Finally, off Lake Michigan!

September 30 & October 1

Some foggy shots leaving the marina in South Haven. We had to run with our radar and navigation lights on due to the foggy conditions. We had 2 mile visibility.


On 3 occasions on our 6400 mile journey we have run into electrical issues in marina’s. Once in St. Augustine, Florida, again in Charlevoix, Michigan and then again in South Haven, Michigan. Our boat was built in 1996 and since then there have been many updates to ABYC (American Boat and Yacht Council) boat building standards. One of these updates is the installation of electric power pedestals in marinas that have ground fault circuit interrupters (GFI). Essentially what that means is if your boat is leaking electricity into the water the circuit breaker on the power pedestal will kick off and not supply you with electricity. Before we left on the Loop I had suspected Whisky Business had this issue. Had it tested and sure enough, we were leaking sparks into the water, albeit a minor leak but a leak nonetheless. Spent a day with all manner of testing equipment  trying to locate the source to no avail. Was told on many older boats it’s just a fact of life. Electrical wiring on boats is different than your house due to being on water. I have an extremely limited understanding of electricity so I will not do a very good job of ‘splaining it to you. Since we have this issue in the 3 aforementioned marinas we could not use power because we kept tripping the circuit breaker. The reason this is such a REALLY BIG DEAL is Electric Shock Drowning (ESD). Especially in fresh water marinas as opposed to salt water marinas it is absolutely critical that you NEVER, EVER, EVER get in the water. Fresh water does not conduct electricity very well but salt water does. Your body is like the ocean, lots of salt. If you get in the water in a fresh water marina any stray electricity in the water is immediately attracted to you. You will not get electrocuted but the electricity paralyzes your muscles and you simply sink and drown. Ya can’t swim. Ya can’t holler for help. Total paralysis. And it doesn’t take much electricity to cause this paralysis. As the story goes, in Grand Haven, Michigan (I think) a fellow was swimming at a beach which was adjacent to a marina and he drowned due to ESD. Michigan probably leads the nation in the installation of these new power pedestals with the GFI circuitry.

While walking around South Haven we passed a shop that was closed. Had this T shirt in the window. Is that a great boat name or what? Playoff of “Depth Finder”. Like the boat name Check Magnet we saw in Gananoque, Canada. Hysterical! Just got off the phone with Jim Holland on Steal Away who just made it to South Haven yesterday. Sent him this photo and pleaded with him to go shopping for me.


The following 3 photos give you an idea how big Lake Michigan is. Totally out of sight of land. The Great Lakes are more like inland seas. At this point we were 15 – 20 miles off the eastern shore of the lake.


Getting close to Hammond, Indiana. Hammond is located between Gary, Indiana and Chicago.


Chicago in the distance.


Gary is quite the industrial area. Nuttin’ but smoke stacks.


Sunset from the Hammond marina.


And now from the “I can’t make this s*#t up” file

When we got to the Hammond marina, after fueling we were directed to the “U” dock, slip 38 with the 6 other Looper boats we had been traveling with. WB was in the next to last slip on the dock. At the end was a 28 foot boat with a number of young people playing music REALLY loud. Wasn’t long when security came down and told ’em to turn it WAY down, which they did. We had chatted with the owner of the boat and he seemed pretty ok although a little over served. At one point during the conversation the subject of swimming in the marina came up. We explained ESD to him. Used little words and hand puppets to make sure he understood in his current diminished cerebral capacity. Not 30 minutes later he and his pals are jumping off the boat. After dark there are probably 8 people on that boat, all in various stages of inebriation, and off they go for a night time cruise. Get back to the marina around 11 when I am going to bed. Lots of screaming and swearing coming from that boat. Next morning (Tuesday) I am walking to the showers and run into Katie from Pangur Ban. During all of the yelling they were walking the dock around 11:30 and they hear whimpering from the water quite a ways from the loud boat. Look down 4 feet to the water and there is a young woman in the water. They fish her out and see she has a busted lip. She was from that boat. Boyfriend punched her in the face. Oh yeah, it gets better. After getting punched, someone else pushes her off the boat. ESD anyone??? Katie and her husband Tim fish her out, call the cops and when the police officer shows up it is quite the inconvenience for him. Kept telling him to call an ambulance as she could barely walk. When the EMT’s get there the young woman can’t walk so well from her injuries or her state of inebriation so Katie requests a wheelchair or stretcher. The EMT’s don’t want to like to carry that stuff on such a long dock. Then the folks from the suspect boat show up. The situation begins to escalate. Katie begins taking pictures of the miscreants. One of ’em snatches her phone out of her hand. A cooler head in the group de-escalates and gives her phone back. Girl gets taken to the hospital after several requests. Cop voices his frustration in these instances as (in his words) 99 times out of 100, the girl goes back to the abusive relationship, refusing to press charges. Any and all of the officers efforts are for naught. Crazy stuff. Can’t make it up.

