Completely Epic

Touring the first half of the Great Loop

October 2022 Feature Heather Magda Serrano

There are few trips as enticing to Great Lakes boaters as the Great Loop. The beautiful scenery and historic significance permeating throughout the route can’t help but draw boaters to it.

Elliott Maurice is one such boater that felt the call of this trip. He immigrated over from England five years ago and brought his boat, a Princess V48, with him. Having two homes here in the United States, one in Sandusky, Ohio, and one in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., he had the perfect starting and ending points to complete half of the Great Loop.

He got together a group of about 10 friends, all Lake Erie boaters, and they started in Miami last year in May, ran the boat up the eastern seaboard, then came in through Chesapeake and Norfolk, Va., into Annapolis, Md. From there they took the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal to Atlantic City, N.J., then to New York, N.Y. Then they went up the Hudson followed by the Erie Canal into Lake Erie and across Lake Erie.

The trip took two months and was about two and a half thousand miles altogether. While there were a few hiccups, Elliott and his friends had a wonderful experience and they even managed to raise $10,000 for the Ohio based Project Noelle charity along the way.

Exploring The Loop

When Elliott and his group traveled along the Great Loop last year, they made sure to savor the different destinations along the way. “We kind of did a boys’ trip with a nice tour and stopped at some fantastic places,” described Elliott.

They stopped in Charleston, S.C.; Norfolk, Va.; Annapolis, Md.; Atlantic City, N.J.; and then also New York, N.Y., for a few nights. In addition, they spent one night around the Hudson Heritage Museum and then stopped just before Albany, N.Y., prior to carving their way through the Erie Canal.

From there, they got held up because there were quite a few problems at the Erie Canal. For starters, it didn’t have enough water in it, so they had to leave the boat for three weeks, causing the trip which was originally planned to span five weeks to end up taking two months.

However, there were other problems in the Erie Canal as well. They ran over a submerged tree at one point and then they got rammed by another boat in one of the locks. When they were hit, Elliott’s boat took over $40,000 worth of damage.

“It turned out okay though because my boat is being completely repainted locally at the moment which is going to make it look like new,” shared Elliott.

Witnessing History

Despite some of the setbacks they experienced, Elliott and his friends had a marvelous time. Elliott was particularly drawn to the history embedded in the Great Loop.

It’s epic and absolutely amazing because the waterways were how everything was moved around hundreds of years ago,” he explained. “That route from Charleston all the way down from New York were the U.S. trade routes. It’s how everything got moved around from the seventeenth century onwards.”

He enjoys seeing how everything evolved historically, especially with how the canals and waterways connect. Elliott described these waterways as a vision to connect the Midwest and allow industrial cargo to be transported across the country.

“It’s a lot of fascinating stuff and it’s a way of seeing America from a different perspective,” added Elliott.

Inviting The Challenge

He also enjoyed the challenge that traveling the Great Loop presented. With how modern navigation systems work, the program will automatically plot if you allow it using your sonar tracks and uploading to the navigation system which will keep changing charts. So keeping charts updated is critical.

There were certain parts where the charts were completely wrong because no one goes there,” explained Elliott. “So we were navigating waterways which showed up on the charts as on land.”

Plus, when you’re on a boat, you can only use the resources you have to hand, seeing that a boat is only so big and you can only carry so much fuel and supplies which Elliott sees as another fun challenge.

“Certainly doing the eastern seaboard and the Erie Canal and Lake Erie, other than an iceberg, there isn’t really too much in the boating world out there that can challenge you because you have everything,” laughed Elliott. “You have weather, rivers, locks, tides, lack of chart information and very difficult conditions. It’s a great challenge.”

Hungering For More

Now that Elliott has successfully completed the first half of the Great Loop he plans on doing the second half sometime in the future. However, he’s not in too much of a rush right now because of the high fuel prices. Fuel-wise the trip cost him about $14,000, with the whole trip racking up to about $30,000 all in all, so it’s not exactly a cheap trip.

However, Elliott plans to do a Great Lakes tour this summer. He’s going to take his boat from Lake Erie up to Thunder Bay in Lake Superior, go down Lake Michigan, visit Chicago, then loop around back to Lake Erie.

“Now that I’ve got the boat in the Midwest, I’d like to see some more of it,” noted Elliott. “The Great Lakes are huge and there’s a lot to see, plus Canada’s open as well.”

A Lifelong Passion

Elliott has cultivated his passion for boating since he was eight-years-old when he started sailing on a reservoir in London. Born on the south coast of England, he then moved to the west coast where he was doing well enough in business to buy his first boat, a 28-foot motor cruiser, at the age of 24.

He has a plenty of friends that love boating and he was fortunate enough to sail the seven Grenadines in the Caribbean on a big yacht when he was 24. Then he had a powerboat on the south coast of England for about four or five years, then a 40-foot sports cruiser which he had in Spain for eight years.

He also had a go-fast boat Naples, Fla., for five years. Then he moved over here to the United States with his current Princess V48. His wife also has a small go-fast boat she keeps on Lake Erie, and Elliot recently just ordered another boat to keep down in Florida.

His love for boating is apparent in his long history in boating. “There are so many different facets to boating, but socially it’s a complete leveler,” observed Elliott. “There isn’t snobbery, and boat people tend to be not so much successful in life because they can afford a boat, but successful in life because they understand how to get past challenges.”

Elliott doesn’t describe boating as a hobby, but as a passion. He mentioned that with how expensive they can be, you have to love it or you’re probably going to find yourself very unhappy in the end.

Boating For A Cause

As aforementioned, Elliott, his co-skipper Alan Cole a great lakes veteran boater with over 60 years of experience and his friends that went on the Great Loop trip were able to raise a substantial sum of money for a local charity, Project Noelle. This charity raises money for children who’ve suffered in relation to the opioid epidemic.

They raised about $10,000 and for the next trip, Elliott plans on doing the same. In this way, not only is he traveling and pursuing his passion of boating around the Great Lakes, but he is doing it for a greater cause.

With his track record, it’s clear that Elliott is far from done when it comes to boating adventures. With a successful tour of the first half of the Great Loop under his belt, he’s keenly looking forward to touring more of the Great Lakes this summer and hopefully completing the rest of the Great Loop in the future.

 

Follow Elliott in his adventures on his YouTube channel “British Boat Guy,” and consider offering a donation to Project Noelle at www.projectnoelle.com.

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