Why do we do it?
24 August 2015
In between locking, there is lots of time for reflection while viewing some of the most amazing, changeful scenery. So this blog session is a bit introspective.
Why are we doing this? We blithely say 'because we can' and that is true. But we know we only have so much time in which to do the things we dream about and just talking about it doesn't get it done. Lots of people can do this, but it takes determination, planning, the support and help of friends and family, and a bit of luck to pull it off. It takes the attitude that complacency is not an option, and that embracing challenge and change are the only way to live. We both agree there is nothing we would rather do than go exploring on a sailboat and neither of us could do it without the other.
So how did the girl from the east side of Cleveland, Ohio who never boated on Lake Erie let alone sail, meet up with the guy who grew up on the water in Bay View, Wisconsin? When I moved to Wisconsin I had only sailed a few times with my sister in Florida and on Lake Lanier in Georgia. I learned to sail (aka cruise) in a relationship that didn't last but I fell in love with the sport (and the North Channel) and didn't want to give that up. I took a 'how to crew' class at Milwaukee Yacht Club, got a ride on a raceboat, and got hooked on racing. The skipper of that first race was Larry Mueller, who is a best bud of Bill's. So occasionally the two of us raced together on Snakebite. We were racing buddies long before we connected romantically.
Bill has sailed all his life...he likes to say he was born in February and out on the water in June. His mother's side of the family has a deep history on Lake Michigan, including a great grandfather who was a schooner captain along with his wife, the cook. All of his family sailed, his mom, dad (who won the Queen's Cup that last time it went to St Joseph, Michigan), and four sisters. His dad was also a STAR sailor. Racing is in Bill's blood.... and he has plenty of trophies to prove it! BUT at one point five years ago as we sat in South Manitou harbor watching the sailboats pass through the Manitou Channel with the background of Sleeping Bear and Pyramid Point, he realized he had spent his entire sailing career concentrating on compass and sails, and never really 'saw' the remarkable scenery he was transiting. He decided to cross-over to the cruising life, slow down and experience that side of sailing. That first year of cruising we were on a borrowed Erickson 35, RUAH, from Rob and Mary Goodman. Bill had sold the first Whisper, the Olsen911SE, which was a racing machine, but would have made a great cruising boat!
The second Whisper was a Laser 28, still a raceboat, but with somewhat of an interior. We only raced her once. We camped our way up Lake Michigan and into the North Channel as far as Baie Finn, making wonderful friends along the way, which totally convinced us that cruising was the life-style for us. To make that happen, I had to retire and we had to find a proper cruising boat. In 2012 we did both.
The third Whisper is a Tartan 34-2 sloop, built in 1986 in Fairport, Ohio, hull #50. She has a Sheel keel which draws only 4-1/2 feet, which makes her a great cruising boat for Ontario and the Bahamas. She is powered by a Yanmar diesel engine, which we have depended upon greatly on this 245 mile trek in the Trent-Severn. Her interior is beautifully finished with lots of teak and comfortable cushions. We did some upgrades to her which I'll cover in another blog. How many does she sleep? Technically there are berths for 5-6 but we always say 'enough for two and Sue', to accommodate our good friend, Sue Beres, who has joined us for a portion of the trip the past three years.
So now we are nearly two months into this great adventure. We are still waking every morning looking forward to the day's adventures with a smile. Each bend in the river, each opening of the lock doors, gives us a new scene to investigate and remember. Each anchorage or harbor gives us new opportunities to make new friends or renew old acquaintance. We've managed to put lots of miles under Whisper's keel without mishap. If it had to end today, we wouldn't regret a moment, but hopefully, we'll get through those next 18 locks and on to the next leg our journey.