In 7 months, our go light turns green. We plan to cast off our lines, and begin our Great Loop Adventure. November 1, 2019 is our go date, when weather permitting, we motor past the Kemah Boardwalk for the last time, churn by Redfish Island and into the Houston Ship Channel, Florida bound. Like nearly all Loopers, we will winter in and around Florida on the first leg of our journey.
If you’ve read older posts, you’ll know that the adventure started years ago, when this dream was hatched, and continued in subsequent years as it began to take shape. As most Loopers (and astronauts) will probably tell you, the planning and prepping are integral to the expedition. Up until now, its been about “planning”. Now, at this six month milestone, we shift more into “preparing”.
Two days ago, we attended a Loopers gathering hosted by Gold-Loopers, Mark and Maridee Sandridge aboard their beautiful Sea Ranger 46. We heard stories from successful Loopers (that’s what GOLD means) and listened with pleasure to others in various stages of planning. For several couples, the dream recently hatched. I recognized us in them, at Trawlerfest 10 years ago, or boat shopping with Ruth in Clear Lake 6 years ago, when we didn’t know where the different marinas were.
Figuring out the right boat is no easy task. Finding it, especially in today’s market, can be even tougher. Talking to the folks Saturday made me think of the day 3.5 years ago when we found our boat. I first saw the listing the day it went live on Yachtworld. It was one of just two KK42’s in the Houston area, so I scheduled an appointment to look at her later that day. Afterwards, I called Dawn, urging her to leave work early to come see it. We made an offer the next day. Ironically, it was a few piers down from the Sandridge’s slip at South Shore Harbor, where we had our Looper’s gathering.
Many of the planners and dreamers we met Saturday shared their difficulty finding a good “loop” boat in today’s used boat market. For most, chunking down 800K+ for a new boat is not an option. Most retiring boomers seem to be searching for used boats in the $75K-$350K range. The challenge with that is twofold: A) there are a lot of retiring boomers, and B) there were thousands of boats in that category lost in recent hurricanes Irma, Maria, and Florence. One broker here says that used inventory is 60% of what it was 3 years ago.
We feel lucky to have found our KK42 when we did. We now have a half trip around the sun to complete the 30+ projects on our “prepping” checklist. One project currently underway is restoring the brightwork. For non-boaters, that means refinishing exterior teak, and on a KK42, their is a lot of exterior teak. Dawn has begun work on another – making covers for the fenders. For non-boaters, those are the “bumpers” you hang over the side (and forget to pull in) to minimize damage when you crash while docking. Research on other projects is underway. Over these next six months, I’ll share more about these, and the other mental and physical preparations underway as we begin this journey.
Here’s four great resources for identifying and finding your ideal cruising boat:
Voyaging Under Power – 4th Edition of classic by Robert Beebe. Focused on boat characteristics needed for long range passage making.
Coastal Cruising Under Power – 2006 by Gene & Katie Hamilton. Better choice if crossing oceans isn’t part of your plan. A good primer for Looper boats.
2019 Powerboat Guide – Broker’s Edition – Ed McNew – Reference Bible for 26′-80′ Power Boats made since 1980
Yacht world.com – The Amazon of used boats and porn for boat shoppers