July 1, 2013
When The Water Calls ... We Follow

June 20, 2013
New Adventures

May 31, 2013
Storing Our Shiny Red Tug

May 13, 2013
Viva La Difference

May 6, 2013
Swinging Free & Easy

April 15, 2013
In The Middle

March 29, 2013
On The Hook

March 18, 2013
Tinker Time

February 28, 2013
Jumping Into the Mix

February 15, 2013
Time Travel

February 6, 2013
Charlevoix - A Small Town With A World-Class Reputation

January 15, 2013
The Perfect Ending

January 1, 2013
Magical Weather & Mysterious Ports

December 15, 2012
Collins Inlet, Killarney, & Little Current

December 1, 2012
New Neighbors

November 16, 2012
What Makes a Perfect Anchorage?

November 1, 2012
Are We There Yet?

October 15, 2012

October 1, 2012
Womens Roundtable

September 15, 2012
Freedom to Discover a Southern Gem

September 1, 2012

August 15, 2012
Nice to Have Options

August 1, 2012
Go West!

July 15, 2012
The Perfect Boating Vacation Destination

July 1, 2012

June 15, 2012
Flagler’s Folly

June 1, 2012
Everglades Detour

May 15, 2012
Making New Friends

May 1, 2012
Something Old and Something New

April 15, 2012
Florida’s Wide Open West Coast

April 1, 2012
Life On the Water in a Trailerable Trawler

March 15, 2012
Becoming Second Nature

March 1, 2012
Last Dance

February 15, 2012
Call it Romance or Mystique

February 1, 2012
Natural Wonders Abound

January 15, 2012
Hardly a Care in the World

January 1, 2012
Wide-Eyed Anticipation

December 15, 2011
Winding Our Way to Lake Powell

December 1, 2011
On to New Cruising Grounds

November 15, 2011
Sharing the Love

November 1, 2011
On the Water Again

October 14, 2011
First Impressions

October 3, 2011
Possession is Nine-Tenths of the Fun

September 15, 2011
Getting the Show on the Road

September 1, 2011
Lets Dance!

August 15, 2011
Getting Our Ducks in a Row

August 1, 2011
Summer Without a Boat

July 15, 2011
The Water and The Boater Home

July 1, 2011
One Step Closer

June 15, 2011
Time Keeps on slippin’ Into the Future

June 1, 2011
Made in the USA

May 15, 2011
Making the Right Truck Choice

May 1, 2011
Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

April 15, 2011
What Goes Around Comes Around

April 1, 2011
Wishing Star Interlude

March 15, 2011
Helping Hands

March 1, 2011

February 15, 2011
Weighing the Options

February 1, 2011
Making a List, Checking it Twice!

January 14, 2011
The Science of Towing

December 30, 2010
The Upside of Downsizing

December 15, 2010
The New Plan!

December 1, 2010
Homeward Bound-The Final Leg

November 15, 2010
Somethings In The Water

November 1, 2010
Our Turn to Relax & Smile

October 15, 2010
Gem in the Rough

October 1, 2010
Whats Your Favorite Place on the Loop?

September 15, 2010
Reflecting Pool

September 1, 2010
Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

August 15, 2010
Canadian Wonderland

August 1, 2010
"Low Bridge, Everybody Down"

July 15, 2010
One Day At A Time

July 1, 2010
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!

June 15, 2010
Lets All Do the Rendezvous

June 1, 2010
On the Hard

May 15, 2010
Falling in Love With Key West

May 1, 2010
Helping Women Get On Board

April 15, 2010
Key West - A Repeat Performance

April 1, 2010
Unexpected Pleasures

March 15, 2010
Mom Cruise

March 1, 2010
Okeechobee Bound

February 15, 2010
Chance Encounters

February 1, 2010
Three Nights in Paradise

January 15, 2010
New Frontiers

January 1, 2010
First Time Experiences

December 15, 2009
A Friend In Every Port

December 1, 2009
Dealing With A Temperamental Lady

November 18, 2009
You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello

November 13, 2009
A Cult Following

October 15, 2009
Somewhere in Time

October 1, 2009
Unlocking Our Minds Eye

September 18, 2009
Its In My Nature

August 15, 2009
The RBS Antidote

August 1, 2009
Crab Crazy

July 15, 2009
Sights And Sounds Of The Bay

July 15, 2009
Sights And Sounds Of The Bay

June 15, 2009
Our Last Leg North

June 1, 2009
Northern Migration

May 15, 2009

May 1, 2009
Hello Goodbye

April 15, 2009
Let The Sun Shine In!

April 1, 2009
Dont Worry, Be Happy

March 15, 2009
Bahama Bound

March 1, 2009
What Do You Do All Day?

