Meet Katie and Jessie, two best friends in their mid-twenties who decided, more or less on a whim, to take on "The Great Loop" in a small sailboat together. Some of you might know of katieandjessieonaboat.com, the blog chronicling their trip, but on the off chance you don't - do yourself a favor and take a look. "Refreshing" doesn't even begin to describe it. It's honest, genuine and - most importantly- it's really good. Jessie is one of my favorite writers on the internet these days and even though 'envy' is an emotion I don't often entertain, when I read her I find it hard not to turn a shade of green.
Yes. I have a total "girl crush".
I am beyond inspired and excited by them. After emailing back and forth I'm certain we are kindred spirits and I am thrilled that we share a Great Lake (and midwestern roots) which means the likelihood of our meeting each other one day is high. Katie and Jessie are going places. They might not know when or where, but believe me, this is not the last you'll hear of them.
These two are the full package: beauty, brains, brawn...and, as if that wasn't enough, they have pretty fantastic sense of humors to boot. Read 'em and weep:
1. Give our readers the cliff's notes of your journey. The why, where, and how...
"Why don't you girls buy a boat and sail the Bahamas? Take your own boat trip" - Dad
"I wouldn't suggest that too seriously if I were you" - me
"Why don't you do 'the loop'? " - Dad
"Okay. We will. Katie? Sound good?" -me
"Sounds good to me." - Katie
"Okay we will leave in one year. Deal? " - me
"Deal" - Katie
We left one year later.
WHERE? We spent two years traveling in a very large circle, beginning and ending in Lake Michigan. Heading south towards Chicago we entered the Illinois river... and continued onto the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, and Tombigbee waterways reaching the Gulf of Mexico. Skirting the coast over to Florida and crossing through middle of the state via Lake Okechobee. Sailed to the Bahamas, and spent three months island hopping. The intracoastal waterway brought us all the way up the East coast to New York City. The Hudson River, Erie Canal, and Trent-Severn waterway in Canada eventually dumped us back into the Great Lakes. Thats a lot to take in - I know. And no, we never knew where we were going until the day of.
HOW? Found "Louise"online. Quit our jobs. Moved back home to Michigan. Left our boyfriends. Drained our bank accounts. Spent a summer tearing apart our new home and making her seaworthy with help from our knowledgeable fathers. Left for our journey September 4th, 2012, completely unprepared and full of unanswered questions.
2. How did you two meet? Describe your friendship.
Jessie: Katie and I met when we were babies. Our dad's were high school friends. It wasn't until we were in 7th grade when we realized that we were both on a different planet. My first memory of our friendship is her and I sleeping in drawers that you could pull out from underneath a bed. Sleeping in a normal bed was boring. In high school - we were bad. Always getting into trouble together. Driving around in our parents cars after they fell asleep, before we even had drivers license's. In college we independently roamed California, but always ended up in the same place, talking about where we would go next.
Katie: We have known each other our whole lives, our dads are best friends, from what I hear it all started when Jessie's dad Jimmy was in Grand Haven for summer school, and was out on the lake in a sailing dinghy when it started to sink, a friend of my dad's helped him out and introduced the two of them.
3. You both come from sailing families, how did this effect your lives?
I didn't cared about Sailing as a kid, and never thought twice about how a sailboat worked. I always wanted to be in the water, or running around on land. Every year my family went on a week long sailing trip, it was just what we did. I took it for granted, I assumed everyone went on sailing trips. At 22 when my dad presented this idea, it seemed feasible. How hard could be it be sail? If I hadn't grown up around sailboats, I certainly would not have taken a sailboat on the Great Loop haha. But it is certainly in my blood, I just didn't appreciate it until I grew up.
4. What's so "great" about the Great Loop?
Jessie: I could write a novel about this (stay tuned) The answers are endless. But to sum it up - the people. Not just the people themselves but the situations, and reasons you end up meeting each of them.
Katie: Traveling through our beautiful country at 5-10mph is what makes the Great Loop so great, slowing down and smelling the roses, meeting so many people along the way.
5. Each crew member on a sailboat has strengths and weaknesses. What was one strength and one weakness both of you brought aboard Louise?
Jessie: I am a hot mess when it comes to throwing lines, tying knots, and using the boat hook. I don't like to follow rules and enjoy taking chances. I can be naive. I often take the easy way out. There were multiple instances I didn't trust Katie when I should have. I am a bitch when it's too hot outside.
My strengths were being at the helm for countless hours every day. Making friends. Documenting. Bleeding diesel engines. Changing oil. Plumbing.
