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On a slow boat to Mackinac

There’s plenty of time to savor the pleasures of Lake Huron when a sailor vows to sail every inch.

Long ago, before engines, sailors had to wait for wind, and that’s exactly what I did for hours. My Westsail 32 Antares sat on a motionless sea. The current flowing down into the river carried me slowly back south—I was making negative progress. The boat drifted in circles. The stillness was complete. Finally, mid-afternoon, a zephyr stirred the water and the sails gently filled. A line of bubbles trickled off the rudder and I turned the bow northward. 

Most sailboats take days to cover the distance from Port Huron at the south end of Lake Huron to Mackinac Island. Race boats sometimes make the course in less than 20 hours, but aboard Antares I had no illusions of matching their speed, as she is better suited to ocean tradewind sailing than to the often light and fickle breezes of the Great Lakes in midsummer. After motoring against the strong current of the St. Clair River from Detroit that morning, I was determined to sail the entire distance to Mackinac Island, regardless of how long it took. Anyone can motor through calms and headwinds, but I had plenty of time, lots of patience and shelves full of books.  more...

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