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Our thoughts now that we're Gold Loopers and are back home

Well, we're back home,  and we are now suffering from "Boat Withdrawal". It's a temporary thing - we know that 😉 so, we are getting over it and adapting to our new "normal". 

Getting back into our "dirt home" routine has been a bit of an eye opener for us. We're missing our "outdoor" time much more than anticipated - on the boat, we were outside or in the cockpit about 80% of the time. We're also realizing that we can slow down our pace now... we don't need to research-plan-prepare for tomorrow (have a plan A,B,C in case the weather or something else changed our travel conditions). It's taken us about two weeks to "mellow" down some. The urge to go somewhere - do something had both of us a bit on edge, sitting down and listening to the news, relaxing and just chilling was... well, kind of weird - the urgency to get something or everything done "now" is missing.

SeaLoons - nice and secure!
Sea Loons, has finally been moved to her new resting place. She'll spend the winter indoors, and hopefully we'll have decided by next summer what we're going to do with her. But for now, she's getting a well deserved break. She did an amazing job of bringing us around the loop, and other than "normal" stuff (replacing batteries, toilet issues, broken clamps... which are all part of normal and regular maintenance) we did not have any major problems. (But we have to admit, Google and YouTube are awesome - Papi was able to troubleshoot and fix things as they happened - and before they became problems.)

Here are a few numbers from our Great Loop:

  • Start Date: 11 July 2018
  • End Date: 27 July 2019
  • Total travel/moving days: 139
  • Total Locks: 147
  • Total engine hours  Port: 605.7 hrs - Starboard: 606.6 hrs
  • Total Distance: 9140.6 KMs  //  5679.7 miles
  • Total Gas bought/used: 13,256.44 Litres  //  3501.97 Gal
Did we "bust" our monthly budget? Yes, we did - mostly because we stayed in marinas more than anticipated, rented cars to travel and explore (ie: road trips to Nashville, New Orleans, Orlando, the Keys...), and the exchange rate - which was beyond our control. Do we have any regrets in hind sight? No, none. We made amazing friends and have incredible memories to sustain us when we go back to work to replenish our savings.

Are we still happy with the upgrades we did before we started? (link to post) Absolutely! What are our thoughts now that we're back home and reflecting on the boat and our trip in general? We're happy we were so well prepared. We had everything we needed and then some... We did continue to improve/tweak our living space as we went. Living and spending so much time on the boat - well, you know the "good idea fairy" is going to visit 😉. 

The BIG question that everyone asks, what would we do differently? To be honest, there are a few things we would change, and will before we put Sea Loons back in the water (regardless of if we keep or sell her).

  • The sleeping area: we bought a foam mattress - the thickest and most comfortable one we could find. However, there were a couple down sides to that. 1 - It took up more space (we had to wiggle into bed, we couldn't crawl into it). and 2 - Because of the thickness, we didn't put a spacer under it - something like "hypervent" - to have some air flow and prevent mold. Next mattress will still be foam, but not as thick and we'll be adding a "spacer". (We have already gotten ride of the old mattress.)
  • AC-Heat: Did we change our minds of it being a "nice" to have to a "must" have? Yes we did... We had many more hot and humid days than we thought we would. One here and there we would have been OK, but we had weeks of it. We were very uncomfortable to say the least - and we love the heat! But for now, we'll be bringing the portable AC and sacrificing the space it takes, eventually we're thinking of getting one installed. The advantage of having it - it'll also help minimize the humidity in the cabin (thus minimizing possible mold).
  • Wood: Who knew you needed to put at least seven coats of varnish on teak? We didn't. Our previous boats didn't have any woodwork. So we'll be sanding and re-varnishing the anchor roller support and davit supports we added. Lesson learned!
Those are the only things we would do differently. Yes our boat was smaller than most, but as we've said before: "you adapt to your environment". And it's true. We also knew what compromises we were willing to make. Would we have liked a bigger boat? Sure, but would it really have changed our trip? I don't think so. We wanted to see and discover everything we could. Everywhere we stopped was a new place for us, and we had so many new experiences - and regardless of the size of the boat, we still would have been cautious and stayed in marinas where and when we did. We might have anchored out a "bit" more, but realistically - probably not much more. 

One of the many "foggy" mornings - Photo from: Ceci Kay
Our smaller boat actually had a few "unexpected" advantages. 
  • We rarely had to wait for bridge openings - our air draft is only 9-1/2 ft. 
  • We had the option to go fast if needed. Most of our loop was done at "trawler" speed (around 8 mph), but when it made sense to, we went at our most economical speed (24 mph). Crossing Lake Michigan, the Gulf of Mexico, a few "sounds" on the AICW, Chesapeake Bay, Delaware Bay, Lake Champlain... we have to admit, we were not at trawler speed then - we went fast!
  • There was always room for us at marinas. Our shallow draft (3-1/2 ft), our narrow beam (10-1/2) and LOA (32 ft) was often met with a "no problem, we have lots of room for you". Many of the older marinas we stopped at could only accommodate a few "big" boats at a time - so some of our friends had a bit more of a challenge finding a dock, especially when we traveled as a group.
Something that surprised us a bit was our "cooking" habits. We didn't use our BBQ as much as we thought we would. Why? The wind and bugs! But we did make good use of the toaster oven, instapot, induction stove top and our butane stove (no microwave). We did groceries every chance we got, but we never bought "a lot". Lack of storage (and a very small fridge) was actually good for us - we hardly wasted any food compared to when we're home (and forget about leftovers or just don't see what we have). We had to be creative and modify some of our favorite recipes, but it was always fun and part of the adventure!

Do we plan on doing the Great Loop again? We don't know, some days we are "Let's do it again", other days we are "Lets get an RV and go explore some more!". We do know, that we loved discovering new places, the history and meeting and making new friends. We already miss it. We also know we have more boating in our future, where and when - that we don't know. 

For now, we're going to enjoy our new place in NB and re-discover everything the area has to offer.  

As for all of those doing the Down East Loop next summer, I do hope you'll reach out to us! I'll be checking NEBO (or whatever new app AGLCA introduces!) to see who's in the area.

Safe and fun travels to everyone!

Tina & Papi

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

– Charles Schultz