Local sailor Jerry Griffin returns from maritime route around eastern U.S.
By LEGION TAYLOR
After nearly nine months underway, Wakulla resident Jerry Griffin has returned home, completing the Great Loop.
The Great Loop is an extensive 5,250-mile route that encircles the eastern United States, going around the length of Florida, north to the Hudson River and Erie Canal, through the Great Lakes, then down through the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico. Around 150 people complete the Loop each year, making the group of people who do the loop successfully rather exclusive.
Griffin himself says “It’s a unique trip, for sure.”
Griffin set out from Wakulla on Feb. 13, and officially returned on Nov. 6, taking 9 months to complete the trip on his 1984 Mainship Mark III, a 34 foot trawler. He maintained a YouTube channel as well as a Facebook page, under the username “We Live” – which is the name of his boat – documenting his journey almost daily, as he made his way around the Loop.
He spent the first hundred days traveling from Florida to New York, journeying through the Keys and off the coast of Miami before ending up in Hudson Bay, in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty.
“I never believed one day I’d be on my own boat in Key West and a couple of months later I’d be in the bay of New York City,” Griffin says.
Later, he also said that seeing the Statue of Liberty from his boat was likely the highest point on his trip, as it was a lifelong goal of his.
Griffin also stated that his trip up through the Atlantic was beautiful, even on the days where the water was rough.
At points, including off the coast of South Carolina, his engine ran hot and his raw water pump was leaking badly, which delayed him in Charleston for a few days. These delays, whether due to much-needed repairs or poor weather, peppered his trip, adding up to extra weeks of waiting at anchorages all over the eastern U.S.
At one point, he was stuck in the same area of the Loop near the entrance to Lake Erie for almost a month, as the locks (apparatuses that control the entrance to many major waterways) that Griffin needed to pass through to continue on his trip were not open further down the route, forcing him to stay put.
While most of the rest of his trip went well, he ran aground once in Ohio in mid-August, due to an outdated GPS system. A wall of stone was submerged in 15 feet of water, but the Garmin he was using did not have the obstacle on its map, and that caused him to collide with it, damaging his hull and propeller, forcing Griffin to get it taken to a nearby marina to have it repaired, adding yet another delay to a trip that was already taking much longer than expected.
He cited this when asked what the lowest point on the trip was, a far cry from the heights of the Hudson Bay.
Griffin’s trip after running aground went much smoother, despite some initial rough water around the coast of Michigan, he says that Lake Michigan itself was calm and relaxing, a nice change as he made his way down to Chicago, starting the southward trip down toward the Mighty Mississippi – which he reached on October 7th.
After that, it was smooth boating, taking only a month to make it from the Mississippi back home, where Griffin “Crossed his Wake” and completed the Great loop.