Winthrop Harbor to Seneca, IL

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Installed some graphics while waiting in Winthrop Harbor
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Installed a “tuned” prop and cutlass bearing also.

We pulled out of harbor
Imperfect conditions,
Brucey reluctant
I had contrition.

Wind from the South
Our course from North,
We bounced along
Keeping our course.

Six diesel cylinders
All pulling well,
We bounced along
Pushing through swells.

Six hours later
Took down the mast
Pulled into Chicago
It was a blast.

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Chicago harbor lighthouse, where we lowered our mast to get under some low bridges.

After the lock
Which dropped us 6 feet,
Under multiple bridges
Was really neat.

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Grandson Rodney as we lowered to “river” level at Chicago lock.

Seeing sky scrapers
And thousands of people,
Passing under bridges
Even a steeple.

Trump building ahead
Strategically placed,
Lined up with the river
With towering grace.


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Trump tower lined up straight with the lock and river direction, and a low bridge right off the bat!

Most interesting part
Of our trip to date,
I wished we could stay here
But it was too late.

Lots of boat traffic
But NO traffic lights,
In downtown Chicago
Just didn’t seem right.

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Many tour boats on the river since it was Saturday.

Great lakes behind us
Now that’s a relief,
The rivers are flatter
I’ll hear less grief.

Over the next
Several hours we see,
Industrial sights
And lots of trees.

A couple harry moments
With barges so long,
They hog the whole river
With thrust that is strong.

Even my trawler
Which weighs quite a bit,
Gets pushed around easily
Could give me a fit.

Now as we sit here
At Seneca city,
Not moving along
Seems like a pity.

Storms coming through
But safely at dock,
Wish we could motor
Through Marseilles lock.

The locks are all backed up
With barges and tows,
The lock-master tells us
We better not go.

So now as I think about
What I should write,
I stare out the window
And ponder our plight.

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My view…”out the window, as I ponder my plight.” (a 50 foot “Prestige” yacht.)
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Tight “air draft” under this bridge.
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One of many large and long “tows”
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I think this is an overhead pipeline?
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This is what pushes the long barges, secured tight to act as it’s propulsion.
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Going down another lock
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This “tow” was 4 barges long x 3 wide… 12 barges in all!

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Sturgeon bay to Winthrop Harbor

Before my alarm
I woke the next morning,
The time change threw me
It gave me no warning.

The sky was lit up
We’d lost an hour,
Of travel that’s crucial
My thoughts – they went sour.

The forecast predicted
Strong wind on this day,
If that came true
We’d have to pay.

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The boys made some welsh biscuits on the boat. Yumm!!

Winds from port stern
Pushed us along
Wasn’t so bad
They never got strong.

The boys toured this Ludington tug in Kewaunee, WI, which is a self guided tour with electronic recorders.

That night in Kewaunee
The boys toured a tug,
There Margaret did meet us
In our bed it was snug.

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Lighthouse at Kewaunee port.

After a weekend
Home with the gang,
Me and the boys
Were off with a bang.

Out before sunrise
We had to make time,
MORE wind was predicted
And no time to pine.

Thick fog on the water
I had to rely,
On instruments only
Or we may die.

Warnings were issued
By NOAA somewhere,
On radio waves
Small crafts to beware.

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A half dozen birds hitched a ride during the fog. I think they were exhausted from flying and didn’t know where land was.

I told myself
I’ve done this before,
Less traffic to deal with
More miles we’ll score.

Port Washington for fuel
Pump-out and food,
Too late for touring
But the showers were good.

Tuesday’s lake waters
Were just the same,
Visibility lacking
But waves were tame.

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The Yooper Looper Sitting on the dock at Winthrop Harbor, Il
This marina is HUGE!! 1477 floating slips!

My eyes, the radar
Compass and chart,
We made Winthrop Harbor
Long before dark.Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing, tree, beard and outdoor

We’ve been cruising along
But not every day,
Half the time home
But not long to stay.

Leaving the boat here
Five days or more,
Home by the weekend
Then to restore.

Our food and water
And maybe our crew,
You’re always welcome
And I hope you do.

Come to visit our boat
And have some fun,
Call it adventure
Yooper Looper on the run!

No photo description available.
We went for a bikeride today, and stopped at a shooting range and found this inside… a model tank made from an army helmet.

Departure to 10 days Out

Some say dreams
don’t come true,
I dare to differ
I say they do.

