Great Loop Planning & Restoring the Trawler Up-date

With no blogs about our Great Loop adventure lately, one might assume the planning fell by the wayside. Not so! I’ve just been too enjoyably consumed with scraping, fixing, patching, gluing, sanding, painting, varnishing and buying supplies related to the above that it seems there’s no time left over.
In fact, from the time I wake up until I go to bed, there’s not an hour that goes by that I don’t do, or think about the projects related to the trawler. I’m not saying that’s ALL I do now, but it practically has become a full-time hobby. (I don’t use the word “job” because that has a negative connotation.)
I’ll let the photos from before and after tell most of that story, but one project in particular is taking an inordinate amount of time – the “back hatch” as I call it. This piece was the most weather-beaten item on the entire boat. It was so bad that I spent considerable time searching the internet’s boat salvage yards in order to find a replacement…one that I could just refinish instead of rebuild. In the end, I wanted it to be more original and couldn’t find a close replacement. The pictures show the rest of the story.


Fly Bridge Wheel – Before


Fly Bridge Wheel – After

As for plans:
First of all Margie suggested, and I agree, a great boat name would be “Yooper Looper.” We are open to other suggestions if you have ideas.
I plan to begin my trip by leaving from the Keweenaw Peninsula in late September to early October (without Margaret) and head East into Sault Ste. Marie. She currently plans to stay off the big lakes because I can’t just drop her off if the seas are big and she gets seasick.

She will most likely join me to go through the locks and down the St. Mary’s River to Drummond Island. We’ll spend a night or two there, as we haven’t been there before. After that, we’ll head west through the Straits of Mackinaw and cruise under the Big Mac. Depending if we have passengers who would like to see Mackinac Island, we may stop off there for a day. Beaver Island and/or the Traverse City area may be exploring possibilities too, if the weather holds.


Front Hatch – before


Front Hatch - After

Front Hatch – After

Margaret will probably not be along for the Lake Michigan portion, but will again join me in Chicago. From there we will take the Chicago River down to the Mississippi, but we don’t have it planned out beyond that. Apparently, the boats that have made the trip say the biggest mistake you can make when looping is having a firm plan and a schedule.
As mentioned before, we are ready and willing to take on passengers for a ride of a night or three, or think about just joining us for dinner or coffee somewhere along the way.



Compass - before

Compass – before

Until then,
Happy Trawling


Swim-platform that still needs finishing


Bow Pulpit Platform all finished


Flybridge storage doors


Brian Cleaning Front Hatch Pieces – not yet done. Biggest project so far, but almost finished… will show picts when done.


Finished steps up to Flybridge


Inside steps to aft cabin

Trawler Re-store Up-date

Light Arm4
Before starting, peeling paint and old lights

My dream stays afloat
As the winter flies by
I think about boats
While I stay warm and dry.

After scraping old paint off and re-painting.

Having just missed the tornadoes in New Orleans by one day, we are back in the snowy Keweenaw. M and I spent last weekend below sea level, and as she attended a three day printing conference, I roamed the streets, rode the trolley and talked to people. Among them were, an Australian lady, a Louisiana charter captain, a retired resident fisherman, a swamp tour guide, a couple of writers and, yes, my wife. No, I didn’t get to fish on this trip, but maybe soon I’ll get to pull some fish through the ice.
Now that I’m back in my own element, my boat is getting more of my focus so I can eventually roll along on the waves and drift down the Mississippi.

If you’d like to test your sea legs on a part of our nautical adventure (starting next fall), we are planning a night at Drummond Island and another at Mackinac Island for starters. For the Lake Michigan stretch, I’d like to go along the Western shore, perhaps by Door County, Algoma, Port Washington, and do a little fishing in the Milwaukee area before entering the Chicago River. I’ll map out some more possibilities as I can fathom more time. M doesn’t plan to accompany me for all of the Great Lakes open water leg, as she’s a little motion sickness prone…or maybe I’ll convince her that Dramamine or the wrist bands actually work. She’ll have to test her sea legs beforehand.

Light Arm2
Re-assembled and lights replaced with new LED lights for less power consumption and brighter illumination.
Light arm
Testing the lights with 12 volt battery.

Meanwhile, here’s an update on my refinishing progress. I bought some tools: some specialty contour cabinet scrapers (and I’ve ordered another set of contour scrapers), and a Dewalt cordless multi-tool that I will mostly use for detail sanding. I first made the mistake of buying the tool, batteries and charger all separate, until I realized they come in a more complete and cheaper kit, so I returned the first purchase and bought the kit. Why cordless? Because my boat’s on dry-dock with no power.

To remove the old finish, I’m just using scrapers and a heat gun, without refinishing chemicals because of advice I got from a professional boat restorer, Mary. ( Maybe I’ll break down and try some paint stripper. I’m not sure about what kind of finish to use yet…have any advice? Sikkens Cetol, varnish, urethane, epoxy? If you have expertise and/or an opinion, please let me know. Mary’s advice is to use 10 coats of oil based spar varnish, thinning out the first coats to seal the wood, then lots of full strength coats. It seems to me (but I’m not the expert here) there must be a quicker, easier finish that gives a nice result.

