And so it begins …

Journey notes.

On March 1, 2018 the M/V Exhale, a comfy North Pacific trawler, departs Fort Myers, Florida, commencing on a 6,000 mile journey on the America’s Great Loop.  On board are two “almost retired” baby boomers, Rick & Mary, and one faithful boat dog, Maddie Sue.  This blog will share random bits and pieces of our journey along the way.

Watch Dog
A dog’s life.


  • breathe out in a deliberate manner.
    “she sat back and exhaled deeply”

    The trawler:  North Pacific is based in Surrey, British Columbia, CANADA.



Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day weekend celebrations

Memorial Day offers a moment to gather together, as a united nation, to give thanks for the blessed life we enjoy, in tribute to the men and women who bravely fought for the freedoms many of us now take for granted. On this day, I lament those that passed away, many of them far too young; including my dad and beloved uncles, who served during World War II. I also give thanks to living relatives and dear friends, men and women from every branch of service, who have dedicated their lives in every capacity imaginable to protect our country. Special thanks to David, Ray, Caryl, the Gill cousins, and all our dear friends, for your service.

“We must always remember that peace is a fragile thing that needs constant vigilance. “

President Ronald Reagan, 1986, Arlington National Cemetery

Thank you for keeping the peace.

Special Celebrations

Happy birthday Zach and Wyatt!!

On May 25, the Bernsteins celebrate their 45th anniversary! An early celebration included a truly special meal at the Islander, Ocean Reef.

Party goers included Rick and Mary, David and Gail, Tom and Faye, Roger and Connie.

Gail and David Bernstein
Sushi heaven
Decadent Dessert
Rick, Mary, Connie and Roger

Ocean Reef, Key Largo

Our sincere thanks to David and Gail Bernstein, who introduced us to their wonderful club in Key Largo. With heavy winds expected, we will be hanging out with Bert and EJ for a few days. It’s a beautiful life!

Ocean Reef

On board Connie and Roger’s dinghy, we explored the mangrove lined canals.

Ducking under two fixed bridges, a warm reminder of the beloved canals in Belmont Shore.

Hey Mo, Rick said thanks for sending the Bentley, if only it was the dark blue one.

Tonight we will enjoy fresh snapper, thanks to Capt Tom and Faye, Treble in Paradise, they caught 5 fish on the way to Key Largo.

Tom said this was the smallest fish …. No matter, with a little beer batter and Slap-Yo-Mama cajun seasoning, prepared perfectly by chef Capt Rick, it was absolutely yum-a-licious.

Now for a few fun boat names:

In Conch-nito

When the weather allows, our next stop will be Pier 66 in Fort Lauderdale.

A Moment in Marathon

Traversing from Marco River to Marathon, Exhale was underway for 10.5 hours, a distance of 91.3 nautical miles, with a max speed of 11.9 knots (whoooo hooo) she averaged 8.7 knots per hour. Thats super cruising!

In Marathon, we happily reunited with our newly retired friends Faye and Tom. Treble in Paradise, it feels so good!

Nice Yard, Sandy Cocoa Puff! Yes, that’s a beautiful North Pacific.

Fishing time

Docked next to Exhale, Capt Joe caught and released this little tarpon in less than five minutes.

A magnificent Sunrise over Marathon.

Dock mates, Tonto’s Reward and Yippee-Ki-Yea

Sending thoughts and prayers to Chris and Len.

Next stop – Ocean Reef in Key Largo.

Here we go!

Life is good for this boat dog. Captain Rick said Maddie is “Anticipating swimming with the piggies”.

May 20

Departed Fort Myers. Morning rendezvous with Tonto’s Reward at channel marker 73. Beautiful weather, gorgeous calm waters. Running together at 8 knots per hour. Bahamas here we come!!

A Bahama Adventure!

The well seasoned crew begins a new adventure on the 20th of May 2019 as Exhale departs Fort Myers, FL, destined to “loop” the Bahamas.

Along the way we plan to connect with beloved Gold Looper, Rejoice; North Pacific friends, Treble in Paradise; Fort Myers friends Tonto’s Reward, Janine Marie, Li’l Sum’n Sum’n, Yippee-Ki-Yea, Moonshadow, plus a few special guests.

We hope you will follow us.

Exhale Crosses her Wake in Ft. Myers, 11/11/2018

Major Bucket List Item Checked

There are numerous little places to explore in the Florida panhandle.  In fact, our early loop plans contemplated nearly a month meandering slowly down the west coast of Florida. #1 lesson learned on this journey: all plans are subject to change. 

ClearWater, Florida

Still fueled by the adrenalin rush of crossing the Gulf of Mexico, we realized we could reach Fort Myers in just two long days.  Unanimous vote by the crew, let’s go for it!

