Rendezvous – 1. a meeting at an agreed time and place. 2. a time and place designated for a meeting, esp. troops or ships . The rendezvous for our purposes is the fall get together sponsored by the AGLCA (Americas Great Loop Cruisers Association) for members to learn more about the Great Loop.
Our one hard date for this portion of our trip is October 15- to arrive at Joe Wheeler State Park on the Tennessee River in Rogersville, Alabama. Attending the 4 day event packed with seminars, exhibits, speakers and good company is expected to give us a boost in how planning our trip.
This event is designed to help plan the fall portion of the Great Loop. Providing tips and route suggestions to travel from the Tennessee river, through the Tomm-Bigbee Waterway and on to Florida. It will also cover planning along the gulf coast of Florida through the keys and on up the ICW on the Atlantic coast. Hope to also learn about the side trip to Bahamas! Lots to learn!
AGLCA divides the loopers into three categories. We are considered “In Process”-and were joined by about 60 boats attending the Rendezvous while passing through this area on the loop. There are also “Planners” who came by car to learn about the process and look at boats; and there are “Completed” – gold loopers who have completed the loop and attend as a reunion or to speak about the trip. In all there were about 250 people attending!
Is there a typical looper boat?
- There are slow boats and fast boats
The trawler group runs at an average speed of 8 to 10 miles per hour. Also referred to as the go-slow boats.
The fast boats may travel up to 20 mph. We call them the go-fast boats.
When traveling in a group, it is easier to have buddy boats that travel at the same speed . Especially when scheduling a group to go through a lock. It also changes the range of miles traveled in a day- so the speed comes into play when discussing anchorages and marinas to choose.
- There are small boats and large boats
Looking around the dock there are 26 foot boats , 36 to 42 foot boats and even 50 foot boats. It all depends on how much space and how much stuff you may want with you to meet your comfort level!
- There are power boats and sail boats.
I mentioned the go slow boats and go fast boats. Should also mention the go-slow sailboats! Due to the height restrictions, the sailboats have de-masted and either have the mast laying on the ship or have shipped it ahead to Mobile Alabama. So sailboats on this section of the trip are actually power boats!
Who does the loop?
- boaters who recently retired and look for an adventure
- Boaters who do the loop in sections, then go home to work in between
- Boaters who retire at 55 and do the loop
- Couples age 65 who sell their home and move on the boat
- Couples age 75; take a year to do the loop
- boaters who intend to leave the boat in Florida for a few seasons
- boaters who want to go to the Florida keys or Bahamas at least once.
- Occasionally a young family, able to home school on the boat.
- Met a guy in a canoe, read about one on a paddle boat, also a kayak!
The AGLCA accommodates all the above boats and experience levels so it makes for a very informative convention.
We enjoyed the seminars and took lots of notes. The exhibits and sponsors were generous- giving away t-shirts, coolers and bags along with information.
We met the owner of Waterway guides , Eddies Weather Wag and countless gold loopers willing to share ideas and answer questions. One night featured a jam session and we got to sing along as best we could.
The Rogersville Chamber of Commerce hosted a special night for us, included a polo match, dinner and concert.
Our first polo match ever, and had the honor of meeting the Guinness Worlds Oldest Polo Player . Owner of the polo farm – at age 86 he participated in the polo match we watched!
They also had a hay wagon to tour people to the state of the art horse barn . Great evening!
Of course the spontaneous docktails parties were popular spots to unwind and gather with new friends.
There were dingy races and kayak races; plus other competitions to win door prizes. Colleen won at bingo and earned a one night stay at a marina in Panama City Florida!
We learned about tides, shipping channels, where to avoid live naval firearm testing areas, how to schedule locking through the dozen locks on the tenn- tom water way (and learned about the tenn tom waterway). We heard about weather windows, provisioning, popular marinas, boat maintenance, slack tides, high tides, running aground, and more about the red and green buoys. In some areas there is no room for error- if you choose the wrong side of a buoy it may be a call to Sea Tow and possible prop repairs! Hint- if you approach an area and see one of the BOAT US tows hovering around, be- aware- they know where the go aground spots are!
(More photos will be added as we get better internet)
By evening, we were ready for Boaters Midnight- when it gets dark ( 7pm) and dinner is over (9pm) boaters are ready to say goodnight!