I met a Looper!
I received a call the other day from a fellow Member of The Dolphin Project who lives in Atlanta. Mike asked me to be on the lookout for a young kayaker that was stopping in Richmond Hill on his quest to circumnavigate the Great Loop. Mike and his wife, Marilyn, are hoping to do the ‘Loop’ next year in their trawler, which is moored at Ft. McAllister Marina. Mike’s been researching the trip and came across 23-year-old Josh Tart’s blog of his journey.
I contacted Josh as he paddled up from Sapelo on Thursday and invited him to stay the night with us, giving him a clean bed and shower — luxuries for anyone spending months in a kayak. Dana Lewis graciously permitted Josh to dock his Ocean Trident 15 kayak at Mile Marker 107 restaurant. We then went to Fish Tales Restaurant, where we met up with my husband, Roy ‘Hub’ Hubbard, and Donnissa and Doug Busch — active members of The Dolphin Project, Bell Island residents and avid kayakers. Butch Broome, owner of Fish Tales, generously treated Josh to a hearty meal after a long day of paddling against wind and tide.
At dinner, Josh told us of his journey, which started on July 23, 2011, in Cincinnati, Ohio. He paddled down the Ohio River to the Mississippi River, out to the Gulf, all the way around Florida and up the coast of Georgia. He has paddled long into the night to reach a destination but usually calls it a day before sundown. If locals are not available to offer a bed for the night, he sacks out in a hammock on shore. When traveling from Cedar Key to Crystal River, he was 7-8 miles from shore, but he always stays within sight of land. Josh has seen many species of wildlife and was amused at the armadillos in Florida. The Georgia environment has not been kind to Josh — wind, tides, strong currents and gnats! Fortunately, the people of Georgia have offered their Southern hospitality. Josh is also a dedicated fisherman, keeping track of the different species when caught and often eaten. He hopes to incorporate his love for water and fishing into a career when this journey ends. You can read all about Josh’s adventure on his blog and track his route in real time: www.paddleforwells.com.
This trip is not only an adventure for Josh, he’s raising money to dig safe water wells in developing countries. His previous mission trips to Guatemala and Peru brought awareness to Josh about the water crisis in the world. To hear about how you can help provide safe water to people who have none, you can go to www.charitywater.org or Josh’s website and make a donation. Life cannot be sustained without water, and Josh hopes to help those in need.
After a restful night and hearty breakfast, I brought Josh back to his kayak on Kilkenny Creek. While battling the ghastly gnat invasion, he was able to store his gear and shove off, headed north to Hilton Head Island, where Barb and Terry Conway of The Dolphin Project await to give him shelter for the night. I guarantee Josh won’t miss our gnats.
Josh is a member of America’s Great Loop Cruisers Association and proudly flies its burgee on his kayak. When he completes his journey, this ‘Looper’ will be the only one to have completed the trip in a kayak — quite a remarkable accomplishment for a remarkable young man. Safe journey and may the wind be at your back, Josh!
Peach Hubbard of Richmond Hill is president of The Dolphin Project.