The Final Stretch, Crossing Our Wake, Coming Full Circle and a Dream Complete

September 5-11, 2019

September 5 – Mackinaw Island to Charlevoix (62 miles)

September 6 – Charlevoix

September 7 – Charlevoix to Boyne City (13 miles)

September 8-10 – Boyne City

September 11 – Home to Highland

Miles traveled this blog: 75

Total miles traveled:  7031

On Thursday, September 5th we were all up early preparing for a 62 mile day to Charlevoix – California Lady, Melody and Namaste.  The weather/wind forecast had deteriorated from the evening before but we all wanted to move on for similar and different reasons so no one was ready to call a no go.

NVjAT7jGT7utzohJZ0%SmAFirst Light

8fi8%o3BR4GE2equnCYLjAAs are most early mornings on the water, it was a beautiful sunrise and calm beginning.

g9BMQQMzQXKuo2vgzdUFhgAs we pulled out of our slip and rounded the end of the “T”, we met a huge cruise ship coming into the Mackinaw City harbor.  Having successfully dodged him, we led the way across the straights and toward the Mighty Mackinaw Bridge.  The boat Blessings joined us from St. Ignace but held back into fourth place taking great pictures of each boat as we passed under the huge suspension bridge.  Maybe the longest of the trip.

GdOhoS3yRmiAR4nkcNj3kARound Island Passage Light – near the entrance to Mackinaw Island Harbor – If you have taken the Ferry you have passed by this landmark.

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Straights of Mackinaw and Bridge – Picture #1

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Picture #2 – note the freighter coming toward us.  I cannot believe that not so long ago, I would have been anxious to meet another boat under this bridge!!!  Ha!

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Namaste passing under the Mighty Mac – photo credit to Blessings

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Looking back into the rising sun. . .California Lady followed by Melody in Sea following.

d7BzI9lTTtGOtPqQIqcl8A The island, the bridge and the American Flag.  Although we have made this passage several times, the thrill remains.

Our calm waters turned choppy as we passed the protection of the mitten and downright rough as we made the left turn down lake Michigan after Grays Reef.  It wasn’t dangerous or even particularly difficult but uncomfortable trying to find a navigation point to take the waves on our bow instead of our beam.

With Namaste in the lead, we bounced our way for four hours along the west coast of Michigan past Cross Village, Little Traverse Bay and finally into the Charlevoix Channel for the 2:30 pm Bridge opening.

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As we made the approach, impatience abounded and all four boats plus a random sailboat entered the channel prematurely causing  angst as we all tried to mark-time with the wind pushing us “kittywampus” to the channel.   Waiting out the 8 minutes for the bridge to open felt like an eternity.  We all suspect the bridge tender saw our predicament and thankfully opened a little early.

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Captain Jim thinking:  Please, please let’s just get through this final channel and to the dock without incident!

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Coming full circle

It is here that we crossed our wake and completed our dream-adventure.  With lumps in our throats we looked at one another in disbelief, gratitude, and love; crying and laughing; kissing, hugging and sharing high 5’s.  We had accomplished something for which we had unknowingly spent a life-time of preparation.  Our feelings of pride and satisfaction are second only to the feelings we share for the lives and accomplishments of our three boys!

The docking was perfect and the celebrations spontaneous.  First it was a gratitude ceremony complete with champagne toasts and wine offerings thanking the gods and goddesses of the sea (text below).IMG_5722

Lowering the white flag of a currently Looping boat and raising the gold flag signifying a completed Loop.

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Next it was a docktale event onboard the Namaste with California Lady, Melody, Blessings, Tuscobia, Twice Blessed and a borrowed (that is yet another story) gold flag from Pura Vida.  Finally several of us gathered at the Weather Vane for dinner, stories and more celebration.  California lady had also accomplished her goal of reaching the Great Lakes as their new boat home and Melody would cross her wake in just days.  How could we have orchestrated a more celebratory ending?

