NEW!!! “LOUISE” T SHIRTS, by Marushka Hand Prints.  For those of you who have suggested that we have t-shirts… we finally got around to it, and thanks to all of those who encouraged the idea!

A Smith, family owned and operated screen printing company based out of Grand Haven Michigan, got hard to work hand printing each shirt. If you contribute $40.00 to Katie and Jessie on a Boat, you will receive this superb t-shirt!!! Who doesn’t need a shirt, with two chicks on their chest, and a boat on their back? Representing the art of cruising and simplicity, combined with hard work and gratitude. If you donate at least $40.00 to helping us complete America’s Great Loop, not only will you have a shirt to change your oil in, but you will be supporting the mission of two young women, working to prove a pretty simple point. The point being… don’t let fear get in the way of moving forward with your own dreams. Don’t let yourself get stuck. And if you do get stuck, I hope it is on the ground in the new boat you just took off on.

DSC_0764 DSC_0763Contributions or no contributions, we appreciate everyone who keeps up with our story . This week, Katie and I start moving north up the East Coast. We have a 4 month trip ahead of us as we travel back to the Great Lakes. What will happen in these 4 months… I do not know. The only thing predictable in the life of Katie and Jessie is that, no matter what, things are going to go wrong. Disaster amidst the wanderlust. Ye haw. THANK YOU EVERYONE. We are so grateful for the ongoing encouragement, enthusiasm, guidance, and support.

Northport to Muskegon

The one and only Mr. Wizard decided to wake up before noon to see us off at the Northport marina. Look, he even has a smile on his face.

Happy girls. Excited girls. Bittersweet day.

Leaving Northport harbor on a gloomy morning, Ben and Tucker got the pleasure of being the first passengers on our adventure. The four of us Sailed from Northport to Muskegon together. For three days they were well behaved and actually helpful. We eventually referred to them as our “auto-pilot” while they would take turns at the helm well we took naps below.

Mr. Ben Schmuck at the Leland Harbor

The boys caught bass in Northport, and prepared us a delicious supper after sailing to Leland. Thanks boys. We miss our chefs.

Morning cup of joe before heading to Manistee, MI

We left Leland as the sun came up. When we got out on the lake and saw very scary weather ahead. Listening to the weather report was also unpleasant, but we knew we had a long day ahead and decided to get out the rain gear and tough it out.

The cruise to Manistee began slightly rough, wind was blowing hard on the nose the entire day, and waves splashing over the bow all morning. Somehow we managed to avoid rain.

The weather kept getting better and better throughout the day. By the time we made it to our destination the wind had died and the sun was shining. We arrived in Manistee just before nightfall after the marina was already closed. We tied Louise up anyways, and there was Jimmy Z and Dave Molesta awaiting our arrival to take us out for dinner and beers!

Manistee to Muskgeon was our last leg, and a truly wonderful day. We were in a little bit of a time crunch considering we had an appointment to un-step our mast the next morning at Torresen Marine. We motor-sailed all day and made it in perfect time. Above you can see that Ben is playing with our new friend, a pretty little birdy that landed on Louise and hung out with us for 3 hours. We hoped little birdy would hitchhike on Louise all the way to the ocean.


There are so many people that have been involved in this process, and a few in-particular that truly made this trip possible. It sounds crazy but we both agree that neither of us have had this much support on any decision we have made in our lives this far. For some reason there has been more willingness to help, excitement, hospitality, donations, and love from our families and friends than either of us could have ever imagined!

We have had so many Moms & Dads all summer, this goes out to you. You have no idea how grateful we are for all your help.

“THE DADS” Thanks for trusting us, believing in us, and making us tough.

  •  Jimmy Zevalkink AKA “Mr. Wizard” The man who fixes all things
  •  Randy Smith AKA “Kiddo” The inventor of the Sun-Beak
  •  Tari Smith AKA “Uncle Bouncy” The  guy who laughs so hard that no noise comes out, his whole self just bounces up and down
  •  Dave Molesta AKA “Felix” The man who argues with Mr. Wizard

“THE MOMS” Thank you Moms for not thinking we are crazy, for not caring if we don’t finish college, for cooking us delicious meals, and making sure that we have appropriate foul weather and safety gear.

  •  Ellen Pawlack
  • Claire Bancino
  • Karen Smith
  • Connie Molesta

Lets not forget Ann Rundle, the one who found Louise in the first place, and for being so supportive of our adventure. Our sisters, Maggie and Alex, and “the boys”, Ben and Tucker. Thanks for being so happy for us.

Oh and Michele’s Rescue for our precious new family member Bird the kitten.

Today was our first day on the river and we owe some HUGE thank yous, to Grant Crowly of Crowley’s Yacht Yard for hooking us up with John Buckley at the Chicago Yacht Yard, Thanks for everything!! To the Cope family, our new friend’s & fellow Loopers!


