People are excited for us when they hear we’ve purchased a boat. And then they hear it is in Wisconsin on Lake Superior, while we are in Washington state on the Puget Sound. A puzzled look comes across their face and we hear, “How are you going to get it here?”
How indeed? What are the plans? Great question!
I wrote a blog post in January 2020 about our plans – written in sand. In it I focused on what we were looking for in a boat: something in the sweet spot of length (40’), headroom (6’5”) and budget (<$100k).
We now have our boat that checks all those boxes and we know where it is. Our plans are firmer than before, but still fluid.
The current situation
We are both still working and plan to keep working for another year, until Christmas 2022. The boat is 1800 miles away, tucked away in winter storage.
When we bought the boat last summer, we thought we’d spend some time getting acquainted with it. Then in summer 2022, plans were to move the boat off of Lake Superior and store it for the winter in northern Michigan. That would position us to begin looping in 2023, after retiring. We were advised, in July 2021, that it was not too soon to start lining up winter storage for winter 2022.
We made a few calls and wrote a few emails but did not hear back. And we got to thinking.
We had only had about a week and a half in 2021 on the boat getting acquainted. Were we really ready to start out on a 400-mile trip in remote, unpredictable waters? And the kicker, what’s the likelihood our two- or three-week summer 2022 vacation would be during a good weather window?
They say the worst thing to have on a boat is a schedule. If we have only a given time frame to move the boat to a certain location, that sounds a lot like a schedule.
We decided…let’s just hang out in Lake Superior for summer 2022. The next year, in summer 2023, we won’t have time constraints. We’ll be retired. It won’t be a big deal to wait for good weather. There won’t be the pressure of having to be somewhere at a certain time. It took a lot of stress off of us just to make that decision.
We have one 2022 trip planned to Wisconsin while the boat is still on the hard and another one later when the boat is in the water.
The boat is located near the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, a US National Park. The islands are said to be like the San Juans Islands in Washington state, full of natural beauty. Last summer we just barely poked our bow into the islands, so we’ll spend more time exploring next summer. Once we leave the area we don’t expect to bring the boat back after the loop, so we might as well enjoy it while we’re there.
We are so excited to have booked Captains Scott and Karen DeVoll of Capable Cruising Inc. to spend a few days on the boat with us next summer 2022 as training captains. We met them last February when we made a trip to Fort Myers to look at boats. They do “Taste of the Loop” mini training cruises on their Meridian 408 in Fort Myers and will also come to your boat and go through a similar curriculum. We will explore the Apostle Islands with them while learning more about boat systems and boat handling.
And then what?
So, on to our plans for 2023 and beyond.
The Illinois River locks will be closed for most of summer/fall 2023, so we will not head down the rivers after leaving Lake Superior.
As I’ve mentioned in other posts, we want to spend a couple of summers in the northlands. After leaving Lake Superior at Sault Ste. Marie, our current plans have us going “backwards” through the North Channel, Georgian Bay and the Trent-Severn. Then up around the Rideau Canal to Ottawa, down the Ottawa River to Montreal, and then down the St. Lawrence River to the entry to the Chambly Canal which leads to Lake Champlain.
From Lake Champlain, we’ll head down the Champlain Canal. We may immediately turn west into the Erie Canal or we may poke our head down the Hudson a ways, perhaps to Donovan’s Shady Harbor marina. It all depends on how well the boat is running and how late in the season it is getting to be. However far south we go, that will be the point we cross our wake when we make it all the way around. (How fun would it be to cross our wake at the epic pig roast Donovan’s Shady Harbors holds each June?)
After we turn around and head back north on the Hudson, we’ll do the eastern Erie Canal and head up the Oswego Canal to Lake Ontario. At this point we will have completed a little loop of the Rideau, Champlain, Erie, Oswego. I think they call it the Triangle Loop.
We hope to find winter 2023 storage in the Thousand Islands area. Then, we’ll head back through the Trent-Severn when it opens in 2024 and follow the normal counter-clockwise route to the gulf with the fleet of 2024/25.
Wow, just writing that out makes me realize it will be 2025 when we cross our wake in a best-case scenario!
After that? We’ll see. We’ll see if boating is still fun. We’ll see if we’re still alive and healthy. We’ll see what boat prices are like. We’ll decide if we want to put the boat on a ship in Fort Lauderdale and send it through the Panama Canal to Vancouver, BC and our home waters.
That’s how we’ll get it from Wisconsin to here. We’ll see. God willing.