Day 379: Monday, September 18, 2013
Port to Port: Willow Island to The End (Grafton, Illinois)
Underway: 6:40 am Motor Off: 11:26 pm Miles Traveled: A Long Way Stayed At: Marina
Mile 30 to Mile 0: Mile 28.9…Mile 22.8…go under Hardin Highway Lift Bridge…Mile 21.6…pass by north bound tow on the one whistle…Mile 18.6…new Looper we haven’t met yet – Sea Glide – passes us and we chat on the radio…Mile 16.5…little sun shower passes by…Mile 14.5…pass another northbound tow…10.3…pass another northbound tow (this river is busy)…90 minutes left…hit some invisible log in the channel that kicks up the rudder – everything okay (except the nerves)…Shell Seaker passes us and waves…flocks of pelican’s fly overhead on their way somewhere…Tour De Loop and Carina trying to catch up…we see the Mississippi River…the Light House at the launch ramp in Grafton, Illinois where we stopped on Thursday, September 20, 2012 to get gas and honeycrisp apples pops into view…we pass by the Grafton Harbor Marina…we cross our wake at 11:26 am after a little less than a year traveling the Great Loop. What an amazing year it has been.
After crossing our wake, we stopped at the little dock we stopped at last year to spend a few private moments together to reflect on our accomplishment (before I walked up to the nearby gas station to get gas, just like last year) before we headed into the marina. We knew a few Loopers were going to be at the marina but little did we know we would get a 6 horn salute from our fellow Loopers as we (carefully – don’t want to screw up now) came into our slip and got tied up. It was quite amazing to see so many friends (and Loopers we hadn’t met yet) greet us at the dock. We will remember that experience for the rest of our lives.
After a few minutes of congratulations, I brought out our special bottle of “The Loop” wine (it was a good year) that we bought in Chicago and Rick (Sun Gypsy) got some small cups and we shared a little toast (thanks Eddy and Linda) with our friends on Tour De Loop, Sun Gypsy, Free At Last, Carina, Let’s Drift, Sea Glide and Shell Seaker (and all our other friends who are here with us in spirit),
There are good ships and wood ships,
And ships that sail the seas,
But the best ships are friendships,
And may they always be…
And this is no more true than on the Great Loop. It is the people we have met, commiserated with, traveled alongside and enjoyed innumerable docktails with that make the Great Loop, “Great”. We can’t thank everyone enough for making this trip a successful one for us and leaving us with amazing stories and memories that will last a lifetime. We would do it again in a heartbeat and hope to Loop again someday, sooner rather than later.
Believe it or not, on our last day of the Loop, we met four new Looper couples that we hadn’t really met before – Jeff and Grace on Sea Glide, Chris and Lynn on Let’s Drift, Vicki and Randy on Barefoot’n and Larry and Cindy on Bucket List, Even more amazing, Bucket List was also finishing their Loop at Grafton, which is their home port. They came in late in the afternoon and we had a double Gold Looper party (way better than a single Gold Looper party). We couldn’t have asked for a better ending to our Loop except for maybe having even more friends and family to share it with. We will miss everyone and hope to cross paths on the water (or on the land) sometime in the (near) future.