Written by Roger Kamholz | Photography courtesy of Peter Walton
Far-flung New Zealanders aboard a Meridian 459 complete a Northern Hemisphere classic: America’s Great Loop. This photo essay tells the story.
The Great Loop, perhaps the most storied American boating journey, takes passengers on a far-reaching tour of lakes and waterways as they circle the eastern U.S., skirt the Gulf of Mexico and graze southern Canada. For the past year, those waters were a second home to Peter and Lyn Walton of Auckland, New Zealand. The couple completed the Loop—with stops in the Bahamas for relaxation—aboard their brand new 459, purchased from MarineMax Cape Haze, in Florida. After their unforgettable trip, the Waltons recently shipped the yacht to Auckland, where they continue to explore new and familiar waters alike.
“There are some dimensions to keep in mind when you are doing the loop,” explains New Zealander and 459 owner Peter Walton. “i think the highest clearance you can have is about 19 feet, 2 inches. there’s a fixed railway bridge in Chicago that’s 19-2, so you need a boat that will fit under that.What we liked about the 459 is that we didn’t have to do anything to get it under that 19-foot-2 except put down the radio antenna.”
The second factor to consider is comfort: “Because we knew it was going to take a while—we thought we might spend eight months to a year doing the loop—we re-ally wanted a condo that cruises,” Peter continues. “We knew we were going to have guests on the boat at times. And the good thing about the 459 is with the aft stateroom and the forward stateroom, you have two really, really nice areas where you can have people on the boat.”
Not only are the staterooms comfortable, notes Peter, “you’ve got two separate areas on the boat. You’ve got a great bed at each end, a great shower at each end.” Thus, the captain and ﬁrst mate can retire and refresh without interrupting guests—an added measure of privacy and convenience that makes all the difference.