Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Checking in With Friends

We're off the boat for a week.  But other boats are still cruising the Loop. I thought you might enjoy a peek at what some our new boating friends are up to.

The cruisin' Parrent Family is just crossing the border into North Carolina. We first met this inspiring family at a marina in Tennessee. Craig and Danielle decided "life's too short to put work before family,"and sold their successful business. Now they're looping AND "boat-schooling" their three extremely smart and delightful children.

The Parrents' Great Adventure was punctuated recently by a moment of terror. Their boat, Negotiator, was anchored out in a cove with one other boat. During the night, a storm kicked up and both boats dragged anchor. It seemed Negotiator would be swept onto the rocks, then smashed by the second boat.  But the Parrents are self-sufficient and had planned ahead for emergencies, and that preparation stood them in good stead. Danielle tells the story on their blog.

You get to check out lots of boats on this trip, and early on, we admired a particular kind of blue-hulled boat called the Nordic Tug.  Pete and Anna Gulick are cruising in one of these sweet little tugs, which they named Blue Yonder.  We first met them on the rocky shores of Georgian Bay in Canada when both of us docked for dinner at Henry's Fish, a local institution.

Most of the folks doing the Loop are retirees with the time and resources to make the trip.  Like the Parrents, the Gulicks are an exception: They're thirty-somethings who said, "Life's too short," and ditched their jobs to carpe diem.

We were excited to catch up with Anna and Pete a couple weeks ago in Oriental, North Carolina. Over drinks and snacks in Dragonfly's canvas-covered "party pit," we raised a glass and Pete said, "Here's to Loopers who have to go back to work."

When the Gulicks DO go back to work, though, their adventure will continue. They're leaving their home in Massachusetts so Pete can take a new job in St. Augustine, Florida--a job he landed while Looping. Yay, Pete!

He's a former FBI agent.  She's a successful businesswoman.  They're photogenic as fashion models. Together, they scaled Mt. Everest. Both have their 100-ton Captain's licenses. He addresses her as "Admiral." When we met Jeff and Susie Parker, on Georgian Bay in Lake Huron, we were blown away by their resumes . . . and by their boat, a 48-foot Krogen designed for trans-oceanic adventuring. Cap was particularly wowed by the engine room, which is spacious and clean enough for brain surgery.

The Parkers may have started the Loop on a big, glamorous, comfortable, capable boat, but they told us they were planning to finish the trip in their characteristically adventurous way.  On the shores of Lake Michigan, they would leave Idyll Times behind and hop into their 18-foot dinghy for the final 1,200 miles of the trip.

That was in mid-July. Fast-forward three months. Dragonfly was anchored out in a foggy cove in Kentucky Lake in Tennessee, when, around 7 AM, we heard a lively knock on our steel hull. And there they were: tanned, relaxed, cheerful, kitted out in state-of-the-art PFDs strung with whistles and LED flashlights and other safety doodads, their little powerboat equipped just as neatly and completely with tent, sleeping bags, cooler, and discretely stowed porta-pottie.

The Parkers crossed their wake (finished the Loop) in October, returning to their home port of Chattanooga. But they're not done adventuring! They loaded their intrepid dinghy onto a trailer behind a 24-foot Winnebago.  Now they're heading back to visit all the places along the Loop that are hard to reach from a boat.

That's just a tiny sample of the many, many interesting and inspiring folks we have met along the way while Looping. If you're reading this and you're a Looper and our paths have crossed, please drop a line and let us know what you are up to!

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