the beautiful grounds, and spent a lot of time at the pool. We had a great evening at the Sunset Grill on the south side of Marathon. We refinished the aft swim platform & steps, went to Sombrero Beach, had a 10 boat Dinghy Bar Crawl ride (I went with Craic – Tim & Patti), and enjoyed a night with Dennis from Pharm Life, playing harmonica as good as Huey Lewis.
It was one of the most fun weeks that I had on The Loop.
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57. Islamorada Florida – We followed up an awesome week in Marathon with a great 4 days in Islamorada. As I was backing into the slip at Plantation Yacht Harbor – I heard a guy yelling “That’s my Boat”. It turned out to be Dave Sylver, the guy we bought the boat from – what a coincidence !
We partied all week with Dave/Michele Sylver, Rick/Linda Spragg & Loopers Rula Bula. We spent time at the  Plantation Harbor small/isolated beach, had Cinnamon Toast Crunch shots, had a very fun night at The Oceanview Inn & Sports Pub, saw a Manatee up close 1 foot away from my hand, & went on a dinghy ride to the Lorelai Cabana Bar.
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58. Tavernier Florida – We had a very nerve-wracking, shallow 4-5 foot water depth ride from Islamorada to Tavernier. We spent 4 days here, with the highlights being ; a return to Islamorada by bike to go to the biggest nautical flee market in the USA, a day at the Harry Harris Beach, and the best day ever at the Marker 88 restaurant/bar back in Islamorada. Marker 88 had a beach which looked like Gilligan’s Island, a Tiki-Bar with Island Music, and rich folks from Marco Island arriving for lunch by seaplane. It was another very fun 4 days, spent with our wonderful friends Rick & Linda, in a beautiful setting.
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59/60. Key Largo & Miami Florida – We were getting toward the sad end of the 5 week visit with the Spraggs. We stayed at the Anchorage Marina & Resort in Key Largo. It looked like it was probably a cool resort in the 1960’s. But it did have a nice pool & great view of the bay. We went to Miami from Key Largo and anchored at a place called The Miami Marine Stadium, an old structure where boat races & rock concerts were held. The anchorage was really cool, in that it was right across from downtown Miami, and was beautiful at night.
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61. Miami Beach – We arrived into downtown Miami on Feb 28th with a lot of glitz & glamour from all the fancy boats & tall buildings. We stayed at the fancy Sunset Harbor Yacht Club with a beautiful pool & minutes away from downtown Miami. We walked the Lincoln Road Mall & the Miami boardwalk, and had dinner at the Yardbird Southern Table. On Thursday March 1st, we strolled the local park, had a quiet “pool day” at the yacht club, had drinks at the Purdy Lounge, and ate dinner at the Bodega Taqueria y Tequila (an Airstream trailer with tacos). On Friday March 2nd, we said our sad farewells to Rick & Linda after an awesome 5 week vacation.
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62. Hollywood Florida – On March 5th we moved to the beautiful Suntex Marina at Hollywood, where we welcomed our next guests – Chris Vrabel & Susan Thomas. Chris & Susan spent a week with us, and we also met for day visits with Jonells cousins – Cindee Silorey & Dawn Walsh, and one of my directors at FCA – Joe Grace & wife Francine. We spent a lot of time at the pool, went to The Village at Gulfstream Park, & walked the Hollywood Boardwalk. We had a fun dinghy day – when we went to lunch at Le Tub, and a great dinner/music night at 5 O’Clock Somewhere. The girls had a rainy Casino Day, and we had a fun night with New York natives – Frank & Chris Blackstone, and we watched an early St Patties Parade with the actual Budweiser Clydesdales. Susan & Chris accompanied us on the ride from Hollywood to Fort Lauderdale, from which they departed.
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63/64. Fort Lauderdale & Boca Raton Florida – On Monday March 12th, we arrived at the Opulent Bahia Mar Yachting Center in Fort Lauderdale. This place had by far THE MOST LARGE YACHTS we had seen (Six 300 foot Mega Yachts). We spent a week at Bahia Mar and welcomed my pal Dave Vrabel & 1st mate Carol Perotta, opened a shit-load of arrival gifts from Carol & Dave, celebrated Dave’s 60th birthday with a deep sea fishing trip compliments of Carol, & celebrated St Patrick’s Day. We met Carols friends Doug & Sandra, met Loopers Gary & Angie Karges on the boat Unruly, & visited with Jonells euchre club friend Jodee Johnson & 1st mate Dean vacationing from Michigan. On Monday March 19th we had a leisurely ride with Dave/Carol from Bahia Mar in Fort Lauderdale to The Lighthouse Point Yacht Club near Boca Raton. In Boca we walked the boardwalk at Deerfield Beach, had dinner at 2 Georges & drinks at JB’s On the Beach. On Tue March 20th, we had the sad departure of Dave & Carol, after a very fun week. On Thu March 22nd, we had a very nice farewell dinner with Jodee & Dean at the LPYC.
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65. Jupiter Florida – On Friday March 23rd, Jonell & I were again on our own. We traveled from Boca Raton to our next destination of  Jupiter Florida. We passed under 17 bridges, went through a lot of opulence in West Palm Beach & Mar-a-Lago, and arrived at another beautiful marina complex – The Loggerhead Palm Beach Gardens Marina. We went to an event called Turtlefest, went to a Classic Car Show & Rock Concert right on the ICW, and hung out at the Loggerhead Pool.
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66. Vero Beach – After the initial excitement of contacting my neighbors anchor & scratching my boat, this was a somewhat low-key / laid-back stop, because there was not much to do near the marina. So we spent most of the time here at the pool and doing trip planning for further down the line.
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67. Melbourne Florida – Melbourne turned out to be a work task & problem solving city for us, We were only there for 2 days. We had the starboard stuffing box repacked, fixed a transmission knocking noise with a spark plug, and refinished the bow pulpit wood. There was not much fun except for a dinner at the On-Site restaurant Icabod’s, with old Looper Pals Craic (Tim & Patti Gareau), and new Looper Pals Chad & Michelle Warden.
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68. Cocoa Village Florida – On April 1st we welcomed our neighbors from Royal Oak, Al & Roberta Mc Millan. We walked around the Historic Cocoa Village, had Easter dinner at a place called The Tulip, where I had the Walter Cronkite Duck Dinner. With Al & Roberta we had – Beach Day, NASA Rocket Launch Day, visited several of the shops/restaurants in Cocoa Village, and went to the S.F. Travis Company Hardware store, founded in 1885. It was a very nice, but short 2 day visit. Later in the Cocoa visit, we again hooked up with Rula Bula & Craic. We went on one of the most fun Looping events with Craic – an Airboat Ride on the St John’s River to see Alligators. The ride was exciting & we saw over a hundred gators, and even held a baby gator.
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69. New Smyrna Florida – Sun April 8th we traveled from Cocoa Village Florida to New Smyrna Beach Florida. Some historians believe New Smyrna is the original St. Augustine, the Spanish-colonized town in Northeast Florida known as the nation‘s oldest city. New Smyrna was ok, but New Smyrna Beach was more fun, with cars on the beach & lots of dining choices. We spent the day at the beach and had 1 dinner at The Grill at Riverview, and another at a famous place called The Garlic – Sliced veal with crab meat !
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70. Palm Coast Florida – Beautiful houses with huge lanai’s, a nice marina but not glamorous. The marina has a nice outdoor area with lounge chairs to chill out at. It also has individual bath houses with shower/toilet/sink all in the same room – most marinas have separate shower rooms. The highlight of the 1 day stay was The European Village – an old feel small village with lots of dining/drinking options.
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71. St Augustine Florida – Our last port in Florida, and it was a doozy. We made new friends, who acted as our local tour guides –  Bob & Marjorie Stoker and Bryan & Kim Hinman. We saw & did the following ; Walked & dined in Old Town St Augustine, visited The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, learned about the link between The Castillo de San Marcos & Football, visited Flagler College, walked the Oldest Street in the USA, saw the The St Augustine Love Tree, went to the Old St Johns County Jail & The Fountain of Youth. This was one of our favorite stops, being in the Top-10 for both me & Jonell.
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72/73/74. Amelia Island Fl, Jekyll Island Ga, Midway Ga
We went about 220 miles from St Augustine Florida to Savannah Georgia in 4 days.
> Tuesday – Amelia Island Florida = 9 foot tides going out, leaving a dry entrance canal.
> Wed – Jekyll Island Georgia = 1000 ft long transient dock.
> Thursday – Midway Georgia = the delicious Sunbury Crab Company & Canvas Repairs.
> Friday – Savannah Georgia = 1 week at The Isle of Hope Marina in Savannah.
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75. Savannah Georgia – There is so much to see & do here ; waterfront restaurants/bars, historic buildings, 22 park town squares, water fountains, statues, historic homes, shopping districts, churches, city markets, museums, connections to Hollywood movies, art, theatre, graveyards, moss filled oak trees, cobblestone roads, beaches, & more. This blog post was set up in 3 sections ; a Savannah History Lesson, What Nellie & I did in Savannah, Photos & background of some of Savannah’s most well known landmarks.
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76. Hilton Head South Carolina – The Harbour Town Yacht Basin is a beautiful resort in a circular formation with shops, restaurants, a concert area, rocking chairs, condos, a light tower, and a golf course – all surrounding the marina. The Harbour Town Links Golf Course, is home of the RBC Heritage PGA Golf Tournament. We took a photo holding the flag at the iconic 18th green. Nellie purchased her wedding dress here at Hilton Head.
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77. Beaufort (Bu-Fert) South Carolina – The waterfront is a nice park-setting area with lots of grass, a nice waterfront paver-brick boardwalk, and a LOT of swings and park benches. The swings, park benches, grassy areas, and trees are right on the waterfront. The bars & restaurants have waterfront views, but are set back from the water, behind the park-like areas. We went on a carriage tour and got a history lesson on Beaufort, including movies made here like – The Great Santini, The Big Chill, G.I. Jane, The Prince of Tides, & 70% of Forrest Gump.