Well, we followed-up on Saturday with  Pat, Nate, Mike, Lee, Curt and Leonie who drove North to cruise our final leg from Charlevoix to Boyne City and/or to meet the Namaste at The Harborage Marina.

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Yep, it was a little chilly that morning!

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Entrance to the Harborage Marina at the east end of Lake Charlevoix in Boyne City – Namaste Too is home!

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Tying lines and arranging fenders for the final time.

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A proud Namaste Too taking the slip of The Namaste

 

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Our gold tissue paper and black magic-marker burgee to be replaced by an authentic gold flag waiting for us at home!  Our attempts to have it mailed to us in Canada all failed to reach us so we borrowed one and then finally made our own out of yellow tissue paper and a black marker, evidence of the make-do spirit so often needed on the Loop.

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Thank you to the gods and goddesses of so many things, wine for the sea and champagne toasts around.

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Congratulations and a certificate of accomplishment  presented by Mike and Nancy of California Lady.

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Serious smiles of love and approval.

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. . .and final docktales!  Picture blurry, perhaps because the photographer was crying happy tears.

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Nate and Leonie doing party set up.

Cafe Sante Dinner – our favorite restaurant on the Loop!

What wonderful endings to our 4 year and 71 day, 7,031′ mile adventure.  We thank everyone for your support, encouragement, blog post comments, texts, calls, emails and visits.  Having a rich life made all the difference and more likely made it possible at all.

It has been painful to write this final blog post, maybe because I am  tired of wrestling with the technology, or because I am just tired of writing but much more likely because I don’t want it to be over.  It has been a labor of love and meant specifically as our legacy of adventure for our soon to be 10 grandchildren.

What next? We will not try to think about what’s next until this adventure feels finished.  We are not there yet.  We crossed our wake and the physicality of the Loop is complete but condensing what we learned about ourselves, each other and the world; acknowledging each morsel of gratitude; cataloging and savoring the memories; and fitting everything into the grand scheme of our lives will take some time.   Clearly we have much to look forward to and we will know when it is time to move on but right now what we know for sure is that it is not time yet!

 

 

Best boat name ever:  NAMASTE

 

Celebratory Looping Dock Ceremony -Thanking the Gods and Godesses:

In the spirit of nautical Looper gratitude we wish to thank:

Poseidon, the Greek God of the sea who has each vessel listed on his ledger of the deep.  He calms the seas and grants successful passage for those he deems worthy.

Neptune, the Roman God, equivalent to Poseidon.

Aeolus (I’-o-lus),  the Greek God of the winds and storms and perhaps the most important God of boating

And yet there is so much more.  We are grateful for the privilege of this mighty adventure. Some specific Gods or more likely Goddesses that will share our eternal gratitude,

in no particular order of importance:

There is the Goddess of the weather: sun, warmth, blue skies, and even a few storms and rainy days along the way

Goddess of the currents, tides, winds, and wind directions,

Goddess of the sky: sun, moon, stars, clouds,

Goddess of sunrises and sunsets

Goddess of biking and walking paths, trees, flowers and red chairs

Goddess of the states and provinces: Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, DC, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Quebec, and Ontario

Goddess of the cities: Chicago, St. Louis, Mobile, Sarasota, Venice, Naples, Miami, St. Augustine, Hilton Head, Beaufort, Charleston, Beaufort, Norfolk, Washington DC, Annapolis, Baltimore, NYC, St. Jean’s, Montreal, Ottawa, Kingston, Little Current, Mackinaw Island, Charlevoix, our homeport of Boyne City and the countless villages and towns who open their hearts and doors to boaters around the Loop

Gods of engines, switches, starters, alternators, filters, pumps. . .

