September 8, 2016
Even better than seeing Lake Superior from the shore, is seeing the shore from Lake Superior. Then, there is the long view over blue water and the sounds of the wind and waves. There is a way to further immerse yourself into this environment, while disturbing it as little as possible. You can blend smoothly into the elements rather than crashing through with pounding engines. You can explore by sailing Lake Superior.
“It’s just a magical experience being out on Lake Superior and seeing the shore from a whole different perspective,” said Mark Gordon of Amicus Adventure Sailing. “Thousands and thousands of people drive up the north shore every weekend. To be able to see the shore and experience the real magic of Lake Superior is really something.”
We know guests at Grand Superior Lodge normally don’t have a sailboat docked at a local marina. If they are like most people, they may not have even sailed before. This is no problem. There are many charter sailing companies to choose from along the north shore. Soon you can be out on the water, feeling yourself being pulled along by the wind.
Between Duluth and Grand Marais there are different types of charters but they break down into two basic varieties. Captain charters provide you with a boat and a skipper and bareboat charters just rent you the boat.
“We have a 40 foot steel cutter,” said Mark. “We do a captain charter. We are the only one that operates out of Knife River.”
Mark does regular trips and private charters. He takes up to six people (you can book just part of a group if your party is smaller than six) on cruises lasting about two hours. The cost is 40 dollars for adults and 30 dollars for children under 12. If you have a group of six, you can save money by booking the whole boat for 200 dollars for two hours.
Captain Mark chooses the route based on the winds. This is not to say sailboats can only go with the wind, as some people still think. A sailboat has a big enough range of angles to chose from, that it can go anywhere, as long as there is wind. There are just some courses that are quicker and easier and don’t involve lots of zigzagging (tacking).
“Sometimes we might go out six miles from shore and come back,” said Mark. “Other times, we go along the shoreline.”
You may be happy to just relax while the captain does all the work. Or, you may desire a more hands-on experience.
“We spend a lot of time just talking to the folks on the boat,” said Mark. “It is very common for them to jump behind the wheel and it is also very common for them to help put the sails up.”
We must warn you. Once you experience steering through the water or feel the boat power up as you adjust the trim you may be hooked. You may decide to get some sort of tall ship of your own.
“That is why we are in the business,” said Mark. “We like chatting it up with people and talking about sailing and getting people interested in sailing.”
There is a ketch in Knife River that was bought by someone who first sailed with Mark, and caught the sailing bug. Mark also recently did a special cruise to the Apostle Islands with a couple. After they got back home they put their house up for sale, so they could buy a sailboat to live on.
Obviously, this couple lives or will live someplace further south, where the water stays liquid year-round. But, all sailors know a key fact, whether on waters warm or cold, salty or fresh. Mark knows it too, and is willing to sum it up.
“It is just a quiet peaceful experience,” said Mark. “It is very mesmerizing. I’ve done it a thousand times and I never get tired of it.”