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78. Edisto Beach South Carolina – Only a 1 night stay. The Marina at Edisto is very low-key & quiet, actually a lot like the Lady’s Island Marina in Beaufort.The Marina at Edisto Beach is most famous for the Edisto Invitational Billfish Tournament, in July every year. The tournament has been going on for 21 years. The biggest happening was that I refinished the wooden deck chairs, using the marina’s complimentary work room.
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79. Charleston South Carolina – The Charleston City Marina Mega-Dock is 1530ft long, and Charleston City Marina has over 19,000 feet of linear dock space. Charleston was another one of the iconic coastal cities with a lot to see & do. Our itinerary included ; Carriage Rides, The City Market, Historic Churches, The Old Exchange, The Old Slave Museum, Rainbow Row, The Battery & Whitepoint Gardens, Fort Sumter, The Hunley (1st ever Civil War submarine), The Aquarium, The Angel Oak, Plantations, Ravenel Bridge, & The King Street Shops. This blog post was loaded with history !
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80. McClellanville South Carolina – We stayed only 1 night at a place called the Leland Oil Company, the place is really a fuel stop with boat slips that have power, water, and showers. The primary purpose of Leland Oil is to supply fuel for the large fleet of Shrimping Boats in the same harbor.
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81. Georgetown South Carolina – Georgetown was a cool little town, but the best part was the arrival of one of my best pals, Dave Hinman & 1st mate Ginger, who would spend a very fun & very wet 12 days with us. In Georgetown we strolled down the Georgetown Harborwalk, had a drink at every waterfront bar, climbed a 12 foot boat prop (which was then fenced off), visited a bunch of 1700’s houses, saw a 500 year old tree, went to a maritime museum, saw over 100 Myrtle Beach Bikers ride by, & met Captain Rod & wife Fran Singleton. Captain Rod runs the local tour boat.
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82. Myrtle Beach South Carolina – It was Bike Week in Myrtle Beach, and we spent some time walking around a large parking lot with the many Harley Davidson tents. We saw some pretty cool bikes, went to The House of Blues, went walking around the outdoor shops at The Barefoot Landing, played bag toss at the Wild Wings Bar. On day two we went to Broadway Beach – a very large entertainment complex with restaurants, bars, shopping, boat rides, zip lining, & museums. Dave & I went on a short helicopter tour. We had 4 hours of sunny fun in the Barefoot Marina Pool/Jacuzzi, and finished the day with dinner at Greg Norman’s. Day 3 was a rainy day that started with the Casino Boat Ride from hell, and finished with a very fun night at the Alabama Theatre. Day 4 was finally a sunny day spent at the beach throwing the football & playing bag toss. It was a rainy, but fun 4 days thanks to Dave & Ginger.
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83. Southport North Carolina – It was a special day on 2 accounts; we had crossed into North Carolina, and it was Ginger Hinman’s Birthday. Southport was a cool little quiet town with a population of only 3500, but it had a bunch of really cool Jimmy Buffet type bars. We went to The Fishy Fish Tiki bar, and I became a member & got us 4 into the American Fish Company bar. We celebrated Gingers Bday at Oliver’s. Two of the locals had told us that Oliver’s was one of the two “fancy” places in town. I’m not sure that “fancy” was the correct description, but it was a pretty nice place for a small town, and they had a great Lobster Bisque.
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84. Wrightsville Beach North Carolina – After our short 1 night stay in Southport, we headed further north to the Seapath Yacht Club in Wrightsville Beach North Carolina. We started at the Oceanic, a beautiful modern looking restaurant right on the Atlantic Ocean. We noticed that the water had become a beautiful blue/green. There were many good surfers and the town is known as one of the “World’s 20 Best Surf Towns”. We went to the Johnny Mercer Pier, had drinks at Loggerheads Tavern, and had a competitive Euchre tournament in the Yacht Club complimentary captain’s quarters lounge. We went to the Wilmington downtown area for a while and went on a horse-drawn carriage ride. We ended the night with dinner at Anne Bonny’s – a floating barge along the Riverwalk in downtown Wilmington, and drinks at the Embassy Suites Rooftop Bar.
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85. Swansboro North Carolina – The ride from Wrightsville Beach to Swansboro North Carolina was about 60 miles and included a very heavy rain storm which lasted about 2 hours of the 7 hours we traveled. We traveled past signs which said – Stop Do Not Proceed – Live Firing When Lights Are Flashing” & “Danger – Unexploded Ordnance, Do Not Enter”. After we docked in Swansboro, I discovered that the area we went thru was a training area for the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base. Swansboro turned out to be a pretty nice small town with gift shops, antique shops, and a LOT of nautical based knick-knack shops. For dinner we went to an Italian place called The White Oak River Bistro. They had GREAT cheese bread, lasagna, & a really cool back deck with excellent views.
We ate our Italian entrees, and listened to Luciano Pavarotti while eating.
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86. Beaufort (Bo-Fert) North Carolina – One of the very fun stops on The Loop. We were welcomed to Beaufort by the harbor master & one of the nicest guys we have met on The Loop, a southern gentleman named Jerry Gaskill & marina owner Joe. Jerry loaned us a kick-ass golf cart to get started with our visit. During our stay we went on discovery of the Carrot Island Wild Horses, had dinner at The Dockhouse, had drinks at the hidden Back Street Pub, saw a fresh catch of 3 ft Mahi, & listened to Bobby Webb & Company sing “money can’t buy everything, but it can buy me a Boat”. We went on a great dinghy ride along the Taylor Creek & saw thousands of little crabs scurrying away to their holes in the sand, at the Rachel Carson Reserve. We also joined MANY boaters having a fun SUNNY day on the Carrot Island Shoreline. It may have been the most fun day of the Hinman’s 12 day visit. We ended the night & week with dinner at the Clawson’s Restaurant, the biggest restaurant in town covering two large buildings. Then it was time for the sad farewell, after a great 12 day/6 port visit by Dave & Ginger.
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87. Oriental North Carolina – Oriental Marina is a very small quaint little marina with only 11 slips. It is actually called The Oriental Marina & Inn, and has about 20 rooms in the Inn. It is a very cute place with a nice clean Pool, Tiki-Bar, on-site restaurant. The highlight of the stay was a dinner with our ole pals Lab Partners – Beth & Rip Tyler. We did a lot of reminiscing & they gave us a lot of tips for the upcoming travels thru the Chesapeake Bay, Annapolis, & Washington DC.
Beth also hooked us up with connections to get into the Republican Club in DC.
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88. Belhaven North Carolina – In 1928, Belhaven was thrust into the national spotlight when it became the final link to complete the inland route of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, connecting Beaufort to Boston, making it an ocean seaport.
It is home to Spoon River Artworks & Market. Spoon River is a farm-to-fork style restaurant with a goal to source as much of the menu from the state of North Carolina as possible. The Spoon River Artworks & Market was as advertised, a great meal with very nice ambiance.
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89. Columbia North Carolina – We stayed 1 night at the Alligator River Marina.  The Alligator River Marina is really a gas station, convenience store, & restaurant – with a few boat slips. It was the only marina option & worked fine for a 1 night stay to break up what would have been a 90 mile trip between Belhaven & Elizabeth City.
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90. Elizabeth City North Carolina – The Pelican Marina is not much to look at but does have good power, water, wifi, nice views, and the best part – OMG, only $35/night. Highlights of the visit included ; the Museum of the Albemarle (a place devoted to how the Albemarle Area & Elizabeth City fit into the history of the USA), a music show at the Arts of Albemarle with Bobby Plough & Los Gringos, and meeting Elizabeth City locals Morris & Norma and Paul & Joyce Wheeler.
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91. Portsmouth Virginia & The Dismal Swamp Canal – The Dismal Swamp is a 22 mile long man-made canal which connects Elizabeth City & the Albemarle area of North Carolina to Virginia & all of the ports in the Chesapeake Bay. The Dismal Swamp did turn out to be dismal – It was rainy all day, the water was very narrow, very shallow, and had a lot of debris. We heard at least 4 underbody clunks during the 3-4 hour ride. It was a great ride to do 1 time, would not want to do it again.
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92. Hampton Virginia (Norfolk) – Todays ride from Portsmouth Virginia to The Salt Ponds Marina in Hampton Virginia, had us pass thru Norfolk. The ride thru downtown Norfolk gave a few cool sights – We saw the downtown Norfolk waterfront with the ferris wheel, lots of commercial ships, and LOTS of Naval Ships.
While traveling thru Norfolk, we heard a lot of VHF Radio chatter between The Warship #77 & The Coast Guard. The Warship #77 was planning on heading out to the Atlantic Ocean for unknown objectives. The radio chatter we heard was The Warship #77 calling The Coast Guard for an escort into the Atlantic. About 30 minutes after we heard the radio chatter, we saw 6 coast guard boats pass by us with gunmen stationed in the bow of the coast guard boats. Another 30 minutes later, we actually passed The Warship #77 with the 6 Coast Guard Boats creating a perimeter around the warship. We passed far to the port side of the Naval actions. About another 45 minutes after we passed, the Warship finally departed.
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93. Deltaville Virginia – We stayed at the Dozier’s Regatta Point Marina in Deltaville.
It appeared to be a very nice marina, it had a nice pool, but we did not see much of the marina, and did not see any of the town. It was really just a stop to get to Solomons Island Maryland. We waxed the upperbody of the boat, prepped upcoming routes, and ate left-overs.
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94. Solomons Island Maryland – Solomons was a special place for us due to special people. We were reunited with Bud/Sue Hansen of Odyssey, after 7 months. The last we had seen them was in Mobile Alabama in Nov 2017. We were also reunited with my ole pal from Junior High School – Dr. Dave Noffert & 1st mate Debbie. We spent a wonderful 4 days with Bud/Sue & Dave/Deb.
