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Update from the voyage

May 31, 2011

The May 25, 2011, edition of The North Fort Myers Neighbor reported that a local resident had launched a 6,000-mile voyage to raise funds for veterans and set a Guiness World Record for his trip in a 26-foot pontoon boat circumnavigating eastern North America via the Intracoastal Waterway.

Here is a recent update sent from sea by George Sinko, who is the captain of the vessel, through friend Mike Matera, co-owner of the Palms Restaurant at Sabal Springs, where many ideas for the journey were hatched:

Great Loop Boat Log

Aug. 11, 2010 – Present

Is it OK to start the engine? A question that I wanted to ask since March 15, 2011, when we ordered the Mercury 115 HP EPI outboard. Go ahead, she is all yours, replied Pat my friend and Offshore Performance mechanic. With a turn of the key, the engine came to life and just hummed like no other outboard engine I have ever heard. Wow, was I excited and ready to go on the sea trials.

As we pulled away from the ramp, my spirits were high and my mind was running away with so many thoughts of past and future events that soon would take place as I attempt to navigate the 6,000-mile Great Loop ICW from Fort Myers to Fort Myers or out the back door and into the front door in 4-5 months.

I drifted back in time and recalled that this challenging experience and opportunity all started in our team room in Baji Iraq in the fall of 2008. I was working as a contractor on my fifth tour to Iraq, as a medical officer, a retired Special Forces Medic 18D, operating a clinic in support of security operations for the FOB. Hey Papa Doc, what are you going to do when you get out of this sand pit?

“I’m going to do the Great Loop, one day at a time on a pontoon boat in support of the SOWF!”

On July 21, 2010, I handed in my R&R (resignation and retirement) papers to the VA, retired on Aug. 5, 2010, and on August 11, 2010, Mr. Mark Renney, sold me a 1992, 26-foot Palm Beach pontoon boat, in “as is condition” for the sum of $2,000. As is condition meant that from the pontoons up the boat was a piece of junk and a fun restoration project that would take me until today and some $16,000 to complete and as most of you know, with a boat, your project is never complete.

Where did the time fly? For the past nine months I have been working on the boat project. I striped the boat to the pontoon tubes, cleaned each tube, and I-beam cross members. I sand blasted each I-beam and painted all 12 of them with rubberized under coat paint and then aluminum Rustoleum paint. Next came the new floor and carpet. We cleaned and painted the side railing, which were in great shape and put them back on the boat.

Today’s sea trials went very well and more than expected. We tried several props and found that the stainless steel prop was the most efficient and economical giving me 1.9 gal per hour at 10 MPH and 2.2 gal per hr at 15 MPH. I shouldn’t be traveling more than 15 MPH most of the time because of the no wake laws. Great news in this current economy with gas prices ranging around $3.85 per gallon.

Look for more installments online at or future issues.

Readers can learn more about the cause — Special Operations Warrior Foundation — at


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