A Kiwi couple's cruising adventures on America's Great Loop and around the coast of New Zealand

Saturday, 7 May 2011

The next day

Now that we're getting the hang of this blogging thing, time for some introductions.
We are Phil and Carolyn, are New Zealanders (Kiwis) and have set up this blog so we can keep in touch with friends and family when we do the Great Loop cruise, starting next year. Hence the name of this site.
In case you're someone who doesn't know what the Great Loop is, take a look at www.greatloop.org and that will explain it all. Also take a look at www.captainjohn.org if you think you may even be interested in doing it yourself.

We are reaching retirement and have wanted to do this since we discovered it existed during a visit to Florida 10 years ago. We have traveled a lot to the USA over the past 30 years and always anticipated seeing more of it when we retired. We have been boaties in NZ since 1976 and have cruised the Hauraki Gulf and Northland in a variety of different sized vessels (always power, mind you), so could not think of a better way of seeing the real USA than this cruise. 

Having said all that, the thought of doing the Loop completely ignorant of what to expect may have prevented us from ever embarking on this adventure except for one of those (un)fortunate happenings that sometimes come along in life. To explain.....

Our present boat is the lovely "Kindred Spirit" shown at the top of this blog. We have owned her since 2003 and have cruised as far North as Whangaroa Harbour and down to Whitianga in the South, as well as all over the Gulf, Great Barrier Island etc. Last time out was for our annual boys fishing weekend nicknamed "Funuro", which actually lasts 5 days. After 2 days of magic fishing - limit bags caught both days - we were anchoring up for the evening when a little man climbed inside the engine and began hitting it with a hammer to get out. This required immediate shutdown of the engine and a call to our Volunteer Coastguard (of which I am a member) for a tow home the following day. I'll throw in a pic here of our good VCG mates towing us, just to make sure I remember how to do it:
Look at the beautiful weather

Back at home, Mr Cummins came and looked at the engine and started taking bits off. When they got the Port  head off, No2 piston looked like someone had fired a shotgun down the bore at it.

We had dropped a valve seat

Not being happy about this, I decided a new engine was in order and began to look for replacements. Searching the net, I had discovered that you could buy reasonably priced rebuilt marine engines from the USA and, as I was in the import business, I decided this was what I would do. Then a friend at the marina told me he had bought the latest "Passagemaker" magazine (a US boating mag) and there was an article in it about Marine engines that Cummins rebuilt in a factory in Mexico, and he loaned it to me to read. This I did, and a very interesting article it was BUT, there was also an advertisement for the America's Great Loop Cruising Association (AGLCA) and immediately I saw that, the interest in the retirement dream rekindled. I figured we should target "official" retirement age in four years time and bounced the idea off Carolyn, who was all for it but asked why we should wait so long.

So now we're gonna go next year. We have joined the AGLCA, spoken to a fellow Kiwi that did it in 2007 and have begun planning in earnest. We intend to buy a boat in the Great Lakes area and start in August down the Heartland waterways to the Gulf of Mexico and across the Gulf to Florida by December. This will give us enough time to ensure that we like the lifestyle and want to continue. We will then come home, leaving the boat behind, for Christmas and to tidy stuff up here before we go back in March and start the Loop in earnest. We will then do the entire Loop taking about a year to do so, which means we will actually do one and a half loops....probably about 9000 miles. What do we do after that???

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