Crew Member Dave Floyd ready to depart at day break.

Sunrise over ClearWater.

Venice, Florida, November 10th

Thanks Capt Rick for arranging the most decadent of dinners at the Crows Nest in Venice.  When we docked at the restaurant, we were met by two of the most capable marina hands on our journey who tied us up, lick-it-ee split.  Thanks Brad and Aaron!

If you are in the area, the waterfront restaurant is a must visit.  Here’s the Crow’s Nest website (go ahead and click) so you can see why.

Crows Nest, Venice, FL

And yes, 11/10 was definitely a happy 59.

This Fish might have a small drinking problem. Opportunity for a SuperBowl commercial?

November 11, 2018 – Armistice Day / Veteran’s Day

Happy Veteran’s Day everyone.  Thank you for your service, Dave.

One Hundred Years Ago – on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, 1918 an armistice or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in World War I, then known as “the Great War.”  On November 11, 1921, an unidentified American soldier killed in the war was buried at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C. On the same day the previous year, unidentified soldiers were laid to rest at Westminster Abbey in London and at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. If you want to know more about Veteran’s Day, here’s a wonderful lesson from the History Channel. 

Happy Birthday, Miss Saucy Austy

Our niece, Austin Maurer, born on the 11th hour of the 11th month of the 11th year (November 11, 2011 at 11 am).

Austin turns 7.

Today is the day Exhale will cross her wake.  In our final leg we celebrated a golden sunrise, for a gold looper day.


Familiar Waters – the canals of Town & River

It was a little bittersweet as we entered our home canal.  The bucket list adventure was quickly coming to an end.  For some on board, the journey was ending too soon. One crew member was more decisive; Admiral Maddie Sue was eager to return to her grassy yard.


Fort Myers Arrival – Crossing Her Wake

As the house came into view, we could see fellow boaters and land lubbers awaiting our return.  Thank you Steve Jones, friend extraordinaire, for orchestrating the warm homecoming!


Upholding a glorious mariner’s tradition, we were greeted by a Canon Salute!

Fire in the Hole – Capt. Anders Liljequist. Former owner of Meanders, NPY’49

Friends at the dock included

Raising the Gold Flag

As Capt Rick has said, numerous times, the best part of this journey is the people we met.  We made many new friends along the way, friends for reasons, friends for seasons, and a special few, who we believe, will be friends for a life time.

A proud and beloved fish shirt finishes the Loop!

Thank you everyone, for sharing in this journey.

Capt Rick, First Mate Mary, Admiral Maddie Sue, Lorrie Swink, Roger Swink, Dave Floyd, Capt Marty Liljequist, Donna Wallace, Capt Anders Liljequist

This is the PC Exhale, Gold Looper 2018, signing off for now.


Great Loop Final Stats

Nautical Miles (NM): 4,908, Average speed: 6.30 knots, Fuel Consumption Per Hour: 3.46 gallons, NM per gallon: 1.82, Avg Nautical Miles per travel day: 35.3

Statute Miles (SM): 5,648, Average Speed: 7.25 MPH, SM per gallon: 2.096, Avg Statute Miles per travel day: 40.6

Engine Hours: 779

Total Days to complete Loop:  256, Travel Days/Stops along the way: 139

Total Locks completed = 150

  • Florida – Lake Okeechobee area: 7
  • Virginia – Great Dismal Swamp: 2
  • New York – Troy & Champlain Canal: 12
  • CANADA – Chambly Canal/Quebec: 9
  • CANADA – Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway: 5
  • CANADA – Rideau Canal/Ontario: 47
  • CANADA – Trent-Severn Waterway: 44
  • Illinois – Calumet, Illinois & Ohio Rivers: 8 locks + 2 dams (wickets thrown down)
  • Kentucky – Kentucky Lake Lock and Dam: 1
  • Tennessee – Pickwick Lock and Dam: 1
  • Tenn-Tombigbee Waterway: 12

States and Provinces traversed on the water:

Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama (18)

Canada Provinces (June 10 – August 9): Quebec, Ontario (2).

Side trips (via train, plane or automobile):

Los Angeles (MS [3 – April, May & Sept], Rick [5 – May, June, July, Sept, Oct] & Maddie [2 – May, Sept], Cleveland (RMG, MS & Maddie [2- April and July], Craig [April]), St. Charles, St. Louis, and Chattanooga (with B & B), Lookout Mountain & Missionary Ridge, TN by train (with B & B), MS road trip from Orange Beach, Alabama to Fort Myers with Maddie, drove from Fort Myers to Orange Beach with Dave Floyd