46 miles to Ottawa

Started out mid morning today, rolling with “Inspiration” & “Let It Ride”.  It was windy today and cold, but it was a beautiful day.  Our first lock was Brandon lock, the guy cutting the grass didn’t seem to notice all the boats and did a good job of covering the boats with grass and dirt.  The lock master realized this and said sorry lol.  The day went great otherwise.  The last lock before Ottawa held us up for 3 hours.  This is a known often delayed lock because the lock master dislikes pleasure boats.  The Harbor master was nice enough to come in after dark and help us get settled at Heritage Harbor.  We had dinner with Phil, Pam, Tim and Karen, the on site restaurant is great.  Today took almost 9 hours and only covered 46 miles, total locks today = 3.  My friend Tiffany has been great help on board I really appreciate it.




this barge had been idle for a while and blew some smoke when it put fuel to the big EMD’s


10 out 10 more in, Marsalis lock 


arrived at Heritage Harbor (815) 433-5000


Fuel, reverse osmosis water, cable, wifi “actually works”, 240volt, restaurant/bar on site. 


59 miles to Joliet, beginning of the rivers

Left Chicago 0800, headed south for the Calumet River.  You can take 2 routs out of Lake Michigan.  One you need to be able to clear 17′ which is through downtown Chicago on the Chicago river.  The other is 12 miles south on the Calumet river max height 19′.  Pura Vida is 18′ so I took the Cal Sag route.  This is a 25 mile heavy industrial area.  Chemical plants, refineries, recycling plants, any industry you could name they probably did it along this river.  It shows, the water is highly toxic and the land looks like its been stripped of all its natural resources.  After the Calumet river joined the Illinois river we had another lock and arrived in Joliet.  from the cal sag entrance to Joliet you will have 2 locks to go through and a dozen bridges to go under.  I only had around 5 bridges that needed to open.  Joliet has a great free wall to tie up for a night or two.  The coordinates are N 41 31.670′ W 88 05.180′  The canal is plenty deep and well-marked, AIS is a must when traveling the rivers.


Water is still blueish in the begining of the canal  


Where the Calumet meets the Illinois 


lowest bridge on the whole great loop 19.1′


They have a electronic barriers in the waters here to try and keep the evasive species of carp and other fish from getting into the Great Lakes 


Illinois River 


If anyone knows what these colored piles of sand are let me know!


nice sand box 


52 miles to Chicago

The leg from Kenosha to Chicago was smooth and uneventful, the morning started out damp and foggy.  I ran my fog horn we left Kenosha and untill the fog lifted.  It stayed overcast way most of the day, when the City came into sight through the clouds we were about 15 miles away.  Chicago from the water is breath-taking, and visiting from the boat is the best way to see it!  The water is very clear in the marina and harbor, this is due to some engineers.  They figured out if you pump lake water into the area after the lock at a high enough rate they can make the Chicago River flow backwards instead of emptying its dirty waters into the beautiful lake water.  Way to go Chicago!

Had a great evening with a great comedian, Tom Rhodes!   At the comedy club Zanies in Chicago with  Andrew & Kian.  It’s hard to believe ive been friends with these boys for 20 years!  And for all different reasons we in the same city 1,000 miles from our small home town.  Life is good!   


Met some more awesome Loopers on the Nordic Tug “Lone Star” from Texas Steve & Kevin


Docked at Dusable Marina, 312-742-3577.  This is the best place to stay in Chicago, you are walking distance from everything.  They also have rental bikes all over so you can get one of these and expand your range around the city.  Marina seems to have great security!  


Above you can see aerial of the marina and see how close the Columbia Yacht Club is to DuSable Harbor 


In the winter of 1982-83, Columbia Yacht Club purchased the M/V Abby as the new Club Ship. The Abby left the Northumberland Strait “Nova Scotia” for good in April 1983 and remains “in service” today, hosting members and guests on the lakefront at the foot of Randolph Street in downtown Chicago.  They spent more in fuel bringing her to Chicago, than what they paid for the whole ship.  My new friend Dave Hardy who is friends with Commodore Alan McMillan from my home club Pensacola Yacht Club took us on a tour of the club and treated us to a great meal onboard.  Dave is an experienced racing sailor and shared some awesome stories!  


