A former teacher and naturalist, Ron Stob was a travel writer and photographer for the San Luis Obispo County (California)Telegram-Tribune from 1984 through 1998. Three “Back Roads” books document these travel adventures from Santa Barbara to Big Sur.
He and his wife, Eva, write and photograph for a variety of publications, including Trailer Boats Magazine, Power Cruising, Waterway Guide, Lakeland Boating, Power and Motoryacht, Heartland Boating, Soundings, Highways, and Bluegrass Unlimited. Features about them have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Boat U.S. Magazine and American Profile.
The Stobs have traveled throughout all 50 of the United States and abroad. Together, they learned about boats and cruised for nearly a year aboard their 40-foot trawler, Dream O’Genie. After moving to Tennessee they formed their own publishing company, Raven Cove Publishing, and published their award-winning bestseller, “Honey, Let’s Get a Boat...”: A Cruising Adventure of America’s Great Loop, the story of their 6300-mile cruise encompassing 145 locks around Eastern North America, known as the Great Loop or Great Circle Cruise. Eva was a clinical laboratory technologist and is an avid participant in their adventures. Her photos have appeared on the cover of several magazines. She was the instigation for the trip and the book, and there is little doubt that her hand is on the tiller.
In August 1999 they formed America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association, a network of boaters who cruise or dream of cruising the coastal and inland waterways of the Great Loop. The Stobs guided the Association for nearly eight years seeing nearly 4000 members pass through their membership roster. In the spring of 2007 it had become too much for them to manage by themselves so they passed the torch and have seen it grow in directions they could only dream about.
Their most recent book, Great Loop Side Trips: 20 Cruising Adventures on Eastern North America’s Waterways, is the sequel to their “Honey…” book. Every spring and fall for several years they hitched their 25-foot trailerable boat, Li’l Looper, to the pickup and hauled it to places they wanted to cruise. Great Loop Side Trips continues the adventures of discovering Eastern North America from the water’s edge.
Another book, A Cat Called Canoe, is about life with a long-haired black and white kitten that they adopted when they lived in their trailer at the Crosseyed Cricket Campground near Lenoir City, TN, while building their home on Tellico Lake. The tale of A Cat Called Canoe is a charming love triangle that tickles the funny bone and evokes angel voices.
The Stobs have been frequent seminar presenters at many events including United States Power Squadrons functions, boat shows, rendezvous, TrawlerFests, yacht clubs and libraries. Their professional affiliations are with Boating Writers International, North American Travel Journalists Association, Cat Writers Association and National Writers Association.
Ron and Eva reside with their current cat, Dulci, along the shores of the Little Tennessee River on Tellico Lake in the hills of East Tennessee. They travel and discover America’s scenic areas in their 5th-wheel travel trailer and explore the inland waterways in Li’l Looper. While they continue writing for boating and RV magazines, they also enjoy attending dulcimer festivals and playing old time and folk music together with Eva on the hammer dulcimer or autoharp and Ron on the acoustic guitar or mountain dulcimer.
America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association (www.greatloop.org)
We sent letters to the editors of several boating magazines encouraging the use of the term, “Great Loop” as opposed to the “Great Circle” for this circumnavigation of Eastern North America, garnering the Great Loop designation from the Waterway Guide 1994 Great Lakes Edition. In the letter we also indicated that we were forming America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association and included contact information for those interested in joining. The phone began to ring and our post office box began to fill with membership applications.
We pulled information together, bought a book on publishing newsletters, researched newsletters online and decided a bi-monthly one was right for us. We designed a logo (the original one with the globe and boats in it) and thought about how the newsletter should appear with the nameplate, masthead, feature articles and regular columns. We wrote the first newsletter from our personal experiences and sent it out in August of 1999. In it we appealed to the members to share their adventures. A friend set up the first website. The treadmill moved into action.
Members asked for a burgee for the fledgling group. Some suggested designs. Charter member Ed Huff, a graphics designer, offered his services and created an association burgee.
News got around. At Trawler Fests where we had become regular fixtures, Georgs Kolesnikov and Jack Rose set us up in a booth in the Expo tent and allowed us to pitch our book and the organization. The book gave readers the essence of the trip; the association provided details on planning, ports, routes, marinas, customs and a myriad of other issues that dreamers had on their minds as they planned their year-long odyssey. In February 2002 we began manning a booth with volunteers at the Miami Boat Show to introduce prospective members to the association.
In January 2000 the first BaccaLOOPerate Degrees were awarded to 13 members who had completed the Great Loop Cruise. In 2002 we began awarding MasterLOOPerate Degrees to those who had completed the Loop more than once.
We didn’t comprehend how little time two months is when you’re doing a serial publication. We mailed out one, and then begin working on the next one. Trips and vacations were planned around publication dates.
Jim Clausen took the names and email addresses of all the members who were doing the Loop in 2001 (the year he did his first Loop) and organized an e-mail list so they could stay in touch while cruising. In 2004 Steve Kromer took over the job of email coordinator which was the start of a new direction for the organization. That benefit alone is worth multiples of the yearly dues to cruisers on the Loop.
Members had been asking for rendezvous for some time but we kept putting them off until the Trawler Fest canceled its Grand Haven, MI, event in August 2001. We decided to go anyway and meet up with cruisers who were southbound on Lake Michigan. Jean and Garrett Mulder and Kay and Lee Ladd had things rolling by the time we arrived for that first “rendezvous” with 20 boats and 70 members. But one wasn’t enough for these enthusiastic members. “Let’s have another one in Fairhope, AL, on Mobile Bay in November,” they said. “Ron and Eva, you’re going to be there, aren’t you?”
“Well, yeah, I guess we’ll come. Who knows what you’ll plan if we’re not there.”
It was another wonderful time for Loopers and plans were laid for the next rendezvous in Kagawong, Ontario, the following July, then again in Fairhope in November, then again in Kagawong, then Fairhope. Dave Bernheisel suggested one on the east coast (Charleston, SC) in the spring of 2004, then we held one in Peterborough, Ontario, that summer in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the lift lock, then the first one at Joe Wheeler State Park that fall, then…, well, it keeps going.
More needs were met. An annual membership directory was issued listing members alphabetically, by state and by boat name. T-shirts were designed, then polo shirts. Caps and visors followed. We were getting into the clothing business. The table at shows and rendezvous was getting full and we were turning over a spare bedroom in the house to products. Someone suggested patches, then pins, so those items were soon delivered to the “warehouse.”
In 2004 we retired the original logo and adopted a new logo to match the design on the burgee and changed the look of the newsletter. The membership grew in waves, slowly at first, then in leaps and bounds. We established another category of membership, affiliate members, then embarked on a sponsorship program when cruising-related businesses wanted to get in on the action. A new website was designed in 2006.
In March 2007 the reins were passed to Janice and Steve Kromer who have taken the organization to a new level with emphasis on technology, using the Internet and the website for contact, purchases, information, membership and rendezvous registration. To contact them, go to www.greatloop.org (click the link at the top of this page) or phone (toll-free) 877-GR8-LOOP (877-478-5667).
Even under new administration the goal of AGLCA is still the same, establishing community and serving the Doers who are on the water, the Dreamers who need more information, and the Veterans who relive their own cruise and realize the value of sharing their experience, information, inspiration and guidance with newer members.
We are grateful for our affiliation with all of America’s Great Loop Cruisers and count it a blessing to be the instigators and founders of this great organization.
© 2009 Raven Cove Publishing