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   America's Boating Club Lehigh Valley's 'Loopers' Log
May 15, 2022
Greetings all! We are finally underway again. Our port engine is fixed, and we are continuing our great loop adventure. We went across Florida on the Okeechobee Waterway with stops at Moore Haven and Stuart. We went through five locks and one very big lake, and it felt great to be underway again!
We stopped in Vero Beach, Cocoa Village, anchored out in Daytona, then spent 4 days in St Augustine: a great city with so much history. We loved it there! Then we went on to Fernandina Harbor for our last stop in Florida. Now we are in Brunswick, Georgia where I am writing this.
While we were in Cocoa Village, we rented a car and visited the Kennedy Space Center. It was such a great experience to learn not just the history, but to know it is still the active site of so many launches with NASA and SpaceX using the facility is incredible. A fantastic blend of feats accomplished, and what is happening now. It was a great trip and such a unique experience to be there.
St Augustine is known as Americas oldest city and there is a ton of history there. We also found the oldest bar in Florida in Fernandina and made sure we had a drink there.
Our first stop in Georgia was in Brunswick, where we found a wonderful rum distillery. We liked it so much, we went twice! We should be through Georgia in a week or so, then we will “cross our wake” when we get back to Beaufort South Carolina where our Great Loop will be complete. We plan to continue cruising for the next few years. See you guys in the Chesapeake this summer.
Doug crashing the space shuttle 3 times.

Submarine degaussing station.

March 15, 2022
Greetings everyone! Hope all is well with you. We have spent the winter in Fort Meyers Florida, and it is a beautiful place. The weather has been nothing short of spectacular - sunny, 80’s and not humid at all. We have our car here, so we’ve taken some road trips. My favorite was to Everglades City where we took an air boat ride into the Everglades to see alligators and other wildlife. No shortage of gators here! We’ve seen Manatees here too, they like the warm waters here in the winter months.
The beaches on the Gulf are so nice; no matter how strong the sun is, the white sand doesn’t get hot. You can walk barefoot without burning your feet. The water was warm enough to swim in, even in January the temperature is about the same as it is at the New Jersey shore in August.
Downtown Fort Meyers is about ½ mile walk from the boat, and there are too many restaurants to have visited them all in just the 3 months we’ve been here. They had a Jazz Fest, Blues Fest, Antique Car Show, Art Show, and a Mardi Gras, all right on the downtown waterfront.
In the early 1900’s, Edison, Ford, and Firestone all built winter homes in Fort Meyers. Now their properties are open to the public and it is interesting to tour them and learn about these men and their families. For anyone interested in history, this whole “Great Loop” adventure has been awesome. Traveling the waterways that were the bloodstream of our country is an experience I’ll always treasure.
I’m still waiting for my mechanic to fix my port engine. The job should be done by the end of March. Then we’ll get underway again, cross Florida, and start up the east coast. We’ve loved wintering here, but we are getting anxious to get underway again! Hope to see you in the Chesapeake this summer!
A six foot alligator keeping an eye on us
Fort Meyers beach in February

January 15, 2022

Greetings everyone.  Last time I checked in with you we were getting ready for the big crossing of the Gulf of Mexico, 170 miles of open water.  I decided on a different route going from Carrabelle to Steinhatche, 65 miles of open Gulf waters. Steinhatche is a small, rural and frequently overlooked town for cruisers, which is too bad because we really enjoyed it there. From there we traveled offshore down to Crystal River, another 70 miles in the Gulf. Instead of going to a marina, we anchored out in the Gulf about 8 miles offshore.  The weather was beautiful and we had our Thanksgiving dinner there.  We were traveling with 2 other boats and all gathered on our boat for drinks after dinner.  It was a magical evening.  From there we went to Clearwater and spent a few days.  The beaches are great with a powdery white sand and it is sunny and warm!  We went from Clearwater to Burnt Store Marina near Punta Gorda.  Another great place to visit.  Our last trip took us to Legacy Harbor marina in Fort Meyers.  This section of the Great Loop was so beautiful, accompanied by dolphins and so much wildlife.  My descriptions don’t do it justice, it is such an overwhelming experience to see our great country in such an intimate way.
We planned on being home one week for Christmas, but the passing of our dear friend Michael Lebeduik changed that.  We spent several weeks at home, preparing to sell our house and go “All In” as the cruisers say and live full time on the boat for the next few years.  Our plans include going to the Florida Keys, then up the east coast of Florida, through Georgia and back to Beaufort, South Carolina where it all began. This summer we will spend much more time in the Chesapeake Bay and we hope to see many of you there!   
            Thanksgiving sunset

