To meet that goal we ran on plane from Troy NY to Chicago miles. We also made all of our crossings over 10 miles on plane and were happy we did for safety and avoiding boredom. Our 40 mile crossing of Lake Michigan ended with a surprise rain squall giving us a bit of a spanking j ust as we reached Chicago. We were very happy not to have been caught mid lake. We also planed on occasion for far more mundane reasons like getting to town in time for lunch at a diner or to reach a prettier anchorage before dark.
A shallow draft is an enormous help in looping the way we wanted to loop. We draw 2 feet with our engine down and this gave us access, often barely, to many of our favorite anchorages and fishing holes. The larger vessels with their ' drafts simply can't get into those spots. This is particularly true in Florida where waters are often shallow and many loopers spend a big part of their trip due to great cruising opportunities and avoiding the winter weather to the north.
Of course if your preference is marina to marina cruising this is far less of an issue for you. Laughing Gull is powered by a hp Yamaha 4 stroke engine with a 9. The has performed flawlessly since we bought the boat-entirely reliable so far, very economical and plenty of power for our taste even with 6 passengers aboard speed drops to 24 mph max. If I were to do the loop again, I'd certainly choose the same boat and engine. Libbey and I will do subsequent posts about what gear worked and didn't work. Miles Days about 9. Carolina, N. We already owned Laughing Gull and plan to keep her so things like depreciation and ownership are somewhat the same whether we're home or looping.
We probably could have considered boat insurance and registration in the same manner but they're included in miscellaneous. Our grocery including ice and propane expenses. At home we make strategic use of a good sized freezer and pantry and stock up when prices are good. Obviously that doesn't work when food storage is a 40 quart cooler and a couple of 20 quart tubs. One of the factors that makes calculating the cost of the trip a bit challenging is subtracting out the expenditures that were not made because we were looping.
While we were gone we had the water pipes drained and let the house go cold. We canceled the insurance on the car and incurred no operating expenses on that. The truck was insured but saw very few miles or expenses. Ten days of our marina total was spent in Charleston for my hospital stay so that skews our stats in that area.
Our estimation is that our ratio of marina nights to nights at anchor is probably a good bit lower than most other loopers. While some of that certainly is driven by the fact that we're frugal Mainers, we're convinced that our love of wild places, fishing opportunities and the cat's peace of mind play a much bigger role.
Boat gas was a big item of course but we enjoyed prices lower than expected. Instead we went 6, miles there are just too many rivers along the way that need to be explored at 4. We made no effort to shop for cheap gas, we simply filled up when convenient. We left August 4 of last year and its a bit unreal to have completed the loop. Al will drive our truck and trailer over from NH tomorrow and pick us up. The second question is easier to answer. Libbey is anxious to reopen her studio WhitefieldPottery.
Within a few weeks the boat will be spiffed up and maintenance brought up to date and Laughing Gull Boat Charters lgboatcharters. I'll also be looking for interesting and worthwhile projects at BigPineConsulting. I'm not opposed in theory to obscenely lucrative projects but have to admit I'm more experienced at interesting and worthwhile. Inquiries and leads are greatly appreciated. Certainly we're not done wandering, or coming home. We're really looking forward to reconnecting with family and friends and our favorite Maine haunts. We'll put up a few more blog posts before ending.
If any reader is considering a loop trip, we'd be glad to share more details or brainstorm if you'd like. Thanks for joining us on the loop. The marsh grass is just high enough so that its impossible to see over them from the helm. Libbey often stood on the gunwales to enjoy the expansive view as we cruised along.
A maze of deep channels and canals connecting them would have been a navigation night mare if not for the well marked ICW route. Would love to visit again when the water was warmer and the fish are biting. While not a city person, I have to say I was struck by the beauty of this city, particularly its lovely parks and squares. We spent a fine day walking and trolleying from park to park by way of beautifully kept historic homes and mansions. Augustine's Creek a deep wide marshy creek off the ICW. One of the immediate differences between SC and GA is that more of the rivers, creeks and back channels seemed to have manes on the chart in SC.
Its not uncommon to be on more than a dozen different named rivers and creeks in the course of a days travel. Small wonder why many folks simply refer to a location as mile or whatever on the waterway. Another day of slow cruising through the marshes and we anchored early on Jarvis Creek when it breezed up hard just before we needed to make a big crossing of Port Royal Sound.
