Photography By Scott McIntyre

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The Boat Next Door

Two liveaboard couples leave dry land and create a community on the water.

It’s a particularly hot morning on the Caloosahatchee River, the sun warms the back of my neck despite the clouds threatening an afternoon shower. The gentle, lulling snores of a sleeping schnauzer, named Jazzy, are audible in the background as he cuddles up against my side. Abby, a one-eyed Maltese, crawls across my lap to get to her owners sitting beside me. We’re poised around a table at the stern of April and Larry Smith’s home, an Aquila 44 power catamaran lovingly named One Eye Dog, with their boating buddies Steve and Debbie Russell. The Russell’s own Endeavour 500 power cat, dubbed Gypsies Palace, is docked next door. The four typically cruise from port to port together, and are part of a group of boaters known as Loopers—people who travel the approximately 6,000-mile Great Loop that encompasses waterways throughout the eastern United States and parts of Canada, including the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi River and channels that connect the Great Lakes. When the pandemic hit, the two liveaboard (a term used for people who res
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