Wednesday, March 13, 2013

We’re Looped!

Days on cruise:  304
Distance traveled: 51.4 miles
Travel time: 7 hours, 26 minutes
Total/FINAL trip odometer:  6,282 statute miles
We did it! Today we pulled into Harbour Isle Marina in Fort Pierce, Florida, where we began our Loop 11 1/2 months ago, departing on March 23, 2012 and returning March 12, 2013. What a journey it’s been!
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The wind was howling in North Palm Beach when we woke up, but calmed quite a bit by the time we slipped our lines and pulled away for our last days’ travel. We drove more slowly than usual to savor the journey. The emotions of such a day, at least for us, were already quite complicated, but Cathryn also got a sad phone call from a close friend whose husband is dying of cancer (still in his 50s) which poignantly reminds us how important it is to seize the day and follow our dreams while we have time, as none of us knows when our time will be up.
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Through our entire Loop, we’ve never been stopped by any law enforcement officials, but today in the rain, only 40 minutes from The End, the Coast Guard pulled up behind us with blue lights flashing and asked when we were last boarded! We couldn’t believe it. Fortunately we had the Coast Guard Auxiliary conduct a Vessel Safety Check on Next To Me when we were in Fort Myers last month, so Bob pointed to our 2013 Vessel Safety Check sticker in the window, and the friendly CG officials (8 of them on board) told us to have a good day and moved on to find someone else to board. We thanked them for the important work they do and said goodbye.
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At 3pm as we pulled within sight of Harbour Isle, we saw Wind Song (below) anchored out near the harbor entrance. Friends Jerry and Janet were the first Loopers we met after beginning our Loop, at Thunderbolt Marina in Savannah, Georgia, and they came to celebrate with us. They finished their Loop six months ago and are now headed north to do the Downeast Loop in Maine, Nova Scotia and Quebec this summer.
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Pulling into a marina for the last time . . . .
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A familiar place, as we lived here full-time for 2 1/2 months after buying Next To Me while getting her ready to Loop.
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We were met at the dock by Chris and Alyse Caldwell of Captain Chris Yacht Services who trained us for 3 days in January 2012 and have become good friends. They just dropped off clients after 5 days of training on their boat, so were here to catch our lines and document our arrival. Malcolm, the dockmaster here who also stored our pickup truck at his house for the past year, also came.
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Chris and Alyse  gave us leis and hugs after securing our lines, and we changed out our white “In Progress” Looper burgee for the gold “Loop Completed” burgee!
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Janet and Jerry had come by dinghy from their anchorage and joined the festivities.
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Alyse lit sparklers . . .
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. . . and Jerry popped the cork on a bottle of champagne they’d brought for the occasion. It sure felt like a festive and happy time to us, and we were happy to have such wonderful folks with whom to celebrate.
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Alyse brought dinner aboard, and the six of us ate on the sundeck, shared stories and plans, and talked until long after the solar-powered rope lights came on. It was a memorable evening to top off a memorable journey.
We’ll put up a “Reflections on the Journey” post in a few days, but meanwhile we’ll begin to prepare the boat for sale. Our wonderful boat broker Curtis Stokes brought us a Purchase and Sale Agreement from terrific future Loopers Jack and Sara, and they’ll conduct a sea trial and survey March 26, then prepare Next To Me, to be re-named Ithaka (Google the name to read the aptly-named poem) for her second Great Loop journey in 2014.
We bet we’ll sleep well tonight. Sweet dreams!

8 comments:

Steve Finnell said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
tCL said...

Congratulations!

Gary said...

Tandem triumphans! (Triumphing at last - unknown)

Tout reussit auz gen qui sont doux et joyeux. (All succeeds with people who are sweet and cheerful - Voltaire)

The talent of success is nothing more than doing what you can do well; and doing well whatever you do, without a thought of fame*. Longfellow
* Excepting of course your gold burgee; but you've earned it. Congratulations!

Ken Shanley said...

Congratulations!! I'm going to miss reading your blog.

Ken Shanley
MV Charis
In progress, Solomons, MD.

Mark and Vicki HILL said...

Congratulations.
Thanks for a very good blog.

I will miss your posts about the Loop

We will be departing for our Loop experience August 2014.

Good luck!

Whitney Broussard said...

Congrats, I can just imagine the bitter sweet feelings that you two have for the end of this journey and chapter in your lives. This has been an adventure for Karen and I as well as we look forward to your posts each day. I only wish we could have met you two at the next Roundezous this coming fall. Thanks for sharing a bit of your life with us and good luck in the future.

Jean and Karen, Abbeville LA

Matt said...

Congrats to you both!

LiveWorkDream said...

What an awesome achievement! You guys rock!

I'm sorry about your friend. It's such a sad reminder to live our dreams. Close friends of ours that passed before age 50 also inspired us to live off the beaten path.