There are a series of locks on the Illinois River that are closed for maintenance at this time. The Illinois is the channel that will take us to the Mississippi River on our way home. They were supposed to be open by the 10th of October but we learned yesterday, that due to flooding, the work cannot be completed by then. Now we are looking at a middle of the month opening. So Deb and I came home yesterday. This morning (Wednesday) I learn from Looper buddies in South Haven where we just left, the water is over the docks so the marina turned off power to the docks. Since we left that marina on Monday the water has risen a foot. Man, it takes a lot of rain to raise the water level on Lake Michigan a foot!

Will post again once we get back to the boat. See ya then…

Muskegon to South Haven

September 28 & 29

Left Muskegon at 9:30 and followed the coast 61 miles south to South Haven. Ride began with a very mild following sea (wind and wave action on the rear of the boat), maybe 1 foot swells. As the day progressed, so did the wave size. When the waves on the stern got to  4 feet in height the autopilot said it had had enough. At that point I had to steer the boat. Not really a big deal until we tried to dial up the speed.


Notice the different colors of the track? They denote different speeds. We tried to run fast to get off the lake but when running at our cruise speed of 18 MPH, when we ran down the side of a 4 foot wave the boat would want to take a hard left turn and I would have to fight the wheel to get the boat straight again. Not fun. Tried that a couple of times but finally decided to just run at 9 MPH and be done with it. Not many photos of the trip as just a bit too bumpy. I was able to snap a quick photo of a wedding on the beach at South Haven as we made the turn in the channel to the marina.


Sunday morning went to the marina office and got coffee. Got back to the boat and said “what the hell?” Let’s do bloodies instead. By the time the folks on Adagio and Saltaire left we had depleted our last 2 bottles of bloody mary mix. Loopers drink like sponges!


Took a stroll through South Haven, very pretty little town. Looked like we came to the end of the main drag and Debbie spotted a steakhouse half a block off the main street. Went in to check it out, very nice steak house chic inside. We were not dressed appropriately but asked if they would mind if we had dinner. Of course! Just the reply we hoped for. Gave the bartender my boat card with Manhattan instructions and she followed them splendidly.


They were soooo good, Deb ordered a second. Yeah, baby!


Can you believe it, more fudge shops!IMG_5225

All but one of the boats below are Loopers. Whisky Business on the right of the photo. IMG_5245

The boat on the far left of the above photo was named Vitamin Sea. While strolling through South Haven one of the little shops Deb drug me into had these hats. Sent the picture to the guys on the boat.


Pretty slow night at the restaurant where we had dinner so we ended up at the bar with the cooks, bartender and servers. Had a blast. We put a hell of a dent in that bottle of Maker’s.


Schlitt’s S##t’s

September 26

Following is the story of the German U boat (submarine) U-1206. The only submarine ever to be sunk due to improper use of the toilet. HA! Those crafty Germans…

The High Tech Toilet That Destroyed a Submarine

Image of the U-1206 via
Image of the U-1206 

By World War II standards, the German Type VIIC submarine was an advanced hunter of the seas. But one unlucky vessel of its class, the U-1206, sank during its maiden combat voyage after its captain used its high-tech toilet improperly.

Yes, this really happened, and was an unexpected and tragic consequence of a real naval engineering problem.

For years. crafty German engineers had been busy developing what they thought was the next generation in undersea plumbing. While Allied subs piped their sewage into onboard septic tanks, German U-boats saved precious weight and space by discharging waste directly into the sea.

But pulling off this latter operation posed unique challenges. The system only worked when the submarine floated near the surface, where the water pressure was low. One can only imagine the unpleasant work-arounds forced upon the crew when boats had to stay submerged for prolonged periods.

As the war — and Allied anti-submarine technology — progressed, submarines were increasingly dead meat in shallow water or on the surface. But by 1945, Germany’s toilet technology had matured.

Germany’s top minds had produced a newfangled “deepwater high-pressure toilet” which allowed them to flush while submerged deep below the waves.

