We left Florence Harbor Marina first thing Monday morning. There were 8 other Looper boats that were also leaving the same morning headed for the same destination Joe Wheeler Marina. We had two locks to get through before coming to our destination at Joe Wheeler. We all talked the night before and thought it would be more effective to travel through the locks together.
People from all over the world read about "America's Great Loop". This couple from "Movin On" bought this boat online from a Broker, then came to the US to make the final purchase and then start their Great Loop Adventure. They are from Australia. Love their accents!
It was only a 20 mile runs so it wasn't a long day. It was a good travel day and we arrived shortly after noon.
As we arrived we noticed a drone so I snapped a picture. When we arrived at the dock we met the owner of the drone and he shared pictures that he snapped of us from the sky as we arrived.
The rendezvous didn't start for a couple of days after we arrived so we had a day to get some work done....or at least Steve had a day to get some work done. Our boat has always been a fresh water boat and we will be approaching salt water in a couple of weeks after the rendezvous. A boat must have anodes attached to the shafts and other metal parts of the boat to prevent electricity from corroding the metal in your engines as well as the shafts. Salt water boats have zinc anodes and fresh water boats have magnesium. We weren't sure which we had but assumed since our boat has never seen salt water that the anodes are magnesium. We purchased zinc anodes in Green Turtle Bay. When we got to Joe Wheeler we found the perfect anchorage just outside the marina where Steve could attach the zinc anodes and remove the magnesium. We have our diving equipment on board so it was much cheaper for Steve to do this by diving rather than having the marina pull the boat out of the water. After about an hour and a tank of air....job done! Bring on the salt water!
We found another trail for walking which was great for Dexter. We took him everyday, even once the rendezvous began. It was a long day for him but he got in a great walk everyday. The trail that we found was a mile there and a mile back with a beach at the end of the first mile so it was perfect for Dexter to have a drink and a swim. I can't wait to see his face when he first tastes salt water. Kinda like when I gave my kids a lemon slice to see their faces, tee hee.
The following day the rendezvous began. There are approximately 80 boats here and 262 people that are either in progress of doing the loop or planning to do the loop. Of the 262 people, 48% are in progress, 48% are planning and 4% are in progress for their second time. We call those that have completed the loop more than once, Gold Loopers. To give you an idea of the boats here I took some shots of the Marina.
All of the boats in these three pictures are Loopers. We are not alone.
Our boat is sixth from the right in this picture.
We even met a Looper from Canada!! Even better from Orillia! When we told him we kept our boat at Starport in Orillia he said he lived just down the street from there at Joyland Beach. He also knows our brother in law Ric Hamilton as he owned an auto repair business. What a small world!...and the Canadian flag is beautiful thing too, we don't see many.
Our friend from Orillia told us he was having people from home join them to take a side trip to Chattanooga. He said these people know Georgian Bay like the back of their hands and he is also his canvas guy. A little while later Steve said to me...I bet his friend is John Sweet. How many canvas guys can there be in Orillia. John is the brother of Bob Sweet. Bob and Diane Sweet were very good friends of Steve's parents and John Sweet actually sold Steve and I an insurance policy when we were much younger. Sure enough, we recognized John as soon as we saw him. John and Pat were very surprised to see us when we approached them...such a small world.
We met this boater from rPad back at Green Turtle Bay. They are "all in" meaning they have sold their home to do this trip. Their boat is 30 feet long and they told us, back in Green Turtle Bay, that in order to have more counter space in their galley they would put their toaster in their garbage can so they would have room for their coffee pot on the counter. Well one day they couldn't find their toaster......they figure it got thrown out with the garbage. This is a picture of their boat at the rendezvous. There are 2 pictures here because the owner of the boat told me if I wanted a really good picture to show the size of their boat to go across to the other dock for a long shot. This is home for rPad...gotta love these people.
The following day the rendezvous began. There was a wine and cheese reception and then we went inside where we listened while everyone got up and told where they were from and their stories. Just the Loopers in progress as well as the gold Loopers stood up. There are many Loopers that are "all in", their boat is their home. They don't own bricks and mortar. There are so many that when we meet someone new, we ask "are you all in?"
There was one story that had most of us in tears. A gold Looper stood up and said he was at this marina same time last year. He was on the dock and went in to cardiac arrest. His heart stopped. There just happened to be a few retired doctors on the dock that came to his rescue and restarted his heart by cpr. They called an ambulance and had him taken off to the hospital where he had a quadruple bypass. His Looper friends definitely saved his life. They even went to the hospital to visit him as he recovered. I can't say enough about these people. There seems to be a bond between Loopers, friends that you met 15 minutes ago but feel like you have known a lifetime.
Tomorrow we will leave here and head South. After this stop I feel so confident knowing there are so many people that have our backs. We are a small group and maybe that's why we are so tight. To put our group in to perspective we were given these statistics from America's Great Loop Cruisers Association:
- 35 thousand people run the Boston Marathon every year
- 25 thousand people climb Mount Kilimanjaro every year
- 3 thousand people hike the Appalachian trail every year
- 650 people climb Mount Everest every year
- 200 people swim the English Channel every year
- 150 boats complete America's Great Loop every year....and they ended that by saying "They have never lost even one"......gotta say that was a little comforting.
So onward to the next leg of this journey....salt water and warmer air.."One Bay at a Time"