We scooted across Port Royal Sound on calm seas the next morning and ran up the river to Beaufort. Beaufort is a lovely town with a historic district full of grand old mansions with stunning landscaping. We shared shrimp po'boy and rib eye steak sandwiches at the Produce Market and Cafe and called it a fine visit before we anchored across the river on a back channel of Factory Creek away from the houses and the nonexistent factories. We woke the next morning to dolphins chasing fish all around the boat. We watched them dart and zip after their breakfast while we enjoyed ours.
We hauled anchor and ran across St. Helena Sound well ahead of an approaching thunder storm. With gusty winds in the fore cast we poked our bow a few miles up the winding channel of Rock Creek and dropped anchor along a wild wooded shore. The boaters of Rock Creek are certainly among the most polite we've encountered on our loop to date. Everybody slowed down and gave us a friendly wave.
As predicted winds were kts and gusting the next morning so we had a second cup of coffee and broke out the books for a few hours. The breeze dropped in the afternoon so we chugged 7 miles up to Church Creek, the last good anchorage before Charleston. A new routine, while until now Libbey has mostly driven while I exercise or take short breaks, we're now an hour on and hour off. Works great, wish we'd started this sooner. A warm sunny day and light breeze and boat traffic made for a pleasant crossing of Charleston Harbor and we made good progress up the ICW before anchoring on Awendoo Creek.
When we were boating down the inland rivers, spotting another boat flying the looper flag was pretty common and a good occasion to strike up a conversation. When we hit the gulf everybody seemed to scatter and flags were seen far less often. Well, we're apparently back in sync with the pack for these few days we started seeing lots of looper flags and had a number of good chats with folks.
When we're cruising at knots best economy and very relaxed we're slower that most cruisers. When we run on plane at knots wanting to get somewhere at a certain point in time we're faster than most loopers. I'l not soon forget the sight of our anchor dropping overboard when the swivel pin let go one sunny morning in Swanboro. This despite the mechanic's application of loc-tite to the threads a few weeks back on the St.
Johns River. Our hull is badly crusted with shell growth and her top speed has been reduced to 15 knots. We had made an appointment at Deaton's Marine Service to haul and scrape and the crew did a quick and excellent job. We took a a slip there for two nights to wait out a blow that didn't happen but we enjoyed the down time and exploring the town. The yard even had a loaner car which has been rare since we hit the salt water so we got a number of errands accomplished. We got an early start the next day and ran on plane all day miles -wanting to get across the open reaches of the Neuse River they state that its 6 mile width gives it the widest river mouth on the east coast , Pamlico Sound and the Alligator River.
As we ran north down the 5 mile wide Alligator River the breeze pipe up and we bounced our way into a side bay called South Lake. While I was scanning for a likely anchorage, Libbey spotted a bear swimming across the lake. We chugged over to get a closer look through binoculars and watched him swim ashore. Big bear! I'm looking forward to some of my more experienced friend's estimate of his weight but I'll guess lb plus. A twelve-fifteen mile crossing of Albermare Sound was our next course.
We made our first attempt mid morning and decided that a second cup of coffee back on South Lake was more fun than taking ' breaking waves over the bow so we turned around. The breezed died by early afternoon so we made a long run across the Albermarle and up the river past Elizabeth City. The Danforth again failed to set after several attempts at Goat Island described as good holing ground in the cruising guide so we continued up the Dismal Swamp Canal to the barge channel by South Mills Lock.
The anchor again failed to set so we tied off to the bulkhead. Lucie River at the east end of the Okochobee Waterway and enjoyed a stop at the vistior center and state park with its half mile board walk through the swamp. Anchorages are non existent and dock space is highly sought so we were pleased to find a seried of old pilings that we could tie off for the night to catch the morning lock schedule.
Another advantage of a 2 foot draft! Although we quite liked the Dismal Swamp the weather can certainly be described as dismal, cool, damp and showers.
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Nice to drop all the curtains and fire up the stove to make a cup of cocoa sort of weather. The weather followe d us out of the swamp and on to the Chesapeake Bay-magnificent in any weather! An onshore swell and and an outgoing tide made the mouth of the James River stand up in ' swells that weren't quite steep enough to break. We picked our way through them and soon found smoother going as we headed for the mouth of the Rappahanock.
We stopped at NorView Marina at the river mouth for gas and to use the wifi to purchase fishing licenses. We decided to overnight on the Corrotoman River a small tributary to the Rappahannock. Once again we had anchoring trouble. I finally got the anchor to sort of hold by deploying ' of scope in 6 feet of water, many times the normal scope to depth ratio.
