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

Friday, 13 May 2011

So, what about this Great Loop, then?

Since we are now telling friends and family about this blog site, we had better start posting what we’re up to.

So, how did this Great Loop thing all come about? As I think I have said before, we have travelled extensively through the USA over the past 30 years for both business and holiday and from way back intended that, when we retired, we would buy a recreational vehicle (RV to Americans, campervan to kiwis) to travel around the USA for months at a time. We had tried an RV during a visit in 1987 and found it an expensive way to travel for short durations (we only had it for a week), but could see it would make sense to have one for an extended holiday. After that we used to just rent a car and drive around the States finding motels and hotels as we went along, usually using the vouchers in the “Travellers discount guide books” that we would pick up on arrival in each state.

In November 2000 we were booked on an Eastern Caribbean cruise out of Ft Lauderdale in Florida. We had flown into Orlando and hired a car to visit Cape Canaveral and Kennedy Space Centre (although we had been there 2 years before) and then drive down to the Florida Keys, before returning to Ft Lauderdale to catch the cruise. After 3 days at Cocoa beach, and watching a night launch from Cape Canaveral, we drove south, but opted to stay off the main highways as the scenery is pretty boring from them. So we travelled down the Atlantic coast to Miami and noticed that, while the Ocean was on our left hand side, generally there was another stretch of water on our right – all of the way! We also saw a number of references/signs etc to the “ICW” but didn’t have a clue what it meant. We did the Keys, drove back to Ft Lauderdale, took off on our cruise and thought very little more about it.

When we got back to NZ and were reviewing the trip, I remembered the ICW references and looked it up on the Net. The ICW is the IntraCostal Waterway,  and is an inland waterway that runs from Texas to New York. Apparently was built after WW1 to keep US coastal shipping movements safe from U-boat attack (look it up yourself if you want to know more). It is quite navigable by recreational craft as well as commercial and sounded like much more fun than riding around the US in an RV.
Shortly after, we were talking about to some friends who lived on their boat down at our marina. John is a Kiwi and Laura is an American and they told us that the ICW was in fact part of a round trip, where you can continue from New York up the Hudson to the Great Lakes, back down the Mississippi river system to the Gulf of Mexico and thus do a complete “Loop”. And, what’s more, they said that they had done it! This sounded even more of a better idea than doing the States in an RV.

 Time passed, I was a partner in an importing/distributing business, Carolyn was running her Kindergarten business, and we carried on boating around our local waters in the lovely Kindred Spirit, with the concept of cruising the ICW and beyond dwindling into an occasional recollection. Last year we both rolled over the big six-oh and I decided I had had enough of the business we had been running for the past 25 years – too much stress and uncertainty for not enough income. So my business partner and I decided to close down and “retire”. At around this time a boat (Meridian 459) was advertised in the “for sale” section of a local boating mag which described how the owner had bought it in the USA, CRUISED THE GREAT LOOP IN HER, and brought her back to NZ. I thought “I must contact this fellow and find out how he went about it”…….but I was busy winding down the Company and eventually lost the magazine that had the advert.

Then, during our “Boys weekend”, Kindred Spirit’s engine dropped a valve seat (see previous posts) and the rest is history.

PS This was going to be posted yesterday but Blogger was broken, so there are 2 posts today. I have taken to writing drafts for these in Ms Word so I can edit them before posting and then just copy and paste them to the compose window. I suppose I'm not the only one does this, but it works for me.

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