Thursday, April 25, 2013

Why Knot Closes Her Loop!

Mission Accomplished!

On April 24th, 2013 the motor vessel Why Knot, with Admiral Lisa and Captain Darrell as her crew, completed the Great Loop adventure. She crossed her wake at Stuart, Florida upon exiting the Okeechobee Waterway turning north on the Atlantic ICW towards Vero Beach. Crew and ship are doing great!

We were held up a week in Indiantown Marina in, well, Indiantown, Florida. Lisa wasn’t feeling well at all with some kind of bronchial scurvy. (No limes on board) Also, we need to have the heat exchanger of the generator replaced. We contracted with a technician in Vero Beach (one that we used the last time we were there). He had to order the part and would not be there until Wednesday, for replacement on board on Thursday. So no hurry to get to Vero Beach.

As it seems to be customary when one finishes the loop, here are some vital statistics about our cruise.

Distance travelled from Pompano Beach, FL and back around to Stuart, Fl             
4827.4 nm     5551.5 sm
Average Speed   (Engine Operating 809.2 hours)                 5.9 knots      6.8 mph
Fuel Consumption        2.5 gph     
Days underway             120
Average miles travelled per day       40 nm          46 sm
Actual cruise time (including shore leaves)           474 days     67.7 weeks    16.1 months
                                                                         (Shore leave – 170 days = 304 days on board)

Why Knot

The boat performed wonderfully during the cruise. It has been reliable to the point that our maintenance and repair costs were very much in line with what we anticipated having purchased a boat where we had a high degree of certainty as to its reliability.  In other words, it met our expectations of being reliable, barring damage. The Caterpillar 3208 NA was a workhorse requiring only two repairs: replacing the water intake impeller and gasket, and the cover on the oil cooling assembly had to be repaired. Not bad at all. It was always a bit of a thrill to hear her come to life with her throaty purr whenever I pushed the ignition button.

When we purchased the boat we were told by several savvy people that the batteries would have to be replaced sometime during the trip. They did - all four of them. The starter battery had to be changed out very early on in our cruise in Vero Beach and the three house batteries were recently replaced in Mobile, Alabama.

The generator was a bit of a problem. The installed alternator never worked making us use a trickle charger to keep its dedicated starter battery charged. As already mentioned we are currently waiting for a service technician to come and change out the heat exchanger.

The head had some big service done to it in Norfolk, Virginia by an interesting gentleman who was a retired career Coast Guardsman. Yuck. Better him than me.

The VHF radios have been somewhat quirky. The one located at the lower helm had to be changed out. And with the replacement of the antennae whip damaged on the Illinois River we can now pick up radio transmissions from the moon. The fly bridge radio, which has always been strong and reliable, is no longer transmitting. When we first landed in Vero Beach we invested in a good handheld radio. It has turned out to be one of the best investments we’ve made.

When we had the boat hauled out in St. Charles, Missouri we were very happy to receive a report that the bottom paint was in excellent shape. We were told that it was an especially heavy duty coating that still has some life left in it. The repair records from the previous owner reinforced this. Also the prop is in good shape.

A water pump here, a float switch there, a new joker valve every now and then, a florescent fixture, kind of refurbishing the windlass, some caulk, etc. have been the extent of the work that has been needed. I feel fortunate that I have grown into being able to perform much of the work myself. I have often said that I am not the handiest person around but I’m proud of what I have been able to do.

Why Knot has been a wonderful boat. She has always answered the call. We feel very comfortable on her and she is like home to us. As far as boat handling goes just like every other boat, I guess, and the fact she is a single screw boat (sans bow thruster) she needs to be handled a certain way. We have come to know her well I think. She is very predictable now and when we are out on her we know what to expect from her. She has not let us down…ever!


This is where it gets soppy. Lisa has been incredible. When we started this whole thing she could count the times she had ever been on a boat on one hand. (She jokes saying she wouldn’t need all five fingers.) Now she is an extremely competent crew and I totally trust her abilities. She is also a wonderful friend and companion. When we first dreamt about doing this I was the one that pushed the idea. She followed. There were times that the dream seemed unattainable, but she kept it alive and moving forwards. Lisa is the one that keeps me focused and motivated. Lisa is the one that keeps me in check. Lisa is the one that is the voice of sanity and necessary caution. Lisa is the one makes it happen. I gladly take the position of something like a hired captain. As all of us boaters like to joke, she is the admiral. Her love of me and this life keeps it fresh and beautiful every day.


This has been a dream of mine for many years and to finally cut through Florida to get to the end is a great feeling. There was so much to learn, so much to do and so much could have gone wrong but did not. I feel fortunate that I have grown in competence to successfully and safely achieve this.

The Trip

What can you say about this trip that hasn’t been waxed poetically about in my previous blog posts? This has been friggin’ awesome every step of the way. Go back and read them and I think I’ve done a pretty good job of describing my feelings on what we have seen and done.

