Prep time

April 1, 2019

It’s been a busy winter getting Whisky Business buttoned up for another season of cruising. Changes to our itinerary had to be made due to outside forces. One being Jake our beloved, beleaguered brown dog.


Whenever I speak of him, most often folks will ask, “what kind of dog is he?”. My response, “brown”. It is truly the best descriptor. After we cruise the Keys we will start up the East coast. A stop in Fort Lauderdale with a flight home. At that time we will rent a car, pack Jake up and bring him to the boat. This will be interesting.

Other issue we are facing is the closure of the Illinois River July through November of 2020. Our plan was to cruise the Bahama’s and the East coast this year and the Great Lakes in ’20. Problem now is we would not be able to get off Lake Michigan until November or December of 2020. And that is “IF” the Corps of Engineers finishes on schedule. After freezing our butts off after Thanksgiving getting the boat to Florida last year, there is no way in hell I’m gonna risk being that far north that late in the year. The Illinois River is the route you must take coming off Lake Michigan to the Mighty Mississippi. Ya know how the Ohio floods in December? Mississippi must be ten times worse with all manner of trees, houses, appliances, flotsam and jetsam in the fast current.

New plan, late this week or early next week we head to the Keys, Marathon or Key West for a few days. We will then head up the east coast and spend the summer months on the Great Lakes traveling down Lake Michigan and through Chicago by Labor Day. Cross our wake 2 weeks later at the confluence of the Cumberland and Ohio Rivers and then bring WB back to Louisville.

Once in the Keys we will take the fast ferry out to the Dry Tortugas for a day trip. Water looks just like the Caribbean there. Really interesting history too. Will post photo’s when we get there.

This beautiful Westport is docked directly behind WB in our marina. I’m sure the captain of this beautiful vessel gets a little nervous when I start backing WB out of her slip.


Latest addition to our ground tackle shown below. I have mentioned how important it is to have a large anchor on board for anchoring in salt water. There are a number of parts to an effective anchoring system. One being a LOT of chain, in our case 200 feet. What you see here is a device that connects the anchor to the chain via a very large stainless steel shackle (horseshoe shaped part) which is then connected to the “swivel”. This particular swivel made by Mantus (same company that manufactured our  anchoring bridle that I discussed in an earlier post) prevents the chain from getting twisted when the boat is moving around as much as 180 degrees when the tide comes in and goes out by allowing the chain to “swivel” inside the device. This is the finest swivel to be had. The better the equipment, the better one sleeps while at anchor. Manhattans notwithstanding.


I had mentioned ad nauseam in this blog that our BRAND NEW $1800 Auto Pilot never functioned properly. Garmin it seems was getting a bit nauseous as well from my repeated calls. During one of my calls to Garmin Tech Support they recommended I purchase a new hydraulic pump for the AP system since the one it would replace was as old as the boat (23 years) OK sez I and I purchase the $1000+ pump you see below.


Took a month or so to get it from Canada and when it arrived I contacted a boat mechanic here in Punta Gorda to do the install. No issues with the rather simple installation and I pay the guy $360 for his labor. Next day I enlist the aid of this handsome fellow below, my friend Steve Kuchma to help me take WB out to calibrate and test the new Octopus pump.


At this point I will tell you Steve is quite the accomplished yachtsman who is currently in the market for a 60+foot yacht that he and his lovely accomplice/wife Christine will live on in Chicago during the warmer months. Great guy Steve, who is facing an ankle replacement in the near future. Good luck pal!

Anyway, back to my tale of woe. Steve and I get the boat out in the wide, wide Charlotte harbor and start performing the calibration. Fails. Dammit, I’m into this repair to the tune of 1.4 boat units and it is still not fixed. Back on the phone with Garmin and I give ’em a “what fer” and tell the guy it is time Garmin sent a tech out to research this. Long story short, they do. Bill Little shows up last Thursday with an entire new Auto Pilot system. Great guy! Totally fixed the AP, gave me a tutorial since I never really got to use the thing and was very patient in his instructions.


While replacing the brain of the unit and the compass, Garmin had also sent along this Smart Pump. Dunno what makes it so smart but the darn thing works now. Oh yeah, Garmin replaced my $1800 system with a $4,000 system, no additional cost to Deb and I. One happy camper. Now if only Octopus will let me return that $1000 pump…


During the sea trial of the new AP this message appeared on the panel. Love that word “SUCCESS”!!!


During the setup of the AP the boat would do circles, zig zags and all manner of crazy maneuvers in order to determine a northerly heading. Once the electronic compass knows where north is it can find anyplace on the planet with the proper mapping installed.


Went out that night with friends Terry and Betty Netherton to celebrate.


Got Guinness?


Now all is well with WB and it is time to prepare for departure for the Keys and beyond. Headed to Costco and got this great deal on Maker’s Mark. $39.99 each for a 1.75 bottle. Had to buy 2 of ’em. Won’t be an issue with Debbie on board.


Headed to Publix to provision and OH HELL YES!!!


3 thoughts on “Prep time”

  1. Joe and I loved Dry Tortugas! We camped one night and got a special lantern tour. Lots of history and a great place to spend a night just know you have to carry everything in and out but it’s worth it. Huge conch shells everywhere! Enjoy the Keys and continued safe travels!!!


  2. Summer on the Great Lakes sounds wonderful. A little shocked there wasn’t an April Fool’s hidden somewhere in this post.


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