February 15, 2009
Slow Motion

February 1, 2009
On The Hook With A Million-Dollar View

January 15, 2009
High Anxiety

January 1, 2009
A String Of One-Night Stands

December 15, 2008
Pushing Into New Tennessee River, Upstream To Adventure

December 1, 2008
All Together Now

November 15, 2008
Kismet in the Aftermath of Hurricane Ike

October 31, 2008
Our Love Affair With The River

October 16, 2008
Big City Lights

October 1, 2008
The Adventure Begins

September 15, 2008
Prepping For The Loop

September 1, 2008
The Space Ship

August 15, 2008
Jumping Aboard In Seattle

August 1, 2008
If We Knew Then What We Know Now!

July 10, 2008
The Second Time Around

July 1, 2008
Our Turn For The Great American Loop


If We Knew Then What We Know Now!
By Kismet, Friday, August 1, 2008

In terms of boating, Lisa and I had led a very sheltered life prior to 2005, when the Great Lakes was our primary boating playground, and most of our adventures were in and around Lake Michigan. Because our exposure to boat styles, makes, and models was somewhat limited to the more prevalent vessels used in the Michigan area, we were naïve when it came to the broader world of boat choices.

As I write this log from the pilothouse of our new Fathom trawler (more on that in our next log), I can see by surveying our homeport marina in Charlevoix, Michigan, that the same holds true today. Of all the boats moored in the marina, most are express models, runabouts, convertibles, motor yachts, sailboats, and only one other trawler. There’s nothing wrong with this picture, these just happen to be the more popular boats for our home cruising area. Before our new Fathom, Lisa and I had a 42-foot Silverton Convertible, our dreamboat, and one I thought we’d own forever. We fit right in. However at the time we purchased the convertible we knew nothing of the Great Loop, had no thoughts of cruising outside of our own stomping grounds, and the thought of retirement hadn’t started gnawing at us.

We set the bar high for our first tour inside a trawler -- this 47-foot Nordhavn docked at Burnham Harbor, Chicago.

In September 2005, after we departed Charlevoix in our dreamboat, we started seeing boats we’d never laid eyes on before. We’d never seen a Kady Krogan, Selene, Great Harbor, Gulfstar, Island Gypsy, Albin, DeFever, Symbol, Monk, or Fathom. We didn’t know a Portuguese bridge from a wide body, and had only seen a handful of Nordhavns, Nordic Tugs, Grand Banks, or American Tugs.

Within eight days of departing Charlevoix our knowledge of trawlers with wide bodies, Portuguese bridges, and expedition-styled hulls started to develop. Lisa and I arrived at Burnham Harbor in Chicago, by far the largest marina in which we’d ever moored, and found ourselves in a whole new boating world. Moored just behind us was a vessel flying the AGLCA burgee, signifying that the owners were current Loopers. Although we’d seen one other Nordhavn before, we’d never seen a 47-footer and were fascinated by it. In the short time since our departure we found that Loopers were easy to approach so we felt comfortable introducing ourselves to the Gordons. The double bonus was that we were able to make new Looper friends as well as get a personal tour of their 47-foot Nordhavn. We were in awe of the dedicated, raised pilothouse, walk-in engine room, and overall roominess of their boat. And of course we were overwhelmed by the Gordon’s hospitality. Our knowledge bank was starting to build.

Based on our journal from our first Loop, I calculated that we had 129 separate moorings, whether they were at a marina, free city wall, lock wall, or at anchor. The trip was 285 days long. Therefore our average stop was 2.2 days. This time, if we travel approximately 6,000 water miles over a two-year period, even with the same number of stops, we’ll be able to increase our average stop to just under six days, making the entire trip more enjoyable. The luxury of taking our time will give us a great deal more flexibility in deciding where to stay, and how long to stay. This time, we just don’t want to be boxed in by a schedule.

Bobby’s Fish Camp is on the tranquil Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway in Alabama. It’s one of the many memorable stops on the Loop because of the to-die-for catfish dinners, served family style USS Wisconsin

As our Loop journey continued down the Illinois River, we came upon an Albin aft-cabin trawler, just east of the Mississippi River, that was preparing to negotiate into a small cove to set anchor. I’d read on a webpage earlier that day about the entrance to this cove being shoaled in and that it should be avoided. I called Mishap on the VHF radio to alert them of the potential dangers and we subsequently tied up together just down river in Grafton, Illinois. It isn’t hard to imagine that Lisa and I had never seen an Albin trawler in the Great Lakes before. Again we admired its displacement hull and its fuel-efficient design and have since spent many days and nights traveling with Wade and Susie. The knowledge bank continued to grow, and at that point in our voyage we began to see why our boat was not the most prevalent type navigating the Loop.

