‘Best Guessing' my way around the Great Loop
I've been working on establishing some kind of cruising schedule – without specifying departure or arrival dates . For a better idea of what I'm referring to, see part 1 of this scheduling effort. Magic Moments and I were last ‘scheduled' to be in Tennessee, with the intent to hit the waterways again in late November, 2015. After departing, my cruising will be done in several steps, as follows:
- First, I'll head back downstream along the Tennessee River, partially retracing my earlier route. When I reach the Tenn-Tombigbee Waterway, I'll depart my earlier route and head south to Demopolis, Alabama. This leg is about 564 miles long (907 km). With luck, the boat and I will arrive in late December, with our sights set on points south.
- The next leg of the journey will be from Demopolis to Panama City, Florida, about 381 miles according to Google Earth (about 613 km), and will put me on the Gulf of Mexico in mid-January.
- The short white segment of the Great Loop is shown in white in the picture to the right, from Panama City to Carrabelle, Florida. It's only about 87 miles (or 140 km) long – so I should arrive by late January. What happens next will be determined in part by weather windows opening on the Gulf, so I may be held up in Carrabelle for a bit. The next bit of the Great Loop involves crossing the Gulf, whether along the shore (as shown in red, south of Carrabelle), or heading south-east across the open waters of the Gulf to Tarpon Springs, Florida. When I'm finally able to scoot across the Gulf, I may duck back inside the Intracoastal Waterway and continue south to the southern tip of Florida – where I'll have to hole up again and wait for a weather window to head to Dry Tortugas National Park at the western tip of the Florida Keys. Magic Moments and I will follow along the south side of the keys on the way back up to mainland Florida, and should hit Miami in the middle of March, after traveling 816 miles (or 1313 km) around the western and southern sides of the state.
I'll begin laying out my trip up the United States' east coast in part 3 of my planning effort. It'll be interesting to see how closely my rough timetable and my actual schedule coincide. I don't plan on biting my nails over the issue though – especially on this leg of the trip. I'll be too close to Margaritaville to worry!