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Branch Office - Mike & Linda Gilbert

Week 39 - FINAL BLOG!
By Mike & Linda Gilbert
Posted on 6/21/2019 12:16 PM

Week 39à  Oneida River to Alexandria Bay to Cross our Wake!



June 10 – June 19th

We took advantage of being so close to our house to do several chores:  pulling weeds, mowing lawn and then turned our attention to the boat; we took all of the extra clothes home, so no more closet in the aft cabin J.  Brought the boat carpets home to shampoo and returned them to the boat.  Washed, de-salted and waxed the boat hull – hum she looks band new – you would never know she traveled 6000 miles!    AND oh…  Mike is all set with his tooth, got the attention it needed so he is back to new again too, lol.

On Monday June 17th  - we took a vehicle up to Abay – our home Marina, in preparation of getting our boat there on Wednesday June 19th and checked on our slip and water level.  All is well – thank you Mark and Wendy for having our slip all set for us!   On Tuesday we spent the day putting the boat back together and got it ready for our last journey of this adventure.   Had a great dinner with Marion and Gil that evening in Brewerton as a send-off for our trip the next day.
 Here is our empty slip waiting for Branch Office    

Tuesday June 18th -  we left Winter Harbor at 6:30am headed for Lock 23, the Brewerton Lock, which opens at 7:00am.  We made it to Lock 8 – in Oswego NY by 12:14, it was the perfect cruising day!    Eddie and Ginger were there to greet us and welcome us home and took some pictures for us!   Thanks Ed and Ginger!

Sights along the canal



Branch Office approaching last lock! 

Onto Lake Ontario, such a great sight as we get closer to our home port, but the best part is that the lake was a flat as I have ever seen it!! A very nice welcome home by mother nature – not to mention the Captain picking a great travel day!


Look how flat the lake is!

Our home port on the St. Lawrence River has some high water level issues, 2nd time in 3 years – sad to see the damage to property owners along the river.


We pulled into our slip at 4:30 and Jojo our boating neighbor and Dave, another boater doing the loop this year, took our lines for our final docking of this adventure… thanks Jojo and Dave!

Getting close now!

Arriving in A-Bay

HOME!  All tucked in our slip!

Feels good to be home,  ahhh  and there is our view of Boldt Castle!

The trip home was very peaceful and no issues, we can now “breathe a sigh of relief” …. Whew – made it home safe, no damaged props, didn’t hit ground, no mechanical problems, didn’t get lost,  but what we did do was:

  • Make several new friends - Awesome!

  • Made plans to travel with Paradise and Time to Breathe in 2020!

  • Cruised a total of 5600 miles!

  • Cruised a total of 576 hours!

  • Burned a total of 4,255 gallons of Diesel!

  • Stayed at 70 different Marina’s!

  • Anchored overnight a total of 19 times!

  • Went through 65 Locks – one lock with the highest lift of 84 feet!

  • Cruised through 19 States!

 (New York, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Kentucky)   

  • Cruised through 34 Waterways!

(St. Lawrence, Lake Ontario, Welland Canal, Lake Erie, Detroit River, Lake St. Clair, St. Clair River, Lake Huron, Straits of Mackinac, Lake Michigan, Calumet River, Illinois River, Upper Mississippi River, Ohio River, Cumberland River, Barkley Lake, Tennessee River, Pickwick Lake, Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway, Mobile Bay, ICW – (Florida Panhandle), Gulf of Mexico, ICW West Coast of Florida, Atlantic Ocean, ICW East Coast, Chesapeake Bay, Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, Delaware River, Hudson River, Mohawk River, NYS Barge Canal, Oneida Lake, Oneida River, Oswego River)

  • Took a side trip to New Orleans and Mississippi!

  • Met Captain Rusty Higgins – Sea Ray Delivery Captain!

  • Met Geraldo Rivera – he was our dock neighbor in Sarasota!


    Our Favorite Stops:


  • Mackinac Island – located in Lake Huron Between Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas.  Impressive, 10-mile biking trail with beautiful water views around the entire island, no cars allowed on island, only bikes and horse drawn buggies. Beautiful homes and landscaping that comes out of Better Home and Garden Magazine, great tourist shops along the main street – yes nice restaurants too. 


  • Put-In-Bay – located on Lake Erie in Ohio, one of a kind iconic place to visit – need to see it.


  • Petosky City Marina -  located on east side of Lake Michigan.  Nice Marina along with short walking distant to town, gift shops, restaurants and grocery/drug stores. Also have a nicely developed Biking Trail around the lake – we rode 10 miles over to Petosky State Park – great fish market on that side of town.


  • Leland Township Harbor – located on east side of Lake Michigan, also known as “Fishtown” because they have specialty shops (candy, fish, cheese, jewelry, clothing shops surrounding the Marina, each shop is a little fishing shanty!  Nice grocery store and restaurants all within a short walking distance.


  • Ludington Municipal Marina – located on east side of Lake Michigan. Nice marina and surrounding parks, beach and lighthouse short walk from Marina, great restaurant right across from Marina.


