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Cruising the loop, a Canadian couple live their dream

by Cruising Odyssey on 10 Jun 2017
Cruising the loop, a Canadian couple live their dream Cruising Odyssey
When Mike and Maria Fenn left Krates Marina in Keswick, Ontario (just above Toronto), early last July to start the Great Loop, a friend gave them a small toy monkey to put on their boat; in fact, he gave a monkey to everyone starting a long cruise. “The purpose is to get the monkey off your back and instead put the monkey on the dash of your vessel,” Fenn said.

The Fenns probably didn’t need a good luck monkey; they’d been cruising out of Krates for 21 years. And last summer, once Fenn had retired after working 30 years as a manager at a local utility company, they wanted to take on their dream: The Great Loop. So, monkey mounted on the dash, they left on Aqua-Fennatic, their 1989 Tollycraft 44, powered by twin 380-hp Volvo diesels.

So far, the Fenns, who just cruised into New York Harbor on the last leg of the Loop, have managed to get the monkey off their backs very well. On the real world of the Loop, they’ve experienced all the joys, and some of the surprises, that come with long-range cruising.

Last October, for example, Fenn went for a swim after tying up in Green Turtle Bay, Kentucky, and noticed some damage on the port prop; he figured he’d hit a submerged object. But when a mechanic got on the boat he discovered a much larger problem – a broken motor mount. A few days later, after a new motor mount and two repacked stuffing boxes (the stuffing boxes had been leaking), the Fenns were on their way again.

By Dec. 20, when they left the boat in Cape Haze, just above Fort Myers, to fly home for the holidays, they tallied up some numbers. With their many side trips, they’d gone 3,030 miles, put 583 hours on the engines, spent roughly $6,000 on fuel, $5,000 for overnight stays in marinas, and another $5,000 for repairs. “The amount we’ve spent in repairs is more than expected,” Fenn wrote in his blog, “however, as we all know, s—happens.”

Back on the boat in January, the Fenns cruised down to Key West and then left Key Largo to head over to Bimini. But when they stopped at Cat Cay to fish, Fenn heard the bilge pump running. It turned out that a hose from the exhaust elbow to the transmission cooler on the port engine had broken, and salt water was running into the bilge. Fenn shut down the engine, closed the seacock and tried, unsuccessfully, to hold the hose together with tape. Aqua-Fennatic limped into Bimini on one engine. What happened next, when the Fenns tried to find a new hose, will ring true to anyone who has spent any time cruising in the Bahamas.

“We first went to the hardware store, and they told us to go to the automotive parts store,” he said. “When we arrived at the parts store, they told us to go see a fellow named Pastor Chris across from the Health Clinic. Chris wasn’t home when we arrived, so we went to the 3 Daughters Restaurant, who tried to call Pastor Chris, unsuccessfully. They told us to talk to a mechanic out back who could help. However, he said we should go to an automotive garage a few blocks down.

When we arrived a gentleman said he might be able to help and drove us all around town and wouldn’t stop until he found a solution. He then took us to Pastor Chris’ house. When we said we’d been there before, he told us he was Pastor Chris.” And he had a marine hose out back in his shop. “Believe me,” Fenn said, “this is the short version of the story.”

The Fenns then cruised through the Abacos and the Exumas, before crossing back to the U.S. and heading up the east coast. Earlier this month, they left Atlantic City on a weather window to run up to New York. By the afternoon, they were being pushed along by a following sea and the boat ended up surfing. Riding a high, Fenn said he started singing the Beach Boys Surfin’ U.S.A. to himself. And then, when they got to New York, he said “I heard another song in my head, ‘start spreading the news…New York, New York.’” Clearly the monkey, still on the dash, was doing its thing.

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This article has been provided courtesy of the CruisingOdyssey.
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