Friday, January 7, 2011

To Circumnavigate or Not? That Is The Real Question!

Recently we attended a Detroit Regional Yachting Association  event at the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club where our friend Erick Reickert spoke to a group of Great Lakes sailors to encourage circumnavigation in your own boat. A few Great Lakes sailors venture into the big waters in their own vessels. Most travel to the islands during the cold winters and charter a bareboat. After all, where else can you find better sailing than the vast waters of the Great Lakes where you can sail to 4-5 states and another country in a matter of a few days? You can even see the sunrise and sunset on two different lakes from the same anchorage! Actually Great Lake sailing offers some of the toughest conditions.

Erick & Susan onboard SV Trillium
Erick is actually the one who put the circumnavigation bug in my brain over 15 years ago. You see, I sat next to Erick and his wife at a charity dinner. There he told me he was having a boat built in England and that he planned to sail around the world. Having spent summers growing up on Michigan lakes, I was intrigued with Erick's plan.

However, I was not a sailor. Water skier, fisher-woman (since the age of 4 both on water and ice), swimmer, etc., but not a real sailor. I had a small AMF sailboat, then later a Sunfish, and finally at 14 foot Snipe with a main and jib. Put I didn't really sail! Not compared to what we do now. So Erick's plan seemed like a dream to me, but not one I would ever execute. It never seemed to be a possibility, let alone a reality for me.

Then Dennis announced that he wanted to retire on a sailboat and sail around the world. I tried to tweak that a bit by altering the words to "sail about the world." When we actually started looking for a boat, we consulted Erick, who has a vast amount of knowledge and experience. (Check it out at Once we made our "wants" and "needs" list, we went in search of the perfect boat. Soon we realized there is no "perfect" boat! Finding a boat is a compromise between design, function, handling, space, etc., etc., etc. We found our lovely Hallberg-Rassy.

Capt. Dave on our overnight sail in Lake Erie.
We even had gourmet meals. This was dessert!
Next came learning to handle a big boat. We took our American Sailing Association certification with Captain Dave Bello of Fair Winds Sailing ( and can recommend them for sailing instruction and chartering in the Great Lakes and in the Caribbean, Chesapeake and Bahamas. Captain Dave and his staff make learning fun. Our broker, Roger Johannsen at Free State Yachts in Tracy's Landing, Maryland was a great help during our search and even more supportive after the sale. If you are looking for a bluewater boat, we would recommend both Roger and Scott at Free State Yachts (

After surrounding ourselves with knowledgeable people, we sailed the Chesapeake Bay for two seasons. Then in November 2010, we joined the Caribbean 1500 Rally ( to Tortola, BVI. We joined the group in Hampton, VA and the rest is history - as can be read in previous posts in this blog. We highly recommend participating in a group event such as a Rally. There are many benefits. Now comes the really big question: are we ready to join the World ARC ( in January 2012?

Part of me is so ready for the adventure. Another part of me is terrified! Dennis is ready, but we have this thing called "work" that is pulling us back. We also agree that we need another year to learn all of the systems on Trillium. She is a complicated vessel with dual 110/240 and 12V/24V systems. The plus is that she is set up to be comfortable anywhere in the world! See - there are always compromises: simplicity vs. flexibility. 

So "To Circumnavigate or Not" has become the real question. And if yes, then when? We have a year to decide. In the meantime, we have our return to the Chesapeake Bay in the Spring with the Atlantic Cup Rally to start planning. Stay tuned ...