Pot Luck

Advanced as it was, the toilet was extremely complicated. First, it directed human waste through a series of chambers to a pressurized airlock. The contraption then blasted it into the sea with compressed air, sort of like a poop torpedo.

Type VIIc U-boat, from

Cross-section diagrams of a German Type VIIc U-boat.

A specialist on each submarine received training on proper toilet operating procedures. There was an exact order of opening and closing valves to ensure the system flowed in the correct direction.

Now meet U-1206 and its proud 27-year-old captain, Karl-Adolf Schlitt. On April 14, 1945, Schlitt and his submarine were eight days into their first combat patrol of the war. The submarine lurked 200 feet beneath the surface of the North Sea when Schlitt decided that he could figure the toilet out himself.

But Schlitt was not properly trained as a toilet specialist. After calling an engineer to help, the engineer turned a wrong valve and accidentally unleashed a torrent of sewage and seawater back into the sub.

Related image

The situation escalated quickly. The unpleasant liquid filled the toilet compartment and began to stream down onto the submarine’s giant internal batteries — located directly beneath the bathroom — which reacted chemically and began producing chlorine gas.

As the poisonous gas filled the submarine, Schlitt frantically ordered the boat to the surface. The crew blew the ballast tanks and fired their torpedoes in an effort to improve the flooded vessel’s buoyancy.

Somehow, it got worse when the submarine reached the surface. “At this point in time British planes and patrols discovered us,” Schlitt wrote in his official account.

After taking damage from an air attack, the only option was to scuttle the sub and order the sailors overboard.

“The crew reached the Scottish coast in rubber dinghies,” Schlitt added. “In the attempt to negotiate the steep coast in heavy seas, three crewmembers tragically died. Several men were taken onboard a British sloop. The dead were Hans Berkhauer, Karl Koren and Emil Kupper.”

Schlitt survived the war and died in 2009. U-1206 rests on the bottom of the North Sea to this day.

I’m Baaaaaack…

September 25

Sunrise this morning. Photo courtesy of Deb Neal on Saltaire. ‘Cuz I slept in!

As an early Anniversary gift for Debbie, I returned to the boat yesterday to celebrate the best 32 years of my life. Weather on Lake Michigan really degrades after Labor Day to the point Debbie and crew were only able to travel 6 of the last 14 days. We are looking at a number of days before travel is possible so since I have improved so much I drove to Muskegon, Michigan to relieve Dave and Sue. Got up this morning, went to breakfast and off they went. Spent the afternoon touring the Silversides museum and World War II submarine of the same name.

Following are 2 short videos taken near the marina. This is a video of the north side of a breakwater. Pretty calm water, protected.

This video is 10 feet away on the other side of the breakwater. 15 mph winds have whipped the water into a frenzy. With 80 miles to build up waves, winds of only 15 mph can build 6 foot waves.

Beach, Michigan??? Sand everywhere. If you live near the water, in the winter residents shovel snow. In the summer they shovel sand out of their front yards.

This could be a beach anywhere on the east coast.

This is the USS submarine Silversides.

I have prop envy.

This is the head (toilet) on Silversides. Being on a submarine means even something as basic as using the toilet requires significant engineering. Look at the lower left of the photo and you can barely make out a handle (I drew a little circle around it) to pump the contents of the toilet to a holding tank. The large pump handle on the right of the toilet was for use on Wednesdays.

Because of “Taco Tuesdays”


During our tour we met a former Navy fella who works for the museum. On the subject of the head/toilet, he told us a story about a German U Boat that sunk due to improper use of the toilet. That story is in the following post in it’s entirety. Some stuff, ya just can’t make up.

BTW, ya know why they call th toilet on a boat the “head”?

Anyone? Anyone?

Back in the day when sailing ships plied the seas, the place for the crew to relieve themselves was all the way forward on either side of the bowsprit, the integral part of the hull to which the figurehead was fastened. There was a big net that the crew would lay on whilst doing their business.

I dunno what this is but the graphic is pretty cool.

If you are a gearhead like me you will find this schematic of the 4 diesel engines on the sub interesting. If not, skip and scroll down. There is a crakshaft on the bottom and one on the top of the engines. Compression takes place between the 2 pistons. One compression stroke results in twice the power. I have never seen an engine like this. Brilliant engineering. This sub was built in the late 1930’s.

