The Second Time Around


“So much to see and so little time!” “You have to stop and smell the roses!” These old chestnuts are all just words we’ve all heard a million times before. However, they begin to take on more significance at a certain point in our lives. Suddenly, we start asking ourselves what are we put on this earth to do. Certainly, for Lisa and me anyway, it’s not to work nine-to-five forever and amass great fortunes. We feel very lucky that one of the things we’ve decided to do is retire early, with what we have, and plan our second American Great Loop adventure. And this time around, we’re going to take our time and smell all those roses everyone keeps talking about.

Jim and Lisa preparing to mount their gold AGLCA burgee on the mast of Kismet. The gold burgee represents completion of our first Loop

With the knowledge from our first Loop, which we enjoyed for nine and-a-half months that seemed to fly by, Lisa and I felt the need to broaden our adventure. In our upcoming Loop, we’re extending our trip’s duration to two years, enabling us to enjoy a completely different experience. We’ll be able to linger without Father Time constantly pushing us onward to meet a schedule. Instead of staying just a day or two and only getting a sampling of an area, we might decide to stay a week and really immerse ourselves in the local culture.

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.

Hampton Roads Naval museum in Norfolk was a must visit for us, including the World War II battleship USS Wisconsin

When we reflect upon the more memorable towns, marinas, and anchorages we visited on our first Loop, Lisa and I enjoyed most the places where we spent the most time. You can’t have this experience in one or two days. We like to tour museums, forts, historical sites, and factories, and enjoy trying local cuisine – and this takes leisure time, the time to just linger and weave our way into the fabric of what’s going on in each place we visit.

Early in our first Loop one stop that became a surprise favorite was the five-day visit we made at Green Turtle Bay Resort and Marina in Grand Rivers, Kentucky. We’d made friends with several Loopers by this time, and according to them Green Turtle Bay was an awesome place. We have fond memories of helping Wade and Susie, our new friends from New Bern, North Carolina, celebrate their wedding anniversary by having the two-inch pork chops at the famous Patti’s Restaurant in the quaint Grand Rivers village. We also learned about how Lake Barkley was created in 1964 with the completion of construction on the Barkley Dam, creating a 118-mile lake. We also were able to enjoy a beautiful fall afternoon anchored out not far from the marina for the day, we met others who were also on the Loop during a cocktail party on the dock, and even had time to thoroughly clean our boat. When traveling every day you don’t always have time to immerse yourself as we did at Green Turtle. So, our mission on the second Loop will be to have many more Green-Turtle-type experiences.

This full moon shot looking out of Green Turtle Bay Marina was one of many special evenings we enjoyed on our first Loop

There are a number of places we didn’t have time to visit on our first Loop that are “musts” on our Second Time Around list. We never made it to Joe Wheeler State Park and Marina, and the fall rendezvous of the America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association. This October we plan on spending five days at this wonderful Tennessee River Marina, located in the northwest corner of Alabama. This stop will be a twofer. We’ll not only be getting a taste of water life on the Tennessee River, we’ll also be attending AGLCA seminars, dinners, social events, and tours of other AGLCA attendee’s boats. The gathering will introduce us to our fellow Loopers, many of whom will be traveling south at the same time as we are. Most Loopers agree that one of the best parts of boat travel is the friendships we all make and this certainly has been true for Lisa and me.

I was talking with Laura recently, a fellow Looper, also from Michigan. We met at Grand Harbor Marina in Tennessee and she reminded me of a conversation we’d had early into our trip. In this conversation Laura said she’d never do the Loop again. However, after she and her partner completed their voyage they felt completely differently. She said that this type of adventure gets into the fabric of your existence. They’re drawn to the water just as we are and we’re happy to hear that they’re also leaving on their second Loop this September.

We enjoyed four weeks at Grand Harbor Marina waiting for hurricane season to end. We had several great side road trips to Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee; and Oxford, Mississippi.

Lisa and I gained a vast amount of knowledge from doing the Loop in 2005-06. We hope this familiarity with what’s ahead, along with the changes we’ve made to our plan, will give us a more relaxed second trip. One thing we learned the first time around was that we don’t need to provision our boat as if we’re a small, well-stocked grocery store or office-supply chain. Our first Loop was a reminder that there are grocery stores and department stores in close proximity all along the waterway, and we don’t need to stock up as much as we did. Many marinas offer complimentary loaner cars to accommodate provisioning runs. With the exception of a few marinas, most of these loaners were not much more than old hand-me-down vehicles. But we always looked forward to borrowing them and appreciated the service provided.

We’ve never had an autopilot on any of our boats, so never knew how wonderful this feature is. For the 6,000 miles of our first Loop, one of us had our hands married to the steering wheel the entire time. Then I made a few long-distance boat trips with friends who have autopilots and immediately put an autopilot on our must-have list for our next trip. Kismet’s new autopilot will make our voyage more enjoyable, as having it will free us up to have lunch together or enable us to read while traveling in open water.

This group photo was taken at the spring 2006 AGLCA Rendezvous held in Beaufort, South Carolina. For more on AGLCA visit

Lisa and I are very cautious boaters. We’ve waited out unfavorable weather for up to a week before feeling comfortable enough to venture out. To stay up to date on weather forecasts, we’ve equipped our boat with XM satellite weather, giving us the added ability to be able to view storm patterns, wind speed, wave direction, and more -- all overlaid on our GPS chartplotter. Sooner or later bad weather catches up to you while you’re out on the water, and when it does we’ll have an advantage. We’ll be in a position to know where a storm is coming from and whether we should try to outrun it, change course, or stay put.

Several years ago, my father gave us a plaque that we keep onboard. It reads, “Dear Lord, Have Mercy on Us, For the Lake is So Wide and My Boat is So Small.” While out on open water, far from the sight of land, we now have a better appreciation for the words on that plaque. We decided to equip Kismet with an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) for our upcoming Loop. The EPIRB will give us an added element of security; if something devastating happens to us or to our boat, our chances of rescue will be dramatically increased.

After a day’s journey down the Florida ICW we prepare to anchor at a quiet cove near Bradenton. Shown setting the hook of their Albin are our friends Wade and Susie of New Bern, North Carolina

The biggest decision Lisa and I made in our planning and preparation process was to change boats for our pending journey. We felt that if we’re going to be living on this boat for two years that the trip would be more rewarding if we had better fuel economy, more interior space, and creature comforts such as a washer/dryer. When you live in a 500-foot space you want it to be as functional as possible. We found this and more in our purchase of a 40-foot Fathom expedition-style fast trawler. We’ll tell you more about our new Kismet and our decision process in our next log.

So much to see and so little time! Indeed. On this Loop, our second time around, we’re older and wiser. We’ve negotiated with Father Time, and with good luck we plan a longer voyage of two years out. For our part, Lisa and I have promised to spend more time stopping and smelling a lot of sweet roses.

The thousands of anchorages in Canada’s North Channel offer some of the most unique, picturesque and unspoiled settings we found on our 6,000-mile Great Loop adventure.


We’re psyched and happy to think about setting out cruising for the second time around