Quick Trip to Wisconsin

Tuesday night to Saturday morning, including 3 hour plane trip and 4 hour car trip each way. It is a long time to get there for such a short trip but it was worth it. We were able to get on the boat while it is still on the hard, and we went with a list of to do’s for the short time we were there.

Met a few interesting people. The first is the previous-previous owner of our boat. He stopped by and said “I used to own this boat”. He came on board and showed us some of the tricks to the boat so it was really great to meet him. No pictures, unfortunately.

The next set of folks who wandered by turned out to be gold loopers. Their boat was parked kitty-corner to ours in the heated storage. It was launch day for them, so we got to watch the process of getting a yacht across the building, off the stands and into the travel lift.

One of the tasks we didn’t get done was applying the new name to the transom. As I was washing it in preparation for application, I could see the”ghost” letters of the previous name. We’ll let the boat detailers try to fix that. I tried a couple of things, but could see it was above my pay grade, at least in the time we had available.

Where are they now? Sam & Rev, What Yacht to Do

When I first “discovered” Sam and Rev in September 2019, they were three months into their first Great Loop and just starting on their YouTube adventure. They had a whopping 613 subscribers hoping to reach 1000! Today? 10.9 THOUSAND subscribers. [Sam tells me they get ~8 subscribers a day, so that 10.9 will be 11 in short order.] I would say they definitely have reached “influencer” status.

They have certainly influenced us! Lance and I make a habit to keep an eye out for each of their new videos. I get their newsletters. The winter of 2020/2021, while their boat was in winter storage, we joined in the monthly live Q&A sessions. When they launched a paid product shortly after the end of loop one, Lance used some of his monthly “blow money” to subscribe to the docktales and docking videos. That platform didn’t work out, so those didn’t last long, but they have a brand-new product now. I’ll let Sam and Rev describe it below.

In that original September 2019 post, I was mostly interested in the pre-loop stuff: How did they get to a financial position to be able to do the loop? In one of their first blog posts they described how they did it: they saved up and they downsized houses. Since then they have gone “all in”, as in selling the remaining lake house and basically living on the boat.

One of the things I appreciated about their first loop were the stats and financial updates on their loop. It is really helpful to those of us in the planning stages.

But enough about the past…here is what they are up to now!

https://www.whatyachttodo.com/

In Sam & Rev’s own words:

Well, it has been an interesting and never dull adventure. We covered some new water on our second loop, stayed at different places and faced new challenges. We continued to Repair, Upgrade and Maintain (our R.U.M. formula) the Here’s To Us!!.

And, we continued to video each and every trip. We answered 10s of thousands of comments, emails, and messages from folks who followed us, signed up for our twice monthly newsletter, and met us along the way. They asked for more content, so we really thought deeply about their needs. The bottom line was they were looking for answers; in particular how to go about planning for this type of epic adventure. We remember that exciting but overwhelming feeling. We wanted to help them, but we could not do it for free on top of providing YouTube content. We needed find a way to balance time and energy.  

The main challenge was to provide value to aspiring loopers. We felt that the purpose (mission) of What Yacht To Do was “inspire, motivate, and educate” people to tackle the loop. Based on analyzing the mass of comments, emails and messages, we felt that focusing on “educating” was the best. We had been asked by people to do training on their boat and in-person sessions. But, we did not feel that was scalable given the time commitment involved.

So, after brainstorming, analyzing and praying about it, we felt that we could reach more people with online courses. Some of our most successful videos were our FAQ, How To and Update presentations. The search was on for the best method, technology and platform to integrate our current processes and content. In mid-2021, we found and tested a platform that was responsive, fit our needs, and we forged ahead. As Brenda reported, we already knew the kind of platform that DID NOT work for us, so we had some experience of What Not To Do!

Once we knew and understood the platform, we created content around a four-step, logical process. By categorizing the thousands of questions, four main categories stood out: The Journey, The Boat, The Crew and Living Aboard.

In December of 2021, we launched our first course on the new platform and were pleased with the results. At the time of this writing, we have three of the four courses in pre-launch. While it is a challenge getting these ready along with producing the normal travel videos, we are excited at the opportunity to reach and help more people.

We know it can be quite a project to properly plan, prepare and start the loop. So, we focus on taking it in a natural progression. Understanding and planning the Journey (your loop, your way), selecting a Boat that is compatible with your loop (or if you already have one, optimizing it), knowing what you will need to do to get ready as a Crew, and finally what life is like Living Aboard. This last category also includes what you do to manage the life you left behind while you are on the loop (whether you have a house or sold it).

