On February 5, 2011 at 3:07 PM, EST, Bob and Kathy Hunt of Grove, along with First Mate Chihuahua, K.C., and guests, Roger and Jan Endo of Monkey Island, completed a three year journey and “crossed their wake” by completing what is known in boating circles as “The Great Loop”.
The Great Loop is the circumnavigation of the eastern portion of the U.S. by boat, using the Intracoastal Waterway, some ocean travel, the waters of Canada and the Great Lakes along with the river system of the Midwest…..returning to the point where one started, thus “crossing your own wake”. Crossing your own wake entitles American Great Loop Cruiser’s Association members to pull down the white burgee of Looper wannabes and fly the gold burgee denoting Loop completion. “One of the first things we did when we pulled into Ft. Myers, Florida was to replace the torn and tattered white burgee with the brand new gold one…..we are now Great Loop veterans and proud of our accomplishment!”, Bob noted.
The Hunts began their trip in April of 2008 in Fort Myers, Fla. Cruising about three weeks at a time, during 2008 they piloted their 47’ Mainship trawler around the Florida Keys and up the eastern coast to Solomons, Maryland where they stored the boat for the winter. The 2009 season took them through New York City, Lake Champlain and into Canada where they enjoyed boating on the canal systems. The boat was put away for the winter at Northport, Michigan after traveling portions of Lake Ontario, Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. In 2010, the cruise continued down Lake Michigan, through the city of Chicago and into the rivers of the Midwest. Time was spent along the Illinois River, the Mississippi River, the Ohio River, the Cumberland River and the Tennessee River. The Hunts left the river system at Mobile, Alabama in early December and continued the trip this January by taking the boat across the Gulf of Mexico from Mobile, Alabama to Fort Myers, Florida.
For Bob and Kathy, their Great Loop adventure trip had its roots right here in NE Oklahoma. “I was doing some planning on how to take our Grand Lake boat down the Arkansas River Navigation Channel to the Mississippi and back when I read about the Great Loop”, Bob says. “The Great Loop trip just intrigued me, and the rest was history”.
In addition, as members of the Grand Lake Sail and Power Squadron, they took advantage of the various training classes that the group offers, gaining confidence in their ability to handle the trip. “I can highly recommend the Power Squadron training classes…..they were a great help”, adds Hunt.
Bob and Kathy call their trip “Seeing the U.S.A. at 10 miles per hour”. Since starting the trip in 2008, they have logged over 6000 miles of water travel…all at trawler speed of about 10 miles per hour. In addition, they have traveled through 144 locks and visited over 100 different cities by water. “This was a trip of a lifetime for us. Seeing all the different places was special, but the most special of all was meeting all the wonderful people along the way. Boating people along the way were just amazing…just like boating people here on Grand Lake."
While there are about three hundred boaters working on the Loop, there were fewer than 100 registered Loopers who completed the Loop last year. While the Arkansas River provides access to the Great Loop route, there are only fourteen members of the American Great Loop Cruisers Association from Oklahoma. The Hunts believe they are one of only a few Oklahoma members to actually complete the Loop. “I actually think we are the second couple registered with the AGLCA from the State of Oklahoma to complete this adventure," comments Bob. “For now, we have completed our Great Loop goal and we will probably take a break from long range cruising. We have the boating season at Grand Lake to look forward to and we certainly want to take advantage of what we have right here at home.”
For more information about the Great Loop, see www.greatloop.org or contact Bob and Kathy at 918-787-8908.