Engine Re-Build – Poem

The stern with Yooper Looper Name installed.

The knock in the engine
Would not go away,
So my wife Margaret, and I Decided

to stay.

Until we could figure out –
What, where and why,
For we were afraid,
Our propulsion would die.


Learning more than I thought,
I ever would need,
Digging into that diesel,
Was a challenge, indeed.

Checking injectors, valves,
Wrist pins and pressures,
We found a bad piston,
Needing serious measures.

This piston, from cylinder #6 had overheated at some point.










Deciding to re-build,
The Lehman that day,
Resulted in changing,
Our plans just to stay.



The season was getting
Too late to depart,
Even if the re-build,
Went fast from the start.

Jack Stands, Timbers and Steel I-Beam to hoist engine.

Preparing to winch up
The engine was slow,
Supporting the deck
With beams from below.

Detaching transmission,
Throttle, shifter and mounts,
We lifted the beast,
As if only an ounce.

I built a steep ramp
With screws and some wood,
Up to the port gunwale,
As strong as I could.


The port door was narrow,
So just to be sure,
I removed all the trim
To gain an inch more.

Pulling engine out with excavator through port-side door.

Sliding on oil pan,
And sledding on tin,
Pulling thousand pound motor, Up with a grin.

It happened so easy
With barely a glitch,
Excavator and straps,
Plus little brother Mitch.

I’ll spare you the details,
So not to bore,
Sometime over coffee,
I can tell more.


Suffice it to say,
The rest just cost money –
Even that part,
Was ok with my Honey.

Hauled to Green Bay with boat trailer for re-building

Now with more time,
To plan and to think,
Even so, that Great Loop trip,
Will come in a wink.


The newly re-built engine coming back down the ramp.
The Yooper Looper ready to depart
Son Bruce, testing out the dinghy.
Engine on the way out.
It just BARELY fit through the 25 inch doorway. I had to remove the trip around door, and still only had 1/2 inch to spare.
Supports for hoist with steel I-beam
Season ending snow on the boat before going back to dry-dock.


Delayed, But it’s All Small Stuff!

Getting ready the night before departure.

The boys were all eager
And ready to go
We lined up our gear
All in a row.

Bruce made the comment
“It’s way too much stuff.
We’re never going to fit it
The room’s not enough.”



But into the cupboards
The closets and drawers
We fit all our belongings
And had room for s’more.

Before leaving our hometown
We slept on the lake
But unfamiliar noises
Kept us awake.

With sore eyes and muscles
But still full of life
I started the engine
Which woke up my wife.

At 6 in the morning
We left from our slip
For the start of our journey
Not aware of a blip.

I think a gremlin
Crawled in overnight
And put a kink in my engine
Just out of sight.

There started a noise
A clicking of sorts
That made me concerned
So I turned back to the port.

“We’ll get this noise fixed,”
I said to the boys,
“And be back on our way,”
To continue our joy.

But one thing led to another
As projects sometimes go
And we are pulling the motor
To get down below.

To locate the problem
And give her new life
So she’ll pure like a kitten
And relieve our strife.

So we’ll make a new plan
To go on our trip
When the engine is fixed
And get over the blip.

Son, Bruce washing the windows for fly bridge.

Because I hadn’t any friends coming, Margaret decided to come the day before I was to push off to cross Lake Superior, so we had a little extra planning and running at the last minute. A run to the grocery store (because she didn’t quite approve of my menu planning, or lack of it) to get a few more vittles, a stop by work to tie up some loose ends there, and a quick drive to Lac La Belle to get her meds. Gramma Ellen met us at the dock to see us off, but I had mechanic Craig checking over a couple things and that delayed us more…(I had to be sure the Yooper Looper was mechanically ready.) We took an evening cruise, and went back to the dock for the night since it was late evening. After a meal of hamburgers and a WalMart run for some engine cleaner and a nylon line, we hit the bunks, and left the dock at 6:30 the next morning.
Now, with another glitch to fix and not knowing how long it will take, we’re not sure when we’ll leave, but the earliest possible is next weekend. Oh, well. As Richard Carlson says in the title of his book: “Don’t sweat the small stuff and it’s all small stuff.”

Bruce in our tender, or dinghy.

Pondering and Waiting (for Spring)

Before Refinishing

As I look outside at the pure white snow
I wonder, “When is it time to go?”
When the trawler is ready and the work is all done
Will the boys be eager, or will they want to run?

The older one soon to be 16 has a friend
Who’s a girl, so happy, time together they spend.
The younger one just turned into a teen
When on the water, if it’s rough he turns green.

Then there’s my wife who throws up at the thought
Of bouncing on surf, turns her stomach in knots.
She’ll skip Lake Superior and board later on
And ride the St. Mary’s river and beyond.

Will they want to stay home
Where it’s safe, calm and friendly?
And I travel alone?
Soon we will see….
Recently, I refinished the main wheel and painted the cupboard doors and drawers. Soon, Margaret will design some graphics for the larger doors for the 2 heads and sliding doors for closets. Again, I find myself wishing my boat could be indoors where I could access it and do some stripping and varnishing, and reinstalling all the parts I have at home, but it’ll have to wait until spring.
Next week, M and I will be in Florida for a printing conference (that she’s attending) and I’ll do some browsing in marinas, marine stores and whatever else I can find to do. (If you’ll be there, maybe we can hook up for some fishing or? (coffee, lunch etc…)
By the way, everything Great Loop related is summarized and detailed on their website: http://www.greatloop.org/ It’s a great resource, so check it out. They also have a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AGLCA/
Another good Facebook page is Trawler Living and Cruising: https://www.facebook.com/groups/trawlerlving/

