“That was the hardest thing, giving up our home,” said Amy Deutl. “The process of letting go of all those things that you held so dear for so many years and just taking what you need, just the bare necessities. That was one of the hardest parts.”
Over 300 days ago, Amy and David Deutl left behind their hometown of Moretown, Vermont, to travel the country by boat. The 36-foot 1980 Albin trawler is named “Selah Way” from a Hebrew word meaning “pause and consider” or “meditate.” The boat is powered by a single Ford Lehman diesel engine.
On June 14, 2019, the couple took off on the trawler to complete the Great Loop, a continuous waterway that traces the Great Lakes, the inland rivers of America’s heartland, the Intracoastal Waterway and the East Coast. They have covered over 5,000 miles so far and have less than 200 miles to go to complete the Great Loop, when they reach Donovan's Shady Harbor Marina in New Baltimore, NY, where they started. Their loop took them from the Hudson River to the Erie Canal, past Niagara Falls and into Lake Erie. They took the Detroit River to the Saint Clair River into Lake Huron and then under the Mackinac Bridge to Lake Michigan and down to the Chicago River and ultimately the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico, the Intracoastal Waterway and the East Coast.
FELL IN LOVE
When Amy and David met at Sugarbush as young Valley ski bums, they immediately fell in love. The couple settled in Moretown, where they built a house, raised kids and lived together for 40 years before taking the boat-buying plunge. At first, the couple kept their boat on Lake Champlain, where they went for boating expeditions every weekend. But weekends on the water weren’t enough. The tranquility of being on the boat was so addictive, that after just one year of boating on the lake, Amy and David decided to sell their house and become full-time globe-trawlers.
For the Deutls, the fear of of relinquishing all earthly possessions and domestic routines was quickly vanquished by the thrill of being out on the water. “What thrilled us was the beauty of being outside. The sense of peace. Knowing that we don’t need much to be happy.”
In the midst a pandemic and anxiety-provoking nationwide protests, the Deutls have discovered the joys of aqua therapy. “There’s a certain feeling you have being on the the boat. If you want to bring your blood pressure down, I say, get on the water,” said Amy.
If that on-the-water feeling were a coin, heads would be peace, tails would be adventure. “Every day has been so brand new. Every day is a new adventure. There’s so much that you get to see!” said Amy. One memorable part of the journey was when the Deutls hit Chicago and passed through the city in awe of the skyscrapers on all sides.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, the Deutls would get out of the boat to explore these new cities and towns, eager to get to know the people. However, now they are more cautious. “Now, instead of going to a marina, we choose to anchor out. When we need food, fuel, we are really careful about it. We don’t use public bathrooms. Travel off the boat is minimal,” said Amy.
Still, even if the Deutls had known the coronavirus was coming, it’s doubtful they would have have canceled the trip. They didn’t even cancel when Amy received a shocking medical diagnosis shortly before departing.
“Six months before we took off on this trip, I got diagnosed with bladder cancer. I had some major surgery done,” said Amy. “It was determined that I needed to have treatment every three months. We had to coordinate for that.” After getting treatment in Vermont, Amy saw doctors and surgeons in Michigan, Chicago and Florida. Now, the Deutls are in New Jersey moving along quickly with minimal stops because Amy is up for another round of treatment. They hope to finish the loop by June 10.
When they finish, the couple will be deemed “Loopers.” When asked if they planned to return to life on land, Amy said no. “After we’re done, we’re going to get another boat, just a tiny bit bigger, and continue living on the boat and traveling.” They plan to spend the warmer months around Vermont and the Great Lakes and the winter in the Florida Keys and the Bahamas.