Each February a handful of zealous boaters set out for a 5,500-mile journey up the East Coast through the Great Lakes and down the Mississippi River, then loop back to where they started
The boaters come together twice along the way - once in the spring and once in the fall - and this spring, for the first time, their journey has brought them to a rendezvous on the Grand Strand.
About 40 boats sailed into the marina next to Grand Strand Resorts at Barefoot Resorts on Sunday, each bearing the flag for AGLCA or The America's Great Loop Cruisers' Association. The boats carried about 80 people, called loopers, who arrived in North Myrtle Beach for a three day conference known as the spring rendezvous.
The loopers made up the minority of conference attendees, said Janice Kromer, the association's executive director. Another roughly 150 people attending the conference are preparing for the loop, and many have yet to buy a boat, she said.
The rendezvous is a chance for many aspiring loopers to attend workshops and talk to current and past loopers to help them prepare. The meeting began in the late '90s as a loose exchange of information between boaters and became a formal organized conference about six years ago, Kromer said.