Tim has had his boating license since a teenager and grew up on his grandfather’s 22 ft. Grady White in the summers. I can confidently say I have been a great boat passenger, but have much less experience controlling one. So we had some work to do in not only getting Sweet Day ready, but ourselves ready too. Over the last few months here’s what we’ve done, and a big thanks to those that helped us along the way.
Late 2019: Joined Great American Loop Cruisers Association
First time we learned what a “looper” is.
After reading, "Honey, Let's Get a Boat," a book that details all aspects of doing the Loop, we joined AGLCA to dig in more. We started getting the daily forums in our inboxes, a series of questions and answers loopers can pose to one another about literally anything loop-related--from what kind of toilet paper to use to how to pre-oil your engine to tips on taking your cats on the loop.
Summer 2020: Took a “ride” on a Grand Banks 42 in MD
First time we set foot on a trawler
We rented a house for a month in Neavitt, MD on the eastern shore after realizing we would be working remote for a while. We connected with John who runs a boat yard specializing in Grand Banks on the Eastern Shore and we were lucky enough he let us join him while he moved a trawler down the bay.
Fall 2020: US Powerboat training with Captain Kevin Hennessey
First time experiencing the importance of “Steer Before You Gear”
We spent 2 full days on the water in Southport, NC learning everything about boat navigation, handling, docking, and maneuverability with Captain Kevin on a 23 ft. Boston Whaler. Kevin was a knowledgeable, patient, and great teacher. Not to mention, went totally above and beyond even before we got there. We found out we were his first clients since Hurricane Isaias ripped through Southport, totally destroying his home marina dock. When one of his last boats conked out on him a week before our lesson, he was determined not to let us down. So he drove all the way to NY and back in 24 hours and picked up and purchased a beautiful Boston Whaler he found to use for our course. Can't thank Kevin enough for making that trip and getting us pumped for our trip!
Photo Credit: Weather.com
Fall 2020: Spent the weekend living on a Grand Banks 42 trawler in Beaufort, NC.
First time getting why people love to anchor
We found Jan and Lee on the AGLCA forum and were so excited to stay on their boat, which they live on full time after recently completing the Loop (twice!). They used to run a “Breakfast on a Boat” service, where you could rent a room on their 2 cabin boat via AirBnB (but they no longer do overnight reservations). We opted to have them also take us out to anchor for the night, which was so fun--being able to watch the stars and see the sun rise (ok drink coffee in the morning sun, we slept in) without anyone else around. Not to mention their stories from the loop (and their enthusiasm for our trip) was invaluable.
Winter 2020- 2021: Textbook Learning
First time understanding why you can’t put gas in a diesel engine
Tim and I spent the first 2 months of winter about as far away from boat life as possible in Vermont. So every few nights we’d watch a module of online boating courses from anchoring to diesel engines to navigation. For Christmas we got a slew of boat textbooks we’d flip through in the evenings (thanks Melinda!). Driving around Vermont, we’d listen to “How to Read Water” on audio tape and I got my Florida boating license.
Feb-March 2021: Working on the boat.
First time wiring something ourselves on our boat
Working on our boat has been a complete learning experience in itself. From acquiring parts to figuring out what switch turns on our microwave to pulling out shelves and floorboards seeing how everything is connected, we are getting to know our boat inside and out. Tim even figured out how to wire our brand new boat horn. Most of this work has been under the guidance (or completed) by our incredible knows-everything-about-boats guy, Mike. He would spend his hours outside of work helping us complete all of out to-do projects. I'm convinced there is nothing that man can't do when equipped with a drill, a few wires, and screws, so we've been absorbing as much knowledge as we can while working with him.
March 2021: Training on Sweet Day
First time we docked the boat ourselves
We hired Captains Jean and Jerry, a couple that are both certified captains and have also done the Loop. We spent 4 days with them on the water on our boat and learned everything from what to check before departing to learning how the boat steers to anchoring to docking. Their guidance really helped us connect the dots from all the experiences we had to leading up to maneuvering our own boat--not to mention always great to learn more about the looping lifestyle.
The learning journey has only just begun, but thank you to everyone who has helped us get from 0-60 and on our way!