We walked into town for groceries and planned to return for a soft shell crab dinner but a strong thunderstorm was forecast so we opted for dinner on the boat. We were interviewed about our trip for the local paper by Larry Chowning, a friend of John Page.
The next day what John Page calls Blackberry Winter weather and had warned me to expect continued as we ran up the Rappahanock to the town of Tappahanock and anchored on the flats below town. We were greeted by a pair of police boats that hoped we were the originators of a distress call that had been broadcast earlier.
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We'd heard the Coast Guard radio announcement of the call earlier and had been on the lookout. Hope it worked out okay. Our mission on the Rappahanock was to use our the story of our loop to help further the work of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Chesapeake Conservancy. These two superb organizations have done amazing work to protect the bay and steward the Captain John Smith National Historic Water Trail. The Conservancy has just released an app Boaters Guide to the Chesapeake which I loaded on to my phone and was delighted by how simply I could access such an array of information.
The CBF and the CC are part of a coalition working together to protect Fones Cliffs, a spectacular 4 mile stretch of sandstone bluffs that are critical eagle habitat and the site of an historic Indian attack on the John Smith expedtion. Looking forward to seeing the media coverage and will share links when I get them. After saying good bye to our guests we ran back down river to the mouth of Wilna Creek and firmly planted our new Rocna anchor in the river bed. A good night's sleep was had by all. Blackberry Winter continued the next day and since we'd missed the soft shell crabs in Urbanna we decided that lunch in a warm restaurant really beckoned.
The Virginia Street Cafe is locally famous for their soft shells and we had a terrific leisurely late lunch. We anchored in the creek in town for the night. To get there we'd have to cross the 7 mile wide Potomac River mouth, a river mouth that frequently gets rough when wind and tide are opposed. We made our first attempt late morning. Seas were already at 3' and breaking before we cleared the bar at Smith Point so we decided to tuck into the Little Wicomico River and wait for conditions to improve.
Fortunately the weather buoy at the river mouth is monitored and reported hourly by NOAA weather radio. When we heard wind speed had dropped to 8 knots and the current was slack we knew it was time to go. We planed across the river and up the shore to the Patuxent arriving well before dinner time and finding a sheltered anchorage on Mill Creek. Winds of knots with gusts to 30 were in the forecast for the next day so we just moved a few miles up river to St.
Leonards Creek. We fished a bit along the way and at anchor but despite marking a lot of fish on the fish finder we had no bites. As I sat in the cabin working on this blog that after noon I heard a splash and a yell. Admiral Peary had done a swan dive off the wheelhouse roof and was scrambling to get back aboard. He wasn't getting back aboard quick enough to suit Libbey so she jumped in to give him a hand. She held him up and I scooped him aboard with the landing net. I'd left the cabin door open so of course he has to run in there dripping water over everything except luckily my computer and camera.
A scared cat and a wet wife but no real damage. Today we ran from the Patuxent to the Rhode River just south of Annapolis. Tomorrow we'll be hosted at the East Point Yacht club and will be sharing stories with John Page and his friends. After a great dinner of fish tacos and crab cakes washed down by Loose Cannon IPA a great local brew we shared our slides and stories with three very experienced and delightful boating couples.
We ran up the bay and were across the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal by pm. Knowing Delaware Bay's reputation as a potentially snotty crossing we decided to take advantage of the flat seas and make the 56 mile run or 52 mile run if you straight line the bay instead of following the ship channel. We entered the canal at Cape May and motored a few miles to Sunset Lake, a prosaic name for a heavily built up lagoon. This has been the longest mileage day of the trip miles.
Our next big crossing is the 26 mile open water run from Manasquam Inlet to Sandy Hook then 10 miles across New York Harbor into the city. Weather looks doable for Saturday morning so we decide to take 2 days to poke across the remaining miles of the NJ ICW. The first day is surprisingly pretty with lots of big marshes full of birds. Condos and summer homes to be sure but with more visual relief than expected. The second day was big open water-Great and Barnegat Bays. With the wind expected to pipe up in the afternoon we elect to put the boat on plane and ran for Port Pleasant.
A quick stop for lunch and a walk at the Brielle Yacht Club and we were ready to anchor. By mid after noon we're anchored out in a pool known as the Glimmer Glass. Side by side summer houses surround us but we have a big flock of brant for company. As predicted this morning was calm as glass and we're running by a. By 10 a.