There is one thing I think that many of us who have done this won’t openly acknowledge as an enjoyable result as it may come across as being a bit vain – we’ve got bragging rights! I know lots of people who have done interesting and challenging things. I know outdoorspeople, people with major professional accomplishments, people with unusual talents and abilities such as artists and poets, people who through great perseverance and talent have achieved great things…but they haven’t done this! They haven’t wrestled forty-five feet of fiberglass and diesel power 5,551.5 miles around the eastern US and Canada. They haven’t seen manatees floating lazily just a few feet away. They haven’t seen dolphins playing in the wake of their own boat. They haven’t moored just across from the US Naval Academy with the plebs yelling in unison on their practice field. They haven’t seen the Statue of Liberty from the water’s point of view. They haven’t cruised the Erie Canal, crossed a Great Lake, cruised through Ontario, hop from port to port down Lake Michigan, seen the St. Louis arch from the water, go through locks, cross the Gulf of Mexico at night or go through canals across the peninsula of Florida. We have and we kind of like the feeling that they haven’t. This is a singularly different and unique experience. This is a very cool thing to do.

The People

I have said this before and I’ll say it again. Boaters, and especially loopers, are the best people in the world! We have seen and done many great things but it is the people that we have met, embraced and been embraced by that makes this special. Here’s why – since this is such a, shall I say, not easy way to live you have to be positively motivated, because day in and day out this can be a bit grueling. I have said that this is a rigorous way to live. Positively motivated people are generally happy people. Also, each day reaching the end of the next leg is a goal set and a goal achieved. Achieving goals reinforces the motivation of the goal-setter producing even more positivity and even more mental and emotional wellness. We can’t help it. We’re happy people. How awesome is that?! We are surrounded by happy, motivated and productive people where we all supply more of the same to each other. It is both an individual and shared experience. It is not abstract. You can touch the water, feel your engines rumbling beneath you, feel the sun and the wind and hear the VHF radio crackle. It makes you feel alive. Accomplishment begets positive well-being.

There have been so many great people in our life this trip. So many so that it would be next to impossible to name them all. Special mentions do go out to (by boat name) The Zone, Journey, Jim Oh, Karma, Good Karma, Proud Lady, Sareanna, Next to Me, and all of the other boats that formed our flotilla to do The Crossing. Charlie Pendergrass, Gordon Burgess, Tiffany at Bigleys in Bobcaygeon, the pizza delivery woman also in Bobcaygeon, the lock masters in Canada, Kacie Sherman in Mississippi and many, many more. (I think except that one old coot that gave me a rash of crap smack dab in the middle of the channel back in South Carolina. He was a jerk.) And I have to give a shout out to every boater that caught or threw any of our lines at marinas – also the marina people. All and all a great group of people.

And I have to mention the good people we sat with at the AGLCA Rendezvous’. In Norfolk we were a small but vocal group. At Joe Wheeler we were all hunkered around tables back in the corner and our ranks grew every meal. I felt like we were the bad kids in class that were put in the back so as to not disturb the good students in the front. It was fun. In Norfolk I kidded Rick Decatur openly when he, as a wannabee, introduced himself. I yelled, “Come on, Rick. Let’s go.” He was embarrassed. But for all of you that have this dream and want to do it I give you the same calling, “Come on (insert your name). Let’s go!” Many of these people are our now our closest friends.

This life is not for everyone. But it is for us. To say that we have enjoyed this would be a gross understatement. It has been a wonderful experience. We did it! And nothing can ever take that away from us.


Joy Holzworth said...

Congrats to both of you! It was a pleasure getting to know you both. Hope you have many many more years of boating fun. You did it! Take care. Bill and Joy Holzworth on Proud Lady laying in wait of a new window in Charleston. Then onward and upward to the Erie canal.

Sweet Pea said...

Well done my friend!

Craig A said...

The thing you did not expect is that we as your audience would get all choked up about this too. Unknowingly you took everyone of us along with you. The blog the e-mails the photos and now the closing videos made it all real. If Columbus could had had video to show his queen, he could have launched a hundred ships because the adventure of being there is right at hand to show the world the tribulations and the triumphs of the sea. We saw your faces, we felt your joy. I am so very very proud!

Cathryn said...

Congratulations Darrell and Lisa, you did it!!! Your closing post describes quite well the fabulous experience and feelings that come with having completed this journey. I'm sorry we didn't meet you sooner in our Loop, and will always treasure the memories of our overnight Gulf Crossing (with your calm, reassuring Roll Call hourly in the VHF) as well as our week as slip-mates in Tarpon Springs. We hope your adventures will continue and you always have fair winds and smooth seas. Hugs to you both, Bob and Cathryn (formerly on "Next To Me", now owned by Jack and Sara who plan to start their Loop in 2014, re-naming the boat Ithaka)