Cousin Rocky is one of those guys who is interested in all kinds of things and always has a lot of irons in the fire. He was a private pilot, he’s a musician, he’s into astronomy, history, genealogy, and probably a lot of other stuff I don’t know about.
Rocky is also an accomplished sailor who has participated in the popular Mackinac Race several times, but now he has moved up to tall ships. He’s a volunteer at the Michigan Maritime Museum in South Haven, crewing on the tall ship Friends Good Will. In fact he recently sailed across Lake Michigan on the ship to participate in a tall ship event at Navy Pier in Chicago.
So when he invited us to go on a sail with him yesterday afternoon, we were excited. I’ve been on a couple of tall ships before, including the USS Constitution, but they were all docked at the time. In fact, I had never been on the water in a sailboat of any kind.
The 101 foot long ship is a working replica of the original Friends Good Will, a merchant square-rigged topsail sloop that worked the Great Lakes before being captured by the British during the War of 1812. She was later recaptured by the United States Navy during the Battle of Lake Erie and served the American cause until she was burned by the British in December, 1813. Launched in August, 2004, today’s Friends Good Will is used to take passengers on cruises from the museum, and as a training vessel for volunteer sailors.
Our cruise began at 3:15 with the ship’s diesel engine taking us out past the lighthouse and into Lake Michigan. They had a full complement of crew and passengers on board, so Terry and I stood for the whole trip. And being a true landlubber, even though it was a calm day, I had to hold onto the rail most of the time to keep my balance.
Once we were out on the open water the engine was shut down and the sails were deployed. Passengers are welcome to pitch in and help haul the lines, and it was really amazing to see all of that canvas going up. One crewmember told me they have over 3,000 square feet of sail and two miles of rope.
It’s a long way up to the top by way of the rope ladder on the right side of this picture. And cousin Rocky has climbed up there. Cousin Rocky isn’t real bright.
I expected to see a big steering wheel, but there wasn’t. This is Mari Flynn, second in command during our cruise, using the tiller to steer the ship. It’s amazing how simple she makes it seem, moving it side to side in small increments to keep the ship on course.
After we sailed around for a while, Mari pulled the tiller all the way to the port side and I was amazed at how quickly the big ship came around to head back toward port.
This is the ship’s Captain, Megan Cairns, a beautiful and charming young woman who has been involved with sailing and tall ships since she was a teenager. We really enjoyed getting to know her and learning about how she started out as a Sea Scout when she was still in school and wound up being the captain of a tall ship.
It was crowded on the deck, what with the crew, passengers, and all of the coiled lines and other paraphernalia needed for the tall ship. When we returned to port we waited until everybody else had left the ship so Terry could get a picture of the deck looking forward.
Thanks for inviting us Rocky, we really had a good time. We will have a feature story on the Michigan Maritime Museum in an upcoming issue of the Gypsy Journal.
Have you entered our latest Free Drawing yet? This week’s prize is an audiobook of Blood Honor, the debut novel in my friend Russell Blake’s The Day After Never post-apocalyptic trilogy. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.
Thought For The Day – Lazy is such an ugly word. I prefer the term ‘selective participation.’