The Great American Loop... The Adventures of "Sea Toy"

When Ray and Sherrie Nichols from Rockport in Texas bought their new Riviera 47 Open Flybridge "Sea Toy", their mission to explore the Americas began in earnest.

After trips to Isla Mujeres in Mexico and a second round-trip adventure around the West Coast of Mexico, through the Panama Canal and back home to Rockport, the couple’s third great ‘Adventure in Paradise’ was a trip around what is known as America’s Great Loop or Great Circle Route.

The Loop is a network of navigable waterways right around the eastern half of the United States. It stretches more than 6,000 nautical miles of rivers, canals and lakes and some offshore water. The plan was to cruise north inside the Atlantic Coast in the spring. By summer they would be in the north, around Maine, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Entering the St. Lawrence Seaway they would cruise to Canada and on into the Great Lakes. Come autumn, they would head south from Chicago along the river system that virtually divides the eastern and western United States.

They set off from Key Allegro Marina at Rockport on St. Patrick's Day and stopped in New Orleans.

“We visited Bourbon Street, had a huge beer on the street, played the "Rub-Board" with the band at the ‘Tropical Isle’, and ate crawfish for dinner,” says Sherrie.

Next port of call was in Florida.

“The blue water and beaches at Panama City, Florida, are beautiful. And so are the Apalachicola oysters!” says Sherrie.

“Carrabelle, Florida, is a great place to stroll around, visit shops and relax and eat more seafood. Arriving in Venice, Florida, on April 3, we were joined by guests who strayed withy us on the voyage to Savannah, Georgia.

Savannah, isone of our favourite cities. We stayed a few days, said goodbye to our guests then headed out to Charleston, South Carolina, to attend the ‘Great Loop Rendezvous’.

We learned there are several ways to go. It was a fun time, and we met new friends. Charleston is also a wonderful place to tour; lots of history, a lovely old city at that time of year when everything was blooming. A tour to Fort Sumter was a highlight. Sumter is important in American history as the site of the first battle of the Civil War, on April 12, 1861.

After a brief break, Ray and Sherrie cruised through the Sound of Cape Fear to Oriental, North Carolina. There are lots of low bridges (14 in 50 miles between Coinjock, North Carolina and Norfolk, Virginia) on this stretch of the Intercoastal Waterway that open on the hour and half-hour, making it a slow run.

Arriving in Norfolk, locals were celebrating ‘Harbourfest Sail Virginia’, commemorating the 400th anniversary of the landing at Jamestown. There were about 50 tall ships from around the world parading up the Chesapeake Bay.

Then it was on to New York where Ray and Sherrie and guests were excited to see the Statue of Liberty.

Next stop was Pirate's Cove Marina on Fishers Island, New York, just off the coast of Connecticut. It’s a very quiet and friendly place, with cottages surrounded by beautiful flowers. They also enjoyed Nantucket Island in Massachusetts, a lovely place but very crowded. The following day they headed for Constitution Marina in downtown Boston.

They stayed in Boston for the 4th of July celebration and Harbourfest.

“We enjoyed a great fireworks display and cooked steaks on the marina patio,” says Sherrie. “Ray's immediate family arrived from Texas and we all toured Boston on the ‘Trolley’, ate Lobster, and had a great time.”

They left Boston to cruise north to Maine and Nova Scotia. They set forth in thick fog, ‘pea soup’ as the locals call it, for Mt Desert Island.

“The Gulf of Maine is truly beautiful and dotted with hundreds of islands,” says Sherrie. “The water, like the outside temperature, is very cold, and 10-foot tides are not unusual. There are forests of large pine trees and the scenery reminded us a lot of Colorado.”

After two days of cruising in RDF (Rain, Drizzle and Fog), all on board Sea Toy made the decision to abort the Nova Scotia plan and return to New York and venture up the Hudson River to Albany and then the Erie Canal.


Click to enlarge image: Ray and Sherrie with friends Billy and Susan in Savannah, Georgia.

Ray and Sherrie with friends Billy and Susan in Savannah, Georgia.

Low Bridge in Miami with many more ahead.

Low Bridge in Miami with many more ahead.

Sherrie, Ray with friends Danielle and T.K. on Bourbon Street, New Orleans.

Sherrie, Ray with friends Danielle and T.K. on Bourbon Street, New Orleans.

The route everyone refers to as the ‘Great Loop’. (Map courtesy of greatloop.com)

The route everyone refers to as the ‘Great Loop’. (Map courtesy of greatloop.com)