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
CHANGE OF LATITUDE


October 1, 2012
Womens Roundtable


September 15, 2012
Freedom to Discover a Southern Gem


September 1, 2012
Promises


August 15, 2012
Nice to Have Options


August 1, 2012
Go West!


July 15, 2012
The Perfect Boating Vacation Destination


July 1, 2012
Propane


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
THE PERFECT BOAT!


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
Priceless


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

   

All Together Now
By Kismet, Monday, December 1, 2008

We’re traveling in a caravan of seven boats moving slowly upriver on the windy Tennessee River toward Chattanooga, Tennessee. It's a stunning fall morning as we followed each other out of the marina at the Joe Wheeler State Park in Rogersville, Alabama. Louis and Diane Wade, on Bella Luna, invited us to join their flotilla, heading east, a few days after the America’s Great Loop Cruising Association’s (AGLCA) 2008, Fall Rendezvous.

We’d all just spent a fun-filled week at the Rendezvous, which was attended by approximately 186 (50 currently on the Loop – 65 boats docked at the marina) members of AGLCA. This event was a precious opportunity to not only meet people who share a similar passion for boating and adventure, get a chance to learn, gather, and exchange information about routes, anchorages, marinas and safety, but to also to gain time socializing during the evening receptions and dinners. We also attended seminars by qualified speakers, took notes, collected numerous handouts from all the different sponsors, and exchanged boat cards with other Loopers we’d just met.

On the last day of the Rendezvous we all posed for a group shot

AGLCA was founded in 1999 by Ron and Eva Stob. The Stobs are also the authors of the popular Looper book, Honey, Let’s Get A Boat. You could say that this book is a Looper’s Bible. The Stobs were instrumental in highlighting a little-known route back when boats did this trip all on their own. Now run by Janice and Steve Kromer, this organization of boaters, who’ve cruised or dream of cruising any or all of North America’s eastern waterways, is committed to sharing navigational and cruising information that will enhance the enjoyment and safety of those cruising these waterways.

We had excellent weather while at the Rendezvous, with warm, sunny fall days and some amazing rising moon scenes.

There are usually three of these rendezvous during a one-year period. The first one in the spring, this year at Charleston, South Carolina, catches all the Loopers as they come up the eastern ICW as they head north. The second one is usually held mid-summer in the Georgian Bay, Canada, area. Finally, the most popular one is held in the fall. Historically, the fall event is the best attended and that’s the one we just experienced. It’s held in Rogersville, Alabama, at Joe Wheeler State Park.

When you become a member of AGLCA you buy a club burgee to display on your boat, which identifies you as a Looper and immediately helps shed any social distance between boaters of any type. If you run into a fellow Looper they’ll immediately strike up a chat whether over the radio, or while passing one another or at dock. Oftentimes boaters who are non-Loopers recognize the flag and will have questions regarding what we’re doing. In addition to the flag, the other important feature of joining this association, maybe the most important, is the email forum. This is a daily email from AGLCA that includes posts from members about any aspect of doing the Loop. Sometimes it’s just ideas, suggestions, and tips that have to do with boating in general. There’s a wealth of knowledge shared here and we find that this is one of the best sources of information around. It’s up-to-date information that focuses on helping each other have the best experience while cruising. An example would be a posting on a great fuel price, where to get a repair, or details on a special anchorage.

Here the women are showing the men a new hand signal that they learned at the Women’s Session earlier in the day. It’s called the “full bouquet.”

Each of the scheduled rendezvous feature well-known speakers and presenters from the boating community. The speaker agenda breaks up the waterway from the departure point of the current rendezvous to the next rendezvous location. This is then broken into six or seven areas for discussion. There’s also seminars on safety, appropriate clothing, medical emergencies, boat-cleaning tips, along with miscellaneous lifestyle talks such as life after the Loop, and so on.

I found that one of the most enjoyable meetings is the Women’s and Men’s sessions. I don’t know about the men’s group but the women had a lot of fun, sometimes at their partner’s expense. But many gender-related issues were addressed with many innovative tips shared in the process.

All good rendezvous include a little old-fashioned fun. Day one included a Scavenger Hunt, which was really a vehicle to get people to introduce themselves to each other and gain information needed to complete the task given. There was a fun kayak race, and a dinghy race that we signed up for. The object of the dinghy race was to go around a buoy, only 150-feet from shore. The trick being that the captain of the dinghy was blindfolded and had to steer the dinghy going backwards. The crewmember had to then verbally instruct the captain on where to go. It was sidesplitting entertainment as the relationship between captain and navigator became unusually animated.

