Anticipating higher than desired winds at Hilton Head, we planned an early start, as that is usually the calmest time. Lo and behold, we awoke and there was only a gentle breeze blowing. We prepared to leave and then motored the boat to get fuel. Surprisingly, as expensive as everything else is at Hilton Head, the fuel was the cheapest we had found since Jacksonville. Go figure. Clouds covered the area, but looking to the horizon we saw some lighter sky. We were feeling very blessed. We cruised out of Harbour Town on the last leg of this incredible journey.
The water was a little choppy, but not concerning. As we continued, the clouds got lighter and brighter. We could see blue patches peeking through cloud breaks. We both started to reminisce about this journey. We had recently been commenting that if we had known how LITTLE we knew about boating before starting this trip, we never would have left the dock! I guess ignorance IS bliss. We have been SO blessed to explore some of the waterways of our country and Canada, and to have met so many kind and caring people. This journey is NOT made alone. There have been many helping hands, wisdom from the more experienced boaters, camaraderie from fellow Loopers, and much encouragement from friends and family members. We have no doubt that we also had Guardian Angels hovering around us day and night!
As we crossed Port Royal Sound, the sun came out like a blessing on our shoulders. We were expecting some friends to meet us at the dock in Beaufort, and, as we were ahead of schedule, we slowed down and tried to savor every bit of this last day. We talked some more about the people we had met and experiences we had, and were SO grateful for all of it.
Still a little ahead of schedule, we spun a donut or two before we got to the bridge at Port Royal Marina, and then we saw the Beaufort City Marina where it had all started. We wouldn’t be pulling in there, as they were full and couldn’t accommodate us. Ahead we saw the Lady’s Island Bridge, and we kissed as we passed under it, just as we had done on March 28, 2019, the day we started. In Looper terminology, we were now “crossing our wake.” For our non-boating readers — A “wake” is the ripples of water behind a moving boat. If a boat turns in a complete circle, the boat would cross-over its own wake. We had now turned the boat in a BIG Circle of several thousand miles.
Turning into Factory Creek, we could see Lady’s Island Marina ahead. As we got closer, we could see some people and balloons on the dock. What a wonderful sight – friends from home – Kathy, Steve, Felicia, Jim, and Jeremy. Ed did a masterful job of turning the boat 180 degrees and sliding it to the face dock. All tied, we got some hugs and smiles, then it was time for some bubbly. It was still before noon, so we celebrated with mimosas and the Looper Toast:
There are good ships and wood ships, And ships that sail the seas, But the best ships are friendships, And may they always be.
We had lunch aboard Vitamin Sea and caught up with news from home and more stories about the journey. It felt wonderful to see these dear friends again. After lunch we had a “Changing of the Flag” ceremony. Loopers who are on their first loop fly a white AGLCA (America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association) flag on their boat. When they have completed the Loop, they are awarded a GOLD flag. For those who have completed more than one Loop, there is a platinum flag – not currently in our plan.
Later in the day, some left, but some stayed and we got takeout dinners to eat on board. More talking and laughing. The celebration continued in the morning with breakfast, and then the company departed. Just Captain Ed and myself left on board. It was a beautiful day, but we were both tired. We streamed Sunday Mass – still hard to get used to that – and then relaxed for the rest of the day. I was determined to catch up on a few more blogs, so I sat with the computer in my lap for a good while. I wanted all these memories recorded for a life time of reading and remembering.