The Great Loop or bust

GF and my plan to sell out and do the Great Loop has limped into a holding pattern or maybe even limbo.  For those not in the know, The Great Loop is a 6,000 mile trip from your home port up the Atlantic coast through canals into the great lakes then down the Illinois, TennTom waterway into the gulf and around Florida. Where you are cruising is season dependent. The Gulf and off of Florida is winter to avoid hurricane season. The Atlantic coast is spring. The Great Lakes area is summer and the TennTom is fall
We had looked at this (or at least I had) as the last great adventure of my life. A chance to create some memories for my declining years and memories for my bride who will, God willing, outlive me by an estimated 30 years. Besides, since GF will sell Rabbit Run after I pass from this mortal coil, why not sell now and enjoy a share of it. No need leaving GF a pot of money to spend on her next husband.
Our plan had been to buy now, move on the boat in the spring of 2019 on the St Johns river in Florida for a year of shakedown and training. Lamont who lives in Jacksonville was to have been GF and my guru. In the spring of 2020, we would move north on the intracoastal with the rest of the fleet of 2020 on the loop
What has brought our trip to a halt is a series of events. But one of the real killers was that the Corp of Engineers plan to shut down a series of locks near Chicago from July to the end of October of 2020 for much need maintenance.
There is no work around. If there were delays, you either had to go on the hard or make a mad impossible dash for the Atlantic. Even without delays, locks shut down in anticipation of the Freeze up.
You can’t, well, it’s really not a good thing to try and run it backwards. Heavy downstream flows means a lot more fuel used and a lot of trash heading south to dodge at the thaw.
To buy now would add a minimum of 10K to our plans in insurance and dock fees. Plus our miscellaneous expenses.
There has also been another happening that has intruded, hurricanes! Now we have to compete with insurance checks on a decreased number of available boats with a increased insurance cost looking to dock at a decreased number of marinas without damage

We have looked at a full flotilla of 36 to 40 foot trawlers over the last year. Looking back, there were one or two we should have purchased. A Prairie comes to mind as well as a Hatteras .
Our “Dream Boat” is a 36 – 40 foot full displacement trawler, aft cabin, single engine, 150 hp or less Ford Lehman with a bow thruster and maybe with a sundeck . It needs to be a shallow draft of 4′ or less. Bridge clearance has to be under 19 feet to clear a bridge in Chicago that has no workaround. With a 19′ 2” clearance you have to turn around and go back. There is no work around here. The Ford Lehman is practically indestructible as long as it is properly maintained.
The price we are willing to pay is based on how much I have to spend after the purchase. Do I have to buy a flybridge enclosure with eizenglass that would run up to 10K? Do I have to update the electronics up to about $10k? Bottom paint $4k? Deck paint? Dinghy and motor?

My preference is new fuel tanks. The price/year range I’m looking at is on the upper side of the life span of the “black iron” original tanks. When they ( most were Taiwanese constructed) were built absolutely no thought was put into replacing fuel tanks, motors or generators. The boat was more or less built around the engine room
GF and I liked the layout of the Marine Trader and especially the Kha Shing’s sundeck. The Kha Shing had one fault in my mind, volvo motors thus earning GF and my nickname Ka Ching!. I saw only one listed with a different motor and it sold within days of me noticing the listing.
The Marine Traders have a list of problems that are said to be “the usual MT issues”. Leaking windows leading to wood rot far from the windows. Soft fuel tanks that would suddenly leak. Cored decks that would delaminate and or have soft spots.
But they all had flaws, fatal ones such as Volvo motors, soft decks that felt like trampolines, items that were in storage but we were assured that were in excellent condition, no holding tank for waste but lectra scan for immediate discharge overboard but banned in some areas.
They needed to much work or they needed to much spent on them. Canvas and eizenglass closures that cost up to 10k. New electronics package could total up to 10k. Dinghy and motor 6k or better. Bottom jobs with the paint running 275 a gallon could cost $5k+. Deck paint with a similar price
They were to far from where we wanted to home port

So, what do we do? Put it off for a year, praying that things ease up? I’m 66 now and the time I have left for such a undertaking is rapidly shrinking.
Has the last great adventure of my life ended with a whimper?

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