  • South Haven Municipal Marina -  located on east side of Lake Michigan. Nice clean Marina, well run and a beautiful town with lots of activity – probably because we were there during their Jazz Festival.  Short walk to town, lots of shops, restaurants and nice beach area.  PS. Best Young Jazz Band I have ever heard….   “Turbulence”


  • Heritage Harbor Marina – located on Illinois River – upscale docks, nicely landscaped and very knowledgeable Dock Master who holds daily evening meetings to educate Loopers on next several miles of the trip.


  • Green Turtle Bay Resort – located on Cumberland River (Lake Barkley) in Grand River Kentucky.  One of the best Marina’s on the trip, it is a resort so they have amenities to please everyone, multiple pools - 2 outside, 1 indoor, Multiple Restaurants, Spa, Health Club, Ship Store, Transportation, Condo rentals, beach, etc.  The quaint town hosts a grocery store and specialty shops all worth a visit.  


  • Fort McRee Anchorage – located in Big Lagoon in ICW just east of Pensacola Florida.   Very pleasant anchorage surrounded by sand dunes, and Naval Air Station provided entertainment viewing of Blue Angles training flights.


  • Marina Jacks - located in Sarasota Florida -  We loved this Marina and stayed here for two months.  The location is perfect, you get a front row seat with views of the ICW, the Ocean and the City lights of Sarasota, making it the perfect gazing spot.   Short walk to all that the city has to offer, well maintained docks and tasty restaurants.  Highly recommended by us! 


  • Salty Sam’s Marina – located in Fort Myers Florida – such a relaxing fun place just enough activity at the Marina for entertainment with a nice ship store.


  • Smokehouse Bay #2 Anchorage – located at Marco Island- very well protected bay with beautiful views of the exclusive homes of Marco Island. Very relaxing couple of day anchored there, dingy into Restaurant for lunch.


  • Florida Club Key West Harbour – located on Stock Island in the Lower Keys.  Location, location, location – was fun being right on the Atlantic Ocean side of the Keys, awesome views and welcome warm breezes with quick access to beautiful turquoise color water to snorkel in.  Marina had a pool, with pool side service for drinks and food – we loved that!  Many great restaurants and only a 6-mile bike ride into Key West proper.


  • Marathon Marina – located in Marathon Key.   Nice docks, nice pool with the best views of the Ocean and a great on-site Restaurant.  The Marina has planned activities for each day of the week for example:  water aerobics every Monday and Wednesday morning or Sunday movie night, etc.


  • Charleston South Carolina – What a fun City – cobblestone streets, horse drawn carriage rides and pastel antebellum houses, lots to see in the city and great restaurants.


  • Bald Head Island – located off the coast of North Carolina – nature-loving subtropical island.  Quite island – cars not allowed, travel around is by golf carts and bikes, or walking of course; surrounded by sandy beaches. A few souvenir shops and some restaurants.  We only had a quick overnight stay here, but I would go back in a heartbeat.    


  • Savanna Georgia – really liked the town, not too big, just right size with lots of nice shops to browse through and some nice pubs for afternoon refreshments.  Home of Paula Dean Restaurant.


  • Herrington Harbour North- located in Tracy Landings Maryland on Chesapeake Bay.  Most beautiful Marina, new docks, landscaping was amazing, beautiful walking trails with attention to all details, pool, boater lounge with 24-hour access to food vending machines, fire pits, picnic tables, etc. You name it, they had it.  This Marina has any and all services that a boater could want or ask for:  Prop Service, Canvas shop, Engine Shop and a West Marine store on-sight.   Loopers don’t miss this spot well worth a visit.


  • Liberty Landing – located in New Jersey, nice docks, ship store, restaurant, very convenient for getting to Manhattan – ferry boards right at Marina.  Marina is located on Liberty State Park grounds – so wonderful walking and biking trails AND the best views of Lady Liberty and Lower Manhattan.


  • Shady Harbor Marina -  located on the Hudson River.  Brian Donovan – the owner has it together, knows exactly what boaters would want.  Great dock service by his team of dock hands, courtesy car, ship store – that carries milk -  I only found 2 marinas on the entire trip that sold milk!  Outstanding on-site restaurant and you can’t beat the hospitality – Thank you Brian…  oh and don’t forget to have Brian pour you a “Little Beer” to celebrate your arrival!


  • Little Falls Marina Rotary Park – located on NYS Canal – what a nice little kept secret, recently renovated facility offers overnight docking with electricity and water, showers, bathroom etc.  Extremely friendly staff and very accommodating.  Don’t miss this stop.    


Top three Restaurants of the entire trip!

  1. Crab & Fin Restaurant – St. Armands Circle, Sarasota, Florida

  2. Duvals Fresh – Main Street, Sarasota, Florida

  3. Huck – 76 Queen St. Charleston South Carolina


Top three beaches  of entire trip

  1.  Jacksonville Beach – Jacksonville, Florida

  2. Coco Beach – Merritt Island, Florida

  3. Dungeness Beach – Cumberland Island, Camden County Georgia


The Big Question:  Would we do this Great Loop Again?

Answer:  YES!!!  - But with more trips back home to see our family!

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