The number of Loopers in attendance in Norfolk was amazing! We had 284 attendees this Spring ~ one of our largest groups ever! It was so great to see everyone and share this experience with the Loopers! Read on for my daily recap.
Today started off the Rendezvous with a bang – we had two pre-rendezvous sessions: Curtis from Curtis Stokes & Associates spoke about how to go about selling your Looper boat after you’ve crossed your wake, and Kim Russo provided an introduction to the Great Loop. Both sessions were open to the public and were well attended.
Immediately after Kim’s presentation, the doors for registration were opened. A big thank you goes out to our volunteers and Advisory Council for giving us a hand with this process. They were invaluable in helping us set up ahead of time, and making sure the registration process went as smoothly for everyone as possible. The Ship’s Store sold out of several items this first day!
From there we started one of my favorite parts of the whole week: Looper Introductions. We began with the Loopers in Progress. I enjoy hearing your stories, which range from where you first learned about the Great Loop, to how you choose your boat names, to your favorite Loop stories.
Looper Crawls & Vessel Safety checks followed at Waterside Marina. This is another of my favorite parts of the Rendezvous, but due to a bum knee, I didn’t think it was in my best interest to be trying to get on and off the boats, lest one of the members would have had to fish me back out of the drink.
During dinner, the Gold Loopers introduced themselves. They are always an inspiration to the newer members who are often just beginning the planning for their Great Loop adventure.
Tuesday morning started with route sessions from the Chesapeake Bay to Kingston, New York and Looping 101 sessions including tips from Gold Loopers, how to buy a Looping boat, a lesson on weather, and current conditions on the AICW. During a break between sessions, we headed outside to the dock for the group photo.
I sat in on the route sessions today to take notes for our About the Route website updates. If you have not yet attended a Rendezvous, you are really missing out. All sessions are presented by our Gold Loopers and industry professionals who are all happy to share their knowledge and experiences with you.
Introduction of the Planners came during dinner Tuesday night and I’ve got to say, when these planners all get out on the water in a year or two, they are going to have a great time! They all had such great senses of humor! Their stories were uplifting and they had the audience laughing most of the way through.
Today I spent the day in the Ship’s Store where I got the opportunity to talk with some of you and provide a little tech support for things I hadn't been able to help you figure out over the phone.
Route sessions today included the Trent Severn Waterway, Georgian Bay and the North Channel, and Side Trips to DC, Baltimore and Philly. Looping 101 sessions covered financing and insuring your boat, locking through, anchoring, and marine electronics.
One of the neatest presentations on Wednesday was the Keeping Fit on the Loop Yoga demonstration. Kim Russo attended this session and participated in the yoga instruction. Attendees were taught ways to make cruising more stress free as well as some basic Yoga poses to help stretch and strengthen muscles in the tight quarters on the boat.
Dinner tonight was on your own and we organized a Dine Around at Waterside District, located right next to the hotel and marina. There are several restaurants, including Blue Moon Tap House, Stripers Waterside, and The Harbor Club. We chose Guy Fieri’s Smokehouse and the food was delicious with HUGE portions. I had the Bird is the Word Chicken Sandwich and the Bacon Mac N Cheese Burger. (I did NOT eat all that in one sitting. We actually ate there on Sunday as well, after we got into town.) The Bacon Mac N Cheese Burger was voted Best Burger in Las Vegas, and NYC Food and Wine Burger Bash Winner. One word: YUM.
There was another spot at Waterside District visited by your Home Port Crew. You know…as research…so we could pass the information on to all of you. JoAnn and I made a stop at The Fudgery for sweet after dinner treats. Nevermind the fact we were filled up with Guy Fieri's lumberjack portions.
I was sucked in by their handmade fudge. So many flavors to choose from, but I went with Chocolate Peanut Butter. How do you not love Chocolatey fudgy goodness with peanut butter stuffed in the middle? I managed to make a slice of it last most of the week. OK, maybe not most of the week. Maybe it was only two days. I am disappointed to report that I did not get the pleasure of seeing the singing fudge makers though. Maybe next time.
JoAnn, our Sponsor Services Coordinator, was able to bypass the fudge, but couldn’t say no to the ice cream. The flavor she taste-tested was coconut cream pie with chocolate fudge. For the next several minutes, I heard various bits of praise about how delicious it was: “it’s so good”, “really rich and pretty fantastic”, “worth all the calories”. It was a difficult job, but someone had to do it. Now y’all know where to get a sweet treat next time you come through Norfolk!
It always seems like the week flies by! Before we knew what hit us, Rendezvous was almost over. I was again sitting in on some of the sessions so we could continue to updating the website. Today we covered both sides of Lake Michigan and Chicago to the Tennessee River. Looping 101 sessions included Making the Most of Your AGLCA Membership, DIY Maintenance and Clearing Customs.
Our last official meal together was the Awards Luncheon. This is our chance to officially thank all of our volunteers and speakers in front of the entire group and present them with Certificates of Appreciation. We also give out a couple of awards to members: the newest member, the member who has been with AGLCA the longest, the member who traveled the furthest to get to the Rendezvous, and the member who was the first one registered for the event. We also presented one of our Harbor Hosts with the True North Harbor Host of the Year Award for going above and beyond to assist their fellow Loopers.
Following the afternoon sessions, Loopers were invited to participate in a Pub Crawl in downtown Norfolk.
If you weren’t able to join us in Norfolk, don’t despair! The Fall Rendezvous will be upon us before you know it (October 15-18) and registration will open sometime mid-July. Join AGLCA today so you're ready to sign-up in July ~ the Fall Rendezvous sells out quickly and you don't want to miss it. We look forward to seeing you soon!