I don't know what Katie's weakness was. She talks a lot when she get anxious, eats too many cookies, and can't function without Reggie (her dog).
Katie is incredibly Intuitive. If you ask her she will say she's psychic, which I translate to "intuitive". She took care of every day logistics. She submersed herself in guide books, and kept detailed records of all statistics. She is a good judge of character, and kept me in line with who I was making friends with.
Katie: I'd have to say Jessie’s biggest strength would be, well being able to do just about anything well, I’m not kidding, you name it this girl can get it done, with the exception of throwing anything, and lefty-loosy righty-tighty… she can stay calm in just about any situation, which balances out my tendency to totally freak out ;)
As a pair the only thing we can’t handle is the heat, I’d like to think we could at least survive anything that could be thrown at us, until it gets too hot, that’s when the bad attitudes come out… or the Budweisers.
We both have our fair share of flaws we have just been lucky that we don’t have too many of the same, I mentioned before Jessie’s issue with righty-righty lefty-loosy, well I just plain don’t know left from right… there was this time in Tennessee… we were trying to loosen the oil drain bolt for maybe an hour, prying it with everything we had, kicking it, using different loosening solutions, until we finally came to realization that we had just been tightening the damn thing… with a change in direction, and a little elbow grease to counter everything we had done before it came right off… would have saved us a bit of time, to know left from right, but also starved us a couple laughs at least we weren’t strong enough to do any damage…
6. If money were no object, what would be your next adventure (does not have to be sailing related)?
Jessie: I would build a tree house ... Swiss Family Robinson style. Or ride a donkey across the country. One or the other.
Katie: Donkey wagon train across the northern part of the country.
7. Describe a low point in your trip.
Jessie: I questioned myself a lot. Compared my life to others. The grass was always greener. There were moments when this kind of thought process repeated itself over and over again ;
"I am 25, single, and unemployed. I look like shit and if you saw me in the street you would assume I just got out of work at Jiffy Lube. There were ants in my breakfast, my lunch was moldy, and I don't even care to heat up my soup anymore. It's pouring rain and every thing I own is soaking wet. Over it."
More specifically the time when Katie had sea urchin spines piercing through her fingers, Reggie was covered in hot wax from a candle spilling and I got a black eye from my canon 40D flying off the shelf in the middle of the night. We were alone in the Bahamas, out of ibuprofen, and out contact. The weather was horrible, the anchorage was horrible. I was worried about Katie, I was worried about bashing into nearby rocks, I was worried about getting struck by lightning, I was worried my nose was broken. I wanted to go home.
Katie: There are a few times where we just wanted to be home, mostly due to weather, being our boat, is basically camping, if its hot and buggy it can be miserable, if its cold and raining it can be miserable, if it goes on for too long it wears on you, makes you wanna go home.
8. Trips like these have the power to alter one's course significantly. How has this journey changed you?
Jessie: Also the kind of answer I could write a novel about. It has taught me to slow down. I eat slower. I speak slower. I take time making decisions, and think very deeply about everything I do. I am even typing slower. It has changed my priorities, what is important, and what is not important. I know myself, I know my body, and I know my mind. I have been given the time to think about every decision I have made in my life, every scenario, why I made particular choices, and why I've ended up in each situation. I literally spent two years thinking.
Katie: Well besides totally and completely changing who I am… I know what I am capable of and what I am not willing to settle for.
9. If you could give me advice on how to raise three bad ass girls like yourselves, what would it be?
Jessie: Set them free. Let them make mistakes. Be confident in them, no matter what.
Katie: It has been so important in my life that whatever crazy idea I come up with my parents have always been supportive, it might help that my sister is a straight A student in college and really succeeding at doing the “normal” thing ;) that they can handle having one wild one.
10. So you've ticked a pretty impressive line item off your bucket list...what is another bucket list "to do" you want to accomplish before you turn (let's just throw a number out there...) 30?
Jessie: You know, I turn 26 in February. For years I have told myself... "when I have to pay health insurance, I will become an adult. I will have things figured out" Well, that is a bunch of crap. I am an adult. I do not have things figured out what-so-ever. All I want to do is run around the world, take pictures, and find good conversation.
I want to turn this adventure into a book. I want to inspire people. I want to introduce "The Great Loop" to younger generations. Oh and I would like to make one million dollars after winning "The Amazing Race".
Katie: At this point “fresh off the boat” I really just want to want to stay put, but I'm already getting over that ;)