Jim Norman, Artist

The Great Loop, Rediscovered
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Circumnavigating the Eastern third of the United States in a 20-foot "shanty boat"

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Join me on an adventure of rediscovery, as I build a 20-foot "shanty boat" and then circle the Eastern third of the United States, and document it all with the stories of the people I meet and the places I visit, in writing, art, photography and video.
 
 

No illusions: this is going to be a BIG project. The first step will be to build the boat. I'm no stranger to boat building, having already completed a sailing dinghy and six kayaks, but I have never undertaken a project like this before.
 
The aim is to build a small houseboat that will support me as I cruise up the Hudson River, across the Erie Canal, through parts of four of the five Great Lakes, then down the Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio, Cumberland, Tennessee and Tombigbee rivers, entering the Gulf of Mexico through Mobile, Ala., then through the Florida Everglades and up the Intracoastal Waterway and back to the lower Hudson River.
 
I'm a writer and artist, so my plan is to reflect on the places I travel through and the people I meet along the way. I'd like to capture the spirit of Claude Monet's "Studio Boat" for my home on the water over the cours of almost two years.
 
I've settled on a design by Roy Schreyer of Canada. It's a sweet 17 by 8 foot craft withe a draft of just 6 inches, so I should be able to tie up just about anywhere without running too hard aground.  I'm planning to add 3 feet to the length, giving me a little more space on the aft deck and a little more space in the cabin. Here's a picture of the boat I plan to build:
 
UNDER CONSTRUCTION>>>>>>>.
 

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