If you’d like to catch up on other posts –
Blog about the loop dream:
The boat that I’ll rename the “Yooper Looper” blog here:
On Facebook, Sand Point Charters page, I have some pictures and posts:

Inquiries are coming
From friends near and far
Who want to go cruising
From wherever they are.

My Recent Aquisition – “Great Looper” Boat

Recently, I mentioned that I made an offer on a trawler to be used for my Great Loop adventure. Well, I bought it… here is a picture… from a few years ago when it was in the water. It needs some TLC now, and I will be working on her in the spring.

This Marine Trader is my "Looper" boat. (Not a charter boat) But I can take "friends" anytime.
This Marine Trader is my “Looper” boat. (Not a charter boat) But I can take “friends” anytime.









If you want to follow:

1. Progress on the boat

2. Blogging about prepping for the trip

3. Blogging about the trip itself

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Follow me on this…there’s something in it for YOU!

I’m still planning (some people might call it dreaming in between Lake Trout fishing dreams) on going on a long boat trip and hoping I can make it happen sooner rather than later. I’ll do it between my summer fishing and sightseeing charters, during the charter-less dog mushing days of Copper Country winters. This is not just ANY boat trip. This one is over 5000 miles long and requires about 1 year to complete. (Two winters’ worth.) It’s known as The Great Loop. ( From my Lac La Belle port, I would pass Stannard Rock lighthouse in Lake Superior, then cruise across to the St. Lawrence River, to Lake Huron, under the Mackinaw Bridge,

The Big Mac from below.
The Big Mac from below.

down through Lake Michigan to the Chicago River, follow the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico, go around Florida and head up the East coast (where there are plenty of lighthouses to be seen) and back into the Great Lakes. (Click this link)

As you can imagine, and Margaret keeps reminding me, there is some water to plow through before it can happen. (I tend to forget this planning work, so here I am logging a plan.)

A boat like this Marine Trader would be nice! I’m looking for a boat now.

1. I need another boat, so please support me on this and tell my wife. Yes, I know, I already have at least a half dozen boats. I don’t need a reminder, because I believe you never can have too many, but like fishing rods or golf clubs, there is a special application for each type. The type of boat I need for this dream trip is called a trawler. (see this link: It’s a live-aboard vessel, like a motor home, except it floats.

Now, you may be thinking I already have a live-aboard since my Cruisers is large enough to cruise and fish in Lake Superior, but it’s not a trawler. A trawler is a slow moving craft that is much more efficient on fuel because of its hull design and the slower speed. Suffice it to say, mine is good for relatively fast, short trips and a trawler is good for efficiency at long distances. I think I have my wife convinced on this one.

2. We are still tied to our printing company ( Maybe I better re-word that…Margaret is bound there, and I’m bound to her – by choice – I love her. Even though I don’t work at Designotype on a regular basis anymore (not at all for the last 7 summers) Margaret is still one of 3 supporting legs holding up the business. Try to imagine pulling one of 3 legs out from under a table! She just has to install a new graphic artist, (as a 4th leg), go through the training process with him or her, then she can join me on this dream sabbatical. (By the way, the shop is for sale, and profitable, in case you want to live here in this beautiful Keweenaw Peninsula, see listing here: Designotype for sale link.

3. We still have 4 kids in school, and one in college. Ok, I DO have an easy answer to this one – our kids participate in virtual school, so anywhere they can log on to the Internet, they can work on their schooling and the college son doesn’t need us home.

One of the MANY Mississippi locks to navigate.

4. We have rentals, like this one at Lac La Belle, to tend to. Find hired help. (Anyone looking for part-time work?)

5. Our bills would still come in, needing someone to monitor and pay them. Easy – our college boy needs something else to keep him busy…or our senior daughter. Or maybe we can have them emailed and we can pay online.

6. Money. We’d have to eat and buy fuel for the boat, and those things still cost money. I did say a trawler is efficient, but it’s still thirsty. I’ll have to start saving for this and I have some other ideas:

a. Ask for donations (do you think would work?)
b. Ask you, my loyal supporter, to join me (for a fee) for 2 to 5 days and nights aboard the vessel to enjoy the boat life. Do you need a vacation? See, I told you there’s something in it for you!
c. Maybe someone has a boat that they want piloted down to Florida and they could pay me to do it. Then I could fly home and do the same thing for the east coast part of the loop. (I like this idea.) Actually, I’d be happy to do it at my own expense, but don’t tell anyone.

7. Kids sports. We only have one school sports enthusiast. He’s in High School and plays football. We’ll just have to delay until after next football season. Perfect, we’ll leave next November, just in time to miss the snow season.

Marine Trader – I nice boat that would certainly do the job.
A Grand Banks, with plenty of sleeping room for 6 or so people.
If money were not an issue, a Nordic Tug like this one would be my choice.
A Roseburough (local boat), that would work, but does not have a fly-bridge, thus, not much outside space to enjoy the scenery. A little pricey, too