Dave & Deb arrived on June 8th (Brenda’s Bday) and the 6 of us spent day-1 walking all over Solomons Island – Island Riverwalk, The Pier Restaurant, Art Galleries, Gift Shops, a really cool metal art studio, and we went in search of the Infamous Solomons Island Tiki Bar, only to find out that it had closed 2 years ago. We spent the afternoon at the pool, and had dinner at a place called The Island Hideaway.
On day-2 we took a taxi ride from Solomons Island to Historic St. Mary’s City, where we visited an Archeological Dig, a historically & archeologically recreated version of the 1600’s based St Mary’s city, Lead Coffins going back to the 1600’s , and a recreated Maryland Dove sailing ship. After St Mary’s and lunch, we went back to the boat and played euchre into the night as we watched the storms encircle us. The night ended watching The Crown on Netflicks, one of me & Nellies new favorite shows (Thx Brenda & Joe).
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95. St. Michaels Maryland – On Sunday June 10th, we were planning to move from Solomons Island to the St. Michaels Marina. Our planned departure was for about 8:30am, but at 6am I was awakened when I heard the cabin fan suddenly go off !
I checked the lights & refrigerator, OMG – all of our power was out !
After a few minutes of excitement, Dave found out that the power to the entire marina was out (whew, not a boat issue). So we departed early at 7am for St Michaels. The ride across the Chesapeake Bay was wonderfully smooth. Shortly after arrival, we had lunch at Foxy’s Harbor Grill and then went on a really cool 2 hour golf cart ride of the island. We found out that St Michaels calls itself ” The town that fooled the British” – read the full blog for more. My favorite part of the Solomons visit was a place called The Inn at Perry Cabin – a very fancy resort, with a very fancy hotel, bar, and beautiful waterfront lounge area where we had drinks & hung out for a few hours. For dinner we went to The St. Michaels Crab & Steak House, and Dave & I had the St. Michaels famous Steamed Blue Crab !
On Monday, we went to the St. Michaels Museum, which was normally closed on Mondays – but 1 phone call later, the docent & local tour guide Kate, opened the museum only for us !
We also visited The Lyon Distilling Company – because Dave’s mother Hanna’s maiden name was Lyon, so Dave purchased some souvenirs with the family maiden name.
Toward the end of the day Monday, the Noffert visit came to a sad ending, after a wonderful and sometimes rainy 4 day visit. It was great to spend some time with my ole pal again.
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96. Annapolis Maryland & Washington DC – Annapolis Yacht Basin
This port was in the Top-10 for both me & Jonell.
There was so much to do, so much to see, and Annapolis was just a really cool city. I definitely want to go back to both Annapolis & Washington DC.
We did so much, It would be hard to summarized it here, so I will simply say – We spent 2 days in Washington DC, and 3 days in Annapolis – Read the Full Blog !
The Highlights were ; Lunch at The Republican Club, The Congressional Baseball Game, all the DC Monuments, The Naval Academy, & just sittin’ at Ego Alley and watching Boats & People go by.
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97. Baltimore Maryland – Like Detroit, Baltimore has received a lot of negative press.
But their downtown, sports complex area, inner harbor, and an area called Fells Point – are all wonderful areas of the city. Highlights of our 4 day stay in Baltimore included ; a really cool place called The Visionary Art Museum, a tour of Camden Yards, The Babe Ruth birth home, the home where they made the Star Spangled Banner Flag, and a private tour of the Baltimore Ravens practice facility from Erin Eschels – daughter of my financial guy Randy Eschels.
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98. Chesapeake City Maryland – Chesapeake City is at the top of Chesapeake Bay, and is the cross-over point in the C&D Canal, a canal which connects Chesapeake Bay & Delaware Bay. The Chesapeake Inn Marina was party central when it was sunny out, the problem was that it was not sunny out for much of the time we were there.
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99. Cape May New Jersey – On Sunday June 24th, we departed the Chesapeake Bay & the state of Maryland. It was 8 wonderful stops in The Chesapeake, over 23 days – Portsmouth, Hampton, Deltaville, Solomons Island, St Michaels, Annapolis, Md + Washington DC, Baltimore, Md, & Chesapeake City. We met Gold loopers Dave & Claudia Fuller from Dallas Texas, who also have a 1980 Viking Double Cabin. Dave shared his video of a whale surfacing during their Loop, right next to their boat.
We went to The Cape May Beach – OUR LAST OCEAN BASED BEACH OF THE LOOP. The waves were high leading to interesting photos.
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100. Atlantic City New Jersey – This was a great stop with the highlight being a personal guided tour of The Viking Yacht Manufacturing Facility in New Gretna New Jersey, about 45 minutes outside of Atlantic City. We were greeted with our names on the welcome TV in the lobby, and watched the assembly process of several Viking Sportfish Mega-Yachts. It was one of the most memorable days on The Loop. We also walked the Atlantic City Boardwalk, that was cool too, but not nearly as cool as the Viking Plant.
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101. Manasquan New Jersey – The Manasquan trip started with a nice little grounding in the New Jersey ICW, but luckily – no adverse effects to the boat. After arrival in Manasquan, we met Detroit locals Doug & Ann Miner from The Detroit Yacht Club. The 1 night trip ended with a great dinner, in a beautiful environment at The Waypoint 662 Restaurant.
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102. New York City – OMG, this was as expected – a great stop. There were so many cool things like ; boating thru New York Harbor & The Hudson River with all the commercial ferry traffic, boating right up to The Statue of Liberty & visiting Ellis Island, walking Times Square & Rockefeller Center, and being on the top floor of One World Trade Center. But by far the most memorable part of this stop was The 911 Memorial Museum.
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103. Croton on the Hudson – Croton on the Hudson is about 45 miles north of New York City. Prior to leaving NYC, we were joined by Jonell’s brother Adam Silorey & 1st mate Patty, who joined us for about 5 days, starting with the 45 mile ride up the northern Hudson River. It was a great week with Adam & Patty, we had a jam packed schedule including ; a week at the beautiful Half Moon Bay Marina, trips to West Pointe & The Culinary Institute of America, Dinner at The Culinary Institute, trips to The New Croton Dam & Waterfalls, The Croton Point Park Beach, & The Sing-Sing Prison Museum. One of the many highlights was watching the 4th of July Fireworks from the Poukeepsie Bridge over the Hudson River. At the end of the week, we had the sad farewell of Adam & Patty, but 1 day later welcomed our daughter Ashley & 1st mate Dave for their 3rd Looping visit.
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104. Kingston New York – Ashley & Dave wanted to experience a lot of cruises during their 10 day stay. The first stop after Ashley & Dave arrived was Kingston NY, about 100 miles north of NYC. The ride up the northern Hudson River was beautiful with tree-lined hills, railroad trains tooting their horns on both sides of the river, and many very tall bridges (160 ft clearance). The Rondout Yacht Basin had a very nice pool, on a very hot day – so we started our visit with a couple of hours in the Yacht Basin Pool. We visited the Maretime Museum and learned of history about The Erie Canal. But the best part of this port was a dinghy ride to the local swimming hole on the Rondout Creek Canal.
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105. Albany New York – Port #2 for Ashley & Dave was in Albany, about 150 miles north of NYC. During the ride up to Albany we saw more beautiful waterway, more little light houses, and landed at The Albany Yacht Club. We played a game Ashley & Dave brought called Tangoes, it was very hard – they won. For dinner we went to a place called The Illusive Restaurant & Bar. The Illusive Restaurant was not hard to find, we found it right away. It had nice ambiance, pretty good food, and Dave paid the tab.
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106.  Waterford New York – Cute as a Whistle, That is the phrase for Waterford New York. Waterford is at the Cross-Roads of The Hudson River & The Erie Canal. It will be the start of our trip across the Erie Canal & thru 25 locks into Lake Ontario.
The Waterford Visitors Center has a FREE dockwall with power & water. The people who run the Visitors center are awesome, and on Friday nights have Outdoor Movie Night, an event where we WATCHED A MOVIE ON THE WALL OF A BRIDGE OVER THE ERIE CANAL. This was another one of my favorite memories of the entire Loop.
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107. Amsterdam New York – Dave, Ashley, & I actually took a swim in the Erier Canal in upstate NY, at the Riverlink Park Marina. We had a visit from Ashley’s friend Jeff, who lives in Vermont but was traveling in upstate NY. Jeff is currently taking 2 years off of “work life” to rework his own 1800’s vintage stone house in Vermont. It was a short 1 night stay, with a nice visit & nice dinner in the marina at Dan’s BBQ – aka The River’s Edge Restaurant.
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108. Little Falls New York – It was a cute little marina seawall, in a nice little town, but the highlight by far was the – Moss Island Pot Holes. The Moss Island Land was made over a million years ago by Magma from the earth’s core, injected above ground, and crystallized to become hard rock. The potholes were created by huge volumes of water falling over prehistoric cliffs once located on Moss Island (like Niagara Falls).
Around 20,000-80,000 years ago, the melting glaciers that created the Great Lakes drained through the Mohawk Valley / Hudson River, supplying the water pressure which created the huge potholes. This was Ashley’s favorite port. Check out the original post, the photos are great.
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109. Sylvan Beach New York – We stayed at the Mariner’s Landing Marina, it looked like a combo ; Trailer Park , RV Park, and Marina. It was Dave & Ashley’s last day, so we strapped on our beach chairs & went for a 15 minute walk from the boat, thru the trailer park/ RV community, into the city of Sylvan Beach, & to the Lake Oneida Beach, for our last beach day together. It was Pirates Weekend, so we saw several folks dressed up and partying for the occasion. We listened to a music band called “1/2 Fast Eddie & the Rusty Nuts”. After a late night ending with Tommy Boy, we all got up at 2:40am to say farewell to Ashley & Dave, who had an early 5:45am flight out of Syracuse New York back to San Francisco after a wonderful 10 day visit !
