Lets All Do the Rendezvous
If one day you plan on becoming a “Looper” the very first order of business is to join America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association (AGLCA) and attend at least one of their twice yearly (spring/fall) rendezvous, preferably well in advance of taking off on your cruise. The 2010 Spring Rendezvous was held April 25-28 at the Grand Strand Resort and Marina in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (this facility will probably be used again next year). The Fall Rendezvous (October 24-27 2010), is typically held at Joe Wheeler State Park in Rogersville, Alabama.
|During every rendezvous event a group photo is taken to help preserve the memory of a time well spent.|
The main purpose of these rendezvous events is to pass on Looper lore, offer camaraderie, assistance and information to Loopers as they approach the Loop halfway mark, providing general and navigational information for trip planning as they go forward on that stretch. Once that half of the Loop is completed the Loopers arrive at the other rendezvous site to gain information on the remainder of their trip. The other reason you might want to attend one of these rendezvous is if you are only at the “planning stage” and not the “doing stage.” You may need more information, a gentle nudge or some additional support to make your dream become a reality. There is also an added benefit of attending one of these events – access to the sharing of and encouragement by the many veteran members often in attendance to help one in planning for and fulfilling a dream adventure. The reason you’ll want to join AGLCA is because it provides a current, or potential Looper with invaluable information and resources in the form of rendezvous events, a website, links to member blogs and a member forum – all great tools for planning or executing this great adventure.
|Jim gave two presentations during the rendezvous. Exploring Lake Michigan and Side Trip up the Potomac.|
Our reason for attending the Spring Rendezvous this year was two-fold. Jim was asked to return as a speaker for two of the navigational cruising seminars, one on a side trip up the Potomac (which we did last spring) and the other on cruising through Lake Michigan (our home waters). He also signed up to help conduct the Men’s Session.
We arrived Saturday morning by car (our boat is currently in Key West and we are making our way home right after the Rendezvous for some quality family time) to the Spring Rendezvous in Myrtle Beach, a day before the kick-off of the event. We wanted to have some time to walk the docks at the marina and see who we might know that was in attendance and for a chance to become acquainted with a few of the current Loopers. Both of the bi-annual events are held at a resort that has conference facilities as well as hotel rooms and a marina, since most Loopers currently doing the trip will arrive by boat (this year there were approximately 25 boats in attendance). The other attendees, mostly potential Loopers will want to reserve a hotel room.
|Eva and Ron Stob are the founders of AGLCA. You can find them still in attendance at the Rendezvous.|
The AGLCA organization was originally founded, in 1999, by Ron and Eva Stob, authors of the popular book, Honey… Let’s Get a Boat. The current owners, Steve and Janice Kromer have taken the organization to another level along with their daughter Kim Russo (Event MC) and Teresa Davidson (Marketing and Sponsor Services).
The four-day Spring Rendezvous started mid-afternoon on Sunday April 25 with registration, which included sponsor gift bags, the opening of the Ship’s Store and a welcome introduction of current Loopers followed by a reception and dinner with an introduction of veteran Loopers. After dinner there was a presentation by Dr. Jerry Reves on a medical survey he is conducting on health concerns of people while doing the Loop trip. With 225 members in attendance (a record number) it was quite a lively group, all enjoying the chance to come together to experience camaraderie with other boaters who have similar interests and passions.