After MANY coats of varnish and LO.TS of sanding

Brightening up and Modernizing Cabin and Staterooms


Sanding the varnish to rough it up in prep for painting

Inside of the boat
It is so dark
So my wife wants
To give it some spark

She says the cabin
Needs to be light
I agree to paint it
To avoid a fight

She carefully chooses
The right color paint
‘Cause she’s a designer
That’s something, I ain’t


I can handle the painting
Though I’m not a pro
I can brush it on
It’s a job I know

I proceed
With her suggestions
And ask her
No questions

Because as they say
If you make a happy wife
Then you have
A happy life
(See more below this box)

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Applying paint with roller, after brushing the detail

The Yooper Looper trawler is coming along, but now I’m wishing it was stored inside where I could get at it to get some more work done before springtime arrives. Oh well, some of the work will have to wait. Meanwhile I will finish up the drawer and door painting and continue planning our trip that we’ll take next fall. It’s still been fun fixing up and researching the possibilities, both for the trip itself and the different methods/options for boat improvements. Launch date: June 1st!
The more I think about it, the earlier I realize we should leave from here. In other words, I’d like to be here (at home) for the months of September and October for both of my youngest sons’ football games, but waiting until November to leave from here is out of the question… my boat has to be waaayyy south by November. This means I might have to leave here by the beginning of August to allow a whole month to get to St Louis, or beyond… like Paducah, MO., then drive, or fly back for a couple months.
I just did a quick calculation: From Lac La Belle to Paducah, MO is about 1200 miles by water, so that translates to 6 days of around the clock continuous running or 12 days of 12 hour per day. Of course I wouldn’t do either of those scenarios and besides there are delays for fuel stops, maintenance, touristing etc… so realistically, it’s a 3 week trip (or so). The bottom line is, I’d like to do this part of the trip before Labor Day, leave the boat there and come back home for the football season, then go back to Paducah in November to continue a (leisurely) tour, vacation, and relaxing boat ride down to Florida and decide what to do from there.
We most likely will spend a couple days in Nashville to see what that music town is about, and try to see an NFL game along the way, something me and my sons have never experienced. We’ll be looking for other ideas to keep the boys interested along the way.
Below are some pictures of my recent painting progress.
By the way, we are still looking for a supervisor at Designotype, (so the shop can continue to run in our absence) in case you know someone good who’s looking for a career. See details here or pass along this link: https://www.designotype.com/feature/careers/

Completed doors
Before and after doors
Completed drawers
Main helm wheel, needs some re-finishing

Changed Plans, Trip Delayed

Doors in my basement waiting for improvements.

Our plans to leave
Pushed back a year
My dream remains
To ship out from here

We’ll wait a year
And then depart
From our home port
To make the start



The boat’s not ready
And I need money
To make preparations
To go where it’s sunny

I’ve removed from the trawler
All the doors
And brought them home
Including the drawers

Sanding and painting
Will make them look nice
My wife’s bound to like them
Especially the price

Then next spring
When the weather is right
We’ll splash it in
To test if it’s right

Next summer on Superior
Should be a good test
We can work out the bugs
And be ready for the best

The Illinois River
Mississippi then Ohio
Then down the Ten-Tom
Nearby is the Bayou

Arriving at Fort Meyers
In early Spring
Returning home
To continue fishing!

Trawler wheel and drawers and cupboard doors.

The past summer was a busy one – fishing and sightseeing made it a great summer, in spite of the setbacks.

At the beginning of the season, my starboard motor on the Cruisers (the Fishin’ Mission) was overheating, so I had to replace it and I ended up losing a couple weeks and a substantial amount of “raha” (That’s money, if you didn’t know.) Then the 115hp Mercury outboard on my Harborcraft (the Helm-n-Buoys, and yes it’s HarbOrcraft, not HarbErcraft) needed some major attention. The bottom line is that the bottom line looked a little smaller, dollar wise, and work on the Yooper Looper (the live-aboard trawler) ground to a halt for most of the summer.

These setbacks give me time to restore more trawler wood pieces, and my wife more time to mentally prepare for this adventure. As mentioned, I have some trawler walk through doors, cabinet doors and all the drawers at home in my basement to do some refinishing/upgrading – basically a new look to brighten up the 2 salons and cabin areas.

There are still lots of little wrinkles to work out, and a few big bumps. We need to hire and train a “manager type”…someone able to take over most responsibility at Designotype Printers when we leave. Also, with 2 boys playing football next fall, September and October, I need to be home, while most Loopers (other boaters taking the same trip) are progressing down the Mississippi or other parts of the route south of Chicago. I’m thinking maybe I can leave early to mid-August in order to get the boat down to the Mississippi by Labor Day, then go home for a couple months for football season, then commence the trip in November. We’ll have to research this option a little more.

I have many people that expressed interest in joining us on our boat for a night or 3 at some point along the way, and the invite stands to any who may be interested in the same. Let me know and I’ll add their (or your) email address to


keep you updated.

Messy inside cabin showing helm.
Messy Inside Cabin, towards stern
Winterized! Still have to install prop, rudder and swim platform. Notice the new bottom paint.

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. (http://www.fineyachtfinishing.com/) 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: http://sandpointcharters.com/off-season-planning-dreaming/
The boat that I’ll rename the “Yooper Looper” blog here: http://sandpointcharters.com/my-recent-aquisition-great-looper-boat/
On Facebook, Sand Point Charters page, I have some pictures and posts: https://www.facebook.com/Sand-Point-Charters-LLC-117105408355629/

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

or 4. Join me on the boat for a portion of the trip (1 to 3 nights), sign up here:

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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. (http://www.greatloop.org/) 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: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recreational_trawler) 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 (http://www.designotype.com/). 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 www.gofundme.com 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