We also started outsourcing our merchandise by partnering with a family-run company. That allows us to focus on our core competencies and mission. We know about boating, but not a whole lot about tee shirts, hats and apparel, so we have our brand being handled by people who do that for a living.

As far as finances go, the expenses on our second loop are very similar in nature to our first loop. We cover that in detail in our online courses; in particular, the size of the boat as a major cost factor in determining expenses on the loop. So, that is locked in for us: 50 feet as you can see in the Tour Our Carver 504 video. There are many ways to do the loop – from frugal to fancy. Like most, we are somewhere in between. We are blessed to have the choice. We did sell our house toward the end of the first loop, so those upkeep expenses are gone and we put the house proceeds in a conservative, safe investment under the auspices of our financial advisor, Paul who has helped keep our financial ship in shape.

The video effort has been a passion for us since we both have a background in education. Rev is a retired educator and curriculum administrator. Sam spent most of his career flying airplanes and instructing in the air and on the ground. So, we do try to put out the best product possible. At the end of each course is a course survey. Those taking the courses also get a Certificate of Completion that shows the number of hours for each course. Some of the participants asked for the hours to be included on the certificate, as they can get credit for personal enrichment from their employers.

So, we continue to evaluate and improve. We invested in new equipment for videoing, and of course more storage in the cloud; now in the multiple terabyte range! Rev has really upped the game on video quality.

What will we do once we finish the second loop? That is the question and it has varying answers each day it is asked. Quite a few are urging us to go again. Will we? Will we sell the boat? Buy another? We won’t really know until we are finished, but plan to spend the summer in the Chesapeake Bay area, explore that, unwind and continue to work on courses to help loopers and boaters. We also look forward to designing and building a retirement home on the property we purchased last year. We have tentatively elected a designer and a builder so there is that exciting challenge ahead as well.

For more information go to www.WhatYachtToDo.com Sign up for the twice monthly newsletter for travel updates, the inside scoop on the loop and our tips.

Sailing the Great Loop for Free – The Wayward Travelers – Poulter

Sailing the Great Loop for free? Now that’s an eye-catching idea! What? How?

Earlier this summer, some gorgeous photos started appearing on the Great Loop Facebook page, with very encouraging, emotive posts.

I thought I saw something about looping for free, but then thought I must have imagined it when I didn’t see any more about that on her posts. But no. It’s a real thing.

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Getting Real…with OnFireFamily

I’ve been mulling this post over in my head for a couple months now. In a previous post, I talked about how our buyer’s broker gave us some of the realities of the current boat buying market. I promised a separate post on that. Here it is.

A bonus with this post is a fun, useful, and on-point YouTube video by OnFireFamily a little further down the page.

There seem to be three industries that march hand-in-hand in the boat buying/selling world: boat insurance, boat financing and boat brokers. I think of them as a kind of triumvirate…or is it trinity?

Lake Superior on a boat shopping trip
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Introduction to Boat Systems – Captains Chris and Alyse Caldwell

Part two of our Florida trip contained our primary destination, the Introduction to Boat Systems class by Captains Chris and Alyse Caldwell in Vero Beach.

Knowledgable and hospitable Alyse and Chris Caldwell

For those that are not familiar with their classes, Chris and Alyse have a two-day Cruising 101 FUNdamentals seminar, generally followed the next week by the Introduction to Boat Systems. The idea is that you can take one class, enjoy Florida for a few days, and then take the next.

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Trying on boats for size – Fort Myers

Our looper planning trip to Florida exceeded our expectations. Highly exceeded our expectations.

As you may remember from an earlier post, our Florida road trip was to be focused on visiting Great Loop locations and attending the Boat Systems class by Chris and Alyse Caldwell.  We planned to spend a couple days in Fort Myers, cross the state driving along the Okeechobee waterway, and end up in Vero Beach for the class. We hoped to maybe, hopefully walk a dock and catch a glimpse of a looper flag or two. 

Well, that didn’t happen as planned!  

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The Imperfect Boat – Bradley

You know how frustrating it is to read something that really resonates and then not be able to find it again? That happened to me recently.

I read a very inspiring blog post about the reduction of stress when the author lowered her expectations about finding the perfect Loop boat. At least, that is how I remembered it. But I COULD NOT find it to verify. I literally spent four hours of my Christmas vacation going through Facebook and various Looper blogs looking for it.

It was a timely article. We are just about at the point where if a perfect boat came along, we would consider pursuing it. They say it takes up to two years to find THE boat, so we are almost at the beginning of the serious search. I knew I needed to find that article!

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