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110. Oswego New York – Oswego for us, was the end of the line for the wonderful Erie Canal. Looking back – I loved it, I was a very pretty waterway, with a bunch of great little towns along upstate New York. We Stayed at Alex’s on the Water, part of a very pretty Oswego Best Western Plus Hotel. Highlight of the stay was a visit to The Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Shelter Museum, a place dedicated to keeping alive the story of the 982 European refugees who were allowed into the United States as “guests” of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and ultimately became some of the 1st Jewish people in the USA.
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111. Sackets Harbor New York – Sackets Harbor New York was our last port in New York State & our last port in the USA for about 3 weeks.
Our goal was to check into Canada in Kingston Ontario because the Border/Customs Inspectors are well familiar with Loopers entering this city and the marina of Confederation Basin. Sackets Harbor is about half way between Oswego & Kingston.
It was a somewhat sad ending to our time in New York, NY was a great boating state.
We loved the excitement of New York City and the Hudson River, We loved the beauty & tranquility of upstate New York on both the Hudson River & Erie Canal.
We had a great time with Adam & Patti, at Half Moon Bay.
We had a great time with Dave & Ashley, on the Erie Canal.
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112. Kingston Ontario – This was our check-in into Canada for about 29 days. The process went very smooth, with an easy 5 minute phone call. Kingston was a great town, but on a dreary/rainy 2 day visit. We did however take a Trolley Tour Ride and saw – The City Hall, Fort Henry, Market Square, The Pump House, The Bellevue House, The Kingston Penitentiary, The Queen’s University, & The Royal Military College of Canada (the West Pointe of Canada). It is also the venue of many rock concerts, with the home sweethearts being the rock band Tragically Hip, of Kingston Ontario. Next stop is Trenton Ontario, and the start of the famed Trent Severn Waterway.
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113. Trenton Ontario – We arrived at the beautiful Trent Port Marina about 2pm, the Start of the Trent Severn Waterway.
The marina is very new, having been built only 4 years ago in 2014.
The main building, the grounds, the docks, and the showers are all beautiful and immaculately maintained. The 10 individual shower rooms are cleaned twice per day.
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114. Campbellford Ontario – Our 1st day on the Trent Severn, we completed an awesome twelve locks in 1 day. We saw the daring of youth, with young boys jumping off of tall bridges, and had dinner with a local handicapped guy named Ken. It was short 1 night stay on the way to Hastings Ontario.
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115. Hastings Ontario – Hastings was a special place for me & Jonell.
In July of 2015, it was this town where we had met and joined Richard & Katherine Cope on a boat named Kat in the Hat, for a 1 week trial run of Looping to make sure it was really for us. The return brought back great memories.
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116. Peterborough Ontario – Peterborough was also a place of previous Looper memories for me & Jonell. It was the city in 2015, that we ran into Dave/Michele Sylver who had gotten us into AGLCA, became our Great Loop God-Parents, and ultimately sold us our boat. The highlights of Peterborough included The Canadian Canoe Museum (yes, a canoe museum), The Peterborough Lift Lock (one of only 8 in the World), and meeting Gold Looper Rob Liss, who took photos of us going thru the Peterborough Lift Lock.
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117. Youngs Pointe Ontario – Went went thru the famous Peterborough Lift Lock, an Engineering Marvel built over 100 years ago, which basically moves boats up & down by only water weight & gravity (see great photos, courtesy of Rob Liss). We stayed at the Islandview Resort, not much to look at but the place was awesome. It was just much more relaxed than the normal marinas. And it was on a beautiful setting which made me feel like I was with Henry Fonda, On Golden Pond.
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118. Bobcaygeon Ontario – Bobcaygeon is known for having the first built, & oldest Lock on the Trent Severn, Lock #32 built in 1858. On the way to Bobcaygeon, we went thru a section of the Trent Severn Waterway with a shit-load of bolder islands in Stoney Lake, just northeast of Young’s Point. – OMG so beautiful !
Bobcaygeon (aka Hip-Town Canada) is also home to the famous Bigley’s Shoes & Clothing Store (I purchased a new Tilley hat) and Gordon’s Yacht Harbor is one of the oldest marinas, with over 100 years of operation.
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119. Bolsover Ontario – The day included a lot of white knuckle boating ; dodging a lot of boats on the way thru the Bobcaygeon lock, a tight squeeze at the Swing Bridge, The Narrows of The Trent Canal (only 2 boats wide & rocky edges), The Kirkfield Lift Lock (Lock #36, little brother to the Peterborough Lift Lock), & The Shallows (marshy, weedy area of only 4-5 feet water depths).
It was a short 36 mile ride , but a long day !
We stayed 1 night at the Sunset Cove Marina, on another nice secluded bay/cove.
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120. Orillia Ontario – The Saturday travel turned out to be, as expected, very slow & very crowded with lots of boat traffic, the final 3 Locks for the day “back-back-back” within less than a 1 mile span on a pretty narrow canal. Once free of Lock #41 we crossed Lake Simcoe at 20mph and made it to Orillia about 1pm. Later that night, we had drinks on the aft deck with new Looper Pals – Gypsea (Mike & Patsy Kelly), Endless Loop (Mike & Jayne) and Awelon-Y-Mor (Neils & Doris).
The Looper gang went to dinner at an Irish place called FIONN’s.
The city of Orillia has a nice waterfront with beaches, parks, and free symphony music. Orillia is also big-time into street art, featuring small Sailboats, decorated Chairs, and decorated Maple Leafs.
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121. Port Severn Ontario – All I need to say is “The Big Chute”, one of the most exciting days of The Loop.
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122. Tobermory Ontario – This was an awesome 5 day time period, in which we did the following ; Welcomed Kenny & Carla for their 4th visit, met Dave/Karen Walters Tobermory family – Curtis/Gary/Merely/Susan, took a dinghy ride to the Big Tub, saw a sunken ship & a Lighthouse via dinghy, played at our own hidden cove in Dunks Bay, anchored over night at Cove Island, & had our own private island for an afternoon at the beautiful / rocky Harbour Island (another one of the prettiest places we saw), and had steaks on the aft deck for dinner. The pictures are sweet, take another look if you wish. Upon leaving Tobermory, we took a short stop at Flower Pot Island, where we saw the famous, vey cool flower pot rock structures.
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123. Killarney Ontario – Another wonderful stop, the highlight being a very restful, beautiful 3 day stay at the Killarney Mountain Lodge, located on the Killarney Channel, just north of George Island. The place sits on large mounds of boulders, and across the channel is some beautiful Red Rock, which lights up at sunset. The resort includes ; 2 restaurants, a carousel bar, a coffee shop, a pool, a sauna, free bikes, free canoes, horseshoes, bocci ball, a large brick fire pit, a seaplane launch pad & a bunch of the famous Canadian Red Adirondack Chairs.
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124. Anchorage (Baie Fine, The Pool, & Topaz Lake) – The overnight stay included ; A very beautiful anchorage in a hidden bay with rock cliffs surrounding the bay, an island home once owner by actress Francis Langford & boat motor builder Ralph Evinrude, and A nice long hike to the secluded Lake Topaz. This place is one of the North Channel treasures.
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125. Little Current Ontario – We had an interesting ride under the Little Current Bridge, just before the marina. The bridge was listed at 18 feet clearance, the bridge tender said it was really at 16ft, our boat is 15’2″ – we made it with inches to spare. Our 2 night stay included ; some music at a place called The Anchor Inn Hotel watching an entertainer named “Barry” sing Gordon Lightfoot, a visit McLean’s Mountain Lookout (the highest elevation on Manitoulin Island), and the departure of the Victory I cruise ship. It was a nice little quiet town, but not so exciting.
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126. Anchorage (South Benjamin Island) – For sure , the most beautiful anchorage that we had on The Loop & our last anchorage on this great journey. We went swimming, had our own private boulder island for lunch, and went on a dinghy ride around South Benjamin. It was stunningly gorgeous scenery.
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127. Meldrum Bay Ontario – The highlight was The Meldrum Bay Inn Restaurant, build by the Victoria Harbor Company in 1876, and raved about by fellow Loopers. This will be our last night in Canada after 28 days & 17 ports. It was an awesome month visiting with our neighbors to the north ; Kingston, Trenton, Campbellfort, Hastings, The Peterborough Lift Lock, Youngs Point, Bobcaygeon, Bolsover, Port of Orillia Marina, The Big Chute, Port Severn – Starport Marina, Tobermory, Anchorage @ Cove Island, Killarney Mountain Resort, Anchorage @ The Pool, Little Current Town Docks, Anchorage @ South Benjamin Island, & Meldrum Bay Marina.
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128. Drummond Island Michigan – Our return into the USA after 29 days in Canada. Unlike our check-in to Canada which took only a 5 min phone call, the return back into our home country took about 30 minutes via an IPAD questionnaire & video chat at the “check-in station”. The highlights were dinners at Esther’s Taco stand & The Northwood Restaurant & Bar. We stayed 2 days waiting for the screaming wind to calm down, before our crossing of Lake Huron into Presque Isle Michigan.
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129. Presque Isle Michigan – This was the big one, Presque Isle was the port in which WE CROSSED OUR WAKE, meaning that we had officially completed The Great Loop. It was a bitter-sweet time for us.
Sweet because;  we had achieved a milestone in our lives, we were greeted by family members (aunt Angie, cousins Kathy, Dan, & Eric), greeted by new Loopers Jerry/Deena Luck, went to the home of the Oldest Bartender in the World, had a BBQ at my cousins home, had a sleep-over with aunt Angie. The weekend was filled with excitement.
Bitter because ; The Loop was essentially over. After 13 months of an adventure of a Lifetime, it was time to return home to normal life.
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130-133 = Spent traveling from Presque Isle to Harrisville, Harbor Beach, Lexington, and Miller Marina in Lake St Clair.

