Rob and Doris Morris
Rob and Doris Morris took on the Great Loop

Franklin Couple Conquers “The Great Loop”

The Great Loop is a journey many boaters dream of taking at some point in their lives. Franklin residents and Sunny Lawn Farms owners Rob and Doris Morris took this adventure to get a unique opportunity to explore the diverse waterways of the eastern U.S. and part of Canada.

Their journey began on their boat, Livin’ Life, aka Liv, at Kentucky Dam Marina on the north end of Kentucky Lake in late September. From there, they navigated through a series of waterways including the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and the Great Lakes. They spent 45 days in Canada, and experienced the inland rivers and the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way they encountered a total of 141 locks, and traveled a total of 6,835 miles over the course of 391 days.

Boat cruise by Statue of Liberty

The trip was carefully planned to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. They aimed to reach the Gulf of Mexico after hurricane season, and followed a counterclockwise route to take advantage of the inland river current and seasonal weather patterns. This allowed them to travel through Florida and the Gulf during the winter months, and the Great Lakes in the summer.

When asked about what inspired them to take on this adventure, the Morrises mentioned Rob’s previous experience working with boat builders and customers using Cummins engines. Over time, the Great Loop had been added to their bucket list, and they decided to make it a reality by planning and working towards their goal.

St. Louis Arch

Rob and Doris had always dreamed of embarking on a long boat trip, exploring new places and experiencing different adventures. When the opportunity finally presented itself, they eagerly set off on their one-plus year journey. Little did they know that they would encounter one particularly scary situation that would test their courage and resilience.

The couple left Atlantic City, New Jersey, on their way to New York City, a big travel day for them as it was a longer distance than they were used to. As they headed out into the open Atlantic Ocean, the weather forecast seemed favorable with gentle winds and small waves. However, as they sailed further the waves began to grow in size, with swells reaching 5 to 6 feet by late morning.

The boat was tossed around violently, with waves crashing over the bow. Rob and Doris found themselves on a nerve-wracking roller coaster ride that lasted for eight long hours. Everything in the boat was thrown around, and the rough seas made it a challenging and frightening experience.

Despite the terrifying ordeal, the couple also had many incredible moments during their adventure. They visited charming towns, witnessed stunning scenery and interacted with friendly locals. The sight of dolphins swimming alongside their boat, stingrays, turtles, eagles and even alligators added to the magic of their journey.

As the couple continued their journey along the Gulf of Mexico, they encountered many more funny and memorable moments. One day as they were passing through a narrow channel, a group of dolphins decided to swim alongside their boat, jumping and playing in the wake. It was a memorable sight to behold.

Another time they stopped at a small marina to restock supplies. As they were walking along the dock, a pelican swooped down and stole a sandwich right out of a close friend’s hand. They couldn’t help but laugh at the audacity of the bird as it flew away with its prize!

One evening they had anchored near a small island and decided to go for a swim. As they were splashing around in the water, a curious manatee popped its head up right next to them, causing them to squeal in delight. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to be so close to such a sweet and gentle giant.

The couple also recalled when they set out on their journey from Carrabelle, Florida, toward Clearwater Beach. They found themselves in the company of a dozen other boats, all waiting for the perfect weather window to cross the Gulf of Mexico. When the foggy conditions finally lifted after two days of thick mist, they were thrilled to have the opportunity to experience the open waters without any land in sight.

Sunset off Florida coast

With the fog behind them, they ventured further offshore, reveling in the vast expanse of the Gulf surrounding them. The sun began to set, casting a mesmerizing glow over the horizon, while the night sky sparkled with the brilliance of countless stars. It was a moment of pure magic, and they decided to drop anchor and savor the tranquility of the moment.

Just as they were basking in the beauty of the night, a bright spotlight suddenly illuminated their boat, accompanied by the authoritative voice of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent, requesting permission to board. Startled but compliant, they welcomed the masked officials onto their vessel as officers conducted a routine check to ensure their safety and legitimacy in the open waters.

Despite the initial shock of the unexpected visit, they soon realized the importance of their presence in the Gulf, where smuggling and human trafficking are prevalent concerns. The officers were professional and courteous, putting the adventurers’ minds at ease and reminding them of the realities of the maritime world.

In the end, the funny moments and unexpected encounters were what made their trip truly unforgettable. The Great Loop may not be for the faint of heart, but for those willing to take on the challenge, the rewards are endless.

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