I am writing this to clear up some questions that we are constantly being asked.

“Isn’t the Mississippi River shut down?”

“Wow… I hear the water is really low, are you sure you don’t want to wait till next year?”

“Have you ever seen the movie Deliverance?”

HAHAH. YES – a portion of the southern Mississippi river was closed because the water was too low for commercial tugs and barges. YES – we did choose a year of significantly low water levels to take this trip. YES – we will at one point run aground, it happens to every boater. YES – we will figure out how to get un-stuck after running aground, because there is no other option. YES – marinas and anchorages have lower than average depths, and will most likely be the deciding factor of where we can, and can not stay each night. NO – I have not seen the movie “Deliverance” and refuse to watch it because otherwise I will not sleep.

I have not found a single forum, article, or website suggesting that “The Great Loop” can not be accomplished this year because of the drought. We are planning for the worst, hoping for the best.

life is pretty cool

Time is going by unbelievably fast. Not much longer until we actually sail away. I wouldn’t even know where to start if you asked me what work we have done to the boat thus far. Louise has transformed from a 1979 blistered, rusty, moldy, smelly ole vessel, to a restored and beautiful new home. I wish there were better “before” photos, but at least you will now have a better taste of what she looks like after the fact.

Drawers of goodies. Screws, nuts/bolts, nails, pins/rings, flashlights, batteries, velcro, lighters, knives, Jimmy’s cigarettes?

An Interchangeable dining room, living room, office, or guest bedroom if you come to visit.Sunsets from our living room.

Do not plan on any privacy. It does not exist.

Wall decor to be continued…

These will be fun in muddy rivers.

Thank you Katie for our precious bedding.

Many people questioned our sleeping arrangement, but we fit perfectly in there. It all seems so much larger now that it doesn’t look like hell. Cozy.

Bed-time reading out loud activities.

Spider webs and spinnaker line. All-though we do not currently own a spinnaker.

You know that two females own a boat when there are floral patterned cushions.

Final product.

If you read the last post, and are curious about the lovely hole that was put in the boat- it is fixed. The next day Jimmy and I went out with a crazy epoxy concoction and fiber glass material, patched it right up. Good as new. The toilet is also fixed. The pump was broken and neglected to suck in lake water to do its “flushing.” It is insane to me how simple it is for that man to fix broken things. I have learned more in the last couple months than I ever have in any classroom.

For any of you boaters out there, you know the how this goes. As soon as you fix one thing, something else breaks. It is an endless cycle of frustration and satisfaction. The positive side to purchasing an older boat that needed a lot of TLC, is that we will leave for this trip knowing how to fix a hell of a lot more, than if we were to purchase a boat that needed little fixing. By the end of this adventure, Katie and I will be mechanics, plumbers, electricians, and possibly sailors.


1 step forward, 2 steps back

Today started off just like any other, had the potential to be a productive day.

We were given a pretty little 4 stroke engine for our dinghy. (which is really exciting, no more rowing!)  Well this morning we were just about to hop into the dinghy after getting the engine attached & started, when it suddenly switched into gear, taking off in circles around Jessie damn near taking off her feet, what we didn’t know was that this was only the beginning of the days mishaps. The engine shut off half way out, so we ended up rowing anyway. Once we finally made it out to our lovely Louise the dinghy deflated to the point where we almost lost the engine all together.

Jimmy Z came out to help with the electrical stuff, we were tied up to the Molesta’s boat to use their generator on a prefectly calm day. 2 hours later some ass hole flies by making some hefty waves, crashing our boat into the Molesta’s, resulting in the new hole in our haul (see video below)

Later Jessie and Jimmy were temporarily using gorilla tape to patch the new hole in our boat. Jessie had strips of gorilla tape hanging down from the hatch. When I climbed down the stairs into the boat a few minutes later, I neglected to see these strips of tape and walked right into her boobie trap. I lost some hair.

Next, the toilet. It’s about time to go in for the night waves are picking up and its getting dark…. not so fast. I realized the pump that flushes the toilet was not working properly… In fact not “flushing” at all. After consulting with Jessie, we decided it was a Jimmy-job. Turns out that it was not a task that could be done with the toilet attached, so Jimmy began to remove the entire toilet. He instructed us to detach all of the hoses, resulting in the contents of our holding tank in places we really didn’t want it.

Somehow we found a way to laugh through today’s frustration, despite all of the mishaps, we learned a lot that we will take with us from here on out….

New captain’s chair?

Reggie is over it and we havn’t even left yet.

26 hours. Muskegon to Northport.

