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Aldergrove kayaker tackles the 'Great Loop'

On Oct. 1, Aldergrove resident Jayson Ambrose will get into a kayak — one that he bought without testing — and set out on a 15-month journey that will see him paddle 8,000 to 12,000 kilometres through the eastern waterways of Canada and the USA — an epic trip known as the "Great Loop."

"A lot of my friends think I'm crazy," Ambrose said.

The 46-year-old was well into planning the trip when he discovered that no other Canadian has ever done the Great Loop by kayak.

Power boats and sailboats yes, but no kayak.

One American kayaker managed it about a decade ago, Ambrose learned.

Others have tried and dropped out.

"It's turning out to be bigger than I anticipated" he said.

Up until now, the most ambitious kayak trip Ambrose has tackled was measured in days, not months.

But he is confident he can pull it off.

"This thing is absolutely doable," he said.

He works at a motorcycle-related job that allows him to take a lot of time off, time he wanted to spent on a trip doing something out of the ordinary, yet affordable.

"Where haven't I gone? Where can I go? And how can I keep it cheap?" he recalled asking himself.

"I don't like taking the same path twice if I can help it."

He plans to start the Great Loop in Mobile, Alabama.

The kayak he will be using is 17 feet, longer than a standard lake kayak, which usually runs 10 to 12 feet.

He bought it in Mobile without first trying it out.

"I've seen a picture."

So far, he said, Americans seem a lot more enthusiastic than Canadians about his journey.

The local kayakers in Mobile got excited when they heard about his potentially record-setting trip and some are planing to accompany him at the start.

The Mobile museum has asked for the kayak when he's finished.

He thinks some of the doubt about his ability to complete the trip comes from people who don't know what's involved.

"The biggest misconception is that I'm going to be on the ocean the whole time," he said.

"I'm not."

Most of the loop is sheltered by a strip of land, he noted.

He will start his trip in the Gulf of Mexico and head for Florida, then up the Atlantic, past the Statue of Liberty and into the New York river system, paddling back into Canada by way of the Great Lakes.

From there, Ambrose plans to head down Lake Michigan to Chicago, following the river system until he gets to the Tom-Bigbee River which will take him to his original starting point in the Gulf.

He expects the trip will take 13 months, but he's added two more months to the schedule, "for any unexpected delays, such as finding a beautiful beach to relax for the day."

Ambrose will be posting updates and photos about his progress on his blog at: ocjthegreatloop.wordpress.com

FAST FACTS ABOUT THE GREAT LOOP:

The circumnavigation of Eastern North America by water is known as the Great Loop, America's Great Loop or the Great Circle Route.

More than 100 boat owners notify America's Great Loop Cruisers' Association (AGLCA) that they planned to attempt the loop every year.

The most common boats are recreational trawlers between 10 and 14 metres long.

The size of the boats is restricted by the limited draft (1.5 metres in some locations) and the 5.8 metre height of a bridge in Chicago.

People traveling the Great Loop are known as "loopers".

 

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