A little physical activity at the end of the day was a welcome thing for participants and spectators alike. Things got a little animated between captain and navig-ator during this unusual dinghy race.

The Rendezvous also provides a chance to become familiar with the different types of boats that have been chosen to do the Loop. They come in all sizes and styles. To be able to see so many of them in one place is an eye opener for a boater looking for the “perfect Great Loop boat.” There’s a Looper Crawl scheduled daily for those who wish to share with others a peek at the vessel they themselves have chosen to make their home for the duration of their trip. This event is well attended -- especially by the non-active members who are doing research on what boat to buy for their future Loop. The Rendezvous also provides an opportunity for boaters who’ve finished the Loop to have their boats available for sale during the week’s activities.

Dad’s Idea was one of the more unusual boats we saw at the event.

During the first night’s get-together and dinner a few Loopers put together a little presentation to mark the trials and tribulations of the group of Looper’s named the River Rats. This was the name given to the Loopers such as Jim and me, who’d had to deal with the flooded waters, lock closures, and sections of the Illinois River which were closed for a period of time due to the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. In the end this list of boaters numbered 72. Early on, just after the downpour of rains that caused the flooding, one couple, Ron and Linda Gumm, on Etc., were instrumental in recognizing a situation that could’ve been disastrous if it had not been dealt with ahead of time.

Because of the flooding, boats were piling up at marinas in unusually massive numbers. Instead of the normal, spread out, cruising pattern, now there appeared to be a mass exodus about to occur when the waters opened up again. Because of the foresight of the Gumms, a plan was put into motion with the help of Janice Kromer, executive director of AGLCA. They established a database and email group of all the boats to help organize a plan that would move boats in an orderly manner through the downriver marinas and anchorages, that could not handle a massive arrival of boats. An award, of sorts, was given to the Gumms; appropriately it was a large rubber stuffed rat. More important than this presentation is the concept that when people work together to achieve a task it’s amazing what can be accomplished. Due to the hard work and cooperation of many, there were no incidents as the Loopers negotiated these troubled waters.

The Gumms were very deserving of the “River Rat” award given to them for their part in organizing the Loopers as they traveled the flooded rivers.

Another award given on the last night of the rendezvous was the Skipper Bob “Making it Better” Award, which went to Fred Myers. This award, which was started by Elaine Reib (Skipper Bob’s widow) and Anne and Bob Levine, is given to the person most deserving of making the Looping experience better. We know Fred well, having met him and his wife Joan in 2005 while we were docked for a month at their homeport -- Grand Harbor Marina in Counce, Tennessee. Now retired, Fred, having provided boaters with exceptional river guides over the years, has become a bit of a legend on the river system.

Fred and Joan Myers received “Skipper Bob’s Making It Better” award.

As we leave the Rendezvous with Louis and Diane on Bella Luna and the other boaters, including Bob and Kay Creech on C-Life; Larry and Margie Ross on Wandering L&M; Charlie and Linda Thomas on Freedom's Turn; Bob and Lois Christopher on Going There; and Bud, Muriel, and Shelly Lovett on Sunshine; we’re looking forward to being a part of a caravan for awhile. Many of these boaters have been traveling together since they left their homes in the Carolinas and New York.

We were excited to join such a wonderful group of boaters for this amazing stretch of water called the Grand Canyon of Tennessee. As we tag along at the end of the caravan we can't help but feel the warmth and glow from all the fun we had together at the Rendezvous. We know that we’d be having a great time doing this stretch of river just on our own, but the experience of trailing behind the row of boats, our little homes on the water, is indescribable as we bask in the warmth of the sunshine and the camaraderie of our fellow Loopers.

Here we are, last in the procession of boats out of Joe Wheeler State Park, in a seven-boat caravan.

Shortly after leaving the marina we pass a Nordhaven going downriver. Immediately Jim asks, “Is it a Looper boat?”

“Nope!” I answer. “No flag.”

“Wow!” says Jim. “A Nordhavn. That’s a good-sized, sea-going vessel. I wonder where they came from and where they’re going?”

We watched them pass, wondering what would be the stories they might share? They wave to us like old friends and we feel an immediate kinship. Maybe we’ll cross paths again as Jim and I head back down on the Tennessee River, and eventually the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway towards Mobile and beyond. I hope so.