Larry McCart: Sailing the ocean blue

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Retired Indiana State Police Jasper Post detective and Patoka Lake Sailing Club member Larry McCart finds peace while adjusting sails.

Bedford Times-Mail

ORLEANS — Larry McCart barely needs more than a moment’s notice, and not much urging, before he’s adjusting the boom and heading out to sail the ocean’s blue.

Graphic courtesy Bedford Times-Mail

One might think that’s the benefit of retirement. After all, it’s been more than a decade since he retired as a detective with the Indiana State Police Jasper Post, but he has a hard time staying retired. Soon after he hung up his badge, he went to work as an investigator for Liberty Mutual Insurance. He tried to retire again after 10 years, but then he was called to work investigating fraud complaints for the Indiana Attorney General’s Office. He retired for a third time, and now, he claims the third time’s the charm.

Still, throughout all of those jobs and raising two children — Eliza Gordner and Andrew McCart — with his wife of 46 years, Carol Sue, he manages to hit the open water as much as he can.

“I just get the urge,” he says with a laugh.

The urge often takes him to the coast of Florida. He has a 37-foot sailboat docked near Fort Myers Beach. But it also takes him down the road from his Orleans home to Patoka Lake, where he moors a 22-foot sailboat and belongs to the Patoka Lake Sailing Club.

“There’s a boat community wherever you go,” McCart said.

He says his love of the water was fostered early. With family living in Fort Myers Beach, his parents often took him south for vacations. Then, while serving in the United States Army, he was stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, for 13 months.

“That’s really where I fell in love with the ocean,” he said.

The first sailboat he purchased was from Larry Incollingo. He took a sailing course at Vincennes University, and soon, he was off and running. His first long trip was on a chartered boat with Carol Sue around New England and Cape Cod, visiting Chatham, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, among other spots.

“I learned a lot as I went,” he said.

But it hardly matters what he’s doing when it comes to the open waters. He spends a lot of time sailing, but he’s also an accomplished scuba diver, who loves to head underwater in search of lobster.

“It’s peaceful for one thing, and it’s slow,” McCart said. “When you’re out there, you have all sorts of time to think. Plus, it takes some skill, so it’s a challenge. I like that part of it. I’ve had power boats, but it’s more of a challenge on a sailboat, trying to get from one place to another.”

Sarah Ann Jump/The Herald
McCart baked cookies at the Patoka Lake Sailing Club booth at Strassenfest in Jasper on Aug. 4.

And his trips are almost always on the spur-of-the-moment.

Once, he saw an advertisement in a magazine that sought volunteers to work on St. John, the smallest U.S. Virgin Island. There, volunteers would live in tents for free and get meals for half price in exchange for at least four hours a day of work in the state parks. He signed up and spent a month in the Caribbean.

“I think I was the oldest guy there,” McCart said.

But it afforded him amazing opportunities. He banked his hours, so when Carol Sue flew down for a visit, the two were able to sail all around the islands, enjoying life as tourists.

“I’d go back to the British Virgin Islands in a heartbeat,” McCart said. “We chartered a boat there for 10 days, and that was probably my favorite trip of all time. It is beautiful, absolutely stunning.”

More recently, he and Chris Boyer of Paoli joined two other men to sail a boat up the East Coast from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to New Haven, Connecticut. The boat was a 49-foot Hylas. It took the men two weeks to sail it 1,450 miles. The trip took them right through the New York Harbor, where they spent the night in the shadows of the Statue of Liberty.

“We took shifts,” McCart said. “It takes four men to run a boat like that up the coast, especially as you’re watching through the shipping lanes and running overnight.”

In recent years, he’s even sailed to Cuba from Key West, Florida. He spent five days near Havana before sailing back to the United States, and he’s sailed down the Tennessee River to Mobile Bay before crossing the Gulf of Mexico into Clearwater, Florida. He’s also sailed throughout the Caribbean, including trips to the Bahamas and Virgin Islands.

“It’s just what I love to do,” McCart said.


Contact Times-Mail Managing Editor Krystal Shetler at 812-277-7264 or by email at

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