The Trip of a Lifetime was Over !
> Days we were on The Loop = 405 days (Jul 15, 2017 to Aug 23, 2018)
> Our Looping Miles = 5658 Miles
> # of Ports = 129
> # Nights at a Marina = 391
> # Anchorages = only 14 (South Benjamin Island being the best for us)
> # Locks = 105 (The Big Chute being the coolest)


That’s All Folks !
Hope you enjoyed the ride.


The Murphree’s Great Loop Adventure – Visitors Log & Records

They say in our Looper World“don’t schedule visitors, they will get you in trouble when you have to be at a certain place by a certain date !”


Well, we learned a lot from AGLCA and all the other Loopers, but we didn’t listen to the words of advice, about NOT scheduling visitors – and we are glad that we did not !

By far, the best part of The Loop for us, was sharing it with Family & Friends back home.
We thank all of our loyal blog readers, about 175 of you now.

But we thank even more – the folks who took time out of their busy “working” schedules, took vacations days, and spent a lot of money – to come and visit us while Looping.
We wish to celebrate their time spent with us, in the “Gettin’ Looped Records” listed below.

We plan on sending a note in to the head of the AGLCA Organization, Kim Russo.
We want to establish the benchmark for “Visitors While Looping”.
We will challenge other Loopers to Beat Our Mark.
We want to challenge the AGLCA thought of ” don’t schedule visitors”.


So here we go with our Looping Visitors Stats
Note , this only includes Family & Friends, not the hundreds of cool people we met along the way.

1. Total # of Friend & Family Visitors = 93
2. Total # Visitors who spent the night at least 3 nights = 36
3. Record for Most Nights Aboard Getting’ Looped = The Spraggs (31 nights).
3A. Most Nights Spent Aboard – Honorable Mention
> Ashley Murphree & Dave Lyman (17 nights)
> Ken Murphree & Carla D’Arca (16 nights)
> Dave/Ginger Hinman (12 nights)
> Brenda Baldwin (10 nights)
4. Record for Most Visits
> Ken Murphree & Carla D’Arca , 4 Visits – Chicago, Alabama, Key West, Tobermory
4A. Most Visits – Honorable Mention (3 Visits)
> Dave Vrabel/Carol Perotta (3 visits) – Algonac, Fort Myers Beach, Fort Lauderdale
> Ashley Murphree & Dave Lyman (3 visits) – Frankfort, Fort Myers, Erie Canal
> Brian Agar (3 visits) – Caseville, Mackinac, Charlevoix
5. Getting’ Looped Visitors Record for Most Alcohol Consumed = The Hinman’s
5A. Gettin’ Looped Record for most days with Rain = The Hinman’s (root cause of #5).
6. Getting’ Looped Visitors Record for Most Nights at Anchor = Kenny & Carla (2)
7. Near Misses = Eric & Nancy Deloney near Nashville.

The Visitors Log
* Algonac Michigan = Dave Vrabel, Carol Perotta, Rich/Anita Cook, & Dave/ Shelly Herzog
* Lexington Michigan = Ron/Sue Grobbel, Mike/Katie, Eric/Nancy Deloney, Ken/Kathy Luckovitzs, Brian Agar
* Presque Isle = Aunt Angie, Kathy/Dan Serre, Ken, Brenda, Joe, Dan, Megan, Pappie James
* Beaver Island = Doug Edgar & Sharolyn Hun
* Bay Harbor / Charlevoix = Shannon/Scott Knight, Brian Agar
* Frankfort to Ludington Michigan = Ashley Murphree & Dave Lyman
* Michigan City Indiana = Tony/Julie Chesney
* Chicago = Ken Murphree & Carla D’Arca
* St Louis = Jake Baldwin & 1st Mate Mollie
* Rogersville Alabama to Grand Harbor @ Pickwick Lake = Ken Murphree (2) & Carla D’Arca (2)
* Apalachicola Florida = Dom/Lara Ronzello & Kids
* Clearwater Florida to Fort Myers Beach = Rich/Anita Cook
* Fort Myers Beach = the kids – Ashley & Dave (2) , Dan & Megan !
* Fort Myers Beach = Doug Edgar (2) & Sharolyn Hun (2)
* Fort Myers Beach = Dave/Michele Sylver
* Fort Myers Beach to Marco Island to Key West = = Sister Brenda Baldwin (10 days)
* Fort Myers Beach to Marco Island Florida = Dave Vrabel (2), Carol Perotta (2), Eric/Laura Vrabel
* Key West = Sister Paula & Michael Cairns
* Key West = Ron/Michelle Kline
* Key West = Pat/Jenny Haggerty
* Key West = Ken Murphree (3) & Carla D’Arca (3)
* Key West = Jerry/Lori Scheller , Rick/Linda Spragg
* Key West to Miami Florida (The Florida Keys !) = Rick/Linda Spragg (1 month)
* Key West = Pat/Emily Morin
* Islamorada Florida = Dave/Michele Sylver (2)
* Hollywood Florida = Chris Vrabel & Susan Thomas, Joe/Francine Grace
* Hollywood Florida = Cindee Silorey & Dawn Walsh
* Fort Lauderdale Florida = Dave Vrabel (3) & Carol Perotta (3), Dean & Jodee Johnson
* Cocoa Village Florida = Al & Roberta McMillan
* Charleston South Carolina = Randy/Sherie/Garett/Erin Eschels
* Georgetown South Carolina to Beaufort North Carolina = Dave/Ginger Hinman (12 days)
* Solomons Island to St Michaels Maryland = Dave/Deb Noffert
* Croton on the Hudson New York = Adam/Patti Silorey
* Croton on the Hudson to Sylvan Beach New York = Ashley Murphree (3) & Dave Lyman (3)
* Tobermory Ontario = Ken Murphree (4) & Carla D’Arca (4)
* Presque Isle Michigan – Gold Burgee Ceremony = Kathy/Dan Serre (2), Aunt Angie (2), Brent Serre, & Jerry/Deena Luck

Bonus Material – Friends of Family & Friends, who acted as our Local Tour Guides !
* Fort Lauderdale Florida = Doug O’Brecht & Sandra Savinelli (friends of Carol Perotta)
* St. Augustine Florida = Bryan & Kim Hinman (nephew of Dave Hinman)
* St. Augustine Florida = Bob & Marjorie Stoker (uncle of Chris Stoker/Elliot)
* River Link Park New York (Erie Canal) = Jeff Dardozzi (Ashley’s friend)
* Tobermory Ontario = Gary Merely Popiel (Uncle/Aunt of Karen/Dave Walters)
* Tobermory Ontario = Curtis Lyons (cousin of Karen/Dave Walters)

Hope we didn’t miss anybody ???

Note – we really apologize to the blog readers who are folks that we met along the way. There are so many of you, it would be very difficult to list all, without missing someone. The List of Friends & Family from Detroit was hard enough.

Next Post
> Future Loopers – A discussion about The Hardest things about Looping, and things we would do differently if we ever went again.

The Murphree’s Great Loop Adventure – Our Top-10 Ports & Why !

With the Gold Burgee raising ceremony behind us, here is the first of a few final posts, summarizing our Great Loop Experience.

We often get asked – “So, what was your favorite place on The Loop ? “

To identify 1 place after a year of travel is IMPOSSIBLE.

But Jonell & I have attempted to make our list of Top-10 Ports & why they stand out in our memory banks.
The task was quite hard, so we even cheated and will supply 5 honorable mentions.
Both of us initially started with about 25 , top-10 Ports !
Below is the whittled down list.

Mike’s Top -10 (+ 5 honorable mentions)
1. Port #49-50 (Carabelle/Clearwater Florida) 
Ports #49-50 are the ports just before & just after our 170 mile, 20 hour, nite-time crossing of the Gulf of Mexico. This event sticks in my memory banks due to the high anxiety prior to crossing, the coolness of doing it alone feeling like an explorer, the serenity and quietness of hearing only the motors and water rush and seeing only water all around you in every direction for hours.
I vividly remember sitting out on the eyebrow of the boat at 2-3am in the morning with the boat on autopilot, a full moon lit night, and totally smooth waters – thinking how cool this was !
I had about 30 seconds of a euphoric feeling that night.

2. Port #53 – Fort Myers Beach Florida – The Pink Shell Marina & Resort
All of the items below come back in my memories, making this #2 for me.
We spent the month of December here.
Full access to the Pink Shell Resort Hotel Facilities – Beach Chairs, Umbrellas, Firepits
Christmas Eve & Day on the Beach with just me & Nellie.
Wonderful weather the entire month of December.
Arriving in Fort Myers with Rich & Anita – the afternoon farewell drinkfest at Doc Ford’s.
The Ashley/Dave & Dan/Megan visits.
My sister Brenda’s visit.
The Vrabels visit (Dave, Carol, Eric, Laura)
Brenda & Vrabels cruising with us to Marco Island (& Brenda going on to Key West).
Dinners with Donna Mae & Ramble On.

3. Port #56 – Marathon Florida – Fara Blanco
The Faro Blanco Marina was just a beautiful place in a beautiful setting.
We spent a week here.
I remember the pool side parties with The Spraggs & the other Loopers.
I have fond memories of simple things like playing bag toss with the Spraggs in a pretty grass setting, overlooking the marina.
At Fara Blanco we had many of our best Looper friends with us – Rula Bula, Craic, Ramble On, and Pharm Life.
We were treated by Dennis Hahn from Pharm Life, busting into an impromptu harmonica session with the poolside musician one night.
And we got to know, our now great friends Craic much better on the Dinghy Regatta.

