After New Year, a wind storm was predicted for the next couple of days, so we stayed put on our friends dock and set sail later in the week when everything was calmer. We spent one night on anchor (which happened to be my birthday) preparing for our next hop across the Gulf all the way down to Key West.
Since we had made our plans so late in the year due to not knowing anything about were we might be able to get work done on the boat, we had managed to make reservations for a couple of days at Conch Harbor Marina, a gap of 2 days, and then another couple of days at Galleon Marina. Marina space in the month of January in Key West is at a premium!
We had a beautiful weather window, with the winds picking up in the next few days. Our reservation in a marina in Key West would not start for a few days, but as we were crossing, we called ahead and luckily someone had changed their plans and we would be able to get into our slip early!
The Looper term for completing the Great Loop is “crossing your wake”. That is to say you cross over the path you left behind when you started the trip. As a member of the America’s Great Loop Cruisers Association, once you cross your wake, you get to swap out your white Looper flag for a gold one. Even though we changed boats at the beginning of 2021, we has boaters had boated continuously from Key West northwards. Therefore we declared our wake crossed once we pulled into our slip in the marina.
(We may also have a mini celebration at Ft Lauderdale, where this adventure began, and again at Stuart, where Endeavour-Highwind will cross her own wake).
When David said to me, about 3 years ago, “I think we should move onto the boat and do the Great Loop”, and after he explained what that was, I was hesitant and skeptical. It wasn’t that I didn’t love boating…we’d just come home from a just-over-a-month trip up to Canada on the boat, where we’d left wanting more. It wasn’t that I thought we’d go mad with each other in the tiny living space. I think what scared me at first was the tiny kitchen, the tiny closet, the lack of laundry machines etc. In short, all the small household/life responsibilities and practicalities that are mine in our marriage. All that is fine on vacation for a month, but to live full time? Not to mention it would mean moving away from our friends and family, and leaving behind Divine Movement and my role there as an instructor.
However, once the seed was planted, the idea began to grow. David started planning how we could get internet on the boat reliable enough for us to work remotely. He started envisioning how we could remove a couch and convert a space in the salon into a dual work station. There wasn’t really one moment for me when the trip became a reality, but slowly the vision began to take shape and then I was asking my boss for approval to work remotely for a year!
After months of planning and some crazy last minute logistics of actually shipping our boat out to the east coast (read here about that!), we few one way to Ft Lauderdale to begin the adventure.
And then, about 2-3 weeks into the trip, Covid-19 had spread enough through the US causing complete lockdown. We changed our plans, spent the summer in Maine, headed back to Florida for the winter and started over in 2021.
How do you summarize two years of adventures? Visiting new places, the fear of meeting new people, the loneliness of digital nomading in the middle of a pandemic, the feeling of seeing family in person for the first time in a year, getting vaccinated, finally meeting people and making friends, seeing the beauty of this country, seeing the ugliness of this country (Trump flags, Thin Blue Line flags, an assault at the capitol), visiting places from favourite novels, boat projects, hosting friends and family on the boat, the food, swimming from the boat, locks, dingy trips, an 8 month summer, visits back to Seattle, tropical storms, perfect seas.
And throughout all of this, I am so lucky and privileged to have been side by side with my best friend and my love. He fixes the boat, he fixes the internet, he wows all dockhands with his control and maneuvering of the boat, he has comforted me through some difficult times, he will always take a selfie with me when I ask. We’ve laughed and we’ve been silly, we’ve struggled and we’ve persevered. I cannot imagine living this nomad life with anyone else.