If it wasn’t for Debbie on the left of the photo, this could be any group of 5 people!
We hadn’t taken an all family vacation in years so we decided to head to West Yellowstone for a snowmobile vacation. Debbie, Nick, Haley, her husband Brett and I headed west. Yellowstone in winter is totally breathtaking! In order to go into the park on snowmobiles you can go on a guided tour or hire your own guide which we did. The day we were in Yellowstone we covered 130 miles from the Little Grand Canyon to Old Faithful.
Some of what we saw…
Interesting, our guide said if you peed to the right of the sign it would run to the Mississippi River. If you peed to the left of the sign it would run to the Pacific Ocean. Cool or what? BTW, no idea which one of us is in this photo.
The Little Grand Canyon. Spectacular in the summer. Words do not do it justice in the winter. And we had it all to ourselvs.
If the Hell’s Angel’s rode snowmobiles they would look like this.
Bison are everywhere in the park.
I told Debbie not to walk too far off the path. She found a deep spot in the snow…
For large groups of tourists who require a little more comfort than what a snowmobile provides, there are these bussees with HUGE tires Darn near as tall as Debbie!
The sky was a different shade of blue and the clouds were pretty cool.
And the coolest photo of all!
But this is a blog about boating!
Meet Half Pint, the newest addition to the Whisky Business fleet.
With an aluminum hull and no fiberglass (really heavy), and a 30 HP outboard this thing really screams across the water. Bet I can outrun just about any manatee that wants to challenge me. A bit of an issue with Half Pint. It has the same dimensions as it’s predecessor but the transom (the little wall in the back that the motor mounts to) is farther back in the boat. Which means it is actually longer when the engine is tilted up.
Since the engine is farther back and almost touches the davit the bow hangs about 8 inches over the starboard side of the boat. Will have to be very vigilant when coming into a slip in a marina as we might bump into a piling. Got a new anchor for Half Pint in the mail today. Hope I have better luck with this one!
Collapsable so it fits in it’s own dry bag.
Behind the engine is the davit which lifts and lowers Half Pint. Remember this mess?
These batttery clamps I had installed on my start battteries to manage all of the cables that were there. Not exactly ABYC (American Boat and Yacht Council) specifications. Nothing a checkbook can’t fix!
Couple of $BoatUnit$ later we had buss bars intstalled and really cleaned up the battery situation. My big brother Jim made a suggestion some time ago that has stayed with me. Should anything happen to Deb or me while traveling on the boat, it is not so easy if even possible to get help. Calling 911 when out on the water is not going to get a quick response. So at Jim’s urging Debbie and I have just completed CPR training and also purchased an AED device for jump starting a victim of Cardiac Arrest. We did not know that CPR will NOT resusitate a Cardiac Arrest victim. CPR only continues to pump blood. Cardiac Arrest requires an electric shock to the heart to get it going again.
One of our Loop friends suffered a heart attack while on their boat. Fortunately for him he was in a marina where help could get to him quickly. Gee, look at the time. Time for…
February 19, 2021
Beautiful sunset as seen from the entrance to our marina. Large boat blocking the view however. Still nice, right?
With boats there is always maintenance, especially boats like Whisky Business who have seen their 25th birthday. Having said that, Debbie and I visited our great friends Deb and John Neal on Saltaire in Fort Myers yesterday and lo and behold, their slip neighbor is a 40+ foot Bristol. What is unique about Northern Star is she has seen her 50th birthday! Early 70’s vintage when fiberglass use in boat building was in it’s infancy. Dave and Cindy Wood are the proud owners of this spectacular vessel. Having been in the boat building business his whole life Dave has literally thousands of man hours labor in the boat and it shows.
Interesting aside to the name of this fine vessel. While chatting with the owner I asked about the origin of the Name “Northern Star” Something he and his wife came up with Dave told me. It reminded me of a great movie based on the book The Man Who Would Be King by Rudyard Kippling. Dave knew the movie well and it was one of his favorites as well. In the movie Rudyard Kippling is the manager of a newspaper in India at the turn of the 19th century by the name of…The Northern Star! Okokok, well I found it amusing.
In my never ending quest to keep WB young by the time we got to our Florida home with her we had quite a punch list of maintenance items that needed my attention.
Fuel Filters. WB has 2 fuel filters for each engine including the generator. Some of these filters are even easy to get to. Some, not so much.
These are the Racor filters. Very easy to change. Just turn off the fuel flow, twist off the top, pull out the old filter and replace. Yeah there are a couple of gaskets that must be replaced as well but no big deal at all.