The MV Abegweit began service as an ice breaking railway, vehicle, and passenger ferry that operated across the Abegweit Passage of the Northumberland Strait, connecting Port Borden, Prince Edward Island to Cape Tormentine, New Brunswick, from 1947-1982.


106 miles to Kenosha & Washington Island side trip

I pulled Pura Vida out with the Travel Lift at Manitowoc Marina to replace zincs and inspect the running gear after almost 4,000 miles of looping.  The bottom was in great shape, all gear tight and straight.  Gotta love a Hatteras and dependable GPS’s!  Manitowoc Marina has been great to me and ive enjoyed staying here!


old zinc did its job, compared to the new one!  Still a few barnicles on the hull from the salt water earlier this year.  Going to have my friends at Dog River Marina in Mobile, AL do a fresh bottom job when I get back.


High and dry


Taking “Quiet Time IV” to Washington Island for the weekend  


beautiful limestone bluffs, you can see a cave 


beautiful Washington Island is located about 7 miles northeast of the tip of Door Peninsula in Door County, Wisconsin.  The island has a year-round population of 660 people.  We were welcomed as family because George has been great friends with all the people up here for many years Kap’s Marina, 920-847-2640 is an amazing location. I cant wait to come back!  They can accomidate all size boats here, the on site restauraunt here is wonderful!  


full moon and clear fresh water 


Leaving Manitowoc early am glass 


smoke on the water 


Racine Lighthouse “Wind Point Light” 




Todays Run was 106 miles, smooth all day.  Got into Kenosha around 1800 and got a slip at South Port Marina.  You can see the entrance and slip layouts below, met the owner he is very nice.   He was happy to have us stay 2 nihts because of the weather.  They have hot tubs and a pool.  Facilities are in great shape it is end of season so staff is sparce but great marina. (262) 657-5565


59 miles to Manitowac

The Cruise to Manitowoc was great, we were infant of about 6 other loop boats.  The weather was cloudy and cool.  Cruising the great lakes is a lot like cruising offshore back on the gulf coast, no intracoastal waters here.  Arriving in Manitowoc was like a mini looper rendezvous.  We had “Inspiration” “Avocet” “SummerTime” “Somewhere In Time” “Leap of Faith” “Still Waters” “Adventure Quest” and one other American Tug I never got the name of.  We all went to dinner and had a great time.


My friends the Coast Guard stopped me so they could do a safety inspection.  We rafted up in the lake.  They said they didn’t a chance to many inspections and appreciated us having them on board.  Pura Vida passed with flying colors and it was a pleasure having the Coast Guard on board.  I thank all of them for their service to the people and the country.


The Response Boat – Medium (RB-M) is a 45-foot (14 m) utility boat used by the United States Coast Guard.  The specs are below, very impressive and with the Detroit 60 Series 825hp.   I have driven a few trucks with the 60 series.  The Detroit Diesel Series 60 is an inline-6 4-stroke  diesel engine that was first produced in 1987. It departed from most on-highway engines.  It competed with the later Caterpillar C-series engines, it was cool to see them in their boat looking just like the truck engine.


Displacement: 16.3 ton
Length: 44 ft 9 in (13.64 m)
Beam: 14 ft 7.75 in (4.4641 m)
Draft: 3 ft 4 in (1.02 m)
Installed power: 2 × MTU Detroit Diesel turbochargedSeries 60 engines, 825 hp (615 kW) total
Propulsion: 2 × Rolls-Royce FF-Series waterjets
  • 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph) (cruise)
  • 42.5 knots (78.7 km/h; 48.9 mph) (max)
Range: 250 nmi (460 km; 290 mi) at 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph)
Complement: 4
  • 2 × M240B general-purpose machine guns
  • M16 rifle
  • Remington 870 shotgun
  • Santa Cruz Gun Lock Universal Gun Lock Systems

We stayed at Manitowoc Marina, 920-682-5117.  This is a great spot to stop on your way north or south on the Wisconsin side.  They have a wonderful shop here and travel lift.  Heated inside and yard storage, fuel and ship/clothing store.  The Marina is located right inside the Manitowoc Harbor, and is conveniently located to many cool businesses.  They have a Maritime museum, art museum, zoo and submarine tour here.


