Last night was a beautiful night at anchor, but still a restless night - - after 244 nights on the boat, it was coming to an end. What do we do with the boat, what is next - - all the normal questions. We had a leisurely breakfast and pulled the anchor up at 0900 for a slow, deliberate trip down the Indian River, around Dragon Point, and up the Banana River to where we left from 8 months ago. We pulled into Telemar Bay Marina to top off the fuel tanks - - a mere 193.13 gallons. Next we called the bridge tender at Mather's Bridge and our faithful friend opened one more time for us (only one time it didn't work many years ago, and we had to run about 30 miles around it, arriving well after dark):
We continued slowly up the Banana River savoring every inch of the trip and made our way to the exact spot where we crossed our wake at 1055 (the camera time is obviously 4 minutes off):
The last quarter mile into the marina we could have done in our sleep; and as soon as we pulled up to back into our slip our neighbor Jim Kelly came out to take our lines - - then gave me his car keys to go home and pick up one of our cars. We also picked up our Gold Looper Burgee, which signifies that you have completed the loop - - a picture of Mary & I showing it off:
And so it ends - - after 244 days (8 months ago tomorrow we departed), 5522.9 miles (detailed routing can be found at: https://share.garmin.com/JollyMonLoop
), and over 682 engine hours we will enjoy the evening with our friends here at the marina and move back home tomorrow. It would be a gross understatement not to say it has been the trip of a lifetime, but it has also been a long, often hard grind (a marathon not a sprint). The biggest challenge has been dealing with changing weather and what it brings - like big waves, storms, finding a safe place to anchor or dock, and other challenges. We met many, many great people along the way - many were fellow loopers (like Bill and Katy Fette on "Pili Lani" who were our constant companions for 3/4 of the journey), but many more were people who just wanted to be friendly/helpful. Moreover, we visited many friends and relatives along the way, everyone of whom shared in our adventure and made it the special memory that it will be - - we will forever be thankful!
Our sons Brian and Kevin deserve a special thanks - - first they both agreed that we should go for it and take the trip. Brian watched and cared for our home and cars while we were away, including through a hurricane. Kevin shuttled food and libation to us; took delivery of, then brought us our repaired dinghy engine; and visited several times when we were in Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Our grandson, Brenden, flew into Albany and did the Erie and Oswego canals with us - - always manning one of the lines in the locks or taking the helm when necessary. We sure could have used him going across Canada or for the overnight crossing of the Gulf, but we appreciated every minute he spent aboard.
This will be Jolly Mon's final blog - - I have enjoyed trying to give you some flavor for what we were seeing and what we were doing. I hope I have succeeded if even a little. It should go without saying, but all is well aboard the Jolly Mon this beautiful December day in Florida