November 14, 2021
Greetings to you all.  We last checked in with you in Chicago, since then we’ve traveled over 1400 miles down the river system.  For the most part, it’s been fantastic!  You really see how America works on the rivers.  So many barges traveling up and down the rivers and so many factories and processing plants.  This is the heartland of the country.
From Chicago we traveled down the Illinois River, to the Mississippi River, to the Ohio River, to the Tennessee River, to the Tenn-Tom Waterway, into Mobile Bay.  It’s been an absolutely wonderful trip.  So much breathtaking scenery along the way.  We had one bad experience in Joliet, Illinois when a deranged woman untied our boat from the wall in the middle of the night, but our angels, Mark and Mary, heard something going on and Mark went outside at 1am and chased her away.  He then woke up everyone and had them check their lines.  If not for them our night could have ended very badly, but as it was, we all ended up safe!
In Grafton, Illinois there is a winery on top of a hill which we went to on a ski lift.  The views were amazing looking down on the Mississippi River.  We also went in the St Louis Arch, which was awesome.  We spent 15 days in Iuka Mississippi, partially because I had some engine work done and partially because I got sick and couldn’t go anywhere. While we were there we went to Shiloh National Park.  It's very much like Gettysburg in Pennsylvania.  A Civil War battle ground that was really well preserved.  It was a very moving experience being there.  I was very happy that we got to tour the area.
Our first lock on the Tenn-Tom Waterway lowered us 90 feet!  The locks on the rivers are much bigger than any we encountered on the Erie Canal.  Getting through the locks is challenging, but we’ve met so many nice people in them.
Getting to Mobile was exciting, we hadn’t seen a big city since we left Chicago and Mobile is a busy port!  As I write this we are in Destin Florida. Next stop is Panama City and soon we will take on “The Crossing”, going from Apalachicola to Tarpon Springs. 170 miles across the open gulf waters. I’ll let you know how that went in our next update.
   Looking down on the convergence of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers from the ski lift
   Monument to the men from Pennsylvania who fought at Shiloh

September 22, 2021
Ahoy Matey’s! So much has happened since we last checked in with you. We picked up Kathy’s uncle in Atlantic Highlands, NJ, and traveled up the Hudson River with him. Seeing the Statue of Liberty up close is always a thrill, no matter how many times we’ve been by her! The Hudson River is really beautiful once you get past NYC. Great little towns, too many to name, but all filled with history and friendly people. Uncle Wally stayed with us up the Hudson and into the Erie Canal, then he went home and we continued on.
The Erie Canal was an awesome experience. We stopped in 10 towns along the way, went through 34 locks and thoroughly enjoyed it. We stayed at several free walls and some marinas along the way. The western end of the Erie Canal has low bridges and I had to take down my radar and bimini to get under them. Yes, I was singing the “Low Bridge” song all the way. We met loopers on the Erie that we are still in touch with and traveling with as much as possible.
The Erie Canal empties into the Niagra River, which takes us into Lake Erie. Our first night we stayed in Buffalo, then on to Dunkirk New York, Erie Pennsylvania, Geneva Ohio, Clevland Ohio, Lorain Ohio, Port Clinton Ohio, and the lake treated us well. We waited for weather a few times but when we traveled, the lake was calm.
From there we crossed Lake Erie into the Detroit River and spent the night in Detroit. Then we were into Lake Huron and starting our trip around Michigan. Michigan has so many beautiful small towns and really friendly people. Michigan has been a real highlight of the trip so far. Especially Alpena Michigan where Mark and Mary Lee caught up with us. We’ve been traveling with them for a few weeks now and what a blessing it is having them with us! We stayed in Macinaw City for 8 days and took the ferry to Macinaw Island. A great trip but we stayed so long because I was waiting on a new heat exchanger for my Stb engine. Part of living on a boat and a big THANK YOU to Mark for knowing how to switch out the parts. Heading south on Lake Michigan in September is challenging. The weather is changing, winds are strong and waiting for a weather window is the only way. We had 7 stops down the western side of Michigan but it took 18 days. Waiting for the winds to die down is a way of life this time of year!.
As I write this, our journey on Lake Michigan is over. We are just outside of Chicago and will soon start the inland rivers. The Great Lakes have been great but we are looking forward to the next phase of our trip.