4. Port #36 – Florence / Muscle Shoals Alabama
This was a really cool stop on the Tennessee River, with a lot of memory makers that we had no idea existed prior to Looping.
We spent about a week here over 2 separate visits, on the way into & back from Rogersville Alabama.
Florence Alabama is across the river from the city of Muscle Shoals Alabama.
The Muscle Shoals Recording Studio was one of the most famous studios in the country.
I had never even heard of it, but every famous artist you have ever heard of, had recorded here in years past.
The Muscle Shoals Recording Studio was most famous for the Lynard Skynard song Sweet Home Alabama, of which the song says “Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers”.
The Swampers were the studio band at Muscle Shoals.
We also went to a place called “Tom’s Rock Wall”, a 3 foot high mile long rock wall a guy named Tom spent 30 years building to honor his Indian great grandmother.
We visited the birth home of Hellen Keller.
We had a wonderful anchorage under the ole train bridge with Kenny & Carla.
We went thru the tallest lock on The Loop – The Florence Lock (over 100 foot rise/drop).
We had awesome fun, partying with Mother Ocean (Dennis & Jan) & Ken/Carla.

5. Port #102 – New York City / Liberty Landing Marina
This port jumps near the top of the list due to two main things – Visiting the 911 Memorial Museum & Boating right up to The Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island.  Both events were so cool and some of the things we saw are now burned into our minds.
It was also very cool navigating the Hudson River & all the commercial ferry traffic.
Additional highlights included ; One World Trade Center, Ellis Island, & Times Square.
It was also memorable due to the bill – We were there for 5 days, and left just before the 4th of July, because the price went from $5/foot ($225/night) to $8/foot ($350/night).

6. Port #42 – Three Rivers Lake Anchorage, Alabama (just north of Mobile)
This is the anchorage where we were led in by Larry Chrysler of the vessel Bucket List. The entrance started out about 30 feet wide & 10 feet deep, but soon looked like we were entering the Amazon with the width getting so tight that branches were touching the boat and water depth went down to 5 feet. Then suddenly the narrow creek opened up into a beautiful Lake.
We had the added bonus of rafting with all of our dear Looper friends – Bucket List, Odyssey, and Rula Bula.
We had a wonderful pot-luck dinner on Bucket List, of which everyone pitched in.
We watched Rula Bula’s drone video on Gettin’ Looped’s  47″ Flatscreen.
It was one of those magical nights.

7. Port #96 – Annapolis / Washington DC – Annapolis Yacht Basin
It was the 1st experience in Washington DC for both me & Nellie – seeing all the famous landmarks was awe-inspiring. We walked our legs off for 2 days.
The image of all the crosses at Arlington National Cemetery & the ceremony honoring the unknown soldier were very solemn events.
The most interesting things we did that most folks cannot, was to have Lunch at the exclusive Republican Club Restaurant (thx to Beth from Lab Partners) & we went to the once/year Congressional Baseball Game at National Stadium. At the game, representative Steve Scalise, who was shot 1 year to the date, made the first putout of the game. It was very emotional for everyone in the stadium.
In this port we also visited The Annapolis Naval Academy.
Our marina was also right next to the famous “Ego-Alley” boat canal. Watching show-off boats come in/out of the canal was a great pass-time.
AND – Annapolis is just a very cool city, modern city with an old-time feel.

8. Port # 71 – St. Augustine Florida
Same for St. Augustine, It’s just a really really cool city – outdoor dinners at restaurants with only 4-6 tables & small narrow streets, make it feel like you are in Europe.
It’s a modern city, but with most of the buildings originating back to the 1600’s time period. There was 1600/1700’s history at every corner.
We met local tour guides Bob & Marjorie – related to our Detroit friend Chris Stoker.
We met local tour guides Brian & Kim Hinman- who are related to my great pal Dave Hinman.
We had several more dinners with our now good friends, Tim & Patti from Craic

9. Port #57 – Islamorada – Plantation Yacht Harbor
This one jumps out because I remember backing the boat into our slip and hearing some guy saying “that’s my boat, that’s my boat”.
The guy shouting that was Dave Sylver, the guy I bought the boat from.
It was a crazy, impromptu meeting of chance.
We had a great time partying with Dave & Michele Sylver (our Great Loop God-Parents), along with – The Spraggs, Rula Bula, and Craic.
At this port we also had the dinghy ride from hell, back from the Lorelei waterfront bar.
This port had maybe the most beautiful beach, called Marker 88 – a very small quaint beach looking like a Gilligan’s Island Cove. We sat under the shade trees right at the water, had drinks from the Marker 88 bar, and listened to the tropical music for about 5-6 hours on a beautiful afternoon. While on the beach, we were also treated to the landing of a seaplane right in front of our beach lounge chairs.
The day was even more special by sharing the experience with The Spraggs, who were with us the entire month of February.
The last memory was one of our late night party sessions with The Spraggs, The Sylvers, and a well served Dave Sylver singing quite loudly – “stroking to the east, stroking to the west, stroking to the one that I love best, she’s stroking”. It was so funny !

10. Port #126 – The South Benjamin Island Anchorage.
Just me & Nellie in potentially the most beautiful spot on The Loop.

Mike’s Honorable Mentions
11. Port #32 – Grand Harbor @ Pickwick Lake
Our Graceland Trip to Memphis.
The Madison Hotel Rooftop Bar & Firepit – drinking & making friends with the locals.
Ribs at The Rendezvous Cave Bar.
The Shiloh Battlefield with Kenny & Carla.
Freddy T’s Restaurant.

12. Port #44 – Orange Beach Alabama
The beautiful Wharf Marina, the marina & surrounding Orange Beach area was gorgeous, the Christmas decorations with giant trees & ornaments were beautiful.
We were there for a week.
One of the coolest places we went to on The Loop was The Flora-Bama Bar & the once per year “Frank Brown Music Festival” with singer/song writers from all around the world. We sat in The Flora-Bama bar at noon and did not leave until 6pm. Every 15 minutes there was a different musician from all over the world singing his own original material.
The short shows were riveting & highly varied in music type.
We did not plan to stay 6 hours, but could not get up from the table, it was non-stop music with no breaks.
This is also the bar where Kenny Chesney has done a couple of beach-side concerts with tens of thousands of people.

13. Port #26 – Hoppies Fuel Barge
Docking in the high current on the Mississippi River and meeting Hoppie & the famous Miss Fern. This is one of the very well-known, iconic stops on The Loop. It is the last stop for fuel on the Mississippi River before Mobile Alabama. Miss Fern, who has worked the fuel barge for over 50 years, gives you a mile by mile tutorial of areas to be careful on the voyage down to Mobile.

14. Port #103 – Croton on the Hudson – Half Moon Bay Marina
The George Dam & Waterfalls were beautiful, we spent several hours just walking around getting different angles of the dam & waterfall.
We visited iconic places like the West Point Military Academy & The Culinary Institute of America, both of which are located on the beautiful northern Hudson River. We had a delicious dinner at The Culinary Institute.
We celebrated the 4th of July Fireworks on top of the Poukeepsie Bridge, looking down at the Hudson River & the fireworks.
The week was also made special by the visit of Jonell’s brother Adam & bride Patti.

15. Port #51 – Sarasota
I remember the beautiful, expensive, Marina Jacks Marina – a beautiful setting with lots of very nice vessels.
We had dinner at Oleary’s Tiki-Bar, with our toes in the sand & a drink in our hand.
One of the coolest things on The Loop, was a travel day with 3 Dolphins swimming right next to the boat for at least 15 minutes, looking up at us with curiosity.
This voyage was also very special because we were accompanied by Jonell’s cousin Anita & Rich Cook.

16. Port #86 – Beaufort NC – The Beaufort Yacht Basin.
Upon arrival at The Beaufort (Bo-fert) Yacht Basin, right after check-in, we were loaned a really cool Golf Cart to do our initial inspection of the town.
We went on the discovery, and found – The Wild Horses of Carrot Island.
We also went on the discovery, and found the secret hideaway – Backstreet Pub.
We had an incredibly fun dinghy ride to The Rachel Carsen Reserve & found thousands of little crabs in the sand.
On the same dinghy ride, we had a wonderful “Beach Day on Carrot Island”, one of few sunny days of the Hinman’s visit.
Other memories from this port include ; the bar night at The Dockhouse Bar -listening to the band Bobby Webb & Company & the Hinman’s photos of the Homer Smith Seafood Company – morning fish harvest.
All of the above, were made even more special – by the visit of my great pal Dave Hinman & 1st mate Ginger.

Nellie’s Top -10 (+ 5 honorable mentions).
1. Port #53 – Fort Myers Beach – The Pink Shell Marina & Resort
What’s not to love? Beautiful beach, great weather, dolphins, & the resort hotel had many amenities!

2. Port #2 – Key West – Conch Harbor
Our first manatee sighting, live street entertainers at Mallory square, & a boat ride to have lunch on Sunset Island. Sunset Island is a private island that you can only go there if you have a reservation at Latitudes Restaurant, or if you live on the island. Latitudes Restaurant was another one of the places that may have been the most beautiful on The Loop. We were also blessed by having lunch on Sunset Island with the company of the Schellers & Spraggs. We also had our largest batch of visitors in Key West, and toured famous places like The Hemingway House, The Truman House, Fort Zachery, & Sloppy Joes Bar.
And of course, all the photos with every visitor at the Southernmost Point Buoy !

3. Port #96 – Annapolis / Washington DC – The Annapolis Yacht Basin
We enjoyed all the monuments and various memorials, had a blast at the Congressional  Baseball Game, the luncheon at the Republican Club, and the tour of Arlington Cemetary.

4. Port #71 – St Augustine Florida 
I remember the wonderful carriage ride through the narrow street town, later we strolled through the beautiful college campus. Walked down the cobble stone streets and window shopped. We also visited the fountain of youth, where we sampled the water, funny thing is, I felt no different afterward!

5. Port #75 – Savannah Georgia
A very beautiful town, with so many parks and beautiful homes & churches.

6. Port #76 – Hilton Head South Carolina
I liked that there were many shops right next to the marina, also restaurants, live music and beautiful golf courses!
I purchased the dress to Dan’s wedding at Hilton Head.

7. Port #68 – Cocoa Village Florida
We took an exciting airboat ride with our pals from Craic. The ride was exhilarating and we saw hundreds of gators, even a gator with a turtle in his jaws. We went to Cocoa beach with Al & Roberta and watched a NASA rocket launch from right on the Cape Canaveral Beach. The town was very quaint with a very nice park next to the water.