These subs were called Diesel Electric submarines. The diesel engines only operated when the sub was on the surface. Their only task was to recharge the giant batteries on the boat. When submerged the submarine’s propellers were powered by electric motors which ran off the batteries.

This is a piston. HUGE!!!

Hell no I didn’t leave the dollar!

This is Steve Smith. He and his lovely bride Carol are doing the Loop on a beautiful Grand Banks trawler. To his left is a torpedo. The torpedo would be pulled above the bed and inserted into the firing tube you can see in the center of the photo.

Closer photo of the firing tubes.

This device was deployed on destroyers. It would contain 24 of the black devices (this specimen only contained 23). This is called a “Hedgehog”. It was used in anti submarine warfare. Mounted on the front of a destroyer, all 24 of the “hedgehogs” would be fired at the first hint of sonar contact with an enemy sub. They exploded on impact. One direct hit would/could cripple an enemy sub. 2 direct hits would sink it.


September 13 – 16

Debbie had sent some great images yesterday during their stay Mackinac Island that I missed. Added them below.

Another lighthouse.


Fog rolling in curtailing travel for the day. Hence the stop on Mackinac Island. One of the fast ferries running between the Mackinac Island and Mackinaw City. These things really move along and ya better not get in their way cuz they will “T Bone” ya!


A view of the 26,372 foot long Mackinac Bridge.


View of the bridge on a clear day.


When fog rolls in in this area, best to get the boat to a safe place to avoid the ferries and other boaters who just don’t play it as safe as they should.


More fog!


Look closely at the photo below. Can you see the horse drawn buggies. On Mackinac Island there are no motorized vehicles. Not even battery powered golf carts. All manner of goods, services and people are shuttled around by horse power. A friend and former supplier of mine from the liquor store days, Preston Van Winkle of the great Van Winkle bourbon family ‘splained getting around on Mackinac Island one day. The Van Winkle family summers on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and has spent a lot of time on Mackinac Island. A few years ago Debbie and I spent a couple of weeks touring the towns along the coast of Lake Michigan with Dave and Sue all the way up to, and including Mackinac Island. Preston was in the store one day and I lamented to him how disappointed I was that we didn’t rent bicycles to get around and see all the island had to offer. He laughed and told me to never, never, never rent a bicycle to get around on that island. Rains a lot up there. Days that have nothing but sun in the forecast? Pop up shower will come through. Imagine being on a bike when one of those showers come through. You stop and wait for it to end. Then you proceed on your bike when the shower stops. What do you think is running down the streets? RIGHT! You guessed it, WATER! Problem is, that water is carrying a LOT of horse manure with it. Your bike tires are spraying it up in your face, on your back and now you are a wee bit “aromatic” shall we say? Right, then you get back on the ferry with all the other tourists to get back to Mackinaw City.


Can’t even see the whole bridge!


Jeez, more fudge…


The title of this installment was Adendum(my). As in dummy. That would be me. This past Friday our daughter enlisted me to babysit their 6 month old Lab named Mack, (I call him Meat Head, cuz he is.) after U of L’s new basketball coach Chris Mack. Being a good dad and having nothing else to do I agreed.

Big mistake. Sweet looking dog, right?


Every time I turned my head, Meat Head would grab the TV remote in his slobbery mouth and take off with it. I am not moving so fast these days after getting my back cut. I had a helluva time getting the remote from him on the 100 occasions that he would grab it. Oh yeah, then I had the bright idea of taking him for a walk. Debbie and Haley both warned me no to do this, but I am a bright guy. Here is where dum(my) came to pass. That dog pulls like a freight train. Had to strain a bit (a lot!) to hold on to him. Needless to say it was a short walk.


Kinda identifies with Forrest Gump.


Such a diva!


Back in the USA!

September 13 – 16

Last Friday was a full moon here in Louisville. That day had been quite overcast all day in the North Channel for our crew who were still in Canadian waters. Debbie stepped out on deck later that evening and the full moon peeked out from the clouds. Great pic Deb!


The crew had been holed up on Meldrum Island with all of the other 34 inhabitants for 3 days waiting for the winds to subside. On Sunday, the 15th the winds calmed and the seas laid down so Whisky Business departed with plans to get to Mackinaw City, Michigan, crossing back into the USA. It was not to be as the winds picked up so they did get to US waters but stayed in the quaint village of De Tour. Left this morning at 7:30 planning to run all the way to Charlevoix, Mi. which is a great town on the lake. Fog had other plans. Fog rolled in this afternoon stopping them in Mackinaw City where they refueled. Only $700 in fuel today. Winds are looking good for another travel day tomorrow for a run of 55 miles to Charlevoix.

