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


Prepping For The Loop
By Kismet, Monday, September 15, 2008

We often find it funny that while prepping for our first Loop we (actually, I should say “I,” because Jim usually travels pretty lightly) stocked the boat with what anyone would think was a two-year supply of dry and canned goods, office supplies, batteries, books, and so on. It was as if, along the rivers, ICW, and places in-between, there would be no grocery stores, WalMarts, Staples and bookstores. The availability of supplies and accessibility of transportation was a big unknown to us as we contemplated and prepared for the relative unknown. Now we know more.

Lisa whipping up something in the Galley

Another aspect of preparing to go cruising, about which we were unprepared, was how to take care of life’s daily chores such as managing bills, receiving mail, scheduling health exams and tests, along with asking for prescriptions, getting them filled, and talking with our doctors to avoid problems with existing, minor health conditions while away.

We made an assessment of what electronics and computer supplies we’d need in order to take, edit, and store all the photos we’d planned to take while on the trip. We also had to make arrangements to store our vehicles, arrange for insurance, and apply for absentee ballots for upcoming elections. Last but not least among our tasks was finding the right communications vehicle for keeping in touch with our sons, parents, and friends while we were away.

This time around, we won’t be weighing down the boat with storable food supplies quite as much as we did the last time. We’ll probably only stock up on a few luxury items, such as certain pastas and condiments that are hard to find, even under the best of circumstances, but that will keep well until needed. We’ll again have a few large Tupperware-type containers to store these items in our pantry-storage area below the galley.

Lisa’s tending her garden of herbs

We’ve found that while cruising, the day-to-day focus is pretty much on the basics to sustain life while traveling -- eating, cleaning, showering, laundry, boat cleaning, and maintenance. There are not the usual, multitudes of distractions that may make you hurry through some of life’s basic chores to get to that other stuff. So, we find that we take more time to savor these small, necessary tasks, and in turn our lives become simpler, smoother, more balanced.

Jim and I like to cook, and making interesting meals became a joy on our first Loop. Our present galley is well stocked with utensils, cookware, and supplies, and we like to see what we can creatively whip up with what we have available onboard. I’ve also, much to Jim’s dismay, potted a variety of herbs so that we always have fresh flavors for even the simplest of dishes. As much as we love cooking, we also enjoy visiting the local restaurants and a balance of the two is very satisfying to us.

Since we leave from the Great Lakes, we’ll hit the river system first. Last time around, we found that while stores were easier to get to than we’d originally thought, the selection of available goods was lacking once we were away from big towns. This was mostly due to having access to only small-town grocery stores near the marinas. We dearly missed the diversity of fresh produce and artesian breads that are readily available in northern Michigan and, because of this, in the river system, we started making our own bread. We’ll probably do this again while cruising the rivers south.

Lisa’s first attempt at baking bread on the boat

In the Abacos we heard before we went that you should try to stock up on most food items and paper goods before departing for the islands. Produce, dairy, meat, and canned goods found in the little grocery stores that dot the islands are very expensive, and these shops have a minimal selection. They also charge for water so many people have watermakers or extra containers for storage. We didn’t and won’t on this trip. We figure that we can purchase a lot of water for the cost of a watermaker. But we will turn our extra plug-in cooler into a freezer, bring as much frozen food as possible, and fill in with the local lobster, which is a real bargain in the islands.

During our last few weeks here in Michigan, before we take off on our second Great Loop, we still have a few medical appointments scheduled and will get plenty of prescriptions for refills on the few medications we take.

We sold one of our vehicles and only kept our trusty Ford pickup truck, which one of our boys will bring out to us when we spend next summer in the Annapolis, Maryland, area. So we don’t have to store or insure two vehicles this time.

Sometimes it was hard to retrieve carefully stored items in small cubby holes

We sold our house before our first Loop and still haven’t acquired another one so we’re free and clear of those kinds of preparations. Last time around, we made an arrangement with an acquaintance at our local Post Office to forward our mail when we faxed to him a location where we’d be for a week or more. This time Jim is going to check into one of those mail services. We’ll see how that works and let you know. On our first trip we started paying bills online, and plan to pay most of our bills this way in the future. It’s so easy.

For our first trip we bought a large 17-inch Apple Powerbook laptop computer and loaded all the software we thought we’d need to continue working on our websites, blogs, and photography while away. We bought extra batteries and several cards to store photos until we could offload them onto the computer. Because the laptop was short on storage space we invested in several extra hard drives to store and back up the laptop on a regular basis.

This time around we also bought a 20-inch iMac because we plan to work some while traveling, and started using a Verizon USB modem card that would work in both the laptop and the iMac. On our first Loop, we got by with available Wi-Fi along the way, and while it worked out surprisingly well most of the time, sometimes it was a real pain.

Lisa updating the blog while underway

We didn’t want to miss out on the presidential election this fall so we applied for absentee ballots and are all set up when the time comes to vote for our candidate.

We began a blog at the beginning of our first trip mostly for our sons and parents so that they’d easily share in our travels from home. When we returned in the summer of 2006 we had many friends, acquaintances, and even strangers say that they also kept track of us through our blog. We were happily surprised. Now, we’re writing this log for BoatUS and sharing our story with the whole membership, which is exciting. It’s fun to have a creative project such as this to work on along with traveling.

We enjoy the practice and discipline of routinely writing posts then taking and picking out photos that best illustrate what we experienced. It challenges us to put into words what we feel and see at the moment, and both Jim and I think this process actually adds to our experience.

Using logs and blogs also helps us to sell our brand-new book, “When the Water Calls, We Follow” about doing the Great American Loop. For more information, log on to:

We bring what we need. The rest will take care of itself.

It’s comforting to know ahead of time what to expect on our next trip but, sadly in some ways, gone is the excitement of the unknown as far as preparations are concerned. We hope to fill this gap with the pleasure of finding new remote anchorages and small towns along the route. We wonder what the challenges will be of a two-year trip versus one.

I’m having a little trouble leaving too much behind, and keep going back and forth about needing something or not. Jim would go with an empty boat if he could, but that wouldn’t be any fun, would it? We expect that the arrangements and preparations we’ve set in place will have made our trip more enjoyable and essentially worry free. Jim is happy that his boat will be lighter this time around, but what he doesn’t know won’t hurt too much.