Caryn and Paul Frink helped me tremendously during the research phase of my third book. They hosted me on their Nordic Tug and answered hundreds of questions. Their answers and suggestions helped shape the story of West of Famous into a suspenseful tale that involves kidnappers, boats, and Loopers.

THE RENDEZVOUS

They invited me to come sign books on their boat at the AGCLA “Looper” Rendezvous in Norfolk, Virginia. They allowed me to use their
names and the name of their boat—SEEKER—in the book. But a book signing on a boat?
It sounded fun.

Kimberly Russo is the Director of America’s Great Loop Cruiser’s Association.

Kimberly Russo, Director of the America’s Great Loop Cruiser’s Association (AGCLA), had also answered research questions. After she
read the book she said, “I would say that the Loopers depicted in West of Famous were very true-to-life.  Besides being friendly, most Loopers are super helpful and are generally willing to assist others they meet along the
way. It’s a pretty close-knit community so they look out for each other and lend a helping hand whenever they can.”

The nickname Looper comes from the path the boats take. They loop around the eastern U.S. by cruising up the eastern coast, traveling in rivers and canals and lakes inland and then down rivers and canals and waterways to the Gulf of Mexico. They tend to winter along the southern coastline and Florida.

THE CRAWL

They live on boats of many kinds. The smallest was a personal watercraft.

Sailboats and tugboats dominated the marina. Each afternoon at the Rendezvous, they held a crawl. Hosts allowed other Loopers and Loopers-to-be to crawl through their homes. The variety of floor plans and sizes of the boats amazed me. People looking for boats probably became overwhelmed.

Norfolk, Virginia adopted the mermaid as its signature icon. Mermaids showed up in metal, wood, ceramic, and glass.

Most of the Loopers I met lived full-time on their boats. Some owned “dirt” homes and cruised seasonally. The Rendezvous brought together seasoned Loopers, new Loopers, and hopefuls to learn about weather, route
planning, marine electronics, and the joys of using Amazon Prime.

Two families with young children gave a seminar on how they manage schooling, doctor’s appointments, and other issues. I’d have to say I was shocked to see a blind man with a guide dog get off a boat. He and his wife are Loopers.

After a morning and afternoon of workshops and seminars, the Loopers enjoyed the crawls at the Westside Marina in Norfolk and Tidewater Yacht Marina across the river in Portsmouth. Caryn and Paul docked Seeker at the Westside Marina.

During a crowded time on Seeker, I ended up telling guests about the features of the 37-foot Nordic Tug and Caryn talked about my book. Caryn also managed to get my 30-second book trailer to loop on her laptop. Of course, a Looper knows how to loop…

DOCKTAILS

What a wonderful few days! Caryn and Paul hosted me and introduced me to sunsets on the fly-bridge over ‘docktails.’ I’d forgotten how wonderful it felt to be rocked to sleep on a boat. Thank you again, Caryn and Paul, for your friendship!

Thank you, Greg and Sue, for the champagne and the tour of Lucky Me. Cheers to the anchoring experts, Scott and Karen DeVoll.

Lucky Me is owned by Greg Costa and Susan Costa Blais.

If you want to know about the blind Looper see www.greatloop.org and for a year in the life of a Looper, read Caryn’s blog https://intheloop365.wordpress.com. You can read more about Caryn and Paul’s help in the research stage here: Call Me Trawler Trash.

The next AGCLA gathering is the Fall Rendezvous at Joe Wheeler State Park on the Tennessee River in northwest Alabama, October 14-19. To all the Loopers, happy adventures!