This image of a Great Lakes freighter Debbie caught with her iPad is eerily similar to the freighter SS Edmond Fitzgerald who was lost with 29 souls on board on November 9, 1975. She was caught in a storm with hurricane force winds and waves up to 35 feet in height! Had she been able to endure one more hour underway she could have made port. She sank in 530 feet of water so quickly the captain had no time for a distress call. Rough seas can show up in a heartbeat on the Great Lakes. Waves of 35 feet? Uh, that’s almost as tall as a 2 story house stacked on another 2 story house! Extreme caution is to be taken on these “inland seas” from October through June.


Where the hell is the captain? Debbie? Hmmmm…


See the dotted line that the Whisky Business icon is crossing? Back home in the USA!


The water is so much prettier when the sun is shining.


Have to do it. This lighthouse or other Great Lakes lighthouses just like this one seem to appear in every Looper’s blog. Guess ours should be no different.


Map of the route today. I believe the NEBO app we use is based on cell phone coverage. Out on Lake Huron you can see where they lost their signal.


Great boat name, notice the port of call.


Take a look at this boat. Debbie really likes it. I have been talking to Debbie for a year about a boat to keep on the Ohio River. It would fit on a boat lift. I believe this boat is a Marinette. Marinette’s were produced in Louisville at Standiford Field from the 60’s into the 90’s. Kind of cult boats. They sell today for what they sold for when they were new, provided they are in good shape.


The boat below is in a “Travel Lift”, a machine used to lift boats out of the water in slings. Glad this boat is NOT Whisky Business.


Up and down the coast of Lake Michigan, the tourist towns are full of fudge shops. I mean it, you simply cannot believe the number of fudge shops. All of the fudge shop photo’s that follow are located ON ONE STREET!!!


Ferry to Macinac Island.


Oh yeah, not to be missed, MORE FUDGE SHOPS!!!


Socked in at Meldrum Bay

September 12

The plan was for our intrepid sailors to depart Meldrum Bay this afternoon as the winds were to lay down for calm seas for a 45 mile run to De Tour. At 2 this afternoon white caps could still be seen on the water so Whisky Business will stay put until Sunday (maybe). This great little (I mean REALLY little) town has, count ’em, only 34 residents.

Debbie found something to celebrate, or she and Sue just got thirsty.


Forecast for the next 2 days calls for high winds so Dave and Sue got WB all snugged in to the dock using every cleat, line and fender available. Master of the Vessel was busy snapping photo’s and opening bottle/s of Champagne.


One good thing about high winds, they blew the clouds away. While the weather in southern Canada is about 6 weeks ahead of Louisville, the afternoon turned into a nice, albeit cool day in the 50’s


God love her, she tries. Deb is not great with a camera. The following 2 photos are of the home of the lighthouse keeper during Prohibition.  The current owner who is the 5th owner since Prohibition tells a great story about the house. Way back when during Prohibition the story goes a group of whisky runners hit a rock and bent a prop shaft on their boat. The lighthouse keeper being a very good boat mechanic told ’em he could fix it. Took a few days. Upon completion of the job the lighthouse keeper invites the whisky runners to a bonfire and dinner including lots of whisky. A “drunk front’ comes through and while everyone is having a great time the lighthouse keepers boys off load the whisky and hide it in a secret hole in their basement. Whisky runners get to Chicago and uh-oh, no whisky. Their boss, Al Capone ain’t too happy. Sez he’s gonna go back to Meldrum Bay and get that lighthouse keeper. Never does. Great story nevertheless.


The little rock formations on top of the boulders are known as “cairns”. Building one with rocks that are found nearby brings luck. I hope the crew of WB built about a hundred of ’em.


Dinner time. Debbie, Sue and Capn. Dave head to the Meldrum Inn for dinner. Ceasar salad looks pretty good.


As does the local smoked trout appetizer. Bear in mind they started with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Champagne.


Not to be outdone, I had Nick, Haley and Brett over for dinner. Filet for Haley, Strip steaks for Nick, Brett and me along with absolutely killer, better than Aunt Janet, Twice Baked Potatoes. They drank Veuve. We drank Premiere Napa Valley Canard Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2011. Only 60 bottles of this magnificent example of the winemakers art were produced. One upmanship right?


Wrong. See below. Apple Pie trumps EVERYTHING.


Great sunset.