America’s Great Loop is an American Tradition For Boaters

By Vladia Jurcova Spencer  Share this article on Google+

How it all started…

America’ Great Loop Cruisers’ Association (AGLCA) was formed by Ron and Eva Stob, authors of the Loopers’ bible “Honey, Let’s Get a Boat.” In 1999, Ron and Eva discovered, cruised and became enchanted with the Great Loop. After completing their journey, they established AGLCA to share general, navigational and cruising information about eastern North America’s waterways, known as the Great Loop. Their mission from the beginning was to enhance the overall experience of learning about exploring and safely cruising America’s Great Loop. Most importantly, Ron and Eva spent a year living their dream on the water and wanted to share it with others.

Although many join the association because they own a boat and are ready to undertake this amazing journey; some members, however, don’t have a boat YET, what they do have – more importantly – is a dream. Being part of the Loopers family helps these members keep their dreams alive as for many, who are determined to cruise the Great Loop, the planning process can be very lengthy and at times discouraging. Cursing the Great Loop has to be taken seriously as safety is a priority. Beginning an endeavor of such magnitude could take years of preparation. One has to think of finances, finding the right boat, buying and outfitting it, learning to pilot it, planning the voyage, improving navigational and cruising skills and much more. Ron and Eva had to learn everything from scratch. They devoted months to preparation for the greatest odyssey of their lives that was going to take them away from home for a year.

What is the Great Loop…

The Great Loop is the continuous waterway that encompasses the eastern portion of North America – including the Atlantic and Gulf Intracoastal Waterways, the Great Lakes, the Canadian Heritage Canals, and the inland rivers of America’s heartland. It is considered one of the safest long distance cruising routes in the world. To travel all or a portion of the Great Loop or any of its magnificent side trips is truly an adventure of a lifetime.

The saga for most begins in the early spring in southeastern Florida. From the sunny state, the Loopers journey north following the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway along the southeastern seaboard of the United States all the way into Chesapeake Bay, along the way discovering charming barrier islands along the coast of Georgia and the Carolinas, mysterious river channels and estuaries, using bicycles to explore state parks and cities. From the crab rich Chesapeake, Loopers head to Montreal in Canada, exploring historic towns of immense charm and cruise by sights such as the Statue of Liberty on the way. The St. Lawrence River carries them into the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes, although uncertain and treacherous, are a dreamland of vacation cottages, picturesque waterways, granite islands, farmland and woods. Boaters must be brave and adventures to take on the Great Lakes. Once they reach Chicago, it is down South again via the Mississippi River and Tenn-Tom Waterway, and then eventually into Mobile, Alabama and the rich and warm Gulf of Mexico. To close the Great Loop, cruisers have to go around the Southern tip of Florida back to the same point where they started. Many choose to spend warm winter months exploring the amazing Okeechobee River and Lake, and tropical Key West before it all ends, and they close the loop in the Southeastern Florida.

While on the journey, Loopers can choose to be isolated from the daily news of catastrophes, wars and starving people. For many, this trip is a true radical sabbatical, depending only on the camaraderie of fellow boaters and generosity of people they meet along the waterways. This dependence is deeply bonding and lifelong friendships are formed on the Great Loop. The constant stimulation of a new destination drives cruisers to continue and complete the journey. On the rustic and beautiful Mississippi River, as they are getting closer to the end of the voyage, many catch Tom Sawyer’s wanderlust that Mark Twain embedded in his adventurous character. For many, the journey never ends, there is always another river or lake to explore, another friendship to be made, another lock to navigate.

Rendezvous and Reunions along the way…

Navigating the Great Loop, or even parts of it, requires a lot of knowledge and support, and Loopers have an opportunity to attend three annual Rendezvous and Reunions which are held throughout the year in destinations along the Great Loop route. The events are designed to allow mixing and mingling with old friends and new members, sharing stories while learning valuable cruising information for the remainder of the journey. Camaraderie among Loopers and knowledge of the Great Loop are strengthened as seminars and presentations about safety, vessel safety checks, useful Looping tips and information about the waterways ahead provide the foundation for these three-day events. AGLCA members look forward to these social gatherings for months, making plans to be at the right location at the right time. Loopers know how to have fun; especially popular is the Looper Crawl that takes place on members’ boats during the Reunions. There are three Rendezvous and Reunions along the way, the spring one takes place in Charleston, South Carolina. In the summer, members meet in the Canadian Great Lakes. The most popular and largest rendezvous traditionally takes place in Joe Wheeler State Park, Rogersville, Alabama.

