Our Great Loop Blog2017-08-28T06:16:39+00:00

In 2015, we completed the Great American Loop on the Estrellita, a 6,000 mile, 364-day cruise around the eastern half of the U.S. Our blog is the story of this wonderful adventure. By reading and looking at the photos, we hope you are inspired to spend more time on the beautiful waterways of our country.

1603, 2015

Boca Raton to Juno Beach

March 16th, 2015|

As we made our way up this part of Florida’s east coast, we were overwhelmed by the homes, boats, pools, docks, and lush colorful landscaping that were developed and displayed in such a grand way on this stretch of the ICW.  We had sunny clear weather as we slowly passed these sites and had a great time viewing and appreciating all the different architecture and materials used in the construction of all of it.  Mile after mile, it was sometimes a bit much for the eye to behold.  And wow, can you imagine the upkeep of these immaculate properties??  As each of those days came to an end, we remained thankful for our relatively small and simple home on the Estrellita.

We spent some long days negotiating our way through no-wake zones and bridge after low bridge interconnecting some of the wealthiest sections of Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway.  Stel spent some time snapping pictures of the grandeur.  We have included a few of Stel’s photos, which is our best attempt at sharing our time in this impressive area.

2003, 2015

Cruising in the Rain…Still Fun!

March 20th, 2015|

If the forecast calls for rain without the crazy wind and lightning, we will travel!  We would much rather be moving to our next destination than sitting around in the boat in a marina waiting for the weather to improve.   As you can see by the attached pictures, there are many other people who love to be active in the rainy outdoors.  We were very impressed by the number of very young kids who were competing in an Optimist Sailing Regatta in the blustery, wet and open waterway of the ICW just south of Ft. Pierce.

When we arrived at the City Marina, we knew we had to re-provision.  So, we googled the nearest Publix and took off by foot through what we discovered to be a somewhat threatening part of town. I humbly took the blame for poor planning and after a swift-paced 2 mile hike, we finally got our groceries and caught a cab back to the safety of Estrellita.  After days like that, we just crawl into our aft cabin bed, watch a good movie on our laptop, and have a great night’s sleep.  This life is good!

2603, 2015

The Niña, the Pinta and the Estrellita

March 26th, 2015|

We have seen a lot of boats and met a lot of new people since we started the Great Loop last April.  To tell you the truth, when you meet fellow cruisers, spend some time with them and then say goodbye, you wonder if you will ever see them again.  We have discovered that the chances are extremely high, that regardless of where these people call home, possibly Kansas or Canada, you WILL see them again!  It is one of the wonderful things about cruising.  You either maintain contact with these fellow cruisers and make an effort to get together again, or because of our mutual love for the waterways that we travel, we will pass them, recognize their boat, and hail them on the radio with a greeting and discussion of our past times together.  On the waterways approaching Vero Beach, we passed 2 acquaintances.  One was s/v Windchaser who was our mooring neighbor in Marathon and the other was Tom Goodman and his wife Melesia,  harbor hosts in Swansboro, NC who helped us in April of last year when we needed a ride to Best Buy for a new GPS equipped ipad for navigation.  Later that same day we arrived at Vero Beach Marina and were docked next to the Nina and Pinta!  Back in September of last year, we happened to be tied up about the same distance from them in Peoria, Illinois.

Whenever we meet a new cruiser, either on the docks of a marina or passing them in our dinghies, we will  introduce ourselves, get to know each other a little bit and then go through the normal ritual of exchanging boat cards. Boats cards are much like business cards for serious cruisers who want to share their identity by personal names, boat name, port of call, phone number, email address and blog address.  The card usually has a photo of the boat and sometimes photos of the captain and mate.  Since we started the Loop, Stel and I have collected over 200 boat cards from people we have met.  Stel has glued each card into a spiral bound notebook and then written notes about when and where we met, some personal information and then something about their cruising plans.  When we sight their boat again, which is often first done through our binoculars, we will rush down to the cabin, grab our boat card book, and refresh our memories about who is aboard, where we first met them and how many grandchildren they have.  They are often impressed by our great memories…ha ha!

We continue to work our way up the Florida coast, meeting new people along the way and experiencing sections of the beautiful Atlantic ICW that we have never seen before.  As we see more and more marshland, meandering creeks feeding into the main channel and oysters on the muddy banks, it reminds us of home in South Carolina.  We look forward to being in home waters, but with mixed emotions.  What a trip this has been!   Closing the Loop will be bittersweet!

3003, 2015

Last Few Days in the Sunshine State

March 30th, 2015|

Both of my parents (Burke’s) were raised in the Jacksonville area, so we cruised into the big city with great anticipation about our plans to meet with some family and friends that we had not seen in a while.  We had heard some great things about the Marina at Ortega Landing, which would require a 20 mile diversion down the St. Johns River.  It was our plan to stay there and visit family and college friends for at least 4 days, so we made the decision to make the side trip and were glad that we did.  It was beautiful, friendly and full of amenities.  It was also a great place to rendezvous with loved ones.  We have included pictures of most of the reunions, but blew it by not getting a picture of my cousin Robin and her husband, who took us out to dinner on the night of our arrival.  Sorry guys!!  We love you all and enjoyed our time together in Jax.

104, 2015

Awesome Cumberland!

April 1st, 2015|

Barrier islands are dynamic lines of sand found just off and parallel to the main coastline.  They are considered dynamic because they are constantly changing as a result of storms, tidal flow and currents moving the sand and all the plant life that grows in it.  Cumberland Island is Georgia’s largest and southernmost barrier island and has been preserved as a national park sheltering 36,000 acres of maritime forests, wild beach, freshwater lakes and saltwater marshes.  Stel and I anchored in a creek behind the island, put our bikes on the dinghy and then went ashore for about 5 hours of exploring.  We had not been to many other places with such “natural” beauty and it remains accessible by boat only to only a certain number of people a day.  Words can’t adequately express the beauty of this place, so we have tried to capture some of it on camera.

If you have a cruising boat, don’t miss this stop when passing through the state of Georgia.  If traveling by car, stop in St. Mary and take a day trip to Cumberland Island by ferry.

106, 2015

The Home Stretch

June 1st, 2015|

After 364 days and over 6,000 miles of unbelievable cruising, the Estrellita crossed her wake (starting point) in Charleston on April 3rd, 2015 at 5pm. We have been overwhelmed by God’s goodness in allowing us to experience so many wonderful places, enjoy the natural beauty of countless waterways and to be strengthened as a couple by some rigorous boating challenges.  But as we have mentioned in this blog many times, it was the people that we met along the way that made it one of the most special times of our lives.

Thank you, thank you to all of you who traveled along side us, encouraged us, made us laugh, shared life with us and showed your love to us along the way!  Reaching our home dock and being overwhelmed by the welcome that we received from our family and friends was bittersweet.  We greatly missed all that we left behind for a year, but it was sad to see the great journey come to an end.  Our vessel will enjoy a rest at  her dock for a while, but it won’t be long before we untie her lines and set out for another unforgettable Estrellita Excursion.