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Rowing Review

Here’s my watery year in review, a summary of what I saw, thought, read and did and photographed. Enjoy.

Begin the year in the Southern Ocean. Finish solo around the world race May. Have boat turtle in the Atlantic in June. July find boat in mid ocean and rescue it. In September have boat suffer damage during hurricane.

Since this is a year in review, I’ll begin with Milwaukeean Tim Kent. That’s his year above. You won’t find a broader range of events or emotions.

Tim went from Lake Michigan sailor to world sailor in a compact period of time. As I’ve observed Tim’s endeavours there have been many junctures at which I know I would have given up.

His present situation with a boat in Bermuda sans mast, sails and equipment is another predicament I wouldn’t tackle. Comparing our respective track records Tim will probably go on and succeed proving me wrong another time.

It’s been a year of ferry stories in Muskegon. At year’s end we are just 6 months from the return of a cross lake ferry to Muskegon. Decades of effort have produced a high speed catamaran ferry that will run between Milwaukee and Muskegon.

ship drawing.JPG

Coming June 1 the Lake Express ferry name TBD.

The venerable Badger will continue to cross from Ludington to Manitowoc and a company with a good PR record but a poor record of accomplishments will try to make a go of a southern Lake Michigan ferry.

For the new ferry to be a success I think that customer service will be crucial. There is not a more pleasant travel experience than sailing the Badger. Employees are plentiful, and knowledgable. Sure the Muskegon ferry will have the technology edge, but serivce is timeless and a tough thing to produce.

Look for the Rowing reporter’s 5 port travel piece this winter….

Our local newspaper summed up the Tall Ships fleet visit to Muskegon this way: attendance was down from 110,000 to 60,000. That’s
the bottom line and just the facts I guess.

My dusk to dawn involvement makes me a partial observer. I can’t help but think people who didn’t attend missed much. They missed seeing a foreign naval ship visit. They missed seeing three schooners: Dennis Sullivan, Pride of Baltimore and Highlander Sea that show widely varying asepcts of maritime history. They missed a vastly improved system for ship tours. They missed an ontime and well run Parade of Sail.


Parade of sail spectators

My verdict is that the repeat visit of the Tall Ships and the lagging attendance shows that Muskegon may not be the most sophisticated market yet. Folks might have thought that they’d seen it all in 2001 and skipped this year. Not true!

Now South Haven is getting a tall ship. I propose a trade- our ferry for your tall ship…

One of the best books I read this year concerned Muskegon Lake. What are the odds on that? Muskegon native Elizabeth Sherman took the limited resources available to the local historian and wrote a thorough and compelling history of maritime Muskegon.

Muskegon has had a varied maritime history from canoes, to lumber schooners, to passenger steamers right on up to modern freighters and one design racers.

columbia star linesup.jpg

The 1000 foot freigher Columbia Star exits Muskegon

The book came at a good time. Yes, Muskegon’s maritime history is to be celebrated. Yet for those here now with a ferry coming, the tall ships visiting and thousands of boats docked on Muskegon Lake we are going to get to live through siginifigant events that will sometime warrant their own history book.

In February I had the chance to get a little blue water time, delivering a boat from Bermuda to Florida. This trip was multi-faceted and memorable. There was quiz nite at the Frog and Onion, then a ripped main. This led to the Sma Rig- a storm trysail with # 3. I remember a rather sketchy all hands event handling the # 4. Who could forget scrambled eggs and raman noodles for breakfast? I can now check off streaming warps over the stern in a gale from my lifelong to do list. We did have a cushy 3 on, 6 off watch schedule. I enjoy the at sea routine. Of course there was our rentering the country as the duct taped Code Orange occured while in New Zealand, Team New Zealand bailed while racing.


Fitted dinghy in the Bermuda Maritime Museum

While visiting the Bermuda Maritime museum I saw a sign that read “A man who went to sea for pleasure would be likely to go to hell for pastime.” Parts of this voyage brought the meaning of this saying home. It’s already in the past, I do hope there are more in the future.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 30th, 2003 at 10:04 am and is filed under Rowing Reporter. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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