The Great Loop
The Great Loop is a continuous waterway that recreational mariners can travel that includes part of the Atlantic, Gulf Intracoastal Waterways, the Great Lakes, Canadian Heritage Canals, and the inland rivers of America’s heartland. Anyone who completes the journey is then named an official ‘Looper’.
While watching the boats go by through the Trent Severn Waterways, you may have noticed an AGLCA flag on some of them. It stands for America’s Great Lakes Cruisers Association. Who are these boaters who go for it - pack up their lives for a year or more and meandering their way around North America, living their dreams? Their sense of adventure is a powerful message to others that anything is possible if it’s important to you.
I’ve been following the boat TrEding Water (whose home base is Armada, Michigan) and got a chance to speak with Tressa and Ed Genord while they were moored in Fenelon Falls.
Why did they choose to travel the Great Loop? Tressa said, “About 5 years ago Ed, who grew up on the water, was researching the Great Loop. I was more hesitant than he was, but after watching some of the millions of videos about it on YouTube, I said, we can do this.” And in 2019 they bought a 48 foot SeaRay sedan bridge diesel cruiser. The plan is to take two years to complete the loop, wintering the boat if it’s too late in the season to continue and then picking up the Loop where they left off.
Tressa is a preschool teacher on sabbatical, and together they own a prefabrication business, so Ed can work while they travel. They go home about every 6 weeks, and Tressa says, “When we would go home, after two or three days we were ready to get back to the boat! We are relaxing and we have seen so many incredible things.”
While in the Kawarthas, Tressa and Ed met so many wonderful locals along the way. “The people have been so wonderful! The Lock Masters have been so welcoming, giving us lots of information of where to go and what to do, and explaining the lock system to us. People say Welcome to Canada.”
“While at Lock 20, the Lock Master let me work the lock – it’s a manual system there. That was fun! The lock staff enjoyed it because I did the work for them (she laughs). Peterborough Lift Lock was so interesting!” says Tressa.
“We are looking forward to getting to Georgian Bay. Other Loopers say it’s amazing and the Canadian portion of the Loop is the most beautiful place to visit,” she says.
They are behind the bulk of Loopers, but they still meet others. “Because we went to the Bahamas, we are about three weeks behind. We were broken down in the 1000 Islands, for three weeks as well. Most of the others are heading down Michigan now. We’d like to spend two or three weeks in Georgian Bay, but it depends on how quickly we can get up there,” she says. The Big Chute Marine Railway was broken for about a week, so that also slowed down some Looper’s progress.
They have been enjoying the food scene along the way, “We’ve really enjoyed this portion of the trip. I had a butter tart at Doohers Bakery in Campbellford, and a peameal sandwich in Hastings, I had finally had poutine at the Canoe and Paddle in Lakefield. We ate at the Full Cup Café in Bobcaygeon and they have the best burgers I’ve ever had. We have to try all the Canadian stuff (she laughs).”
Once they get home how will they acclimatize themselves back into the real world after such a surreal journey? Tressa says, “They actually call it going through ‘re-entry’. (she laughs) To try and get back on a schedule will be a challenge. As a pre-school teacher on sabbatical, there will be a job to go back to. But if a position is not available right away, I’m kind of getting used to not working (she laughs). Because Ed owns his company, he will have to step back in where he left off.”
Of course, the high cost of gas affects their predicted budget. When they left a year ago, gas was $2.75 per US Gallon (their tank holds 500 gallons). They have paid as much as $7.25 per US Gallon. Not a trip for the faint of heart!
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