And then there are these filters. They are well hidden behind the after coolers and quite the pain to access with a filter wrench. They require the removal of the very large air filters to get to. Heck, I didn’t even know they were there and never changed them in almost 900 hours of operation during our first 7500 mile Loop. Did not notice them until I removed the after coolers during last years maintenance. For the longest time I have had water in my bilge. If it is just a little water that doesn’t even kick on the bilge pumps it’s no big deal. But it has always aggravated the heck out of me. After quite a bit of sleuthing, I found the sources.
This is one of two rudder packing devices. The large vertical shaft is the rudder shaft. The 2 screws with the 2 nuts on them tighten the packing around the rudder shaft which keeps water from entering the boat. One side of the packing nuts was loose, allowing water to seep in.
Wish I had pre-teenage children that I could stick down in these skinny places to do maintenance. This is the inside of the transom, the back of the boat where the rudder shafts are located. Had to squeeze in there and tighten the packing by feel. The nuts that must be tightened are beneath the large bracket seen here. All work must be done by feel. Ugh!
The other sources of water intrusion were 2 fittings on the hot water heater. Healthy dose of pipe dope and teflon/plumbers tape cured that, and now…
This, faithful readers, is a DRY BILGE!!! It’s a proud day on board Whisky Business!
Raw water impellers. These are the devices inside the water pump that draw in the cooling water for the engines. Pretty easy task on the starboard engine, even though access is a bit limited.
Not a lot of room between the top of the engine and the floor above.
On the Port side I have to lay on top of the engine and squeeze my head and arm in to get to the water pump.
One issue that has been a bit of an eyesore on WB was a crack in the fiberglass on the aft deck hardtop supports. These cracks were present when Debbie and I purchased the boat but the surveyor said no big deal. So I never addressed it. Add to the fact that I know absolutely NOTHING about fiberglass repairs. Until now. You may recall the crew of Carried Away, a wonderful couple from Michigan that we met on the east coast in ‘19. Carrie worked for Trojan Yachts and actually did the layout schedule for that brand of boats. He knows fiberglass.
This is what I started with.
Close up, it’s pretty ugly.
Using a Dremel tool I cut out the affected area.
Filled the cutout area with a mix of fiberglass resin, tiger hair (chopped strands of fiberglass) and thickener. I had to add a thickener as this is a vertical strut and the resin would simply run out of the repair area.
After the resin and tiger hair mixture cured.
Ta da! Finished! Good thing these are low resolution photos. A couple of weeks ago our friends John and Deb Neal splashed Saltaire in Port Charlotte. We met them just off the island of Cayo Costa and anchored out for a few days.
Whisky Business and Saltaire rafted up on one anchor.
Gotta improve security in our marina…
Took a nap on the boat and when I woke up…
Went to check on our friends boat and found this squater…
He even showed up on Carried Away when we were on the Erie Canal last year…
Showed up for Domino’s…
And in the end…
As always, one meets lots of great folks when pursuing such a great adventure such as the Great Loop. One couple we met while waiting for Huricane Eta in Orange Beach, Alabama complained of stuffy noses. Then chills. Kept our distance. Until I got a ride from this guy to pick up a rental car so Deb and I could visit Pensacola. He was not wearing a mask so I got in the back seat with my mask in place. Unfortunately for my buddy Marvin, he had to sit in the front seat. Our new pal driving, not wearing a mask. I survived the encounter. My pal Marvin, did not. As everyone knows it takes a spell for Covid to rear it’s ugly head. We hitched a ride on Crimson Tug with Marvin and Nancy as we had a flight out of Fort Walton/Destin to come home for Thanksgiving. Apparently Marvin had picked it up in the ride to pick up our rental car and then I got it from him on the boat ride to Fort Walton. God Bless Debbie, she never got it. Tested twice. All good! By the time we got home on the Sunday, 10 days before Thanksgiving I was showing symptoms on Wednesday and tested positive on Thursday. Went to the lower level in the house and stayed there for 2 weeks. Still have the remnants of a dry cough. Pretty maddening.
My constant companion for the last 2 weeks. Having been stuck in the lower level for 2 weeks I whiled away the hours watching old Sherlock Holmes movies. Basil Rathbone was Sherlock Holmes like Sean Connery was THE James Bond in the movies.
This past Wednesday having been fever free for 5 days, Deb and I rented a car and drove back to Orange Beach, Alabama to continue the journey. We have our buddy Dave Heilman as additional crew for the Gulf crossing.
The upside to a 13 hour car ride. Found this Bar BQ place many years ago when we would dirve to Destin for Spring Break with the kids. Fabulous pulled pork sandwiches. Great lunch on the picnic tables.
