The Motor Vessel "Once Around"

The Motor Vessel "Once Around"
The Motor Vessel "Once Around" in the Florida Keys

Monday, April 30, 2012

Alive, and Well...

We did it!  Today, some 363 days after we set out on the adventure, we “crossed our wake” where we began the Loop, in Morehead City, NC.  We arrived here today with our friends on Boreas.  To our surprise, Sweat Pea was in port, and Dale and Jim were on the dock with champagne and gold balloons to greet us.  We downed the champagne right after we replaced our white Looper flag with the gold one that signifies our completion. 
On the dock...done!
The balloons and champagne courtesy of Sweet Pea!
We made short work of 2 bottles of nice Champagne
Check out my First Mate's laugh... we replace our white flag with the gold Looper flag.
We travelled the last 26 miles feeling more than just a little bit wistful.  Carrie and I talked about many of the places we have been, but more, the people we’ve met along the way.  We have travelled a little over 6,000 miles, through 17 states and Canada.  We’ve passed through huge cities like New York and Chicago, and small ones like Apalachicola, Florida and Iuka, Kentucky.  We’ve enjoyed them all.
We’ve met people from all walks of life who made the journey special, both boaters and non-boaters.  Some we feel will become life-long friends.   Our collection of “boat cards” (business card from other boaters) numbers over a hundred.  Some of these folks we saw only once, others a few times, and still others many times.  They all shared part of the experience, and I wish I could mention each one.  But the Admiral and I agreed to try and keep it short, so we limited ourselves to eight boats and crews we just had to mention.  So, in no particular order…
Boundless-Sarasota, Florida- Actually, that was the name on our beloved Once Around when we purchased her a little over a year ago.  But who’da thunk we’d become such good friends with the previous owner Tom and his lovely lady Elaine?  Gold Loopers themselves, they have been there for us all year with suggestions, warnings, information and even a car when we were in port in Sarasota.  They have a new Boundless now, and we hope to see them on the water someday.
Tom and Elaine of Boundless, with Carrie and me at the Field Club in Sarasota
Boreas (rhymes with glorious)-Midland, Michigan- We first met them in the panhandle of Florida and crossed the Gulf with them and others.  They have been our travelling partners since Key Largo.  Reformed sailors, they know more about weather than most Loopers and saved our butts at least once on the St. Johns River.  Julaine is a sweet lady, and I know Fred must have been an Eagle Scout in a prior life.  He is always the first one on the dock to jump in and lend a hand with whatever needs doing.
Fred and Julaine, from Boreas (no, that's their dinghy, Boreas is a 42 Carver!)
Godspeed-Slidell, Louisiana- The Lord works in mysterious ways, and I don’t know how it happened, but Carrie and I just flat hit it off with Billy and Pam (and of course, Sugar Baby, their Labrador) from the first time we met them in Norfolk.  We crossed wakes with them many times in Canada and later in the rivers.  When we heard that they had turned for home from Mobile towards New Orleans, we knew we would not see them again (this trip) and felt a pang of loss.  Someday we’ll catch up with them.
The Godspeed crew...Pam, Billy and Sugar Baby
Blue Highways-Galveston, Texas- We first met Terry and Lauren in Myrtle Beach at the 2010 AGLCA Rendezvous the year before we started the Loop.  They were planning to do the Loop then, and we were sorry we would not be doing it that year with them.  Imagine our surprise when we saw them again at Norfolk a year later, and they were just getting re-started.  We enjoyed a Yankee game with them and several great stops on the Erie and Canada.  They split their time between their power boat and their sailboat.  We’ll keep an eye out for both when we get back on the water.
Our Texas buddies, Lauren and Terry on Blue Highways
Something Special-Ontario, Canada- We met Sid and Evelyn the first port they stopped in…twice.  First in Cape May when they purchased their boat, and second in Killbear a month or so later after they had provisioned it at home in Canada and actually started their Loop.  Sid is a riot as any Looper who knows him will tell you.  Evelyn is as sweet and nice as Sid is nuts.  It works, and we enjoyed every port we shared just a bit more for them being there.
Sid and Evelyn from Something Special...and they are!
Algonquin-Toronto, Canada- The friendship that developed between the four of us is really quite remarkable.  We didn’t actually cruise together that much.  We met at Norfolk, once in Oxford, MD, again in Cape May, NJ, and didn’t cross wakes again until Marco Island, Florida.  We crossed to the Keys together and finally got some extended time in Key West.  But, we stayed in touch with Garth, Kathy and Zeke (an amazing Portuguese Water Dog) from the time we met…and shared the little green water bucket’s adventures around the Loop.  The Algonquin crew had a rough year, to say the least.  But their attitude towards life was evident each time we saw or spoke to them.  I know we will cruise again together one day.  That European river thing sure sounds cool…
Zeke (on the left), then Garth and Kathy on Algonquin
Jolly Tolly-Dawsonville, Georgia- Captain Ron and Jan the Pump Out Queen- From the time we met them in Delaware City to when we last saw them in Key Largo, we laughed.  They raised four boys and have the emotional battle scars to prove it.  Their sense of humor is as warped as Carrie’s and mine, and a close friendship developed quickly.  Their home is near my daughter Carla’s soon-to-be in-laws, so we have another reason to return to Georgia.  I’m pretty sure the adventures of Jolly Tolly and Once Around will collide in the future.
Georgia on my mind...Ron and Jan on Jolly Tolly
And finally…
Moonstruck-Port Charlotte, Florida- Doug and Judy met us at the 2010 Myrtle Beach Rendezvous when all four of us were Looper wannabees.  We stayed in touch over the next year, and re-connected in Norfolk for the 2011 Rendezvous…only this time we brought boats!  We ran as wingmen for several months, from New York to Alabama.  Doug and Judy opened their home to us for a New Year's celebration. They caught up with us again on the water before we left eastern Florida, long after Moonstruck had completed her Loop.  They have become good friends…remarkable when you consider how much guff I give “Cupcake” (Judy).  Doug, Where U At?
Judy and Doug on Moonstruck
And, how about the crew of Once Around?
First of all, we are thankful to a few folks who were instrumental in our being able to realize this dream, my business partners Bobby and Dina (my daughter), who have held down the fort at the office.  Held down the fort hell, they’ve been running the place better than if I were there!  Also thanks to our other two kids, Carla and Leo who held down the house…at least I think it is still there…We can’t thank all of you enough.
So, what did we learn?
Primarily, I think I slowed down enough to realize it is not really the destination, it is the journey that is important.  Something I am going to try and remember when I get back to the world.
Also, we know we will never be quite the same as before we had this adventure.  We’ve learned a lot about boating, and a lot about each other.  As to boating, we know there is much more to learn.  But, that’s part of what makes boating so much fun.  I suspect the same may be true about knowing there is much still to learn about each other.  That’s what makes life fun.
We’ve also learned a lot about America, and its people.  For too long, we have watched the crud on the evening news and felt like that was the way things were everywhere.  Truth is, there are a lot of good people doing good things every day in this country.  This year we saw acts of kindness we might have thought were a thing of the past.  Not so.  Americans are a good and special people.  (And Canadians are pretty cool, too, Eh?).
So, what now?
When we started this trip, “Plan A” was to buy a boat and sell it at the end of the trip.  “Plan B” (after we fell in love with Once Around) was to ship her home at the end of the Loop.  Well, we’re now on “Plan C”, which is to take her to Northwest Creek Marina in New Bern, North Carolina.  That will be her home for…a while…you see we really like the boating out here, and the Loop just gave us a little taste of it!  We hope to be able to visit the east coast a few times a year between now and retirement.  Or who knows…”Plan D”…???
As we were pulling into Morehead City today, we were listening to our favorite Kenny Chesney album, “Lucky Old Sun”.  It is full of songs that warm a boater’s heart.  However, today one struck us as timely and dead-on.  It is called, “I’m Alive”.  I think we’ll end this post, this blog, and this adventure with these words:
So damn easy to say that life’s so hard
Everybody’s got their share of battle scars
As for me, I’d like to thank my lucky stars
That I’m alive, and well

