State/National/WorldNews Briefs

Boaters share their experiences cruising the Great Loop

DECATUR, Alabama (AP) ― A Huntsville couple is among several Alabama boaters who have embarked on the more than 6,000-mile voyage through the so-called Great Loop.

The waterway stretches from the Florida Keys to Canada, and connects rivers with the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.

Alabama boaters who cruise the loop recently met up at a park in Rogersville to share their experiences during the America’s Great Loop Cruisers Association fall rendezvous, The Decatur Daily reported. The five-day meetings included sessions about various marinas along the loop and advice from experienced loopers.

Huntsville couple Liz and Bob Staggs set sail in their 34-foot long, 17-foot wide catamaran from Joe Wheeler State Park in 2006 and spent a year traveling the Great Loop.

“We thought we had a rich and full life before – and we did. We were very active in our community, but doing the Great Loop – it was a life-changer,” Liz Staggs said.

Since that voyage, the Staggs have made trips through canals in France and Canada.

“We always traveled, but after doing the loop, it put our wanderlust on steroids,” Liz Staggs said.

They spoke at this week’s fall rendezvous at Joe Wheeler State Park in Rogersville.

“I just feel like it’s our time to give back to others in the association,” Liz Staggs said.

Larry and Cindy Kreissler stopped at Joe Wheeler for the rendezvous on their way south to Fort Myers, Florida, from their home near St. Louis.

The Kreisslers finished the Great Loop in 2013, and are still involved in the association.

Larry Kreissler enjoyed boating, but completing the Great Loop became first on his bucket list, after reuniting with a friend from high school, he said.

In the spirit of the goal, the couple named their 40-foot cruiser Bucket List.

The boat carried them on the entire loop, including the Bahamas, the Exumas, Key West, the Berry Islands and Miami – about a 7,000-mile trip, he said.

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