After a 355 mile jaunt along the southern shore of Lake Superior, Endeavor crossed her wake at the Apostle Islands. Our journey included a decade of planning and dreaming, a year of refitting Endeavor, an awesome year of looping, and a million great experiences meeting new people and exploring new places. Making new friends along the way was a high point of the journey.
That’s the announcement I put on the Looper’s Association forum. My actual feelings about finishing the loop are more complex.
First there is the sense of accomplishment at successfully planning and executing a project involving complexity equal or greater than many I managed at 3M. The Project Management Professional geek in me rejoices.
Then there is the relief of delivering the mother of our children home safely across this massive lake. Peg and I have logged more than 6,000 miles exploring Superior and I have never lost my respect for the power this body of water holds. When crossing her distances I am always alert and on edge. On the loop, only the overnight 95 mile leg crossing back from the Bahamas was as tense for me.
It is possible that the only reason Peg hasn’t tossed me overboard is that she needed me to sail her across the lake. Hmmm…
Second is the reality that unpredictable arrival dates and distance from home made it difficult for family and friends to be on hand to greet us.
We finished about two weeks early, mainly because we did not use much of the padding I built in for sitting out bad weather. Instead, we enjoyed each stop then moved on as soon as safe weather appeared.
Plainly put, arriving at an empty dock is an anti-climax. Understandable, but still a let down.
As often happens, fate stepped in to help out:
Shortly after arriving, a couple walked up and introduced themselves. They are future 2018 loopers who have been following this blog. Their boat is across the bay at Ashland and their Lake Elmo home is 20 minutes from ours. We will get together in the next weeks and pass on what advice we can about the Loop. The unexpected encounter brightened the day.
Even better, long time best friends were 45 minutes away on their annual family outing canoeing the Brule River. When they learned we were arriving they came to pick us up and bring us to the campground to join in food and fellowship. We were blown away to see our friends again so quickly after almost a year.
(Left to Right) Spencer and Eli, or Eli and Spencer: I can never keep the Webb twins straight. Alyssa McGlade, a promising nature artist. Rob McGlade.
I should note that Rob has had positive affect on the adventurous side of my character, mainly by agreeing to participate in any harebrained adventure I suggest. Our first major questionable sailing adventure together was circumnavigating Isle Royale in a Catalina 22. I’ve always suspected he trusts my common sense way more than he should.
(Left to Right) Shelly McGlade, Rob’s Admiral, allows him to participate in my schemes as long as she can plan the food we take (long story there). Mike Webb, a professional Jerry Garcia imitator, who has never met a motorcycle he couldn’t crash :-). Peg, my long suffering mate. Kim Webb, Mike’s long suffering mate (celebrating 22 years yesterday!).
Lastly, there is the hollow feeling of knowing this was our last adventure on Endeavor. Across 8 years and 13,000 miles she has been a wonderful craft. Other than raising our kids, she is probably the biggest personal project we’ve undertaken. We have touched, tightened, fixed, replaced or tweaked every piece on her and know her inside and out better than anything else we own. After about 2,200 hours at the helm, we know her strengths, habits and quirks well.
It is clear why sailors call their vessels “she”.
(Editor’s Note: I suspect the skipper is really talking about me, even though he assures me it is Endeavor.)
When she is pulled from the water and stored on land our trip will be complete: exactly 365 days from start to finish. We didn’t plan such a precise finish, the timing just worked out that way. Some couples take multiple years to complete the loop, some race through in months. In the end, Peg and I agree that the timing for us was just right.
It’s good to be home.