Destination: unknown. Well, not exactly. Jeff’s dream is to do The Great Loop (look it up), which would take at least six months and possibly a few years if done in sections. “The Loop” doesn’t begin, for us, until we reach Mackinac Island and enter Lake Michigan. How far we go this year, and how far I personally go, depends on many factors – including the availability of others who want to take on the job as First Mate. (And meet the requirements for it!)
The adventure began July 30, 2021 with our sunrise (6 a.m.) departure from Pequaming on Keweenaw Bay in the western Upper Peninsula, bound for Marquette. Our companion boat, which I insisted on as a condition of navigating the unpredictable and often dangerous Lake Superior, is a gorgeous 42-foot sailboat which is making its way from Pequaming to Florida. We will be together for a week or so, after which our tracks diverge.
Jeff has spent years prepping this old boat (built in 1981, purchased by Jeff in 2018) and I’ve spent less than a week provisioning it (and me) and trying to prepare mentally. Lists, lists, lists! Our companion boat didn’t commit until recently, so I didn’t commit until then either. I am a boater, and a risk-taker, but this is a different kind of risk. It has tested me and will continue to do so.
I’ve always done well on tests. I hope that holds here too! Anyway, I’m in it now.
The cruise from Pequaming to Marquette was a bit of a grind – 70 miles, 9.5 hours, waves on the beam and choppy the whole way. Everyone except the cat (Boo) got at least a little seasick. I’ve never had serious seasickness but am wary, watching others get green. I take turns at the helm and that helps ease the slight nausea.
What a relief to reach the seawall in Marquette, my college hometown. The Blueberry Festival was in full swing but we were mostly too weary to enjoy it. I took an outing in the dingy (named “Pieni Tuuli,” which means “small wind” in Finnish, by its previous owner) and let the geese entertain me.
I’m researching various weather and tracking apps, trying to decide which works best. Jeff is very social in marinas and visits with everyone, picking up tips and – improbably – meeting other “Loopers” (the term for boaters who do The Great Loop), even here in the far north.
Every journey begins with the first step. Now that we’re under way, it’s starting to feel fun. (Except for rough seas, which are never truly fun.) After packing everything away, I realize that this 34-foot trawler is actually quite roomy. I was unnecessarily frugal with my clothes and toiletries.
I was not frugal about coffee. Jeff likes his coffee weak. I like mine strong. So we have three percolators on board; two that can be used on a butane-fueled burner or the galley stove and one that can be plugged in. I’m taking other chances on this trip. I’ll take no chances with my coffee.