People underway on the Great Loop boat journey this year, 2013-14, are having a vastly different experience than those of us from the Class of 2012-13. We stayed in touch with several Looper friends who completed their journeys shortly after we did, and continue to read a few blogs of others.
All Spring, the weather for those traveling north from Florida through Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia and into Chesapeake Bay was problematic with lots of rain, frequent high winds and periodic storms. People got held up places longer than they hoped they would and temperatures were often chilly.
Our experience last year, by contrast, was almost entirely warm (70s and 80s) with little rain and only occasional problems with high wind in that stretch.
A month ago we got an email from Looper friends Mark and Allyn on “Second Wind” with whom we traveled quite a bit the last 6 weeks of our Loop. They invited us to join them on their boat “anytime”, and we jumped at the chance! They were in the Chesapeake at the time, and looking ahead, we guessed they’d be in Canada in the Trent-Severn Waterway or Georgian Bay during the first half of July (two of our favorite segments), so bought airline tickets from Seattle to Toronto, knowing we could rent a car or catch a bus from there to wherever they were.
This year’s Loopers continued north from the Chesapeake, mostly having easy trips down the Delaware Bay and up the New Jersey shoreline despite Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath that ripped the Jersey ICW to shreds last year and made it un-navigable by all but those with local knowledge. Everyone we know went “outside” in the ocean and had a pretty smooth trip. Last year almost everyone we knew either traveled that stretch in heavy fog, using radar to find their way, or got caught in a horrid squall that wreaked havoc with the nerves of anyone involved (LINK ).
Two weeks ago, heavy rain began falling in New York state, and while some Loopers had already arrived in Canada, many were still in New York City or heading north on the Hudson River. Soon announcements were made that the rainfall was so severe the Erie, Oswego and Champlain Canal systems were badly flooded and the Canals were closed!
One Looper we’re familiar with was already IN the Erie Canal, got told to move their boat inside Lock #11 for safety from the floods, and is still there 14 days later, at times having to use an 8-foot ladder to get off their boat onto the lock wall above! Lock staff brought a generator and provided pump-outs, so life isn’t completely unmanageable, but it doesn’t sound like fun either. (Link to their Blog) And the rain continues.
Bob researched the cost of canceling our tickets to Toronto and purchasing new tickets to New York where Second Wind is still sitting on the Hudson River, but at this late date, cost of the new tickets is prohibitive. It will be cheaper to rent a car in Toronto and drive to somewhere in New York where we can meet up with them 8 days from now. Or there are even rumors that the Canals may not be re-opened by then, in which case we’ll cancel our trip and join them some other time, as we don’t want to fly out to spend a week just sitting in a marina.
So Mother Nature continues to remind us that WE ARE NOT IN CONTROL: She is! Loopers always have to be flexible, and this year’s Loopers are being challenged more greatly than those of some years. But that’s the nature of the Mercurial Loop, and part of the fun when you tell the stories to your grandchildren in future years!