To “The Soo” (Day 9) – The Yachts

We followed some of them out of Munising, Grand Marais, and Whitefish Point — our last three ports-of-call. They were the reason it took us a week to get through Lake Superior. We’ve come to know some of their skippers in marina discussions. We feel invested.

Yachts! Lots of yachts. Forty-one of them are starting the Trans Superior Yacht Race today and here we are in the middle of them. Almost.

And now we’re about to interfere with their start. At least that’s how it feels to me as we approach the starting line about three hours after leaving Whitefish Point, just as the yachts are negotiating for starting positions. We knew the start time, and we knew how long it would us take to get there. I was for waiting, to make sure we didn’t get in their way. However, I’m one of four decision-makers and just a First Mate on this trip. I’ve learned to express my opinion and then go with the majority. (I won’t don my Navy hat on this boat unless I really need to, and I don’t expect that to happen. But I do have my cap with scrambled eggs on it, the one I wore on an actual Navy ship while underway. You know, just in case. 😉 )

My concern was prompted by memories of racing on sailboats decades ago; that scramble at the starting line, trying to figure out what the other boats are doing. Including nosy motor boats.

As usual, though, Jeff was right. We can and do navigate out of their way and have a great view. We can hear the race officials call out the starts for each class of boat, and the brief horn that says “go!”

Sailboat race starts aren’t like road race starts, or cross-country ski starts. You don’t see a mad dash. You do see tactical maneuvers such as sudden tacks and quick raising of sails. Pretty cool.

They have 350 miles of Lake Superior ahead of them. We have the locks ahead of us. As we leave the starting line, we encounter our first tug-and-barge, which looks like a single big ship as it approaches us in the rather narrow channel into Sault Ste. Marie. There’s always more room to maneuver than it seems at a distance. Still, it’s a bit unnerving. I feel my anticipation quicken as the industrial skyline comes into view, knowing the locks are there in the center of it. Will we encounter a large ship as we enter? Will we have to wait? I don’t really know how it works! I wish I had done some research. A bit of knowledge always make me feel more secure. Oh, well. Facing the unknown is part of the adventure. Think of Lewis & Clark. Forward!

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