To float on a journey
To Chicago and beyond,
We left from Houghton
To cross the pond.

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Several days later
We picked up my wife,
Her mother and gear
From Whitefish Point.

At Sault St Marie
Soon at the locks,
And down the St Marys
Then we did dock.Image may contain: one or more people and outdoorImage may contain: one or more people, ocean, sky, nature, water and outdoorImage may contain: sky, ocean, outdoor and waterImage may contain: one or more people, outdoor and water

At Detour Village
On a ferry we went,
To Drummond island
A few hours were spent.

The ladies went home
But we spent the night,
Left for St Ignace
At the first light.Image may contain: outdoorImage may contain: 6 people, people smiling, people standing and outdoorImage may contain: people sitting, ocean, outdoor, water and natureImage may contain: one or more people, shoes, tree, child, outdoor and nature

Under the big Mac
The next morning early,
On to Naubinway
The lake was real squirly.

Rocking and rolling
On big waves that day,
Loose gear scattering
About 5 footers I’d say.Image may contain: bridge, sky, ocean, outdoor and waterImage may contain: ocean, sky, cloud, bridge, outdoor and waterImage may contain: 2 people, people sitting, people eating, table, child and foodImage may contain: 2 people, people smiling, ocean, sky, outdoor and waterImage may contain: ocean, sky, outdoor, water and nature

Our next stop was shorter
Manistique we’d tie up ‘er.
Then go to a ball game
Followed by supper.Image may contain: sky, cloud, outdoor, water and natureImage may contain: 1 person, standing, ocean, sky, water and outdoorImage may contain: sky and outdoor

At Leo and Sarah’s
We spent the night
Then back to the boat
The weather looked right.

To push off with friends
Dawn and Chris from below
Who came from Grand Rapids
And wouldn’t you know:

We had a good time then
With trailing seas,
Wind and waves pushing
More than a breeze.

At Washington Island
We rode our bikes,
For many miles
A bit more than I liked.Image may contain: one or more people, people riding bicycles and outdoorImage may contain: sky, tree and outdoorImage may contain: house, sky, tree, grass, outdoor and natureImage may contain: plant, sky, outdoor and natureImage may contain: Dawn Carlson and Christopher Carlson, people smiling, bridge and outdoor

Pedaling by fields
And up to a tower,
Passing lavender plants
It took several hours.

The next day protected
Inside of Green Bay,
Continuing south
For most of the day.

Down to the Sturgeon
A pretty big bay,
Into the town there
Two nights on the way.Image may contain: 3 people, including Brian Helminen, people smilingImage may contain: 2 people, people standing

Tomorrow at sunrise
We’ll get up to check
To see if the weather
Will allow us to trek.

On Friday I hope
To watch football again
So we need to get back
Some time before then.

Departure Approaching – Poem

Since last I wrote
It’s been a long time,
A lot has been done
It feels like a crime.

That you’ve not been up-dated
On the Yooper Looper trawler,
So I’ll try to relate
How we’ve been spending our dollars.

With the chartering season
Now coming to end,
Now I have time
And money to spend.

Last winter was spent
On up-holstery and more,
Rounding up parts
From the marine vinyl store.

From cushions to canvass
The zippers and foam,
I sewed in my basement
With no time to roam.

The fly bridge was next
On my list of repairs,
It had a soft spot
So I stripped it to bare.

Used sand bags for weights to hold skin down to re-attach with epoxy resin.
Peeling the skin up.
Fly bridge floor after grinding.

To get at the deck
With seats in the way,
I had to remove them-
They couldn’t stay.

The fiberglass skin
Was removed with a saw,
Scrapers and pry-bars
Until it looked raw.

E-pox-y resin and
Marine ply-wood,
Paint and sore muscles
It finally was good.

Cabin floor was also stripped and re-finished.

Up-grading electronics
Is next on the log,
A radio, some charts
And radar for fog.

Then we’ll pack up the boat
With gear from our truck,
Come Friday this week
I hope we’re not stuck.

With wind in the forecast
That may cause delays,
‘Cause Superior gets rough
With very large waves.

We might wait for a window
When the waters are calm,
Because if it’s flat
We’re gonna take mom.

The Fly Bridge before paint
After paint, but before trim-work (which is done now, but don’t have picts)

Weather or not
The winds are a-gust,
I’m excited to go
Fort Meyers or bust!

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: It’s a great resource, so check it out. They also have a Facebook page:
Another good Facebook page is Trawler Living and Cruising:

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:

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