The Great Loop

We are beginning the journey to cruise the rest of the “Great Loop”, which we began 14 years ago on our sail boat “Beau Soliel”. That journey then took us from Milwaukee to the Straits of Mackinaw, North Channel in Lake Huron (part of Canada,) Detroit River, Lake Erie, Erie Canal, Hudson River, Atlantic Ocean, Chesapeake Bay, Intra-Coastal Waterway, around the Keys and into Tampa Bay. That’s when, after keeping the boat there one year, we decided to put the sailboat on the market; wanting to spend more time in Colorado.

We began this leg of the Great Loop by heading into the Trent Severn Waterway, on Lake Ontario. This waterway allows us to bypass Lake Erie and the southern half of Lake Huron. We will next be in the Georgian Bay and then North Channel (both part of Lake Huron with literally thousands of small islands), through the Straits of Mackinaw, down Lake Michigan, and enter the Illinois River at Chicago, down the Mississippi River, short run up the Ohio River, then into Tennessee and Tombigbee Rivers and finally reach the Gulf of Mexico at Mobile Bay. From there we turn east and follow the panhandle of Florida for a while, before heading across the Gulf to Tarpon Springs and Tampa Bay. At Tampa Bay we will have crossed our tracks and completed the Great Loop. We hope to be in Tampa Bay sometime around the beginning of December. We plan on wintering in either the Fort Myers or Bradenton areas, depending upon where we can get a 3 month slip rental.

Entering the Trent Severn Waterway

Entering the Trent Severn Waterway


While in the Milwaukee area we will spend a few days visiting friends and family, but due to weather concerns, we plan on being off Lake Michigan by the middle of September. Finishing this Great Loop has been a long time a dream of Mark’s. There is a flag (called a burgee) for those doing the “Loop” that is flown on the foredeck (it is waiting for us in Wisconsin). All Loopers know what it is and is always an attraction to start up a conversation with other boaters. We have met several boats along the way which we continually run into at new marinas or anchorages. One couple we have been traveling with the last few days is from Manitowoc, Wisconsin! We are going to have “docktails” on the dock tonight with them and two other “Looper” couples.

Personally though, I think I will be glad to be done with the locks on the Trent Severn in another 4 or 5 days (22 more to go) and enjoy the beautiful anchorages of the Georgian Bay and the North Channel. Glad to say we have done it, but I’m over that adventure. It took us three hours yesterday to go five miles because of waiting for the locks to be ready, then we go in, the lock fills, then we go out and then the same thing again and again. We do, however, see some lovely cottages right on the shores in many places. Everyone here proudly displays their Canadian flag. In one lock, the water was overflowing from an adjacent lock (the water is used to help fill the lock) and the boat ahead of us was getting wet. Andy was glad not to be in the first position this time! All of the locks have beautiful gardens.

Flowers at the locks

Flowers at the locks


Getting wet in the lock

Getting wet in the lock

Pema in her life jacket

Pema in her life jacket


Pema checking things out

Pema checking things out


The Canadian "Twoonie"

The Canadian “Twoonie”


We are currently in Peterborough Ontario (city of 350,000) at a lovely marina. There was a free outdoor concert right next door. The orchestra played all of the music from World War I and II and showed a fabulous slide show along with it. We were going to take off after spending two nights here, but decided to stay put one more day. It rained all last night and is windy and cold today. I even had to break out the fleece and long pants! Mark and Andy want to break down to put jeans on, but they are trying to tough it out in shorts. That weather is moving out later today and will be nice for the next five days. When we arrived we went to the little restaurant here. Mark had to finally check out a Canadian favorite – Poutine. AKA French Fries with cheese curds and gravy. It is a heart attack on a plate.
src=”https://nextdanceblog.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/img_1824.jpg?w=300″ alt=”Concert in the Park” width=”300″ height=”225″ class=”size-medium wp-image-150″ /> Concert in the Park[/caption]
Mark trying the Poutine

Mark trying the Poutine

We continue to eat well. I made the boys lobster rolls for lunch the other day. Mark said that it sure beats Andy’s hot dogs!! Mushroom risotto last night – yum! I am missing not getting fresh seafood. Won’t expect that for some time.

Mark grilling Italian sausage

Mark grilling Italian sausage

Andy is getting ready to leave us soon. He has agreed to stay with us through the remainder of the locks and then head back to Wisconsin. I think he is ready for his vacation to end. Ha! When I told him it would be an adventure, he didn’t have any idea what I was talking about! Putt putt . . . a slow moving boat to somewhere! He keeps telling people that he has been Shanghaied. I tell people he is on the prison work release program whenever he wears his orange T-shirt! At least he has finally been able to get his fishing rod out and to no good use – no Walleye in sight!! I am still waiting.
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Until next time, fair winds and calm seas.

…"Red sky at night, sailors delight"

…”Red sky at night, sailors delight”

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4 thoughts on “The Great Loop

  1. so fun to read of your adventures! beats my summer in boot & non-weight bearing status. watch carefully–you never know what next step you might miss! do not quite understand the loop–is it all up north or does it include around FL & back up? still cooking those great meals i see!

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    • Hi Lynn this is Mark. The great loop is a continuous route the circles the eastern half of the US. WE stared in Norfolk, VA, then up the Chesapeake Bay, down the Delaware Bay, uo the Atlantic coast of New Jersey to NYC. Then up the Hudson River to the Erie canal, then west a bit on the ERie canal until we reached the Oswego canal. Then north to Lake Ontario, crossed the lake to Kingston Ontario then northwest through a canal system called the Trent Severn Waterway that winds it’s way through Canada and takes you to the Georgian Bay of Lake Huron. We will continue west across Lake Huron to Mackinac Island. The down Lake Michigan to Chicago. From there it is rivers for a few months,the Illnois, Mississippi, the Ohio, the Tennessee, the Tombigbee which empties into Mobile Bay on the Gulf coast of Alabama. From their we will follow the Gulf coast of Florida to Ft. Myers, where we will take a three month break. In March we will go around Key West to the Bahamas for a couple months. After that it is up the Atlantic coast of the US to our started point in Norfolk VA. About 5500 miles in all. now you know more than you ever want to know about the great loop. Hundreds of boaters do it ever year, they are called “Loopers” which speaks to their state of mind as well as the trip itself.

      Take care, heal quickly and say hi to Gordy for us.

      Mark

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  2. Wow! What great adventures. Always nice to alter plans and just do whatever suits you. Mm lobster rolls. We’re flying in for a nibble. Pictures are great.

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