idea for the journey came from their old friend Jim Krogen,
who designed and built their boat. He told them of his plans
to circle the continent, but passed away at age 62 before he
could make the journey. The couple realized something
“You don’t know what hand life will deal you,” Sally said.
Krogen inspired the couple. Before retiring from their jobs
they spent a year planning the voyage. Cliff worked on the
navigational charts, while Sally called several Chamber of
Commerce offices throughout the country for insight into
With the course planned they set sail on May 3, leaving
behind their long time home of Key Biscayne. Of course their
16-year old orange cat Alex went along for the ride. First
they cruised up the coast, with stops in Vero Beach, where
Cliff marveled at the pristine beaches.
But the true wonders began upon leaving Florida’s waters.
They discovered quaint little towns throughout South
Carolina. They ate plenty of fresh shrimp and even learned
about the local rice industry at a rice museum. One of
Cliff’s fondest memories was visiting Washington, D.C. where
he admired the White House and the Washington Monument.
But perhaps the most visually dazzling site was cruising into
New York City, the eyes welcomed by the majesty of the
Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge and the World Trade
Center at the same time. And because they only had their
bikes with them, it was the first time the Brody’s ever
really used mass transit. They enjoyed the unique experience
of the New York subway system. They also recall how cordial
the locals were, total strangers approaching them with
directions if they seemed lost.
“We met so many nice people,” Cliff said. “It made you feel
good about America.”
The couple also enjoyed a variety of seafood as they traveled
throughout the different cities that hug the eastern coast.
First it was shrimp, then crabs, then clams, then mussels,
then lobster and in Canada the dish was fish and chips.
Alex, their tubby furball sidekick particularly liked
munching on shrimp.
Alas the winter season blew in with icy winds and made the
Hudson unnavigable. In October 1998, they dry docked the
Sally Ann IV at a boat yard in Vermont. Then they headed
west to Steamboat Springs, Co. where they own a home. Cliff
spent the hiatus driving a city bus three days a week, which
he says is a nice change of pace from his previous
profession of selling computer systems.
As the harsh winter subsided, the Brody’s headed back to
Vermont and once again hit the water in May of 1999. They
advanced through the Hudson, up the St. Lawrence River into
Canada, and down through the Great Lakes. Between Lake Huron
and Lake Michigan they visited a small, posh island
community called Mackinac. Cars, they discovered,
were not allowed on
the island, with bicycles as the primary mode of
transportation. They found this refreshing, for they had
grown accustomed to bicycling for miles to stores in some of
the continent’s more remote regions. Although the
speedometer broke down during the trip Cliff estimates
biking approximately 1,500 miles by trip’s end.
Enjoying Mackinac was also indicative of the couple’s
appreciation of island life during the epic journey. When
asked some of their favorite stops they mention Martha’s
Vineyard, Nantucket, and Cutty Hunk. Perhaps living on Key
Biscayne had some influence, they admitted.
“The islands were always special,” Cliff explained.
As they approached Wisconsin near Milwaukee the couple
considered turning back. Time was a factor and they figured
they already experienced the excursion’s highlights. They
had also hit some rough patches. While in Lake Erie a storm
made the waters choppy, “rough enough to be scary,” Cliff
explained. Another time, the boat had gotten tied up with
lobster traps near North Carolina. The couple recalls with
mild laughter one grounding incident near Georgia. They had
miscalculated the time for low tide. In the middle of the
night the keel hit the floor, the boat tilted and objects
within the boat went tumbling. Many of their video tapes
went flying out of a cabinet. The television and VCR were
fine, however; they’re bolted down.
But these were just minor inconveniences during a
magnificent experience. The Brody’s were having too much fun
and decided to head down the Mississippi. Although the area
had “lots of sameness,” lacking the East Coast’s diversity,
the couple agree it was worth it. After all, they saw the
buffalo. They witnessed a reenactment of the Civil War
battle at Shiloh in Tennessee. While there, two fishermen
gave the couple four fish for free and offered to descale
and gut them, too. Later in the voyage, they stopped in
Pensacola to visit the Museum of Naval Aviation where they
saw the legendary Blue Angel jets.
On Nov. 4, the Sally Anne IV returned to Key Biscayne
and docked at the Yacht Club. Sally spent a few days
substituting at Key Biscayne Community School, where she
helped start the CATS gifted program years ago. Cliff spent
his days working on the boat. Both visited friends. So after
327 days boating, hitting major cities like Boston and
Toronto, and not so major cities like Gainesville, Ala.,
after traveling 7.340 miles, the journey was over.
“It was wonderful,” Sally said. “My husband was fantastic at
the helm. We met the most wonderful, interesting people in
the United States. The only downside was missing our
families and friends.”
When asked if they would conquer the Great Circle Waterway a
second time, Cliff responded with a smile and said: “The
boat performed fantastically. We were certainly enriched,
but it was a once in a lifetime thing.”