|The first night started off with introductions, reception and buffet dinner.|
Monday began with a briefing of the day’s events followed by four sessions: Cruising North Carolina to Chesapeake Bay with Captain Alan Lloyd; What You Need to Know to Begin the Loop with Alan and Susann Syme; Exploring the Chesapeake Bay with Ted Stehle; A Grandmother Single Handles Her Adventure with Gillian Outerbridge. After a lunch break there were two more sessions, the Men’s Session, moderated by Gordy Brown and Jim Favors, and the Women’s Session, presided over by Sue Brown and Audrey Stehle. Both of these sessions fostered a lively exchange of information within the group to answer pressing questions that are more gender related. Next on the agenda were Looper Crawls and Vessel Safety Checks in the marina. The Looper Crawls provide potential Loopers an opportunity to see some of the types of boats used for cruising the Loop and a chance to ask questions of the boat owners, such as; what works best for them and why they are using the type of boat they are. If you were still undecided on what type of boat to cruise the Loop in this might give you an opportunity to narrow down the search. Some veteran Loopers, who are changing their future lifestyle, might show up with their boats for sale. The Vessel Safety Checks allow you a chance for a boat inspection, offer ideas about what you might want to add or change in maintaining a safe environment, etc. This busy day was then followed by another reception and buffet dinner.
Day three began with another chance to visit the Ship’s Store for AGLCA Looper memorabilia, burgees and logo wear. Also available are many books, navigational charts and guidebooks about cruising the Loop. This was again followed by the Daily Briefing and four more sessions: Cruising DE, NJ, NY and the Hudson River with Mitch Brodkin; Choosing the Right Boat for your Needs with Curtis Stokes; Champlain, Rideau, Trent-Severn and Erie Canals with Alan and Susann Syme; Side Trip – Potomac River to DC with Jim Favors. Lunch this day was outside on a terrace. It provided still more time social interaction. After this break, there were two more sessions: Exploring Georgian Bay with Mike & Robin McKeown and Crew Management & Watch Keeping with Capt. Henry Marx. More Looper Crawls and Vessel Checks followed the afternoon sessions. Tuesday night everyone was on their own for dinner.
Wednesday, the final day of the rendezvous, began again with an open Ship’s Store and briefing. Jim led off the sessions today with his Exploring Lake Michigan followed by three more sessions: Discussion on the Harbor Host Program with Betsy & Rick Johnson; Chicago to Rogersville, Alabama (site of the AGLCA Fall Rendezvous) with Gene Schnag and AGLCA Web Page and Discussion Forum with Steve Kromer. A group photo and more Looper Crawls and Vessel Safety Checks followed all this good stuff. Finally, the conclusion of the four-day event featured a reception and an Awards Dinner.
|Ted Stehle received the Skipper Bob award on the last night of the event for going above and beyond in making things better for Loopers.|
The Awards Dinner is in place to honor people who have gone above and beyond the usual helpfulness to the organization and Loopers in general. This year Gordy and Sue Brown were recognized as tireless volunteers for the organization. Ted Stehle was awarded the Skipper Bob Award. Ted was very well thought of by the late Skipper Bob and his wife Elaine Reib and exemplified what the Skipper held dear.
|There were no activities planned for dinner on Tuesday night so we met up with our friends Louis and Diane on their boat for meatballs and a fun time.|
Aside from all the activities and presentations we signed up for we were fortunate to “rendezvous” with our good friends Louis and Diane Wade as they managed to arrive at the marina for a short visit during the event (they are heading home to North Carolina after spending the winter in Marathon, Florida). They introduced us to a couple of Loopers we had only briefly met before. On our free night, we sat on Bella Luna and ate Diane’s tasty meatballs while the conversation focused on the Loop and boating, of course.
The staff at AGLCA is constantly renewing their efforts to make this organization a viable tool for this niche group of boaters called Loopers. Attending a rendezvous can be a reaffirming event for some, but for others, who may be a little more hesitant and have more concerns about the whole Loop thing, being able to connect with other’s like themselves or listen to the sharing of the more experienced Loopers can be very helpful in gaining the confidence needed to move forward. Reflecting back on the event now we have to agree we had nice weather, great facilities, interesting and informative speaker sessions, good food and the best part of all – coming together as a group with similar passions and eye on adventure.
To become a member of AGLCA or sign up for the Fall Rendezvous visit their website http://www.greatloop.org or call Janice Kromer at 1-877-478-5667.