We left Orange Beach late yesterday morning for a 60 mile run to Shalimar, Florida near Fort Walton on Thursday.
Wheels up at 6:30 AM, the sun just barely got a head start.
Here’s an example of an entreprenureal fellow. Old fishing boat with a HUGE video screen mounted on the deck. Marry Me, Happy Birthday wishes, etc.
We ran 91 miles today for 9 and a half hours to make an anchorage.
Anchored in Wetappo Creek, about 50 miles east of Panama City just off the Intracoastal Waterway.
The entire run today was in cloud although there was not much wind. Quite a bit of rain though.
Most of the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway) is a narrow channel of deep water dredged through a wide bay. Looks like plenty of water, and there is, only oftentimes it is only a few feet deep.
The above photo is of one of our multifunction displays. This display shows the tide where we are anchored tonight. Low tide will be around 1 AM with a rising tide starting around 5 AM. The wind and incoming tide will keep us straight in our anchorage without the boat making a 180 degree swing when the tide changes direction.
After dinner Deb kicked our butts 2 out of 3 times in dominoes. Tomorrow may be one helluva day. The plan is to start at first light, about 5:30 AM, run for 4-5 hours to Carabelle, Florida. If the right weather window presents itself, starting at 3 PM we will then make a 180 mile run across the Gulf of Mexico to Tarpon Springs. This crossing will last all night long and take 18 hours. To be sure a grueling 26 hours. Keep your fingers crosseed for us!
When we lost the anchor and chain we reached out to Bobby’s Fish Camp and asked them if they knew of a local fisherman who might be interested in retrieving it for a $500 reward. This mighty fine fellow, Ben Garland answered the call. On the first night, Ben and a buddy searched the area and hooked on the chain, tied a rope with a float to it and gave up about 11PM. Went back the next day, placed a large shackle around the chain and ran it upriver till he found the anchor. BTW, a shackle is kinda like a horseshoe with a bolt that runs across the open end. On Day 3 of this treasure hunt (I call it a treasure hunt because it would cost me about $2400 to replace my ground tackle). Once he located the anchor, at this point bear in mind anchors are designed to bury themselves in the seabottom to securely hold a boat. Well, this thing was dug in like a hair in a biscuit. Now that he is close to the anchor he hooked up a come-along.
A come-along is a hand operated winch that he connected to a tree on one end and the anchor chain on the other. And then he started to crank…and crank. Day 3 gets here and VIOLA he gets it out of the river. Calls me and sez he has retrieved it but he needs a ‘lil more ‘n the $500 we agreed on. Two tanks of fuel and 3 days with help from a few other guys. What’s fair I ask. His response is $900. Bring it to me? I counterd. He agreed. I was happy. He was happy.
Never been so happy to see a hunk of metal in my life. At this point Ben pulls the 200 feet of chain out of his truck bed to the ground so we can find the ends of the chain. I had a couple of carts from the marina to bring the anchor and chain to the boat. I start to put the chain in one of the carts and he says “I’d help ya, but I want you to get a taste of that chain.” I did.
After I got the muddy mess of chain back to the boat I laid it out on the dock and hosed it off. Notice the blue/white/blue section of chain? I have painted it every 25 feet so I know how much I have paid out when anchoring. That particular section is the 150 foot mark. 25’-white 50’-blue 75’-green 100’-red 125’-double white 150’-double blue 175’-double green 200’-double red
View of the chain locker in front of the bed in the forward cabin. I have it temporarily secured until I can get it properly affixed. More on that when it happens.
The Bitch is Back! A happy ending to what could have been an expensive setback.
This fine fellow is my buddy Marviin Wehl from Crimson Tug. We met he and his delightful bride Nancy during our respite in Demopolis. He and Nancy show up at Whisky Business yesterday morning and inquired as to whether or not Debbie and I would like to accompany them to breakfast. “Not with those socks” was our response. Another “Target Rich Environment” Couldn’t help myself, really gave him hell over those ankle warmers. I had Nancy laughing so hard she nearly soiled herself as she had already pleaded with him to remove the offensive footwear. Footnote: For someone like me who is not terribly literate in IT I am a bit flumoxed as to why this particular blog soft ware will no longer let me add video content to my posts. Sort of. If you receive a notice via email that a new post is available and click on it in your email, the video’s do not show up. HOWEVER, if you go the the web address of this blog, ( http://mvwhiskybusiness.com) the video will show up. Why? Dunno. So in the future when there is a video attached I will tell you VIDEO HERE. At that point if you haven’t fallen asleep yet, go to the above address and you can view it there. I would suggest you go back to the previous posts since we left Louisville as there are a few there. Best one being of our friend Julie Shaffer singing her favorite country song. VIDEO HERE I am adding a video of the welcoming committee that greeted us upon our arrival to the ICW at the bottom of Mobile Bay.
