The Loop

What on earth is The Loop?  Better if someone else describes that.  You can learn about it here and more here. We’d not heard of it until we began talking with other boaters on the docks.  It seemed interesting enough.  After all, we really never envisioned ourselves in a dockominium – a boat that never leaves the marina.  So we began digging.  We learned all we could and made the decision last summer.  We’re doin’ The Loop baby!!  Our plans are set and now we’re even more convinced this will be an amazing journey.  One we will likely only get one chance to complete.  And now it’s getting close to lift off.

For six months now we’ve been tuning and tweaking Shangri-La.  Lot’s of little things including, fridge repair, varnishing the bridge, varnishing steps to the bridge, new sink fixtures, new huge round bright red fenders (for locking and rafting) new

carpet in the stateroom, new freezer, rebuilt oil coolers, new engine impellers (2), new fuel filters (8 in all) rebuild generator high pressure pump valves, rebuild shift cable, new waste tank shut-off, new navigation apps and maps and a new cheese ball and cracker dish and of course the new table-cloth.

Most of this we do ourselves.  Yes, even the new table-cloth.  Which may sound tedious, but it beats the snot out of mowing the lawn. I actually truly enjoy keeping

table cloth
Yes – Jan sews on Shangri-La

things running well and am now a certified advanced rookie diesel hack.  Jan is a meticulous stainerator and painter.  She doesn’t use blue tape.  It’s scary to watch. She’s going after the exterior teak with a passion.  The results are stunning.

We’d also like to thank YouTube, Carolina Diesel Parts, Defender Marine and a dozen other on-line resources.  “Is your shipping address the same as your billing address Yes/No” – never.  Amazes me how easy it is to get stuff sent anywhere.

We’ve developed a network of professionals who truly feel sorry for us and are anxious to help out with great advice and tips on where to buy and who to contact for services.  The community of boaters and suppliers is something else to watch in

Stateroom new Carpet
Stateroom carpet

action.  “Need a diver, call Bob.” Electrician? plumber? carpet guy – Derek is your man. . .

So our preparations are winding down.  Last night we dined with seasoned boaters Ron and Terry Brown and  Sir Anthony, who’ve spent a lot of time in the Chesapeake Bay area.  This vast estuary is a total mystery to Jan and I.  We wanted good solid info and figured for a couple dozen chicken wings and some beverages we might get lucky.  And we did.  Great information not just about where to stop but also where’s your ‘fall back’ plan when the weather goes utt buggly.  Route planning is intense.  Jan handles all reservations and does the initial route.  She determines best course and most economical travel.

But the help we got is bigger than that.  Chesapeake and Delaware Bay tides are notorious for running like giant rivers at full speed.  We travel at 8 knots and beating against a 5 knot current on a falling or rising tide is, well, expensive.  We would burn over twice as much fuel to move our happy home against such current.  So, we not only needed recommendations for anchorages and marinas, but when to move in this or that area to be ‘riding the tide’ vs. plowing upstream.  These things sound simple.  And for folks with nothing but time and money, no big deal.  But for us it is a big deal.  

Since I still work 40 hours a week from the boat, we not only need to be aware of the water world around us, but we need to be someplace on Sunday where we can stay for a week and be connected to the internet.  Now it gets fun.  Tides rise and fall twice each day, so basically we get one cycle of up and down during daylight.  Meaning if we need to be at point A when the tide begins to rise, and that is at 3PM on that day, how far can we go in the remaining daylight and what alternatives are there for us to anchor out or grab a ball, or get a slip.  We typically travel with 3 options.  Option 1 is our first choice.  Longest distance comfortable for us to do in one day – about 50-60 miles.  Option 2 is if we feel we may not make option 1, or if we find out the marina or anchorage is full this is where we duck in.  Option 3 is – the wheels came off our plans altogether.  A breakdown, unpredicted storm front, rough seas wearing us out – anything that would make continuing improbable or impossible.

So for Jan it’s simple.  Make sure we’re at point A at 3:00PM to catch the tide knowing we’ll be doing 8 knots have 54 miles to cover and have a fall back plan so we can duck in should the boating gods take a crap on us and we can’t make it.  Easy, right?  Jan will work these routes like a terrier on the cuff of a new pair of pants.  She won’t quit till all the options, routes and facilities are checked, double checked and confirmed.  I just drive.  It’s a sweet deal, since I’ve never been accused of being a deep thinker – all the heavy lifting is on her.  But seriously, we do work together on the final routing, just to be sure we’re both comfortable and more importantly so I can have a sense of awareness with where we’re headed.

All this preparation leads to – what next?  If the weather behaves, we’ll be pulling out of Beaufort, NC early on the morning of March 1 heading to Virginia.  Our plan is three and a half days with anchorages along the way.  We’ll stay for two weeks in Chesapeake, VA then begin the grand adventure.  Traveling over 4,000 miles in the next 9 months.  God willing, we will cross our wake at Captiva Island, FL and complete our own Great Loop.  

Never intended as a travelogue, we will continue to update our 10,000+ readers with occasional updates along with the usual unusual stuff about why we’ve decided to live on a boat.  Thank you for following along and remember to –

Eat Life

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