8. Port #9 – Beaver Island Michigan
This was an unexpected special treat. We had an entire day private tour of the island by our friend Doug Edgar, the Police Chief of Beaver Island – in Doug’s Police Car !
The water here was so clear and aqua colored, so amazing!

9. Port #10 – Anchorage @ South Benjamin Island
My favorite anchorage location of all !
Pretty rock formations and the colors were so cool as the sun highlighted them at different times of the day. The water was beautifully clear, and we had lunch on our own private little boulder island. We took a dinghy ride around the entire island and saw many beautiful hidden-away secret coves.

10. Port #44 – Orange Beach Alabama – The Wharf
Many stores, restaurants, & really pretty Christmas decorations.
The Flora-Bama bar and the beach.

Jonell’s Honorable Mentions
11. Port #49 – Carabelle Florida
After all the pre-trip anxiety, the Gulf Crossing was very peaceful & calm.
As dawn arrived, we were treated to the most spectacular moonset & sunrise that I have ever see in my life!
The end of the 20 hour voyage was indeed, filled with anxiety – a mine field of hundreds of crab pot markers that were everywhere upon arrival into Clearwater!

12. Port #102 – NYC / Liberty Landing
The 911 memorial was very solemn, but one of the things I had really looked forward too, and it didn’t disappoint. It may have been the most memorable thing that we saw on The Loop.

13. Port #12 – Leland Michigan
Fish Town was a really cool small town, but so neat. Cool shops, fish stores, restaurants, & even a beach. We had a Chubby Mary drink – a bloody mary with a smoked chub fish stuck in the glass, that you eat when you finish the drink.

14. Port #19 – Downtown Chicago – DuSable Harbor
I  can’t describe how cool it was to drive the boat thru downtown Chicago, going under bridges as low as 17 feet with only 18 inches to spare, then looking up at all the sky-scrapers, all the while dodging lots of boat traffic going both ways on the Chicago River.

15. Port #37 – Grand Harbor = Graceland
Enjoyed so much visiting Graceland!
Also staying at the newly built Graceland Hotel called The Guest House.
Both were so amazing!


Bonus Material – Really Cool things we saw or did , not mentioned in our Top-10 Lists
Not in any attempted ranking of cool-ness, just random recollections !
> A private tour of The Viking Motor Yacht Assembly Plant.
> A private tour of The Baltimore Ravens Practice Facility.
> Dogs & Dolphins – marina dog chasing & barking at the dolphins every day.
> Manitee & Water Hoses – manitee coming right up to the dinghy, while washing boat.
> Gators & Cows – hundreds of cows less than 100 feet from about 20 gators.
> Grand Haven Michigan Musical Fountains – like Vegas Bellagio Fountains on the river.
> The Loretta Lynn Birthplace.
> Elvis – His ultimate home of Graceland & his birth home in Tupelo Mississippi.
> Murphree’s Landing Marina – why yes Michael, I believe that we are kin !
> NASA Rocket Launches – Cocoa Beach & St. Augustine.
> Listening to the VHF Radio talking & then seeing the Navy Warship #77 & the 6 Boat Coast Guard Escort – with machine gunners in the bow of the coast guard boats.
> Boating thru the Camp Lejeune training area with signs saying “don’t proceed if lights are flashing, live firing in progress”. Also seeing signs on the island which said “Do Not Enter – live unexploded ordnances (bombs).
> West Point & The Annapolis Naval Academies.
> The Culinary Institute of America.
> Wrigley Field, Camden Yards, and Busch Stadium.
> The Top Floor of the One World Trade Center & The Sears Towers.
> Lauri Scheller Swimming with Dolphins.
> Locks – Florence 100 foot drop, the Peterborough Lift Lock, & The Big Chute !
> The St Louis Arch & Aeries Restaurant – Views of the Mississippi & Illinois Rivers converging.
> Driving the boat right up to the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island.
> The Charleston Slave Mart – a place where slaves were bought & sold.
> The SS Hunley Sub – a 6 man powered, 1st Submarine in the Civil War.
> The Babe Ruth Birth Home & Bed – the bed that the great bambino was born in.
> The Star Spangled Banner House – the place the star spangled banner flag was sewn.
> St. Augustine – the oldest street in USA, the oldest jail in the USA, the Fountain of Youth.
> Savannah – The Forest Gump Bench & Park.
> Hilton Head – Photo holding the flag at the iconic 18th green of The Harbortown Links.
> Fort Lauderdale – The Swimming Hall of Fame (doesn’t sound cool, but it was !).
> My 1st time ever, Deep Sea Fishing with my pal Dave on his 60th birthday (thx Carol).
> Witnessing a woman fall off her boat while docking at the Trent Severn Lock #41.
> Drinks on the Front Porch of the Mackinac Island Grand Hotel.
> Anchorage at the Miami Stadium – right across from downtown Miami.

We are sure that there are many more, but these were just the ones which came to mind off of the top of our heads.

Next Post = Our Looper Visitors !

Presque Isle Michigan – Aug 23,24,25 (Port #129) – Gettin’ Looped Crosses Her Wake !

Hey Blog followers,

This is a long post, but an interesting one.
Please wait until you have time to read it, this one is not a quick read.

It is with a great sense of pride & accomplishment, and also some sadness – that Jonell & I announce that  we have officially “Crossed our Wake”.

This means that we have returned to a port from where we started The Loop last year, and thus we have essentially Completed The Great Loop Adventure !

We anticipate to arrive back home, at Miller Marina in St Clair Shores, on Wednesday or Thursday – August 29th or 30th.

Here are some pics showing the entire route of our 1 year trip, and also a close up showing the connection points of the BEGINNING (July 15, 2017) & the END (August 23, 2018) of America’s Great Loop, at the Presque Isle Michigan State Harbor.20180824_11100520180824_110919

Since we have already been, and made postings in Presque Isle Michigan, and several other upcoming towns along Lake Huron where we began the trip – Our next few blog posts will not discuss information about the cities/ports, but will cover ;

> Our Trip from Drummond Island to Presque Isle – the final leg of The Loop.
> The Raising of our Gold Burgee Looper Flag.
> The Emotions of Crossing Our Wake.
> Some Quick Looper Stats ; Days, Miles, Costs
> Our attempts to define the very difficult Top-10 places we visited & why.
> A look back on what I believe will be the new record for # of Visitors while Looping.
> A look back at our relatively minor Boat Issues while Looping, and the maintenance required while Looping.
> For you future Loopers – A discussion about The Hardest things about Looping.

In this post, we will cover-
> Our Trip from Drummond Island to Presque Isle – the final leg of The Loop.
> The Raising of our Gold Burgee Looper Flag.
> The Emotions of Crossing Our Wake.
> Some Quick Looper Stats ; Days, Miles, Costs
> Meeting family members in Presque Isle / Alpena

Our Trip from Drummond Island to Presque Isle – the final leg of The Loop.
We arrived in Presque Isle Michigan at the State Harbor about noon on Thursday morning.

We left Drummond Island about 7:30am and had an eventful Loop Completing Ride !

Our Wind/Wave Apps were predicting
2 foot waves for the 60 mile trip across Lake Huron.

We did have 2 foot waves in the Drummond Island Harbor & near the Michigan mainland , but there were NOT 2 foot waves in the middle of Lake Huron.

About 10 miles off shore from Drummond, the waves increased to an average of 4-6 footers, with a couple of 6-8 footers.

On our desired course of SE, we initially were crossing the waves almost parallel to the waves, but at a slight angle.
This is not perfect but if you steer properly, you can essentially ride up the wave with the bow & let the stern fall over the wave.
This kind of worked for a while, but for some reason I turned on the autopilot for only about 5 minutes. The next sequence of events confirmed that the autopilot decision was not a good one.

With autopilot on, we hit one 4-6 ft wave which turned the boat sideways, exactly parallel to the waves – the next 6-8 ft wave rolled the boat pretty good.

The photos below will describe the end result – 4 broken dishes, 3 broken glasses, 1 broken cup, books & cards tossed about the cabin.
Our elastic band cupboard door guards had worked well for the entire loop, but the elastic had become worn, and todays wave toss proved too much, the cupboard doors opened and the dishes went flying.

The Cupboard Holder Elastic Bands have become quite worn over 1 years time.

After the dish tossing ceremony, we altered course to head into the waves on a 45 degree angle, which took us due west towards Rogers City. Then we followed the shoreline south to Presque Isle. This strategy worked much better, but did add about 10 miles to the trip.

The Raising of our Gold Burgee Looper Flag.
So after the attention grabbing ride across Lake Huron, we arrived at Presque Isle about noon.
We chose Presque Isle Michigan as our “Wake Crossing Harbor” because we wanted someone else to help us celebrate.

I’m not sure if you remember, but my aunt Angie, cousin Kathy Serre, and her husband Dan all live just outside of Alpena, very close to Presque Isle where we docked last July.

So we knew that they would come & celebrate with us, but we were also treated to the extra guests of Brent Serre (son of Kathy), and our Miller Marina/Power Squadron pals Mahi Mahi (Jerry & Deena Luck).

Jerry & Deena Luck have just started their loop, and waited for us to cross over, to help us celebrate.

So here you go, photos of ;
> The White Burgee – this is the flag you display while actively doing The Loop
> The Gold Burgee – this is our new flag, that we will now display, signaling completion of The Loop.20180823_145142 (2)

There is also a Platinum Burgee, for folks who complete The Loop more than once – we will not achieve that.
Our experience is that every time you try to re-live anything really cool, it never seems to be quite the same the second time around.

We also have many other travel related plans, both involving boating & not.

With the Gold Burgee raising ceremony behind us, here are a few final points summarizing our Great Loop Experience.

