- an act or incident involving excitement, daring, or adventure.
We think it’s the perfect name for the boat as it really sums up our big adventure that we will be doing on the great loop.
So what is the great loop??? The Great Loop is a 6,000 nautical mile circumnavigation of the eastern U.S., and part of Canada. The route includes the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, the New York State Canals, the Canadian Canals, the Great Lakes, the inland rivers, and the Gulf of Mexico. “Loopers” take on this adventure of a lifetime aboard their own boat, no cruise ships do this as it takes at least a year to complete. We are “slow” looping, breaking the loop up in segments based on the weather and best seasons to explore that area. We think we will be looping for 2-3 years. This year we will leave Florida in April and cruise as far as Chesapeake Bay. Ultimately, we will put Escapade away for the winter, under covered storage in Chesapeake VA.
So why not just do the loop in one year you may be wondering. We certainly could but want to have more time to really explore. If one does the loop in one year, you have to cruise thru certain areas with the season and you do this over the course of a year to stay ahead of the seasons, so you are constantly on the move. As an example, unless you want to be the Edmond Fitzgerald, you need to be off the Great Lakes by late fall. Cold, wet and windy with potentially life threatening storms make Lake Superior nowhere to be past fall.
SOOO, about Escapade… she is a 1998 Carver Voyager 530. Measuring 53 feet long, 16 feet wide and just over 19 ft tall, she’s a big girl. Our biggest boat and quite possibility our last boat. She has three staterooms, two full bathrooms and a spacious salon and galley, she is a pilothouse/flybridge model, meaning there is a fully equipped driving area inside the boat which also has a big semi-circular dining table. There is also an enclosed flybridge with a huge lounging/dining area and another driving station. I love the views from the flybridge and we spend a lot of time up there. It is the place of choice for happy hour.
I will post a video walk thru when we are done tearing things apart (and putting them back together!).
The other cool thing about Escapade is that she has a crane to lift our 11 ft Boston Whaler up and onto the stern flybridge of the boat. The whaler gives us the option of exploring nooks and cranny’s on the water where Escapade can’t go. It is also a way for us to get Bentley to shore if we are anchored out somewhere. We bought the whaler sight unseen from a couple in Sarasota Florida last summer. This size, year and model of whaler is the perfect fit weight wise for Escapade. When I found it online, we jumped on it. Basically, we did a video chat and inspection with the owners, who were great. They even towed it to their storage facility for us, where it sat thru Hurricane IAN – GULP!!! It all worked out and when we got back to Florida in October, we drove over to Sarasota and picked it up. Other than two flat tires on the trailer and the boat being dirty, it was in great shape. Thankfully Hurricane Ian dodged both boats which were on land in differnt parts of Florida. It’s a bit nerve wracking the first few times, lifting the whaler up and on to the boat but hopefully it will get more routine as we get used to doing it. Wally did maintenance the lift, replace the steel lift cable with synthetic and purchase all new rigging before our first attempt.
The whaler’s name is Hijinx and we are looking forward to some fun in it! Hijinx also got a through cleaning, new electronics and a bilge pump. Wally serviced the 25 hp motor and it runs like a top.
Okay, maybe she’s bigger than we needed but we plan to be living on this boat at least 6 months out of the year and will have friends and family join us as we cruise the great loop. She was also a bit older than we originally wanted but the trade off financially for new/smaller vs older/bigger will hopefully be worth it. I say hopefully, because she has needed a lot of upgrades. I mean thousands of dollars in upgrades…credit card limit increasing upgrades! We did have full marine hull and engine surveys (basically like a pre-purchase house inspection) so we did know what we were getting into. That said, boats are mysterious machines with complicated systems and it never fails that you start by fixing or upgrading one thing and BAM… you are into now elbow deep in two or three other fixes or upgrades that you didn’t budget for or even think needed to be done. BOAT = Break Our Another Thousand!!!