59 miles crossing Lake Michigan to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

We departed Frankfort at 0800, headed for Sturgeon Bay.  Frankfort to Sturgeon Bay is the narrowest part of Lake Michigan when crossing it.  It was drizzly and windy, Passage Weather predicted the wind to drop and change directions.  It was probably 2.5′ when we started out and hitting us on the port beam made it a rollin ride.  We were crossing Lake Michigan to Sturgeon Bay, the narrowest part of the lake is Frankfort to Sturgeon.  As we suspected the seas laid down after about an hour and once we were 1/2 way across the Lake the sea state changed to completely smooth and it was like a pond.  We expected some rain, all the clouds were out but we never felt or saw any the whole way across.  It’s really rare to have such a great crossing this early in the year, and with all the crazy weather that has been going on.  We got across the bay safely and the Sturgeon Bay cut was very picturesque, and With the Sturgeon Bay Coast Guard Station right at the entrance.  The two boats I crossed with were Inspiration, and Leap of Faith.  Leap of Faith was great to see again, the last time Pura Vida and I saw them was back in February in Hawks Channel off of Duck Key.  They saved the day after I hit a crab trap!  We stayed at Skipper Buds Marina, formally Harbor Club Marina 920-743-6934.  My friend George who I met in New York just finished the loop keeps his boat “Quiet Time IV” at this marina.  He drove up from his home and was at the marina when my sister and I arrived.  We got settled and George took us to an excellent dinner at Crate here in Sturgeon Bay.  It’s so great to have friends that share the same passion as you, it is a common thread that is strong.  I am Looking forward to doing tons of boating the next few years.  This trip has been inspiring and all the great people and connections you make on the water make this lifestyle so enjoyable.

The Great Loop is an amazing thing for people to be able to do.  It will get you into an exploring, life inspiring routine that is more and more addictive the further you go.  The great people you meet, the bond you grow with the water and winds.  Mother Nature talks to you through the rhythm of your boats motion.  The greatest thing any human can do is listen to others and learn as much as you can from the other person and teach them what you know as well.  This lifestyle works for me, and I’m so happy to see so many others that have known this secret.  I hope you can get out, explore, and see this beautiful world away from the main roads and cities.

M/V Leap of Faith & M/V Inspiration 


Picture taken from “Inspiration”  


Skipper Buds marina from the air


74 miles to Frankfort

Leaving Round Lake was great, we got the 0900 bridge opening and were out in Lake Michigan pushing water shortly after.  It was a chilly morning, high 50’s and it stayed this way until around 1000.  We crossed the mouth of Grand Traverse Bay.  Then passed sleeping bear dunes and through Manitou Passage, in between the Manitou Islands.  Then finally arriving in Frankfort.


909′ great lakes freighter, so long you can’t even see the stern 


Entering Frankfort, Betsie Lake 


I ran into my old neighbors from PYC Phil and Pam Eastman.  This reminds me of how small a world it is,  they are doing the loop as well and moved from sail to powerboat!  we will probably cross lake Michigan with them Wednesday after the winds lay down.   


Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is located along the northwest coast of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. The park covers a 35-mile-long stretch of Lake Michigan’s eastern coastline, as well as North and South Manitou islands. This park has outstanding natural features, including forests, beaches, dune formations, and ancient glacial phenomena.  Below you can see people going up and down the dunes, must be quite the workout.


Jacobson Marina is a great establishment.  They have a pool, hot tub, laundry, fuel, pump-out and small store 231-620-0474 Owner John lives on site and will be happy to have you visit!  Jacobson Marina is located right inside the harbour to the port side.  This is a great small town to walk around and lots of shops stores and good eats.  


cold 12v71 Detroits


54 miles to Charlevoix

Leaving Mackinaw City was beautiful, great conditions this day.  heading out to the straits we headed west and rounded grays reef passage and taking a south east heading to Charlevoix.  This is a great town!  We had some good times exploring all the little lakes and canals with the Twin Vida.  Charlevoix City Marina 231-547-3272  will take great care of you and Harbour Master Hal, and Dock Master Pat will give you a warm welcome to the town.  They can tell you all the good things to do.  The marina is in great shape and the boaters lounge is very nice.  laundry for only 1$ as well.



