YOUR STORIES AND LESSONS, FROM THE EDGE BY BRIGID SCHULTE
LYN MORGAN IS A MAN IN A HURRY
The captain of a souped-up pontoon boat takes
on the historic Great Loop, and makes his dream
of seeing the heartland come true
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For many boaters, the Great Loop is a trip of a lifetime. People save and plan and anticipate for years. Walter Cronkite even wrote about how he yearned to take this near-mythical journey. Books, websites, and an entire community of enthusiasts offer advice on which kind of large, 30- to 50-foot live-aboard boat is best, and what places to stop to soak in the local sights. With the special burgee of a “looper” fluttering off their boats, the trip is also one of the most social
— with meet-ups and parties and reunions all along the way. But the one cardinal rule of the loop is this:
Take Your Time. The idea is to slow down, loopers say. Take at least nine months. Take years. Just don’t
rush. And then along came Lyn Morgan.
Morgan puttered through 120 locks and 5,300 miles around the ntire eastern seaboard at about 40 miles per hour, with stops for two major repairs, in eight weeks and one day. He traveled as far in one day, usually 200 miles, as most loopers do in one week. And, instead of cruising in a big boat, he steered his souped-up, 24-foot pontoon boat. “I’m probably the only person to do the Loop in two months,” Morgan said. “But it was not a race. I wasn’t trying to set any records. I was just enjoying America from the waterways.” Yes, people have done the loop in sailboats, on a jet ski, and even in a 17-foot aluminum boat. Morgan himself ran into someone doing the loop in a kayak — traveling 30 miles a day for an entire year. But his detractors say Morgan not only missed the point with his trip, he missed the boat. “Eight weeks? Why bother?” said Eva Stob, a looper who, along with her husband, Ron, co-founded America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association. ( www.greatloop.org ) “We advocate going slow, not just putting a notch in your gun.” The inspiration came to Morgan at a stop on a cross-country road trip a few years ago. He was itting in a restaurant with his wife in Hannibal, Missouri, thinking about Mark Twain and the Mississippi River. He wandered down to a nearby dock and struck up a conversation with some locals. He’d been thinking about buying a pontoon boat, the slow-moving, boxy vessels favored for lazy afternoons of fishing or family picnicking more commonly known as the “party barge.” How would that do on the mighty river? Mighty fine, the knowledgeable locals answered. So Morgan, 64, drove back to his home in the Rocky Mountains
Photo: Marcus Floro
OCTOBER | NOVEMBER 2011
in Avon, Colorado, determined to float the Mississippi in a pontoon
boat. Not long after, a friend called from Chicago and mentioned her
parents had just completed something called the Great Loop. Ten
minutes later, after a quick Google search to see what the heck it was,
Lyn Morgan decided that he, too, would cruise the Great Loop, the
interconnected flow of some of the largest rivers, prettiest bays, most
serene intracoastal waterways, and most dramatic open waters of the
Great Lakes that circle the entire eastern portion of the United States
and Canada. A loop some 5,000 to 7,000 miles long, depending on
the route. And he wanted to do it in that pontoon boat.
Lyn Morgan en route, aboard his dream boat.
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