We finished the Great Loop and earned our gold burgee! After 7238 nautical miles, 167 marinas or anchorages, 96 locks, 18 states, 2 countries, 48 friends & family visitors, 22 months (14 actually under way), here are our final thoughts as we close this chapter of our lives.
I traveled the world as a young girl with my family. I never thought I’d want to leave home again once I moved back to Colorado in 2001. But a few years before I met Craig, a desire to “Go!” started pounding in my heart. I didn’t have a specific destination in mind, I just wanted to adventure somewhere. Then I married Craig and he wanted to “Go!”, too. My adventurer parents gave Craig the book “Honey, let’s get a boat” and the dream of cruising the Great Loop was born.
I want to thank Craig for fulfilling my dreams! He came into my life, swept me away from it all, and satisfied that aching restlessness. My life changed from routine and mild to adventurous and colorful. He’s been an amazing teacher and I’ve only begun to learn all the boating knowledge in that head of his. I’ve loved and been surprised by so many of the places we’ve seen – the energetic cities, the peaceful anchorages, the tiny towns, and the new friends we’ve made. And all from the such a different perspective – the water!
Beyond the cool places we’ve been, we’ve learned better how to walk in faith day by day. In this weather-dependent lifestyle, you can only plan ahead a few days at a time and allow God to figure out next week and beyond. As we worked together, our relationship solidified and we became “Team Joy Girl” with an appreciation of our different yet complementary gifts and skills. That quickly led to deeper trust and love. Even Roswell, our tuxedo kitty, grew emotionally! He used to be terrified of strangers but now he walks right up and loves on our company. Not sure why, but it’s great to see.
Thanks to all our fantastic friends and family who joined us along the way. Some of you took great efforts to see us (even multiple times!) and we appreciated it SO much. We needed your company and love in this relatively solitary lifestyle on Joy Girl, away from our “dirt home” in Colorado.
We’re not sure what our next adventure will be but it will probably involve boats in some form, somewhere. (Perhaps the Pacific Northwest?) We hope you’ll join us as we “GO!”
On Sunday, March 1st, Joy Girl crossed her wake and completed the Great Loop as she entered Shelter Cove Marina on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. More important than any number or statistic, by far the best part of this nearly two year circumnavigation of the eastern third of the USA and Canada aboard our boat was the amazing growth Niki and I saw in our friendship, our marriage, and our lives together. We truly became “Team Joy Girl”.
I want to take this opportunity to recognize and thank the best and most amazing Executive Officer any Captain could ask for. Before we began this journey, Niki had never set foot on a boat. Now, just over two years later, she is skilled at reading charts, handling lines, maneuvering a 35,000 pound trawler, managing docking and anchoring like a pro, and planning our journeys like a seasoned, veteran cruiser. Through it all she’s been a great sport, and our relationship is better and stronger in every way because of the experience. A true “treasure wife”! My hat is off to this amazing lady!
I also must salute our two kitties, Supreme Commander Scully and Admiral Roswell, who were with us every step of the way and actually spent more hours aboard Joy Girl than did their human crew. They didn’t always relish being underway (no doubt many humans don’t enjoy it when the wind and the waves kick up either). But I think they did very well being aboard, always looking forward to coaxing more treats from the Captain and XO of their boat, and keeping us company by day and warm at night.
Lastly, I truly appreciate all the wonderful and helpful folks we met along the way, as well as the many family and friends who visited us on Joy Girl You all are the best, and you people are a big part of what makes the whole looping and cruising experience as great as it is. Thank you, my friends!