 We had to transport the boat from Muskegon MI, up to Northport MI, Uncle Tari and Randy volunteered to sail north with us. Louise is now on a mooring ball in front of Jimmy Z’s house in Northport. We left at 11:30 Monday, sailed 26 hours straight and made it to Northport at 3pm the next day. The weather was perfect, and wind in our favor the entire trip. With no working instruments (depth sounder, knot indicator, fuel gauge, or engine temp) you could say the trip was almost too good to be true.

Randy invented a “Sun Beak” along the way, to protect his nose form the sun. Brilliant.

Sailing into the sunset, trying to avoid freighters.

If only Sun Bum and Kaboom would sponsor us.

Final stretch, arriving in Northport

Northport bay, Louise’s new home.


Jessie began her day being hoisted up the bosun’s chair to the very top of the mast to pull the halyard back down.

Sunday, August 5th was such an amazing day. All of our family was together working on Louise. Jimmy, Randy, Ellen, the Alex’s, Roxie, Reggie,  Steve & Linda Williams, all came up to Torresen Marina where we had Louise docked. In a matter of hours we got so much work done. Louise was purchased May 4th, and it took until Sunday, Aug 5th to actually sail her. We are extremely happy girls, it was a huge relief and accomplishment that it sailed, and nothing broke. Thank you everyone for helping, and just now realizing that we are going to make this happen!

Jessie, Jimmy, & the Alex’s

Bad luck to cut hair while living at sea.

Katie’s mom, Ellen slowing scraping 5200 caulk off our deck. Thank you Ellen.

First sail since we have owned her. Happy.

In the middle of the Pacific ocean.

Christening Louise

We have officially christened our sailboat with a new name. Her name is Louise. Isn’t it lovely? Louise is a name that runs in both of our families – Meaningful, short, sweet, and simple. The original name of the sailboat is never to be spoken of again, so don’t ask what it was. It’s bad luck. 

When you re-name a vessel you must have a “de-naming” ceremony, followed by a “re-naming” ceremony. Beginning by invoking the name of the ruler of the deep as followed;

“Oh mighty and great ruler of the seas and oceans, to whom all ships and we who venture upon your vast domain are required to pay homage, implore you in your graciousness to expunge for all time from your records and recollection the name (not to be written ever again) which has ceased to be an entity in your kingdom. As proof thereof, we submit this ingot bearing her name to be corrupted through your powers and forever be purged from the sea. (At this point, the prepared metal tag is dropped from the bow of the boat into the sea.)”

“In grateful acknowledgment of your munificence and dispensation, we offer these libations to your majesty and your court. (Pour at least half of the bottle of Champagne into the sea from East to West. The remainder may be passed among your guests.”

Re-naming the vessel begins with calling to Poseidon;

“Oh mighty and great ruler of the seas and oceans, to whom all ships and we who venture upon your vast domain are required to pay homage, implore you in your graciousness to take unto your records and recollection this worthy vessel hereafter and for all time known as (LOUISE), guarding her with your mighty arm and trident and ensuring her of safe and rapid passage throughout her journeys within your realm.”

“In appreciation of your munificence, dispensation and in honor of your greatness, we offer these libations to your majesty and your court. (At this point, one bottle of Champagne, less one glass for the master and one glass for the mate are poured into the sea from West to East.)”

The final step to re-naming is to appease the god’s of the wind. This assures you smooth seas and fair winds. 

Oh mighty rulers of the winds, through whose power our frail vessels traverse the wild and faceless deep, we implore you to grant this worthy vessel (LOUISE) the benefits and pleasures of your bounty, ensuring us of your gentle ministration according to our needs.(Facing north, pour a generous libation of Champagne into a Champagne flute and fling to the North as you intone:) Great Boreas, exalted ruler of the North Wind, grant us permission to use your mighty powers in the pursuit of our lawful endeavors, ever sparing us the overwhelming scourge of your frigid breath.(Facing west, pour the same amount of Champagne and fling to the West while intoning:)  Great Zephyrus, exalted ruler of the West Wind, grant us permission to use your mighty powers in the pursuit of our lawful endeavors, ever sparing us the overwhelming scourge of your wild breath.(Facing east, repeat and fling to the East.) Great Eurus, exalted ruler of the East Wind, grant us permission to use your mighty powers in the pursuit of our lawful endeavors, ever sparing us the overwhelming scourge of your mighty breath.

(Facing south, repeat, flinging to the South.) Great Notus, exalted ruler of the South Wind, grant us permission to use your mighty powers in the pursuit of our lawful endeavors, ever sparing us the overwhelming scourge of your scalding breath.


Well, we made the decision that if we are going to live on a boat, we best become good swimmers. A couple years ago, we ambitiously decided that we would try to swim to Gull Island from downtown Northport. It is a 5 mile swim. We failed. This summer we decided to try another “long distance” swim of 2 1/2 miles from downtown Northport, to “The Point” 2 1/2 hours later, we were successful.