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.

Gators, manatees and raptors.

o.w.w-27Crossing the state via the Okeechobee Waterway only took a number of days. Four to be exact. We were happy to have made the decision to go “through” the state versus “around” because it was simple of course. We like simple.  Waiting for the right “weather-window” was a non-issue…doesn’t really matter what the weather is like when your motor-boatin along a river. All you gotta do is stay in the middle. Louise just chugged along, dodging branches, plants, and a few reptiles.

Crossing the lake itself was fairly uneventful. Lake Okeechobee is massive, and shallow, with an odd channel that zig zags through the center. It felt like someone was playing a trick on us the way the channel twists over 25 miles of open water. The miles leading up to the lake were spectacular. Free of charge we experienced a wildlife safari. Manatees, alligators, and a bird sanctuary. Katie was in birding heaven, and I discovered my new career as an alligator hunter.

We arrived unharmed at Florida’s east coast. Which only called for a celebration, of course.  We dropped trow (anchored out) 1/2 a mile from the Atlantic ocean in a protected inlet by Jensen Beach. We opted to anchor just off a deserted stretch of property and then the three of us kayaked to shore. (have I mentioned we now have a kayak?!). Anyway, we had the whole back yard to ourselves where not only Reggie, but Katie as well left a present in the bushes. Next mission – cold beer. For those of you who don’t know, we have zero refrigeration on our boat. Yes we have a cooler. But we have given up all hope of buying ice to keep things cold. It soon became pointless while traveling in this kind of heat.  That being the case, we were on a mission for an ice cold beer. After several miles of walking, Siri found us a bar. The moment a frosty mug of Blue Moon was placed in front of us, we were complete.  And the Atlantic ocean has welcomed us.

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o.w.w-2Far more bittersweet than I imagined. I feel as if I’ve been waiting for the day to pull away from that dock ever since we arrived – December 16. I never would have imaged our departure would bring tears to peoples eyes, let alone my own. There are certainly people who will be missed, and a handful who will forever be in our lives. I can’t describe how quickly 4 months has passed… and I also can’t describe how right it feels to be aboard a boat which travels again, and does not sit at a marina to be a tease.

I smiled for several hours as Fort Myers Beach skyline became smaller and smaller on the horizon. I smiled for the friends made, relationships created, laughs shared, drunk spring breakers who topped off our savings account. I smiled for marina life, and most importantly for the people we impacted. A loooong stop along the way. We worked hard. We played hard. Time to move on.

Since we are great motor boaters and amateur sailors, we went right ahead and motor-boated north towards the Caloosahatchee River. This is an intra-coastal water way that takes you east, directly through the center of Florida with the focal point being Lake Okeechobee. It spits you out on Florida’s East coast near Port St Lucie. Let me share with you some descriptive words thus far…. Heat. Humidity. Stagnant air. Heat. Soggy. Dolphins that later turn into alligators. Heat. Moist. Locks. Bridges. Tropical foliage. Old men working at railroad bridges who just look at you when you call them on the radio and stall on opening the bridge just so they can look longer. Heat. Alligator eyes. Calm. Safe. Comfortable. Wild pigs. Swampy. Black water. Dripping sweat even when you do not move an inch. A kind of beautiful I have yet to experience? Disturbing descriptors, I know.

We bathed with buckets of black river water all day, dried off, drank water, sweat it all out, bathed, repeat. I don’t know how Floridians deal with this “heat” thing. Clearly we are yankees. Gonna have to suck it up I know, but I will tell you one thing; when I choose to settle somewhere…sometime in my life, it will not be anywhere in the South. Dropping the anchor again, we were the only boat in a tucked away anchorage. Pure bliss. Immediately I fell back into my routine with the guitar and a beer while the sun goes to sleep. I fell asleep myself in the cockpit and woke up in the middle of the night to rain on my face. I let it sprinkle on me for a while, but it eventually forced me back inside. No more than 200 miles of this already memorable Okeechobee Waterway. My trip advisor, Katie Smith has prepared us an itinerary designating our nightly stopovers. All of which include our new best friends who fall under the reptile category – alligators.