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!