One of the interesting parts of cruising are the people you meet along the way. This time of year the Loopers, or folks doing the Great Loop (Google for more information) are traveling through the northeast and Canada. They have to be through Chicago and headed down the Mississippi by Labor Day to stay ahead of the weather.
We met a 75 year old, whose home is Illinois. One Christmas his wife bought him the classic book "Honey Let's Buy A Boat". He read it, and decided he wanted to do the Great Loop. He took two Coast Guard courses, joined the AGLA, and bought a 30 year old Prairie trawler in Mobile, Alabama. The prior owner gave them 3 days of hands on training, and they headed out. Across the Gulf of Mexico. They've been on the boat for 9 months now, and don't want it to end.
Another couple was on their second Loop trip. They finished and enjoyed it so much they decided to go around again. Two years on a boat circling the eastern half of the U.S. Hmmm.
In the small world department, we ran into the owner of the company I worked for back in the 90's. He bought his Nordic Tug from our friends Jim & Barb, who had used it for the Great Loop in 2008. We know them because Barbara is an organist like me.
Our friends Clark & Evelyn from our 2012 cruise told us to watch out for Andy and Julie on a Mainship named "Fruitcakes". With over 100 people per year on the Great Loop at any given time, I didn't think there was much chance of running into them. And there they were, parked on the wall at Waterford, NY, and marooned with us for the 5 days at Amsterdam.
Everyone on these long cruises is pretty much in the same age category, usually 60 to early 70's, retired. The number of artificial knees in this group is astounding! They are all still looking for new challenges, and are determined to keep it going as long as they physically can. On a boat, something is always broken. Men who never got their hands dirty are now repairing diesel engines. Men who worked blue collar jobs are mastering sophisticated electronics. Women are making do with temperamental stoves and tiny refrigerators, all the while learning to drive the boat and communicate where they are at any given point. Nice people from all over the country, and we all help each other.