For nearly a year, Lynn and Mark Prebble went looping and loved every minute of it.
Even riding out a tornado warning in the middle of the Ottawa River and having a large Asian Carp jump into the cockpit of their 34-foot cruiser, the Happy Wanderer, were adventures to be remembered from a 5,524-mile waterway trip that began and ended in New Smyrna Beach.
The part-time New Smyrna Beach and part-time Silver Cliff, Colo., residents officially became “loopers” after circumnavigating the challenging eastern waterways of the U.S. and Canada, often referred to as the Great Loop by America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association.
The extensive trip took the local cruisers up the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, through the New York State canals, into the Great Lakes, down the inland river system, across the Gulf of Mexico and around the southern tip of Florida and back to New Smyrna Beach.
According to the boaters' association, only about 100 boats complete the Great Loop each year, making it a feat “more unique” than swimming the English Channel or climbing Mount Everest, which at one time Ms. Prebble, also a mountain climber, also challenged.
The couple ’s love of cruising the waterways didn’t blossom until about two years after they began making annual visits to New Smyrna Beach from their Colorado home.
“We found our boat, a Mainship 34 Power Boat, after two years of searching in New Smyrna Beach,” recalled Ms. Prebble. “We moved onboard at the City Marina on Jan. 12, 2017, and set out on our year-long adventure on Feb. 14.”
In addition to facing the challenges of long-distance cruising, the Prebbles enjoyed unparalleled views of the U.S. and Canada from the deck and comfort of their floating home.
“We loved our nomadic life, not knowing exactly where the day would take us,” Ms. Prebble reminisced. “Sometimes 50 miles or sometimes only two, we stopped wherever it pulled us. The friends we met, the places we’ve seen, the life we’ve lived in the last year, we will always treasure.”
The best part about traveling the Great Loop was the people they met, she said, “We are still seeing people in New Smyrna Beach that we met in Canada and on the rivers.”
Both Prebbles are retired. Mark,74, worked at the Land Bank and Lynn, 65, was a physical therapist.
In Colorado, Ms. Prebble was a skilled mountain climber, and search and rescue volunteer, having “summited” all of Colorado’s 13ner and 14ner mountains. (13,000 and 14,000 feet above sea level).
A January 2012 article in Denver Mile High magazine had this to say about the mountain climber turned boater:
“Not quite five feet tall, Lynn Prebble is a sucker for a vertical challenge.
“Last fall, the Silver Cliff resident became the 24th person to summit all 637 of Colorado’s peaks over 13,000 feet.
“Beyond that, the retired physical therapist rescues distressed climbers in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains with the Custer County Search and Rescue technical rock team.
“As summer hiking season begins, Ms. Prebble talks cliffhangers, blizzards and the Big One.”
The Prebbles are already preparing for their next boat adventure.
“We’ll be heading for the Bahamas,” Ms. Prebble quickly volunteered, “Boating is such a flexible life and there's lots to see and lots to do."
As a mountain climber, her motto was “follow your bliss.”
That new bliss was found in New Smyrna Beach – boating.