Holed up again.
We are in a great marina, The Wharf in Orange Beach, Alabama and it appears Hurricane Eta is coming our way.
Image from the NOAA app that shows Eta’s track and forcasted route. The circles are the actual track thus far and the little hurricane icons are the forcasted track. As you can see the forecast has it approaching the Florida Panhandle. Our current location is the little blue and white icon just under the time lapse bar. In retrospect we should have waited until the middle of November to leave Louisville as hurricane season does not end until the end of November. But dammit, I hate being cold on a boat!
We were stuck in Demopolis for 10ish days and were so glad to get out of there when the river cleared up.
Daybreak on a beautiful day to get heading south.
Our armada of 13 boats begin leaving the marina. There was a concern that we would not all fit in the lock so a few of waited for the next opening. Most of the boats were headed for an anchorage 90 miles downstream called Okapukka, a narrow creek that I was not sure we would all fit in. As it turned out Whisky Business was one of the 3 fast boats and my concern was we would get in the back of the anchorage and then have to wait for the rest of the boats to depart in the morning before we could leave. The next day was a 75 mile day. Across the river from the creek is another anchorage called the Okapukka Alternate which is alongside the river. If we anchored there, no worries getting out at first light. Sure seemed like a good idea at the time. With a 3 MPH current and a 10 mph cross wind this 40,000 beast got a way from us.
See if you can guess what’s wrong with this picture. Anyone? WTH! Yep, lost the anchor and all 200 feet of chain. Debbie and I have anchored in some pretty swift currents but the crosswind was something we had not experienced before. At this point I need to be a bit more specific. When we anchor, Debbie is at the helm driving the boat. I am at the bow pulpit letting out or retrieving the chain. Using our wireless headset communicators I give her instructions on which transmission to engage. For instance I will say “Port forward” and she will engage the left transmission lever for a count of “one thousand” and then disengage. WB’s large propellers move the boat quite a bit even in a time span of one second. She is extremely competent at this manuevering. Problem is, I was not so competent in the instructions I was giving, hence no anchor or chain.
Albeit an expensive and embarrasing error we were not helpless. On board we still have the original anchor that came with WB and 200 feet of heavy braided rope with 25 feet of chain for just such an emergency. Always be prepared. Instead of deployinig this setup we went in the creek and rafted up with One Eye Dog for that night and the following night on the Tensas River. When we got to our current marina I called Bobby’s Fish Camp which was near the mishap area. Asked if theey new any fishermen who would search for the anchor and chain for a $500 reward.
Fortunately we have the GPS coordinates for the mishap.
Also a photo of the part of the river where our anchor and chain currently lie at rest. We have one of our MFD’s (multi function display) set to lay “tracks”, the dotted line so we can seee where we have been.
As you can guess, we were pretty depressed that night. How to lift our spirits? YEAH BABY! We watched the video of the 2013 National Championship! Oh yeah, 2 bottles of Taittinger helped relieve the sting a bit too. Funny, the next day when we got up and were chatting with April and Larry on One Eye Dog they were complaining about the noise coming from shore durinng the night. Uhhh, don’t think it was coming from shore.
Our anchorage on the Tensas River, rafted up to One Eye Dog.
Our final lock for a very long time. Twelve boats.
We did get a bit of good news yesterday. While we were back in Louisville last week, I dropped off oil samples from our 3 diesel engines to Whayne Supply, a Caterpillar dealer. They have a lab that examines thse samples.
The lab looks for metals in the oil that could foretell problems down the road. We are all good.
This was pretty much the view of the rivers all the way from Louisville until we got close to Mobile. Once we got close to Mobile Bay, a major shipping center, the landscape changed a bit.
See the buildings in the center of the photo? Mobile, Alabama.
Last year when we entered New York Harbor near the Statue of Liberty, all of the tour boats and ferries made it a target rich environment. Nothing like Mobile Bay though. At the bottom of Mobile Bay we finally entered the Intra Coastal Waterway (ICW) and made our way to the Wharf Marina.
Those blue roofs are actually tarps until the roofers show up. The results of multiple hurricanes in the area. Wonder if I can get a deal on an anchor and chain off one of those boats…
Sunset from our slip…at 5:30.
Beautiful Sport Fisherman moored in front of us. Maybe $4,000,000 when new? After a grueling 3 days covering over 250 miles we were ready to get off the boat. Very nice area around the marina.
