ROGERSVILLE — The phrase “Honey, let’s get a boat” inspired an area couple’s more than 6,000-mile voyage through the eastern United States and adventures abroad.
“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.
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 — a 6,000-mile waterway that connects rivers with the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.
They regularly speak at the America’s Great Loop Cruisers Association Rendezvous and share their experiences on the loop. They spoke at this week’s fall rendezvous at Joe Wheeler State Park.
The five-day meetings include sessions about various marinas along the loop and advice from experienced loopers.
“I just feel like it’s our time to give back to others in the association,” Staggs said.
The Great Loop stretches from the Florida Keys to Canada. 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,” Staggs said.
They don't do as many long cruises now, but still enjoy river cruises and sharing their love of travel.
Larry and Cindy Kreissler stopped at Joe Wheeler for the rendezvous on their way south to Fort Meyers, 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.”
“Having that goal (of completing the Great Loop) really gave me something to live for,” he said.
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.
“It all depends on how adventurous you want to be,” Cindy Kreissler said. “There’s so much you can see from a boat that you didn’t know existed right here in America.”
She was enthralled by the beauty of upstate New York and the Hudson River and the blue waters in the Florida Keys and Bahamas.
“It’s just a lifestyle you’ve never experienced before,” she said. “I found the whole experience (of the Great Loop) entertaining.”
He said most all loopers could spend hours exchanging stories about their Great Loop voyages.
When the rendezvous ends today, they plan to continue on their trip south to Fort Meyers. He said they plan to reach Fort Meyers by January or February and will then go back to Missouri.
This is the third year they’ve made the trip South.
Besides the sights, both the Kreisslers and Staggs agree strong relationships were forged on the Great Loop.
The Staggs meet once a year with a group of about seven other couples they met on their Great Loop voyage in 2006 and 2007.
The Kreisslers attend the annual Gold Loopers reunion—a meeting for those who have completed the Great Loop.
Both couples hope to continue spreading their love of the challenge.
“And then the goal sparks in someone else,” Larry Kreissler said.