Ray and Shelly Sirois complete ‘The Great Loop’

Mon, 06/13/2022 - 1:00pm

Ray and Shelly Sirois recently completed America’s Great Loop aboard M/V Shellerina a 39-foot trawlerstyle power boat. They will be cruising in the Boothbay area between now and early August.

For Shelly and Ray, “America’s Great Loop” was a 5,500-mile loop that included the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, the Hudson River, the Erie Canal, Great Lakes: Erie, Huron, and Michigan, then a series of rivers that go between Chicago, Illinois and Mobile, Alabama.They then crossed the Gulf of Mexico and the Okeechobee Waterway, before “crossing their wake,” as it is called, when they returned to the Ambrose Channel, Atlantic approach to New York City where their adventure began in May 2021.

“The route can vary somewhat based on individual preferences and side trips,” explains Ray Sirois. “Because of Covid-19, we were not able to include any of the Canadian ports or waterways on our first “Loop.” Perhaps in a few years we’ll do it again, and include such Canadian high points like the Trent Severn Waterway!”

Ray is a 1977 graduate of Boothbay Region High School, and he worked at the Boothbay Region YMCA for many years both before and after graduation. He regrets that he won’t make the graduation ceremonies at
BRHS this year, 45 years after he graduated. “We came close, but we didn’t make it up here in time. I am so proud of my years at that school, and at the YMCA.” He and good friend Mark Stover were the first lifeguards when the first YMCA swimming pool opened on Aug. 24, 1974. “Our Boy Scout credentials came in handy to get our jobs at the Y,” Ray recalls. Mark’s father Joe Stover was Scoutmaster for many years.

Ray is a vice president of Cloud Services at Microdesk, based in Nashua, New Hampshire. He also worked at Wright-Pierce in Topsham as director of IT for 20 years. Microdesk services architecture and engineering firms with software products, services and IT infrastructure. Ray explains, “Being able to do the Great Loop while also carrying a full-time job was a challenge, but it is not unique. Having a robust wireless Internet system aboard was the key to that success. Most of my conference calls are scheduled ahead of time and taken on a ‘soft phone’ with Zoom on my laptop. We also have an IP phone upstairs in the fly bridge in case an unscheduled call comes in while underway. If it is safe, I take the call!”

Ray credits learning a lot of his navigating and radio frequency networking skills from his father, Albert Sirois of East Boothbay. There are about 100-150 boats who complete The Loop in any given year, about 75% of the crews are retired or taking a leave of absence. “The rest of us still work on The Loop.”

Shelly is a retired travel agent. The couple will be married for 35 years this October. Both grew up “on the water.” They have one son, Nicholas, who is a pharmacy technician who lives on Long Island, New York.

Shelly says, “During our whole Loop, we have been looking forward to spending this summer in Maine.”

Shelly and Ray chronicle their cruising experiences on their blog: https://shellerina.com