Went to the Villagio restaurant for dinner. The fella who took care of us was full of ….interesting information. Morgan enlightened us with these gems, a bunch of vultures flying overhead is called a “congregation” while a group of vultures feeding on the ground is called a “wake”. Why the hell does he know this???
Never seen this on a menu before. A “convenience fee”? I kinda get it. American Express takes 3.5% of a charge from the merchant where VISA and MasterCard charges the merchant 2.5% of the bill. After dinner we strolled around the area and found this place.
Nick from Eastern Kentucky showing his wares. Got back to the boat by 7 PM and fell asleep by 8:30.
We have been holed up in Demopolis, Alabama going on 2 weeks now due to Hurricane Zeta. You may be surprised to learn, Demopolis is NOT the social hub of the great state of Alabama. We made a quick run to Louisville on Wednesday, getting in at 2AM on Thursday in order to vote and take care of a few things. Up at 6AM on Friday for a 7AM departure back south.
Prior to our departure we stripped the flybridge and aft deck of anything that could fly or be damaged by Zeta when it came through Weednesday night. rolled up the carpets from the flybridge and aft deck and stowed ‘em in the forward berth. Removed the electronc multi function displays, flags and especially my beloved wind finder that mounts on top of the radar arch.
This great gizmo tells us wind speed and more importantly for docking and tying up in lock chambers, where the wind is coming from. Found mostly on sailboats for obvious reasons they are not seen very often on power boats. Very interesting, when anchoring we have found that if there are opposing river current and wind direction, the wind usually wins. A lot more of the boat is out of the water than is in the water.
We didn’t worry too much about the faux rattan chairs on the aft deck moving around much during Zeta as our brazzillion pound props which are stowed under them holds ‘em pretty securely.
Upon our return we put everything back together again. Which brings me to today. Yesterday (Friday) I reached out to the lockmasters at the Demopolis and Coffeyville locks to ask about debris in the river. After weather events when the river is high (22 feet above normal pool in this case) there can be massive flows of flotsam and jetsam (trees and such) in the water. The lockmasters reported no debris. The Coffeyville lockmaster went on to say due to earlier flooding in the year, any thing that could wash down the river, already had. Good news! Our plan was for a pre-dawn departure for a 95 mile run to Bobby’s Fish Camp. Weeellll along came Ed Offshack by the boat last night to introduce himself. I had chatted online with Ed on the AGLCA (America’s Great Loop Cruisers Association) forum many times as he knows the previous owners of WB, back when she was known as Dustcutter. Debbie and I have never traveled after a hurricane and simply did not think of the channel markers and how they would be in the aftermath of a hurricane. Underwater is what Ed told us. All of the floating bouys could very well be under the surface of the water. If you found one of these with one of your propellers…I don’t even want to think about it. The river should crest today so our departure is now scheduled for dark and early Sunday morning.
Our friends Milton and Julie left us on Tuesday and prior to that our other Looper buds Carey and Keri had only been able to visit a short time. Carey is a terribly interesting fellow. He worked for Trojan BOATS (not the other thing, filthy mind!) a boat manufacturing company for a time as well as Chrysler Motors. We were having a discussion about our diesel engines one evening and he came up with a great example of torque. You have all heard of this measurement of power but not all of us know what this measurement actually is. In Carey’s terms, it is the energy required to break the seal of a stuck jar of pickles. Horsepower is how you measure how fast you open it once the seal is broken.
Captain Obvious, ya gotta love him! When we got to Demopolis we were anxious to get started again to get to Mobile Bay and beyond. Our plan was/is to get to Fort Walton, Florida where we will leave Whisky Business for a week or so to get home to vote and celebrate our daughter’s birthday. Rain and thunderestorms were forecast for yesterday and today.
This is the system that passed through last night. Fortunately we had moved WB into a covered slip earlier in the day. About 3 O’clock this morning…
It sounded like this. Have you ever slept in a home with a metal roof?
There is a tropical depression forming in the Gulf that is expected to form into a hurricane so here we sit, probably till the middle of next week.
This image if from the NOAA and it shows the broad path of the approaching weather. Hurricane season lasts till November 30th so proper planning is neccessary to insure the safety of the crew and WB. When we came through this area in 2018 Hurricane Michael had devastated the Florida panhandle a month before my brother Jim and I came through in late November. If you scroll back through those posts from 2018 there were numerous photo’s of buildings covered in blue tarps and LOTS of boats cast up on shore or on docks in marinas. So here we sit. Saturday. There is not a car rental agency open on the weekend as far away as Tuscaloosa. We thought we would grab a car and come home for a few days while waiting but no chance.