Any time while cruising the Great Loop, AGLCA members can meet up with friends using AGLCA’s new Looper Locator feature supported by Google Earth. The feature is added as an additional benefit for the association’s members who cruise a total of 6,300 miles on the North American waterways. The special map layers will allow members to locate fellow Loopers all over the Great Loop as well as businesses that provide services for boaters, including marinas, boat dealers, boat repair shops, restaurants and hotels. While navigating the waters of the Great Loop is an experience of a lifetime, any unexpected challenges are put to rest using the knowledge gained from AGLCA and the supportive Looper community.

What is AGLCA…

America’ Great Loop Cruisers’ Association is an organization of people who share a sense of adventure and a curiosity about America’s Great Loop. The association’s primary purpose is to disseminate information and enhance the overall experience for those who are learning about, dreaming of – as well as exploring – America’s Great Loop. AGLCA’s members range from experienced Loop cruisers to boaters in the midst of Looping; those planning on one day cruising the Great Loop or just simply dreaming about it. Everyone is welcome at AGLCA, young or young at heart, still working or retires, ready to travel fulltime or only occasionally; whether you have a powerboat, sailboat, trawler or no boat; whether you are doing or dreaming! The association is the place where lonely find life-long friends and social butterflies extend their social network…it is an association of those who want to belong to a fun-loving, adventurous group of boating enthusiasts!

People behind AGLCA…

While scouting out locations for the 2007 Spring Rendezvous in Charleston, SC, the Stobs enjoyed a dinner with friends, Steve and Janice Kromer. Already for some time, the Stobs have been looking for the right people to take over the helm of the association. By the touch of fate or destiny, the Kromers, also avid boaters and longtime AGLCA members, have been looking to get involved in a new adventure somewhat related to their passion for boating. One thing led to another and Steve and Janice left the dinner knowing what they needed to do. Today, their main goal is to ensure that the association’s purpose and commitment remain the same.

Both Janice and Steve have a significant amount of boating under their belts as well as a long history with the US Power Squadron in Charleston. Janice is a former Squadron Commander and Steve served six years as Educational Officer. Although, they are just partially Looped, they know more about the “blue interstate” than many weathered sailors. The Kromers own a 50′ Marine Trader, No Sense3, and get on the water as much as their semi retired status allows them.

Steve Kromer is one of the original founders of KFR Services and was its president from the company’s inception in 1975 until July 1, 2008. He was responsible for the design and implementation of the databases Tele-Tech Services produced prior to 1995. Presently, he serves in an advisory role on special projects. Outside of work, Steve enjoys teaching boating safety for the Charleston Power Squadron, and when time and weather permits, loves to cruise the Intracoastal Waterway on his trawler No Sense3.

Janice is also one of the original founders of KFR Services and has remained active in the company throughout the years. Janice’s interest in and knowledge of telecom tariffs began in 1975, when she was a member of the team that designed and implemented one of the first call accounting applications in the telecommunications industry. Today, she devotes the majority of her time to employee issues and the growth of the company’s newer divisions. She fills her free time as a past Commander of the Charleston Power Squadron, serving on the Advisory Council for The College of Charleston’s Family Enterprise Forum, cruising the Intracoastal Waterway aboard No Sense3 with Steve, and spending time with her five grandchildren. Steve & Janice have two children, Stephanie Fetchen and Kimberly Russo, who are today their business partners.

 

Vladia Jurcova Spencer of Stylee PR and Marketing works with the America’s Great Loop Cruisers Association to introduce this amazing journey to more boaters that are interested living their dream of doing America’s Great Loop.

To find more resources or meet fellow Loopers, visit the America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association website.

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