So bam it has been.. it was all the upgrades we wanted to do that have been keeping us busy since November. We have mostly done all this ourselves (well, mostly Captain Handy who I am fortunate to be married to). The galley “needed” all new appliances.. come on now, the old Sub Zero refrigerator was non-operational! The new smart oven replaced the old funky but functioning microwave, the induction cook top replaced the crappy but functioning electric cooktop and the GROSS and non-functioning trash compactor had to go. In its place went a pull out storage area. Woo-hoo, more storage is always appreciated on a boat! We also yarded out all of the stone age TV’s ..three of them, a VCR and a disk music player. The salon (living room in non-boater speak), is getting a new solid maple cabinet that will house the 43 inch smart TV on a remote lift and have more storage. We also replaced the mattresses in the master and guest staterooms (bedrooms) and converted the bunk bed stateroom to storage. The list goes on and on and these upgrades are creature comforts that will make life aboard Escapade even better.
Another huge upgrade was the new flybridge enclosure… the existing one was put on just before we bought the boat by the prior owner. It turned out to be the worst quality material and was the most janky looking piece of garbage. It was conveniently installed just days before we took ownership so there was no negotiating on any of that. The goal of a flybridge enclosure is to provide shade… it did that. It should also make it more comfortable to drive from the flybridge and it should keep the elements out. Big fail on that part, the first time it rained despite having a canvas top that technically did provide shade, it leaked like a sieve and we had to put on rain coats. Did I also mentioning its was a janky piece of junk that started falling apart after 6 month in the sun. UGH, so we had to get a new enclosure and despite the budget shattering price, we love the new enclosure and it doesn’t fail on any of the criteria now. We opted to go with white vinyl “staminode for the top and sides, which is more heat reflective than the black canvas top that was on it.
Happy Hour on the flybridge is a very happy time now!
Creature comforts are one thing but making sure all the systems are in good shape and operating properly is not only essential to using the boat but are also huge safety factors. With two 450 hp diesel engines, a 13 KW generator, a bow thruster, nine batteries with 3 separate chargers, a windlass system for anchoring and 4 air conditioners there have been plenty of things to maintenance and repair. A boat this size has miles of hoses that get old, brittle and and crack or break. Dozens of hose clamps that can rust out or break – it’s amazing how something as simple as a hose or hose clamp could potentially cause catastrophic damage on a boat. Shortly after we bought the boat we had a certified Cummins Engine Mechanic go through both engines and the generator. There are some thing’s that require writing a check and this one was worth every penny we paid. The four AC units also had a check up and got a clean bill of health from the AC Technician (that was a huge sigh of relief).
We’ve also been replacing old sink faucets, shower heads and checking all the places where water can and SHOULD drain out of the boat. There have been some interesting discoveries of places where water was COMING into the boat – OOPS. Plastic fittings get old and brittle, drains gets plugged – basically shit happens as a boat ages, hmm, kinda like me!
This is a grille on the exterior of the boat where rain water should have been draining out instead it was blocked with gross green plant debris and was backing up into the exterior pilothouse door well. So, we cleaned out all three drains and replace the old cracked grill. Great!!! Until the first time it rained hard… now the water from one of those drains was coming into the boat behind the electrical panel and onto the floor in the salon like a river – not good on so many levels. Turned out a fitting in the wall had broken and when we unplugged the drain it now had a place to go! ARRGH!!!
People always ask me how the pets like the boat… so far they have adjusted quite well to life on Escapade. There are lots of places for Sucia and Bentley to stretch out and nap or watch the world go by outside. The both also love the cockpit and having some sun time out there. Bentley’s other favorite place is the flybridge. There are interior steps from the pilot house to the flybridge so he can easily join us up there. Another great feature that sold us on this boat.
Granted we’ve only left the dock here in Hobe Sound once, LOL. It will be different for them when we start cruising again but it’s not their first rodeo on a boat. I guess I should tell them that we will be on the move again soon.
It’s hasn’t been all work and no play for the crew. We did take a one week trip around Christmas to see my cousins June and Matt in Kentucky. A couple of short trips to the west side of Florida to see friends and a fun weekend on a friends yacht in West Palm Beach. We also had our first guests onboard …yay for girlfriends!!! Locally there is so much to do in this area, farmers markets, art festivals, great water front restaurants, polo and beaches to walk on!
4 months have flown by as we’ve tackled all of these projects and we now have one month until we cast off the lines and cruise off into the sunset! We have a loose schedule and a long list of places we want to see and explore between Florida and the Chesapeake Bay.