“A Loopy Adventure” By Heather Steinberger
“The Whole Nine Yards” 1 of 6 articles
WOMENS ADVENTURE MAGAZINE – SUMMER 2014
“Water women//Mountain Men”
“KATIE, JESSIE, AND THE LOVELY LOUISE“
“Besides following in my father’s footsteps, I am still trying to comprehend how we got here. Just my best friend and me, attempting to stay warm. The cool, crisp air keeps us moving although we are restricted to 27 feet of space. Reggie (Katie’s pup) and Bird (my kitten) feel the brisk air through their fur coats, and snuggle as closely as possible to our warm bodies. These rivers are our life now. We continue to move south, traveling with the current. Every morning we awake with the sun to a new scene from a postcard. Time no longer matters. In fact, nothing seems to matter anymore. Ahead of us lie hundreds of miles as we motor down America’s winding waterways. I am convinced there is no better way to see this country. Middle America has impressed us with beauty, peacefulness, kindness and in return we are nothing but grateful. A path less traveled. A life more simple. A journey, that if we live to talk about, will become the greatest story a girl could ever tell.”
Jessie Zevalkink and Katie Smith, both 24, left their hometown of Northport, Michigan, on September 4, 2012, aboard their Cal 27, Louise, to complete The Great Loop. They spent two months cruising down America’s inland waterways—the Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio, Cumberland, Tennessee, and Tombigbee rivers—and wintered in Fort Myers Beach, Florida. This spring, they crossed Florida on the Ockechobee Waterway, turned south for Miami, and sailed to the Bahamas where they spent several months cruising. Louise is now on the hard for hurricane season, but the girls have plans to complete The Loop next year.
The fiberglass hull of the sailboat Louise knifes through the water as her crew members, Katie Smith and Jessie Zevalkink, both 24, sit quietly on deck, tossing jokes to each other across the wind as their dog, Reggie, naps at their feet. It’s a pristine, unbroken moment on the ocean—the kind Smith and Zevalkink have come to savor. A cracked freeze plug, a broken tiller, a split rudder, leaky windows—the next repair could already be looming, but it’s these moments that make their journey spiritually viable.
Smith and Zevalkink are in the midst of sailing America’s Great Loop, a water route through river systems and open ocean that runs from Lake Michigan down the Illinois and Mississippi rivers, around the tip of Florida, up the East Coast, and winds back into the Great Lakes area. Ten months into the trip and the crew of Louise has completed half of the Great Loop, pausing for a quick break Stateside after a jaunt in the Bahamas. That means Internet access, which is how we caught up with Zevalkink, who didn’t hesitate to fill us in on the finer (and not so fine) points of life aboard Louise. READ MORE..“MEET TWO GREAT LAKES WOMEN, SAILING THE GREAT LOOP”
EXPEDITION PORTAL.COM Jan 9, 2013
If you could’t tell, Katie and Jessie are on a boat—and they’ve been on a boat for quite a while. They left earlier this year from Grand Haven, Michigan, fresh out of college with the intention of completing the great loop, basically a water-based circumnavigation of the entire Midwest and East Coast of the United States. They’re a great example of throwing caution to the wind and getting out there to see the world.
We’ve been working with Jessie, a passionate photographer, to bring you the best images of their journey so far, be sure to check it out below.