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Our thoughts as we near the end of "Part 1" of our Loop

M.V. Sea Loons

We have now been living on our boat for almost 5 months. We've had "highs" and "lows" and have questioned our sanity at times, but we are so happy we continued on through the challenges we've had.  Some people may think we are on a big vacation, and I hate to disappoint them, but doing the Loop is actually alot of work and effort - but, it is worth it! We still think of this as our "Grand Adventure". Travelling on a "smaller" boat however, has been an "eye opener" on many things.

Here is what we think of this experience so far, on our boat, a 1977 Seafarer Coronet. (It is often the little things that make a big difference.)

Upgrades we are glad we did:
  • Anchor roller and Rocna anchor
  • New fridge and counter in galley
  • Real mattress (foam we cut to size)
  • Dinghy with engine and dinghy davits

Gear/equipment we would NOT do without:
  • Coffee maker (5 cups - works on the inverter!)
  • Instant pot (3qt)
  • Ice maker (it paid for itself already, hardly ever have to buy bags of ice now, as long as we have power or the generator on)
  • BBQ
  • Yeti cooler
  • Hand held VHF radio (great way to monitor a 2nd channel and to take on the dinghy)
  • Folding bikes (we found two second hand bikes and we are so glad we purchased them)
  • 2000kw generator (great when at anchor or there is no shore power)
  • Portable ceramic heater (nights and mornings are getting colder, even down here)
  • Portable water containers (for drinking water - we don't drink the water from our holding tank)
  • Garmin vehicle GPS (when we rent or have access to courtesy cars - it's a must!)
  • Soda Stream machine (the basic model does not require power - we drink more water and less pop)

As part of our preparations for the Loop, we read blogs, joined the AGLCA, bought books, guides & charts, and tried to imagine how our day to day routine would be. We already had most of what we regularly use on hand or downloaded, but we picked up more resources along the way. We never stop learning and improving... that has been proven true on this trip!

Resources we use for planing/info:
  • Waterway Guides (the App, the books and website)
  • Navionics electronic charts for the GPS
  • Paper charts (buy them before you leave, they are not easy to find on route - as we have discovered)
  • Quimby's Cruising Guide (a 2015 copy was gifted to us, and we are very glad to have it - it has information on all the marinas and "locks & dams" on the inland waterways)
  • Boat US (towing service if required, but also gives us rebates at certain marinas, note: if Canadian, cannot download app)
  • AGLCA (the App and website have so much information, and rebates too - a must)
  • NEBO, Boat Beacon and FindShip apps (helps us track fellow boaters and barges - only works when we have reliable cell coverage/data)
  • Accuweather, Marvsweather, NOAA, ++ (we use multiple sources for wind, waves and weather)
  • Fellow Loopers! (when we are travelling with others, we always compare and discuss best options and current water conditions - we don't always use the same resources so it is interesting)

What we miss and would like (but are not really necessary):
  • Shower (every marina has showers, and we can run a garden hose from the bathroom faucet and shower/wash hair outside/on front deck... still, we miss the convenience of it)
  • Air conditioner/heat (again, it is a convenience thing - fans and a small heater have kept us comfortable)
  • Stabilizer binoculars (would be nice on windy/bumpy days)
  • Hand held vacuum (instead of having to pull out the shop-vac every time)

Things we brought that we have not used so far:
  • Roller blade skates
  • Water filter system (we bought a platypus... we might still use it, but so far there has been no need for it)

Things we would do differently:
  • Have bigger fenders (maybe get the bigger round fenders...)
  • Buy all the paper charts before we left (we will be sure to have all those we need for the second part of the Loop in Jan)
  • Buy BoatUS earlier (there is a 30 day wait for free towing services)
  • Buy our 2 extra "Jerry cans" of gas earlier (in Chicago would have been good)
  • Have a better cell phone provider (we are very disappointed with RoamMobility's coverage - there have been more days without coverage than there has been with)
  • Maybe open an American bank account and have a debit card with USD (would be easier to budget)

With all that said, we are still very happy with our boat and our Great Loop adventure.  We've had a few surprises along the way - but we were surprisingly well prepared as we left the dock to address any issues as they came up. (those issues will be a separate post... )

We are not going to lie and say we don't suffer from boat envy at times. (We do!!!)  We've visited and been invited on some beautiful boats. So we are mentally taking notes of what everyone says about their boats, both good and bad and we are already talking about our "next boat" and what we would want on it. Of course, it will all depend on what type of boating we want to do after our trip 😉. I know, we are crazy, but in a good way!

Every boat is a compromise - and I think we found and have a boat that we can easily live on and one that will safely bring us back home to cross our wake. (We can, and do adapt to our environment and space.)

Tina & Papi

"In life, it's not where you go, it's who you travel with" 

– Charles Schultz