As our 2005-06 Loop trip continued we kept adding to our database as we met more folks traveling south. Lisa and I would play boat-identifying games where we’d try to out guess each other as to the true identity of a boat we’d see at anchor, in a marina, or in open waters. Lisa would say “I think that’s a 42-foot Kady Krogan wide body” or “a Selene with a Portuguese bridge” -- boats and styles we knew nothing about when we embarked on the Loop. As we became proficient at our game it became apparent that we were starved to understand more about the wide world of boat styles. At this point we hadn’t yet connected the dots as to where this was all leading. Lisa usually won our boat-identifying games.

We enjoy the solitude of being on the hook. This beautiful spot is on the St. Lucie River, just east of Stuart, Florida. We anchored 35 percent of the time during our 2005/06 Great Loop

By the time we arrived in Tarpon Springs, Florida, we were three months into our nine-and-a-half-month Loop. We’d met hundreds of boaters plying the same waters as we were and the majority were in trawlers, sailboats, and catamarans -- most diesel-powered. As we were gathering this knowledge traveling down the rivers and ICW we were also moving most of the time at eight to nine knots. It didn’t make much sense to get up on plane, burn a bunch of fuel just to slow down for a no-wake-pass for fishermen, barges, or blind bends in the rivers. So we found ourselves traveling 80 percent of the time at trawler speeds in a planing-hulled boat. We found that we were not only saving fuel but we were enjoying the sights and sounds along the Great Loop route more than every before. We were traveling in a convertible-style boat masquerading as a trawler, without the many benefits we were beginning to find attractive and more suitable for long-range cruising.

Lisa and I arrived at the Fort Myers Yacht Basin in January for a 30-day visit. Unlike our homeport marina, the Yacht Basin had a large concentration and wide variety of trawlers, making the overall mix of vessels more proportional to what we were becoming accustomed to. We were tucked in between Kady Krogans, Grand Banks, Manatees, a Krogan Whaleback, a Gulfstar, and more. What a difference 2,000 water miles can make to your perspective. It seemed as though the boating Gods were trying to enlighten us.

Lisa and I spent a month at the Fort Myers Yacht Basin. The spectrum of boats was wide and varied, such as this grand old lady

Shortly after we arrived in Fort Myers some friends came to visit. Because our visitors are boaters the subject of boats worked its way into our lunchtime conversation. Chet and Betty had heard of a 42-foot Kady Krogan that they wanted to look at while they were in town, so we made an appointment for a walk-through. Even though this boat had not been kept up, Lisa and I were impressed by the roominess of the saloon, we loved the visibility of the dedicated raised pilothouse, and the fuel efficiency. We were turned off by the maintenance that would be needed for all the exterior woodwork as well as the displacement hull limiting the speed to seven or eight knots. With all the knowledge we’d gained it was starting to sound like we were trying to visualize ourselves in a different boat!

By the first of April Lisa and I were working our way up the ICW of Florida’s east coast. Our minds were whirling with the excitement of the entire Loop experience and our new-found knowledge. We decided to make a two-day layover in picturesque St. Augustine, Florida, to take in some history. Because the Mainship trawler plant was close by I also made arrangements for a plant tour. This side trip gave me a perspective on boat-building processes such as how molds are made, how the hull is constructed, weight distribution, engine selection, and the miles of wiring that go into a boat.

We decided to add to our boating knowledge bank while in Stuart, Florida – we took a day to tour all of the trawlers at the Kady Krogan dealership

Our glorious 6,000-mile expedition came to an end when we returned to our homeport in July 2006. We arrived with the same vessel in which we departed; however we also returned with the knowledge of what goes into making up, for us, the ideal boat for Great-Loop traveling. Upon our return we began to apply this newly minted information into a plan for our new dreamboat. On our must-have list Lisa and I decided we wanted a trawler with dedicated raised pilothouse for good visibility and comfort. We also were looking for a single diesel engine big enough to travel faster when we desired or needed to, along with the fuel efficiency of traveling at seven or eight knots. Also on our short list was a keel to protect the prop, an inverter to provide power while the generator isn’t running or when we’re not on shore power, the convenience of a washer/dryer, and a bow and stern thruster to help maneuverability in tight situations.

Our first Loop was an incredibly rewarding journey. We were rewarded by scenic beauty, historical education, the friendship of new friends and fellow Loopers along with the ancillary knowledge gained about the wide world of boating and boat styles. This all helped when we decided to change boats. We found all we were looking for in the 40-foot Fathom expedition fast trawler we had built earlier this year… our new dream boat!

The Fort Lauderdale ICW area is a paradise for boat watching. Here’s a 42-foot Kady Krogan trawler.

We can’t help but wonder: If we knew then what we know now, how would it have affected our travel plans and lifestyle change. With the right kind of vessel, we learned, you can live more comfortably for longer periods of time. With this in mind, we decided to stay out for two years this time. Now we have the boat to do it in comfort.