Waleska resident John Longino recently spent a little over a week riding a personal watercraft from Savannah to the Chesapeake Bay of Maryland, taking on a portion of the U.S. and Canadian water trail known as the Great American Loop.

The initial inspiration for Longino’s trip came when a friend of his suggested the idea of riding the loop in a sailboat, a journey that would take approximately one year. However, not wanting to be away from home for that long of a time, Longino instead suggested trying the route on small personal watercraft. His friend was initially on board with the idea, but then changed his mind, although Longino decided to go ahead with his plan.

“I set out to see how far I could go. I realized it would be doable on a Jet Ski until at least the Great Lakes,” Longino said. “I spent seven days on the water. The first six days were great.”

As he made his way up the Intracoastal Waterway from just south of Savannah to Norfolk, Virginia, Longino said the waters were calm, and in many places as smooth as glass. It wasn’t until the final day, when he made his way up the Chesapeake Bay toward Annapolis, Maryland, that things became rougher. While crossing the bay, the waves started to grow. In the afternoon of his final day on the journey, the winds shifted, and the waves grew up to eight feet high, making it a rough battle for Longino and his tiny craft to keep pushing on toward Annapolis. After trying to continue, he ended up turning around and making for a marina not too far away, where he decided to end his trip.

While much of his journey was spent on the water, Longino said he also stopped off in Norfolk to visit a convention of others who had taken their own trips along the Great American Loop.

Along the route from Georgia to Maryland, Longino said he encountered a handful of others making the trip along the Great American Loop, as they were flying the same special burgee — a specialized nautical flag — he had. Some of those he met would wave and sound their horns as he passed, essentially wishing him well on his journey. Humans were not the only ones who took an interest in Longino as he journeyed along. He described a number of occasions where porpoises would come close to him and watch him, while others got a good look at him as they swam and jumped out of the water.

“They would look at me like, ‘What are you and why are you going so fast in my water?’” Longino said with a laugh.

Although he ended up stopping his journey south of Annapolis, Longino said his overall experience cruising along the East Coast had been a fun one. In the future, he said he may try to complete more of the Great American Loop, more likely taking on areas that would not be as affected by strong weather, such as the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway that runs from southwestern Tennessee, through eastern Mississippi and into western Alabama to connect the Tennessee and Tombigbee rivers.

“It was a great adventure, and I’m glad I did it,” Longino said.

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