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'Only in America' revisited: Boater taking new voyage with hopes of similar outcome

June 2, 2011 | 12:13 pm

John Mirassou with his sons Jack, left, and Matthew, right. Boater John Mirassou hopes to revisit his youth. His vessel of choice, however, is not a time machine but a 19-foot Montauk Boston Whaler.

Mirassou was in his 20s when he and two friends hopped aboard his 17-foot-long Whaler in 1987 and took a 6,100-mile adventure from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., to New Orleans, via New York and Chicago.

Along the way, they relied on the generosity of the people they met, both on the water and in nearby towns. People took them in, fed them and formed a kind of network of camaraderie, said Mirassou, who chronicled the experience in his book, "Only in America: An American Boating Adventure."

"The book really seems to strike a chord with people," the 48-year-old Torrance resident said. "I believe it shows who we were, who we can be, who we want to be."

Mirassou has decided to test the waters, so to speak, to see for himself if the hospitality shown more than two decades ago still prevails today. On Friday, he'll be departing on a monthlong, 1,100-mile odyssey from Norfolk, Va., to Boston, traveling through waterways and cities large and small with plans to arrive in Boston Harbor to participate in the Parade of Boats on the 4th of July.

"Upon reading the story, people are asking if the America portrayed in the book still exists. So we're going to board the Whaler again and find out," he said.

Joining Mirassou will be John Bertsch, who was along on the original journey in 1987, as well as friend Marty Burke.

A professional producer/videographer is also expected to be joining the group -- albeit on a support vessel -- filming the adventure for a possible documentary or television series as well as producing daily updates and weekly "webisodes," which can be followed on Mirassou's website.

Here's hoping Mirassou finds that some things never change, and that the charity of Americans toward others is as strong as it ever was. Even without a time machine.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: John Mirassou with his sons Jack, left, and Matthew. Credit: John Mirassou / onlyinamerica.biz