  Uncle Wally with Lady Liberty 
   Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland
  Doug, Mary Lee and Mark in Fishtown
July 15, 2021
Greetings friends.  Kathy and I are continuing our Great Loop adventure.  My last writing left us in Crisfield, MD.  We left there with some fellow loopers we met along the way and spent a night at anchor in the Little Choptank River.  From there we went to Cambridge, then Oxford, then on to Knapps Narrows.  I really loved all the quaint little towns on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay, each one unique but also very familiar at the same time.  There is a maritime museum in most of the towns detailing the towns history which I found fascinating!
When we were in Kent Narrows our son Tom came to visit and spent three days with us. What a great visit!  After Tom left, we back tracked to St. Michaels for an event called a “Looper Crawl”.  This is sponsored by the America’s Great Loop Cruisers Association.  We opened our boat to other members to tour, so future loopers can see different kinds of boats.  It was fun meeting so many people that are in the planning stage of their adventure!  Mark and Mary Lee came to visit at this time and we all had a lot of fun together!
From St. Michaels we went to Tolchester, MD for the Memorial Day weekend.  The weather was miserable, but I managed to make some friends there so we had some drinking buddies.  Randy and Jeanette came to see us too, that was a lot of fun!  On Memorial Day itself the weather cleared and we went to Chesapeake City.  We met some loopers there and had a great time in that neat little town.
On June 1st we went to Cape May, NJ.  The Delaware Bay was calm and we had a great transit.  We stayed in Cape May for 30 days visiting our son Matt who is stationed there in the Coast Guard.  We had a great time there but after 30 days we were ready to get going again.
We spent three days with Dave and Nancy Bernard on their dock, then we were off to Atlantic City for the 4th of July fireworks!  From there we went to see P/D/C Brad and Megan Humphrey and spent a night at their dock.  They have a beautiful house on a canal in Forked River, NJ.  After that we spent the night on the hook in the Manasquan River and then up to the Atlantic Highlands.  We are meeting Kathy’s uncle here and he will travel up the Hudson River with us.  He is 88 years old and this is a bucket list thing for him that he never thought would happen.   We are happy we can do this for him.
Doing this trip has really been great and we are so thankful that we have this opportunity!  We have met some incredible people that we will be in touch with forever.
                         Calm Seas, Delaware Bay Crossing.
May 15, 2021
Greetings to all reading this!  Kathy and I are 6 weeks into our Great Loop trip and so far, it has been wonderful!  We started in Beaufort, South Carolina and as of this writing we are in Crisfield, Maryland.  We are slowly working our way north and it is still cold this time of year. We’ve seen many wonderful places and our trip is just beginning. The ICW was beautiful and we had so many dolphins swam around the boat.  The scenery and sunsets have been amazing!  We took horse and buggy rides through Beaufort, Charleston, Wilmington and a few other towns along the way.  The historic districts are fascinating and so beautiful.
Meeting other ‘Loopers’ as we travel is always fun, a real highlight of the trip.  So far we’ve made a lot of friends from the mid-west.  ‘Docktails’ is our favorite time of day.
We went through our first lock outside of Norfolk, Virginia and it went pretty smoothly, but it only raised us about two feet. Some locks in the Erie Canal are 40 feet!  Oh well, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
We have spent most of our nights at marinas but we have anchored out five nights and it’s fun, very quiet and peaceful.  Once we are better at using the dinghy we will anchor out more.
Don’t worry looking at the photos, the trip isn’t all about battles won or lost, but there is a lot of history along the way if you are interested in it.
  Anchored out near Belhaven North Carolina.        
  Battleship Wisconsin in Norfolk, Virginia.

            Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor.                       
Monument where General Cornwallis surrendered to
General Washington ending the revolutionary war.
Yorktown, Virginia