Sometimes, waiting feels like magic. Young bodies snuggled in Christmas Eve beds waiting for the first crack of dawn. The first crisp cool breeze in the air just before the seasons change. The ripe hopes and expectation before the first game of the season.
Sometimes, waiting is torture. As first-time loopers, we had never crossed the Gulf of Mexico before. Sure, we'd read turned the pages of various guide books until our fingers bled, reading about the various towns and even buoys along the way, the big waves and long nights, and the lone giant dragon on the loop.
And we'd religiously read Eddy's Weather Wag. If you're a looper, you've probably heard about Eddy Johnson, a platinum looper in Spiritus, the beautiful Grand Banks. As you approached the Gulf, you were likely starting to read seriously about your own weather window, the serendipitous slice of time when winds slowed down and the waves laid down before you just enough to allow you to sneak across the Gulf of Mexico. Eddy says the best crossings are the boring ones with quiet stories about star-filled nights and calm seas.
We started reading about our own weather window about the time we started planning for our loop and we never stopped. We learned the magic criteria. Three web sites, predicting less than two foot seas, and winds fifteen miles an hour or less. We knew the rules.
We hoped to find other loopers to cross with us, someone else who knew the way and wanted a buddy boat. There's safety in numbers, and in experience too. We had a problem, though. We needed to teach a class to pay for our loop. We planned to run to Apalachicola and then wait for the right window. Our class would run from Tuesday to Friday morning. As we read the blog, Eddy mentioned a weekend window that might open on Saturday, and then promptly followed his own guidance to pronounce it closing. Not closed, mind you, but closing. All the while, the loopers and other crossers gathered over the week in Carrabelle, the starting point of the great sleepless slog across the Gulf.
And then the windows came. Wednesday. Then, Wednesday night. We knew the other loopers would be gone by the time we crossed. We'd be going alone, and it felt like we'd waited too long, and our whole loop was in jeopardy. Then, as we waited on that long lonely dock, a 36' Grand Banks pulled up right behind us. We raced out to help them tie out as all loopers do, and there they were. Linda and Eddy on Spiritus.
That night, they invited us over for drinks and it was like we had always been friends. We told them about the great kindness the Weather Wag was for us. The blog gave us the confidence to do the loop safely. Linda talked about the places they had been, the looper culture, and about loopers they'd met along the way.
The following morning, Eddy walked me through the crossing, bit by bit. He helped me simplify my plans and whittle down the crossing window to two criteria. He walked me through the sites he used to check the journey. With a few swift words of advice, he took our tentative plans and made them solid and safe.
Eddy knows how much that experience meant because I told him. He even sent a few notes about his Thursday crossing, and inquired Friday about our crossing. The greatest lesson I learned from the spirited Spiritus couple is that the loop is about relationships. I hope we'll see them again somewhere down the line. If not, we'll always have Eddy's Weather Wag, the blog that's anything but a WAG.