Goddess of electronics and electronic information: chart plotters, iPhones, iPads, Macbooks,  Navonics, Aye Tides, CBP Roam, Sail Flow, Wind Alert, Weather.com,  NOAA Weather, Bouy Weather, Weather Underground, Google Earth, and Nebo,

Goddess of marinas, docks and docking, cleats and lines, fenders and fender-boards

Goddess of anchors, snubbers, anchorages, boat batteries and windlesses (manual and electric)

Goddess of personal flotation devices, handrails, and life rings

Gods of electrical sources and water stations, pump-out hoses, and fuel tanks

Goddess of bridges:  fixed, lift, bascule, and swing

Goddess of the locks: big, small, manual, hydraulic,

Goddess of animals, birds, fish and insects that kept us company: the puppies, kitties, dolphins, turtles and alligators, deer and otters and mink;  blue herons, sea gulls, pelicans, osprey, and an eagle or two; butterflies, spiders, mosquitoes and flies and the pesky no-see-ums of south Florida, crabs and countless fish

Goddess of health and wellness:  we thank the Universe for watching over and keeping us and each of you safe over these four years and 71 days.

Thank you to the Namaste and the Namaste Too

And finally thank you to the people – family, friends, lock masters, bridge tenders, marina managers and dock hands, wait staff, meteorologists, mechanics,  fellow loopers/boaters and the helpful local folk all along the way.

To quote Jenny Lynn Girvan: “Thank you for the moments, like beads on a string.”  Each is a treasure!

 

Completing the Great Loop is so unique that last year more people:

Finished the Boston Marathon – 26,500

Walked the length of the Appalachian Trail – 1100

Climbed Mount Everest – 600

Swam the English Channel – 215

than

Completed the Great American Loop – 150

 

Namaste & Namaste Too Loop Stats

As Jim and I are not much for spreadsheets, the numbers here range from accurate records to estimates and  a few wild guesses.

Left Boyne City on June 28, 2015

Arrive Charlevoix on September 5, home to Boyne City on September 7, 2019 and home to Highland on September 11, 2019

Four years and 71 days on the Great Loop

217 days traveling

50 months total:  25 aboard and 25 at home

Traveled a total of 7,031 statute miles

Boats 2 + a dinghy Namaste- Fuji 35  Ketch sailboat with Perkins 50 engine

Namaste Too – Albin 36 trawler with Ford Lehman 120 engine

Miles 7031
Travel Days 217
Average miles per travel day 32.4
Total months on the Loop 50 25 onboard and 25 at 1563

Began June 28, 2015 and Finished September 5, 2019

Extended Home Stays 5
Countries 2
States and Providences 21 Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Quebec, and Ontario

 

Miles per gallon 7.5

3.4

4.6

Sailboat (3532 miles total)

Trawler (3499 miles total)

Average

Average Gallons per hour 1.5
Total Gallons burned 1,508
Fastest speed over the ground 11.2 mph Riding the current through St. Louis
Bridges – fixed, bascule, lift, swing 608 About 15% had to be opened
Locks 158
Anchorages Not enough
Free walls, docks, and Canadian Pass moorings As many as possible
Marina nights The rest
Marina stays over a month 4 Faro Blanco X2, Dinner Key in Coconut Grove near Miami, Fort Pierce
Trips around and through Florida 3 We were somewhere in Florida from December 2015 until April 2018.  Lost Namaste to Hurricane Irma in September 2017 and

Purchased Namaste Too in November, 2017 in Fort Myers.

Overnight guests 12 Average length of stay 3.5 nights
Boat cards collected

 

 

Blog posts

262

 

 

93

We had at least a conversation with 262 boaters if not dock-tale, dinner or shared travel days
Special shout-outs to AGLCA, Canadian Park Service, Tow Boat US, Geico insurance, Navionics, Nebo, WordPress, Women Who Sail
Grandchildren 9 + 1 (due on Thanksgiving day) = 10 3 boys born while on the Loop – Cedar, Oscar and Felix
Expenses Unknown because it just doesn’t matter. Given our economical boats but the less than economical fact that we weren’t “all in” (we still owned and maintained our house and cars), we estimate that we spent less than $1,000 per month over our regular living expenses while aboard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “The Final Stretch, Crossing Our Wake, Coming Full Circle and a Dream Complete

  1. Happy you had such a great journey. Thank you for sharing the wonder and the beauty. It has been such a wonderful blessing to be able to share in your experience

    Like

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