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We were anchored off Liberty Island sipping on coffee and photographing the statue. After a leisurely brunch we headed up the river in a building southerly breeze, the sort of wind that manages to follow the river's twists and turns. Hard to believe we're within a miles of where we started in Troy NY. We spent another few days wind bound in the Mud Keys enjoying some good fishing and then back to Key West for a night and a Cuban meal. Little Shark River has a well marked river mouth and is right in the middle of the Everglades gulf coast.
We spent the night there and the next morning we wandered up the coast to the Broad River. Having read the Everglades described as the River of Grass we were again interested to observe only mangroves. We had our third alligator siting of the loop on the Harney. For some reason our alligator encounters are down on this Florida visit, probably due to cooler water.
Sad to say, the lunch could only be described as mediocre-crab cakes that I strongly suspect came out of the freezer and were given a ride in the microwave. Estero Bay is a shallow bay, perhaps 20 miles more or less square. We kayaked and fished and hiked the island, enjoying the interpretive panels describing the pre contact life and culture of the Calusa Indians.
We also managed to catch a nice sea trout for supper which we grilled-really like the grill feature of our propane stove! The next morning Ted drove us to the local farmer's market and we picked up a few treats. I was really annoyed at the catamaran sailor that anchored 40 yards upwind of upwind of us and fired up his generator at sunset although he shut it off quickly enough when I yelled at him.
I have no idea why he didn't anchor further away, the were hundreds of acres of good isolated room to anchor. A daily three mile walk to Stump Pass and back plus some bicycling provided some much needed aerobic exercise. More windlass repair and great service from the Stump Pass Marina folks and were ready to travel. From there it was back to Cayo Costa for a night at anchor where unbelievably we had another encounter with ill mannered catamaran sailors.
This episode involved again a boat anchoring perhaps 30 yards to port, again with lots of isolated anchorage available. Pretty soon two more boats rafted up to them. Almost immediately the dinghies started to swarm in and the party was on. The folks were pretty quiet until just at sunset somebody powered up the PA and started broadcasting the clubs news and events. I'm not sure if I learned anything about the harbor or catamaran cruisers from these experiences but having vented I'll move on figuratively and literally.
Lucie River over the course of five easy days. The Caloosahatchee was a pleasant mix of wild and pasture with a few small towns. We spent a couple of nights In LaBelle, a pleasant little river community with ample free public dockage. This has been a real rarity on our loop.
LaBelle must have an exceptionally talented grant writer to have been able to develop three fine facilities within a half mile of each other, one of which even has free water and power. A walk around town through the live oak shaded neighborhoods, a few groceries, a super BLT at the coffee shop and a nice chat with the onwer of the honey store and it was time to continue eastwards. The south shore was a graded and mown bank similar to an interstate highway shoulder. The north shore was the head high grass that we had been looking for in the Everglades. We found from Skipper Bob Guidebook a delightful side basin and spent the evening watching hundreds of egrets, ibises and herons of all species flying in at dusk to roost on a wooded point a hundred yards from the boat.
Their pre dawn departure sent the cat racing around the cabin and mewling crazily. Needless to say we had an early breakfast of ployes French buckwheat pancakes with walnuts and bananas and maple syrup. We had called ahead and the receptionist had advised that it was windy and it would be a bouncy stay if we chose to overnight there. The wind was off the land and the basin was very calm. The marina was largely deserted, less than a quarter full and the docks reeked of guano from hundreds of roosting terns and black skimmers so we were glad to keep moving.
Dolphins, in addition to being amongst our favorite critters, are a nautical term used to describe the tripods of pilings that are driven in series in water of sufficient depth to moor a tow. We spent our last night on the Okochobee Waterway tied fore and aft to the dolphins at the St. Lucie Lock after agreeing with the lock master that we'd move if a tow needed to moor.
He strongly hinted that was unlikely and he was right. The spoils islands that dot the waterway were created by dredging to keep the waterway navigable but they often provide excellent protection and have naturalized to the point that they're quite scenic. Bridge causeways are another great anchorage possibility once you get used to the traffic noise and there's always a sheltered side.
Walked into town for a great breakfast at the Sunrise Bakery. The highlight of the stay though is the manatee that's hanging around our slip. They're attracted to freshwater so when I started flushing the motor and hosing the deck he was right there. More soon. We enjoyed the wild scenic character of Mosquito Lagoon but were glad the mosquitoes were for some reason not on duty. To be listed in the Link Directory email the following info:. For information about adding a reciprocal link on your web site to my web site, click here. To Email Click Here. Fish Clix Banner Exchange.
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