(as originally published in Cruising World September 2015)
Once upon a time, as all good stories start, we came across an issue of Cruising World, and the seed for our dream was planted. My husband, Jim, and I immediately knew that our days as power boaters were numbered. We wanted to go cruising under sail. Within the next couple of years, we took sailing lessons, found a sailboat and made it ours.
Fast-forward 10 years. The itch to go cruising had grown exponentially, and we found ourselves in Chicago at the Strictly Sail show. Over cocktails, I threw out a plan that had us retiring and going cruising in five years, at age 50. We put it down on paper and somehow the pieces started to fall in place.
The first major step in our plan, and one of the scariest, was for Jim to retire. Next, I had to convince my employer to let me work remotely for nine weeks so we could embark on the first phase of our dream, cruising the North Channel in Lake Huron. On the evening when this magical picture was taken, we felt that we had finally made it.
Just shy of two weeks earlier, we had set sail from our marina on Lake Erie and worked our way north through the Detroit River, Lake St. Clair, the St. Clair River and finally under the Blue Water Bridge and into Lake Huron. From there we port-hopped along the Canadian coast up to Tobermory, Ontario, and it was there that we caught our first glimpse of the crystal blue waters and beauty that were ours to explore for the next six or seven weeks.
We left Tobermory and followed another cruising couple through the tricky entrance to Thomas Bay, where we dropped anchor in the North Channel for the first time. We spent the day exploring, climbing, picking blueberries and pinching ourselves to see if it was really happening! As the day drew to a close, we popped the cork on the bottle of champagne we’d been saving for our first anchorage. Shortly thereafter we headed to shore to enjoy the first of many campfires and beautiful sunsets we would experience in the summer of 2014.
The pieces of our dream continue to fall in place. I have since retired, and in August we will once again leave our marina on Lake Erie, this time seeking warmer climes. We will cross the lake from west to east, traverse the Erie Canal, hang a right and head south towards the Bahamas. Whereas last year we cruised for nine weeks, this time we will cruise for nine months, hopeful this will lead to our next cruise of nine years.