Former landlubbers on Great Loop ‘My boat is my freedom to pick up and leave’

Published 12:00 pm Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Two land-locked Indianians with a love of sailing have ended up in Vicksburg for a few days before continuing on a trip that covers the 5,000-mile Great Loop.

Andrew Maggard , 24, and Don Jones, 47, climbed on their boats in Lake Michigan and began sailing south. By trip’s end, they will have sailed to the Gulf of Mexico, around the Florida Peninsula, up the East Coast to the Hudson River and back to Lake Michigan.

“It may seem crazy, but I have known since I was 7 years old that I wanted to live on a boat because of an indescribable feeling that I get when there is water underneath me,” said Jones, who quit his job at a marina in Tippecanoe Lake in Indiana, sold his belongings and climbed aboard his 23-foot Antithesis.

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“My boat is the freedom to pick up, leave and see the world,” he said.

Maggard did about the same. He left a welding job and climbed aboard his 22-foot Story Teller.

The two prepared for the trip by sailing in lakes and then open waters, riding out storms and testing their own limits.

After talking about it for a few months, they decided the time was right to head out on their dream trip.

The U.S. Coast Guard in Alton, Mo., held up the pair for the month of July when the water was too high for the small crafts to be safe.

Other than that, the two have sailed by day and stopped along the way to wash windows or do similar jobs to pay for food and fuel.

Both said they have been welcomed into homes all along the river, including in Caruthersville, Mo., where the mayor, Diane Sayre, fed them a homecooked meal simply so she could hear the stories of their trek.

The two, who were docked at City Front Monday, said they plan to stay in Vicksburg another day before heading to Natchez, the next leg of the 4,000 miles remaining on their trip.