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Lots of boats come to Oriental, some tie up at the Town Dock for a night or two, others drop anchor in the harbor for a while. If you've spent any time on the water you know that every boat has a story. The Shipping News on TownDock.net brings you the stories of the boats that have visited recently.

A Tiny Boat Tackles the Great Loop
July 20, 2010
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or a man from the cornfields of Illinois with little boating experience and a tiny boat, Buzz Gentes sure has come a long way. Buzz, traveling aboard his 15-foot sailboat “Dalamar”, is 3,500 miles into a hoped-for 6,000 mile trek that stretches from the mid-West rivers to the Atlantic seaboard.

Dalamar docked at Oriental Harbor Marina

It all started in the years before Buzz retired, when, looking ahead to his golden years, he feared “sitting on a bar stool telling stories about the past” – and ten years later, “sitting on that same bar stool telling the same stories”.

Buzz Gentes

So Buzz got busy. Three years before he quit his job working as a supervisor in the automotive industry, he began planning his post-career life. Instead of being trapped behind a glass of beer or taking the usual retirement RV trip, he decided he would tackle the Great Loop.

The Great Loop is a waterway circumnavigation of the East Coast encompassing the mid-West river system, the Atlantic coast and the Great Lakes. While most mariners tackle the Loop with 30 to 40-foot boats, Buzz began looking for a much smaller vessel.

The Great Loop: Buzz with a flag showing his intended route. The flag also acts as his wind guage. When it “flutters straight”, he reckons the wind is blowing at 10 knots. At 15 knots, the flag “starts poppin’”.

Trouble is, Buzz knew nothing about boats. In fact, aside from an inflatable boat, he’d never even owned one.

So he started reading – magazines, online articles, anything to help him learn what sort of boat he’d need.

Over time, he came to an understanding of what he wanted. The vessel he sought had to be small because he couldn’t “count on being bailed out if things went wrong.” He also wanted something he could “run up on the bank if needed.” Money, too, mattered. His boat couldn’t be too expensive so that “I could sink and it wouldn’t put a dent in my retirement.”

In the end, Buzz ordered a new 2009 West Wight Potter 15. At 15 feet and under 500 pounds dry weight, the Potter 15 was small for the undertaking Buzz had in mind. But it was capable. One Potter sailed from England to Sweden across a wintry North Sea – another from California to Hawaii.

While Buzz prefers to stay in marinas, he has equipped “Dalamar” for anchoring out. Two Bruce anchors hang from the bow in twin anchor holders built from schedule 80 PVC pipe. Each anchor is attached to 150 feet of nylon anchor rode coiled on T-shaped PVC cleats. The third, Danforth anchor, lends holding power as required.
While Dalamar sports a pair of aluminum oars, Buzz says he really only keeps them on board should both his engines fail at the same time. So far, he reports rowing very little.

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Posted Tuesday July 20, 2010 by Bernie Harberts

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