Aerial view of the town of Charlevoix from above Lake Michigan; the small lake in the center is Round Lake and the larger one in the background is Lake Charlevoix.  Charlevoix City Marina is locted just inside round lake to your starboard side. 


Aboard the USCGC Mackinaw (WAGB-83)  she is a 290-foot vessel specifically designed for ice breaking on the Great Lakes.  She did this well for 62 years,  in 1944 she was commissioned.  She was built as part of the war effort during World War II to meet the heavy demands of war materials and transportation during the winter months.  Mackinaw moved under its own power on 21 June 2006 from the port of its decommissioning to a permanent berth at the SS Chief Wawatam dock at the ship’s namesake port, Mackinaw City, Michigan.  The Mackinaw had two props in the stern and one up front.  The forward prop helped pull water from under the ice and create an air void which helped break the ice and the forward prop also helped flush the ice past the hull.  It held enough fuel to run all season on one fueling.  It has 6 Fairbanks-Morse 10-cylinder diesel engines.  they each run a generator which powers the 3 big electric drive motors.  All you needed was 2 engines to run the whole ships propulsion system.  They rotated them every 4 hours.  They rebuilt the engines once the officers would start to get oil stains on their white shirts from the exhaust stack.  Mackinaw has fore aft and side ballast tanks, these would help the ship break ice.  They could make the ship list 15degrees each direction so they could also rock themselves loose if they ever got stuck.

  • Diesel fuel: 276,000 U.S. gal
  • Ballast water: 121,631 U.S. gal
  • Heel and trim ballast water: 345,828 U.S. gal


53 miles to Macinak City

Leaving Drummond Island was beautiful, the air was slightly chilly and sky overcast.  The Cocomo Bayflower and Pura Vida all had the same destination today.  We left De Tour Passage which lead us into Lake Huron.  We cruised right through The Straights of Mackinac, its amazing how tall Mackinac island is you can literally start to see it 20 miles away.  After passing between Mackinac Island and Round Island, we headed south-west and arrived in Mackinaw City.  I am staying at Straights State Harbor phone # 231-436-5326.  This is a good marina.  Plenty of room great docks lots of parking, great staff, new facility, laundry and shower, fuel and pump-out.  The Internet is lacking but who needs internet lol (me so I can write these blogs).   There is a huge USCG Ice Breaker that is retired sitting right at the entrance you can see below.  they use these ships to keep a path cut through the straits during winter for the cargo ships to make passage.  This ice breaker works with sheer weight to break the ice, the bow rides up on the solid ice and once the ice can’t hold the weight it breaks through leaving a somewhat clear path.  It’s hard to believe that every year the lake freezes between Mackinaw city and Mackinac island which allows people and animals to walk across to the island!  After christmas they take the old christmas trees and bore a hole for the base and put a line of them across the lake making a path to and from the mainland.  This is over a 6.5 mile walk!





Restaurant, Pier M33 On The Cheboygan.  Great food and atmosphere (below)


My dad and I had a great dinner with Wayne and Vicki from Cocomo 


Mackinac Island, is an island covering 3.8 square miles in land area.  It is located in Lake Huron, at the eastern end of the Straights of Mackinac, between the state’s Upper and lower peninsulas.  Motorized vehicles have been prohibited on the island since 1898, with the exception of snowmobiles during winter and emergency vehicles.  Travel on the island is either by foot, bicycle, or horse-drawn carriage.  Bicycles, roller blades, carriages, and saddle horses are available for rent.  My sister and I did the 8-mile road that follows the island’s perimeter which runs along the shoreline.  The island was home to an Odawa Indian settlement before European exploration began in the 17th century. It was the center of commerce for the Great Lakes Fur Trade. This led to the establishment of Fort Mackinac on the island by the British during the American Revolutionary War. The entire island is listed as a National Historic Landmark.


Going through the Straits in Pura Vida