Some Quick Looper Stats
> # of Days we were on The Loop = 405 days (Jul 15, 2017 to Aug 23, 2018)
> Our Loop Miles = 5658 Miles
> # of Ports = 129
> # Nights at a Marina = 391
> # Anchorages = only 14 (South Benjamin Island being the best for us)
> # Locks = 105 (The Big Chute being the coolest)
> Marina Costs = $38,368
> Food & Entertainment Costs = $26,892
> Fuel Costs = $21,124
– note #1, we still need to burn a little fuel to get back to Lake St Clair
– note #2 , fuel bill essentially paid by leasing our home to the doctor from Pittsburgh.

The Emotions of Completing The Great Loop
From the 1st day of the Bon-Voyage party, it has been 1 year of excitement almost every day.
From the early discovery of all the cool boating cities on the west side of Michigan, to the coolness of driving thru downtown Chicago, the rapid current & all the barges on the Mississippi, the unknowns of crossing 170 miles in the Gulf of Mexico at night, the warmness of spending all winter in Florida, the historic east coast towns dating back to the 1600’s, the beauty of the upper Hudson Valley, Erie Canal, and Trent Severn Small Towns, the heart palpitating lift locks & the Big Chute, the majestic beauty of Georgian Bay & the North Channel – There has been excitement, history, and beauty throughout the voyage.
And most importantly – The People.
> Family & Friends visiting us on The Loop
> Our fellow boater Looper Pals, some of whom will be new life-long friends
> All of the impromptu, meetings of chance, of some really cool people – in almost every port

Satisfaction / Accomplishment
We feel a great sense of satisfaction in completing our dream journey.
Many folks have dreams, but sometimes life gets in the way, sometimes you just procrastinate until it’s too late.
But like Clark Griswald says at the end of Christmas Vacation – We Did It !
Boating for a year seems like an easy thing to do on the surface, but was actually a bit challenging, especially being new to “Big Boating”.

But right behind the feeling of Accomplishment & Satisfaction, come the feelings of Sadness knowing that THIS ADVENTURE is over.
We will miss the daily adrenaline rush as we cast the lines off heading towards a new port every 2-3 days, we will miss meeting new people every day in every port, we will miss the weekly/monthly interactions with all of our Looper Pals, and we will miss spending every day with our baby, the ss Gettin’ Looped, who got us thru 13-1/2 months of Looping without a major event (some of our friends with newer boats cannot say the same).

We will be attempting to sell the Gettin’ Looped in the spring of 2019.
We view the sale of our Great Loop Home similarly to when we put our beloved dog Chelsea down after 13 years (heartbreaking).
We love this boat, like we loved that dog !

The last year of our lives may have been the most exciting time of our lives.
We had excitement in the past, like living in Paris for 9 months in 1984.
And we have many more, fun travel related plans in the future.
But this one is going to be hard to beat !

Oh, but wait !
We have crossed our wake, but the trip is not over.
We also had some more very fun socialization here in Presque Isle.
As I mentioned above, when we arrived at the Presque Isle State Harbor, we were greeted by our Detroit Power Squadron pals Jerry & Deena, who have just begun their Loop. We were also greeted by my cousin Kathy Serre & son Brent.

The afternoon & evening turned out to be a blast.
Kathy invited me, Jonell, Jerry, and Deena over to her house for a BBQ, Brent cooked the burgers.
Tim & Diane, friends of Kathy & Dan, also joined us at the BBQ.

After the BBQ at Dan & Kathy’s home, we all went to a really cool place – The Maplewood Bar.
On the outside, the Maplewood looks like any old house based northern Michigan bar.
Its origin goes back to 1924, and is the oldest bar in Alpena Michigan.

Once inside, the history & special nature of this bar came to life.
The bar has 129 vintage guitars hanging from the rafters over the dance floor.
There are also a large collection of Old Cameras, and a glass case of over 100 different Cigarette Lighters.
Our Power Squadron pal Jerry Luck is a musician, and owns a music store in Detroit – he said that some of the guitars are worth $10,000-$15,000.

But the most significant thing about this bar is that it has been home to Clarise Grzenkowicz for about 78 years !

Clarise Grzenkowicz has been tending bar since 1940.
Clarise became the Guinness Book of World Records’ holder for longest career as a bartender in 2011 and still holds that record today.

During a news interview in 2011, Clarise was asked by the reporter “seeing how you’ve been here for 74 years, how much longer do you plan on bartending?”
To which Clarise responded “Probably until I’m six foot under, I’m only 95”.
Clarise is currently 102 years old, and still working the bar.

Unfortunately, Clarise was not working today, a Thursday evening, but she will be back on duty tomorrow night. Supposedly, if you are not here by 7pm on the weekends, you ain’t getting in.

Here are some pics of Clarise & her record-setting banners in the bar.

The late afternoon & early evening at The Maplewood was completed by Jerry Luck playing the accordion for about an hour, while the gang participated with song.

Mike & Jerry Luck

Left to Right = Friend Diane & cousin Kathy


Left to Right = Mike, Dan, and Brent

The Maplewood Gang – Left to Right = Dan, Tim, Diane, Henry, Kathy, Mike, Jonell, Deena Luck, Jerry Luck, & Bubba !

It was an awesome day, and an awesome way –  to complete The Loop !


Next Posting
Our Top-10 Ports & Why !

Drummond Island Michigan – Yacht Haven (Port #128) ; Aug 21,22

Boring Post – Pass on it if you are busy !

Aug 21 – Tue

Welcome back to the USA !
After 29 wonderful days in Canada, it was time to start heading back home.
We left Meldrum Bay and headed another 50 miles east to Drummond Island Michigan.

There are basically 2 main Customs locations in The North Channel to re-enter the United States; the Drummond Island Yacht Haven & the DeTour Village Marina.

We thought that Drummond had an actual customs office at the Yacht Haven Marina, so we chose that marina.

Upon arrival we discovered that there is no longer an office with a CBP (Customs Border Patrol) officer, it is now an automated IPAD/Video Conference check-in.

We arrived at The Drummond Island Yacht Haven about noon on Tuesday, after an early start to beat the forecasted high winds coming later in the day.

After arrival, we topped off the fuel for our planned crossing over Lake Huron on Thursday.
BTW, the total fuel balance for the trip is now = $20,749

After arrival, fuel, and check in to the marina, we gathered our trip information and passports and went to the Customs Video Chat Room.

For some reason, I always seem to have a bit of anxiety checking back into my own country, maybe its some of the stories that I have heard from other Loopers about being hassled more coming back to the USA, vs entering Canada.

Remember the restaurant in Fort Myers Beach – This Nervous Nellie waiting for Customs.

Our Check-in was a bit time-consuming, but relatively hassle free.
In the customs check-in room, you have to fill out a form on an IPAD with the usual stuff ; your boat info, # days in Canada, declarations of stuff back into the USA, passport & DOB information.

There was one piece of info on the IPAD questions that we were not ready for – “a user fee decal number”

It’s not a Nexus Card, not an I68, but simply a sticker that you pay $28 for the right to cross the waterway border (not the same MC 4744 LF registration sticker on the hull that we already paid for when we registered the boat with the state of Michigan).
Can you say “money grab”.

While we were filling out the IPAD questions, we asked the girls in the marina office about the User Decal Number. They said to put “Applied For” in the IPAD box, and get it after the video call with Customs.
We followed their advice.

After completing the form, we hit the “SEND” button.
The IPAD said “please stand by and wait for the video chat with the CBP officer”.
We waited about 20 minutes with no response.
Jonell saw a note advising “if wait time exceeds 15 minutes, call the Sault St Marie Office”.

So we did call the Sault St Marie office, and spoke to a male CBP officer – he said “ok please stand by”.
About 3 minutes later, a female CBP officer activated the Video Call.

She was very nice, apologized for the wait, and began the process.
It was all the normal questions like “are you bringing back any fruits or vegetables”.
She asked us to hold our passports to the screen.
Within 5 minutes, the interview was complete.

The entire process to check back into the USA took about 25 minutes, not a big deal.
But the process of entering into Canada took about 5 minutes over the phone with a human on the other end of the call.

Tuesday night, we went to a Mexican place called Esther’s for dinner, it was Tuesday Taco night – $2.00 Tacos.

We used one of 4 cars the marina has as a rental fleet, a Jeep Cherokee with 169,000 miles.

The marina has their own fleet of rental cars because there is no UBER or Taxi service for the limited population on the island.

They basically charge $12 per use for a couple hours of usage into town and back for groceries, dinner, etc.

A pretty good deal considering that we normally pay $10 one way for an UBER ride into town to do the same stuff.20180821_17161420180821_171702

Look at these beauties all lined up in a row. We were assigned the Jeep Cherokee with 169,000 miles  Maybe next time we will get the vintage Mercedes.

That was about it for Tuesday Aug 21st.
We watched TV, Hulu is now working again back in the USA.


Aug 22 – Wed

Winds of 35-40mph rocked the boat all Tuesday night.
I swear that while sleeping, I felt like the bed was moving up/down a foot in height ?
This in spite of the fact that The Drummond Yacht Haven has a very robust seawall.

We would have went to our next stop of Presque Isle Michigan (just north of Alpena) today, but the Lake Huron waves are forecasted to be 5-6 feet, no thanks !

The wave forecast for tomorrow (Thursday Aug 23) is about 2 feet.

We spent most of the day doing busy work – maintenance, laundry, cleaning, and blogging.

About 4pm I went to reserve our car for dinner.
Tonight we were assigned the GMC Suburban, with 189,000 miles.
Note = both cars we drove did seem in good operating condition.

We went to dinner at The Northwood Restaurant & Bar.
It was just a northern Michigan hole-in-the-wall bar.
I had the hot beef sandwich & mashed potatoes, it was Great.
Nellie said the same about her fried chicken.
Canada is a very pretty country, but it was good to get back to Northern Michigan Meat & Potatoes.

That’s it from Drummond Island.

Next Stop
Presque Isle Michigan & The State Harbor.
It will be the official “Crossing our Wake” ceremony (more on that later) this week.