Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Loopers? What Are Loopers?

Our journey to the Loop began in 1989 with a phone call from my brother-in-law Wally Piper, asking if Marian and I would be interested in counting dolphins in the near coastal waters and coastal rivers and creeks along the Georgia coast. That call led to a 15+ year involvement with The Dolphin Project of Georgia (, and that eventually led to our first boat, a 21' Aqua Sport ("They Say")with a small cuddy cabin. We bought her in 2004, using my mom's inheritance.  She was named in honor of Mom, who began many of her pronouncements with the phrase, "You know, they say."  We still don't know who "they" are.

After a few surveys as a TDP skipper, several trips exploring Georgia's coastal waters, and one trip to Beaufort (pronounced Byooford)/Lady's Island, SC, I had a wild idea.  "Marian, what if I get someone to drive our truck and trailer north, say to New Bern, NC and we take the boat there?" And that is just what we did, this time with a new crew member, our six-month old Golden Retriever Midas.  We had become an integral part of our family in January 2007, and we couldn't imagine the trip without him.
We took a week and hopped up the coast on the ICW, docking at marinas and sleeping in the cuddy cabin: Charleston and Georgetown, SC, and Bald Head Island, NC.  By the fourth night, after a two-hour delay to replace my cell-phone charger and arriving in Sun City, NC by moonlight, we left the boat at the marina and walked a few blocks to a 1960's era motel.  (We had sweet-talked the owner into letting Midas stay, and he was a perfect gentleman.)  One more night on the boat in the picturesque town of Beaufort (pronounced Bofort), NC, a minor engine repair, and a rough trip down the Neuse River with 2 - 3 foot waves, and we reached Oriental and a waterfront motel/marina.  The boat part of our journey ended the next afternoon at Tidewater Marine (not marina) in New Bern.  The docks looked questionable, but the truck and trailer were there, and we soon had the boat on the trailer and were on our way back to Dahlonega, with great memories of our adventure and an appetite for more cruising.

A friendly employee at Charleston City Marina gets credit for what has become our retirement dream:  completing the American Great Circle Loop.  We talked about it on our first long-distance trip, and Marian agreed, with the comment, "I'd love to do the Loop, but we'll have to have a bigger boat."  

 Almost seven years later, after countless hours searching the internet for just the right boat, one trip to Maine (combined with a vacation) and two to Florida, buying the Loop boat and selling They Say, attending the Fall 2012 AGCLA Fall Rendezvous, two years of working on our floating home, a few short trips, and learning from more than one mistake, we're almost ready.  Midas Touch is on the hard at Hinckley Marine Services in Thunderbolt, GA for a fresh coat of bottom paint and a final engine and genset check by the experts, waiting for new canvas for the front windows and re-stitched side curtains. 

We're almost ready to head north from Ft. McAllister Marina on the Ogeechee River on our great adventure.  Anchors aweigh!