By DANIELA CARRASCO, The Times
GAINESVILLE, Ga. (AP) – After 159 days, a Gainesville couple completed a boat trip that took them through 20 states and over 6,200 miles across the eastern United States.
Brian Chopin and Karen Silinsiorn first set sail in October 2020 to complete the long boat trip of the Great American Loop where they explored lakes, rivers and towns across the country.
The Great Loop takes boaters from the Gulf of Mexico, around Florida, along the Atlantic coast to New York, via the Hudson River, Lake Eerie, Lake Michigan and back down to Alabama via the Mississippi River . About 150 people complete the loop per year, making it a rarer accomplishment than climbing Mount Everest.
They decided to give the loop a try after purchasing their 25ft Ranger Tugs, aptly named “Tug Life”.
“I heard about it decades ago and sort of dreamed of doing it for decades,” Chopin said.
Although both were used to the water after having been keen on sailing, canoeing and kayaking all their lives, Chopin and Silinsiron prepared for months for the trip with the help of Great Loop Cruisers’ American Association.
They spent nights and days on their boat on Lake Lanier to see what they needed for their trip. In addition to studying waterway guides, etiquette and boating, radar and boating safety with association webinars.
“When you do something like that you have to be a lot more careful and aware of boating safety and the rules of the road, navigation, right of way and all that stuff,” Chopin said.
The couple often shared stories of docks in marinas with hundreds of other boaters and traveled with others completing the loop. The couple docked their boat and toured nearby towns to refuel, shop for groceries and explore new places.
“It’s kind of been there,” said Silinsiorn. “Every day was different and we were planning how far we would go the day before, where we could stop. By morning everything had changed.
Along the way, the couple saw everything from rare birds, eagles, manatees and dolphins on the water to jazz festivals, big cities and the Statue of Liberty.
Although they started in October, their trip was cut short when their boat’s engine blew up in December 2020 and they had to return home. On March 15th of this year they set off again to complete what they started and completed the loop on July 26th. AGLCA sent them their golden AGLCA Loop Flag to show that they have completed the journey.
Chopin said he hopes their story inspires others to come out and do whatever they want to do, no matter how long it takes.
“The best thing you can do is research the America’s Great Loop Association, because then you get so much information and help that you can then believe it is possible,” he said.
The couple hope to continue their adventure and try their hand at the northern section of the loop again in the future. To follow their adventures and read more details about their trip, visit kbtravelsdotblog.wordpress.com.
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