It’d be easy to add up all the pain
And all the dreams you sat and watched go up in flames
Dwell on the wreckage as it smolders in the rain
But not me, I’m alive

And today you know that’s good enough for me
Breathin’ in and out’s a blessing, can’t you see?
Today’s the first day of the rest of my life
And I’m alive and well
I’m alive, and well

Stars are dancin’ on the water here tonight
It’s good for the soul, when there’s not a soul in sight
This boat has caught its wind and brought me back to life
Now I’m alive, and well

And today you know that’s good enough for me
Breathin’ in and out’s a blessing, can’t you see?
Today’s the first day of the rest of my life
Now I’m alive, and well
Yeah, I’m alive, and well

OK, I can’t bear it!  I just have to say this one more time… remember… Life is Good…and Boating is Fun!
Frank and Carrie
Once Around
April 30, 2012


  1. Congratulations on completing your loop! What a magnificent adventure. I really enjoyed reading your blog; I think you should turn it into a book. Even if you have to self publish; more people should read it.....

    Good Luck on the next adventure!!

  2. Congratulations!! Thank you. We will miss following your adventure...

  3. Congratulations! We have been lurkers following your blog for the last six months, and enjoyed it so much we went back and read from the beginning. We are from the West Coast also, Seattle. We began our Loop in Stuart, Florida six weeks ago and arrived in Portsmouth, VA yesterday. You are an amazing couple, amazing writer, and have great senses of humor. We laughed from the time we heard you two introduce yourselves at the 2011 Norfolk Rendezvous right to the very end when you made us want to laugh and cry at the same time. Thanks for letting us share the journey and the joy!
    Cathryn and Bob, on "Next To Me", 42' Jefferson

  4. Congratulations on crossing your wake. We have been following your blog. You will have to do the trip again to get your platinum flag and stop at all the places you missed.

    Susan and Danny
    Potest Fieri

  5. Congratulations !!!
    I will very much miss reading your blog.
    You have truly inspired and entertained us all.
    Thank you.