Answering the most common questions we were asked during the Great Loop …

Who was the captain?

Can’t two women both captain a boat? Damnit.

Did you have captains license’s ?

Katie completed her captains license after we returned from the Great Loop. Neither of us held a license for the duration of the trip.

Did you grow up sailing? 

We both grew up with dads directing us around sailboats, “trim that line” or “get out of the way” or “watch your head”…. never had we ever had to make any decisions as captains before. Not going to lie, we left knowing very little. We had never anchored, sailed in strong winds, been through a lock, talked to barges, dealt with currents/tides, and I had docked a boat maybe 5 times.

Where did you get this wild idea?

My Dad took this trip in the 70’s. It was his idea.

What did your parents think about all of this?

Our fathers’ vicariously lived through us for two years. They looked forward to hearing all of our mishaps, and classic mistakes. They LOVED it. And our Mothers? My mother didn’t acually believe that I was ever  leaving in the first place, until about two weeks before departing she realized it wasn’t a joke anymore. Suddenly she had 1000 questions. It was great, but now, I don’t surprise her with anything that comes out of my mouth.  Katie’s mother was thrilled that it meant she would be moving back to Michigan while we fixed up Louise for a summer. She was fully on board as our “safety sponsor”.

Are you a couple?

No. We have been best friends since we were little girls. They do say “One year living on a boat together, is equal to seven years of marriage”  So I pretty much know what it’s like to be in a sexless/non-intimate marriage with Katie Smith. We both live heterosexual lives.

What happened when you argued? 

Nothing really. There are things we disagreed on. We proved each other right and then wrong time and again. What we learned, is that when one of us had a gut feeling about something, go with that persons gut. They are always the right one, and what you think isn’t always right There was no tif that we didn’t laugh about the next day, if not the following hour. Bottom line is we share an extremely small space. There is not enough room in that space to argue. Were women. We talk about EVERYTHING.

Where did you find your boat?

Crowley’s Yacht Yard, in Chicago. It was listed for $6000. We offered $3500. They accepted.

Did you name “Louise” or was that her original name?

Yes. We named her “Louise”. Louise is a family name, and a lovely one isn’t it? Her original name translated to “Lady’s Gold” in French… we decided it wasn’t the smartest idea for two ladies to be traveling around advertising our gold, ya know? And yes we held a proper re-naming ceremony.

How are you funding your adventure?

We were broke!  Between cleaning out the savings and waitressing money we were able to fix up the boat and take off. We made it to Florida with what we had left and stopped to find more restaurant work. We did this three times over the course of two years. When our bank accounts showed less money than credit card bills, it was time to park.

How long did it take you to prepare to hit the road?

A couple months of joking… turned into emails and phone calls…turned into losing sleep over the idea… turned into researching… boat shopping…and eventually  boat purchasing. At that point I moved home from Colorado, Katie moved home from California…and we spent the summer preparing Louise for departure. It was almost one year from jokes to reality.

What happened when there was bad weather?

Well, our travels depended 100% on the weather. We moved accordingly, and made sure to always be in a safe anchorage, or in a marina when necessary. Every once in a while we got stuck in something bad, and there is nothing you can do about it besides hunker down and pee in the cockpit.

What about pirates?

What about the sex offender who lives next door to you? Just kidding. But you just can’t think like that. The streets of America are for more dangerous than it’s waterways. If pirates were the case, I would have probably tried to make them my friends. Katie would have made sure they saw her very, very, very scary dog. And then Reggie would have stared them down and that would be the end of it. You can’t let something like pirates keep you from embarking on a sailing adventure. There isn’t enough room on boats for pessimism.

Aren’t you scared?

Yeah. Sometimes. Both us of start nervously eating when there is a lot of lightning.

What kind of amenities did you have?

We had… an alcohol stove that tries to light our GPS on fire. An Ice box, that we use as storage. A propane grill. Hand pump sink with an 18 gallon water tank. A questionable toilet. A bed thats V-shaped. Two dim cabin lights. One awesome battery operated lantern. 12 volt electric system while on the move, 110 volt system while plugged into shore power. A fan from the trucker aisle in Walmart. Limited internet, and a spare set of clean sheets.

How did you watch TV?

We didn’t, silly. But we did watch the same movie’s over and over again. At one point the only movie we had aboard was “Charlie Wilson’s War”. That wasn’t very fun.

Did you have a microwave?

You mean a science oven? No, no.

Did you fish for your food?

We did. Once. We caught a black-fin tuna while trolling across the Gulf Stream. Besides that, were not very good at it. Well Katie is actually a good fisher-woman. I’m not.

What did you eat?

A lot of soup. Chile. Top Ramen. Beans. Anything from a can. Cereal with boxed milk. Cookies. Trail Mix. Bananas. Avocados. Apples. Peanut butter and jelly. Warm Budweiser.

What did Reggie eat?

Dog food.

Where did you sleep on the boat?

In the V-berth. With tape down the middle.

Where did Reggie go to the bathroom?

While cruising, Katie rowed him to shore and let him run around every single chance we got. We also revolved our daily travels around making sure we could get Reg to land. He refused not go to the bathroom on the boat. We tried…literally everything.

Are you going to write a book?

I’d consider it if there were enough people on this planet to convince me.

What did you miss the most about living on land?

Katie – “Looking at other people besides Jessie.”

Jessie – “Listening to other people talk besides Katie”

What was your favorite part about living aboard? 

Katie –  “I can bring my house anywhere I want”

Jessie – “The like-minded, wild people we meet. A life less cluttered. Focusing on nothing but how to get from point A to point B.”


6 thoughts on “FAQ

  1. Hey Jessica , met you in the bean earlier today (power bagel;). If you and Katie are bored, me, will, and some locals are kitesurfing just outside of town (can kind of see us from the bean). Probably doing dinner & beers somewhere after that if you want to track us down! 252-571-0712!
    Good luck on the rest of your trip if we don’t see you!


  2. Fun to find your blog after seeing your article in women’s adventure mag this summer. So great what you guys are doing, and have to say I loved both your answers to what’s the best part of living on a boat—those are pretty much exactly my answers, still, after 8 years of cruising 🙂 Keep it up!

  3. Your story is amazing! Congratulations! I work at Bay Ridge Retirement Community in Traverse City and my residents and I would love to have you present at our Speaker Series Luncheon. Would you be interested? Our next available date is Monday, May 11, 2015 at 12:30pm. You would be our guests for lunch. After lunch, you have the opportunity to share your story. Please call or email if this interests you at all. We have dates open each month after May if the May date does not work. Please let me know if this is something you would consider doing. Thank you so much. Geri Valentine, 995-9385

  4. Love to read your story and see your pictures. Your thoughts on freedom, Materialism and adventure especially refreshing. I would just like to take the opportunity to wish you all the best for the future – and yes, I think that you should definitely write a book. About the Circle route – which means little to me as I live in England – and about the people you meet, your thoughts on life, what drives you both and how it is shaping your world view. Good luck – its a good start to the day reading your blog!

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