Where One Adventure Ends, Another Begins

Saturday, September 18th 2018

Followers of this blog may recall my weeklong Sailboat adventure that took place just a little over a year ago in 2017. Having never been on a bigger sailboat in my life, I did so for the first time to sail three of the five Great Lakes, which lead to an interesting adventure. If you have yet to read that story the beginning is found here: Sailing The Great Lakes

Something that was never revealed in those blog entries is the why? That Chad and Michelle decided to sell their old boat to purchase a new, slightly bigger sailboat. One could just be left to assume, they just really liked to sail and a nicer ‘toy’ is just the part of natural progression. As it goes for anything regardless of your passion… Bigger, better, newer, more fun. Right?

That may be a small part of the equation for Chad and Michelle, but the true reason was to rid themselves of just about every possible possession, including the house, leave their professions and move fulltime onto a sailboat… A boat with the comforts they desire for living.

Who in their right mind would do such a thing? Especially those in their mid to late 30’s who have solid careers and live in a nice house in a nice area? Well, those that have a dream of traveling the Great Loop. That’s who.

So what the hell is the Great Loop you ask? The best way to describe it is to just show a map of the Great Loop which consist of the Great Lakes, rivers, inland waterways, ocean, and intercoastal waterways. Some ‘Loopers’ choose to do it in chunks over a period of years and others, like Chad and Michelle choose to attack the loop in one shot, over the course of a year.

Image result for great loop route

There are many routes available to complete the Great Loop. Photo compliments of captainjohn.org

When Chad first asked me to help transport the new boat home I had no idea what these two had in mind. Chad has talked for years about moving onto a boat and sailing a carefree life. But I had no clue this new boat was to be the one to actually make that dream a reality. When I did learn… Having been on a grand, life-altering adventure myself, I was excited to help them make this happen.

There is NO WAY a person can come away from living out such a quest and NOT be transformed. I could not wait to meet the Chad and Michelle of post-adventure. Finally, somebody from my circle of friends that will ‘get it’. And one can only ‘get it’ by living it. Even though our two adventures are worlds apart, mine much more physical and theirs much longer in duration, in the end, we will have a commonality that many people will sadly not experience and never understand.

Their dog Riley joined them on the Great Loop adventure. Photo by Michelle Warden.

Chad and Michelle officially set out on the Great Loop September of last year (2017) from Holland MI. I occasionally stayed in touch with them to hear the latest story or tribulations that invariably come up on any ‘worthwhile adventure’. As luck would have it, a trip in March to see my son in Miami FL coincided perfectly with their passing through the area and I was able to meet up with them and hear about what has happened so far.

 

Removing the mast a couple of times and having it reinstalled is necessary to complete the route. Photo by Michelle Warden.

The next time I would see Chad and Michelle would be almost a year from when they set out from Holland and that meeting would be somewhat serendipitous. First; I need to explain that to officially be called a ‘Gold Looper’, (someone who has actually completed the Great Loop) you have to ‘cross your own wake’ as they call it. Basically coming back around a point that connects a person’s line of travel as completing the continuous loop. For Chad, he and the boat, crossed the wake in Mackinaw, meeting the line of travel made when we were taking the boat to its new home in Holland MI.

A little refresher of what I wrote about our trip from Wisconsin… I ran out of vacation time and had to end the trip in Frankfort MI, a couple of days sail shy of where the boat needed to be. From that point, Michelle would take my crew position on the boat to sail the rest of the way. So, from a technical standpoint, Michelle would officially become a Gold Looper in Frankfort.

As they made their way around the northern part of Michigan’s lower peninsula I kept track of their progress and tried to plan a meeting since I was temporally relocated in Escanaba MI for work. As luck would have it again, the timing worked out for me to meet them in Frankfort. I was already in the area doing a two-day bikepacking trip on Beaver Island.

Was initially discouraged that my Beaver Island trip had been delayed a week as original plans would have put me on the island the same time they were there, but the Frankfort meet up was much more significant. Michelle’s parents were also in Frankfort to greet them and having them there had special significance too because they were the ones that helped with the ground transport so Chad and Michelle could sail on to Holland the previous year. Even more fitting… We had dinner and drinks at Storm Cloud. Not gonna explain that one if you don’t know or remember the story, you will have to go read.

As of this writing, they and their dog Riley have officially OFFICIALLY! Completed the Loop by sailing into Holland. Now I can’t wait to talk to them in the coming day’s/months as they try to comprehend what this all means and what do you do with life now? All I can say to them now is be prepared for some emotions you’re not expecting when reflecting on your adventure. Also, like a drug it in your system now and the only known cure is more adventure…. Bigger and badder of course.

Chad and Michelle have a blog @ www.sailthesweetlife.com be sure to check it out.

Chad, Michelle and Riley in Frankfort MI

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