All my life I’ve dreamed up off-the-wall adventures. Like riding coast-to-coast on a moped. Didn’t happen. Or maybe buying a used pickup truck camper insert, sticking a pair of pontoons under it and circumnavigate the eastern United States. That’s called “The Great Loop.” Didn’t happen that way, but as a yacht captain I did “The Loop” in two stages; ’74 and ’75 and was PAID to do it! I always wanted to sail across an ocean and in ’91 I did. From Antibes, France (between Cannes and Nice) to Fort Lauderdale, FL. There have been other crazy ideas, too, but your getting the idea.

Everyone who’s read Huckleberry Finn has to have dreamed of floating on The Big Muddy. I did at a college on the river’s banks about 30 miles north of Hannibal. As part of the Great Loop I did the lower part of the river from Alton, IL, to New Orleans but there’s that long stretch between Minneapolis and Alton I’d like to close. 

But I’m 74 years old. Had a heart attack ten years ago and I carry three stents in my coronary arteries.  My fingers are gnarled with arthritis. AND I have severe COPD. BUT there are still some whack-o schemes I’d like to pull off. With just a monthly Social Security deposit, I’m asking for help to accomplish this one and to raise people's awareness of the disease along the route. 

When I started this campaign I was looking for funding to buy a boat to accomplish the wish. In less than a week someone came forward and GAVE ME A BOAT!!! But there’s a lot of miscellaneous gear like a camp stove and cooking utensils, foul weather togs,  a hand-held VHF radio to talk to lock masters, anchors, fenders, rope, etc. that I’d need. I hope to raise $5,000 for the venture.

Having done the lower part of the river I’d veer left at the Ohio River and take the Tennessee Tombigbee to Mobile, AL and the Gulf of Mexico. That route was only in the talking stages back in ’75. Most nights I’d anchor or beach the boat on an island, not just to keep costs down, but because I like the tranquility being “on the hook” offers.

Part of this idea, which I’d document along the way, is to convince people with similar health problems not to confine themselves to an easy chair. Voyages like this generate media attention along the way and I'd use that time to raise people's awareness of COPD and to try and show others with COPD that they can accomplish their dreams, too. Slower than most people because of breathing difficulties but still it's no reason to confine yourself to a chair in front of the one-eyed mind-destroyer. If I get enough funding to do this, whatever money is left at the end of the trip will be donated to the American Lung Association. If I don’t raise enough money by winter’s end I will donate what has been raised to the same cause.


Richard Philbrick
Pompano Beach, FL

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