The #PowerOfNature: #LakeSuperior

Here is an excerpt from Ocean of Insight, a book in the works. I’m crowd-sourcing the project and welcome your feedback. Thanks for your input–H

Sailors’ Log: July 17, 1992, 15:40—Apostle Island National Lakeshore, Lake Superior

I feel melancholy at the wheel of our rented twenty-nine foot sloop as I sail her back to port on this last day of vacation. All four of us took to our nautical adventure. The kids woke Dave and me each day at about 06:30. I made breakfast in the doll-house-sized galley while they dressed and tidied the boat for sail. Then, we journeyed to the protected anchorage of an unknown-to-us island. Underway, Dave did his best to hook Jumbo Lake Trout or Coho Salmon. Arriving in clear, protected waters in time for lunch, we dropped anchor.

We spent afternoons stomping through woods, constructing sand castles on the beach, spying eagles, and climbing the spiral steps of lighthouses. Our five-year-old son never removed his plastic cowboy hat or gun belt stuffed with toy cars. He yakked without pause about dangerous made-up characters lurking in the woods. Attentive to his every word, our three-year-old daughter kept pace in snake-skinned cowgirl boots. Only occasionally did her concentration swerve toward a bug or dead bird along the path. One afternoon—after strapping on a life jacket and tying himself to a long line so we could retrieve his body (if necessary), Dave entertained us with whoops and hollers during a brief swim in the 53º blue-black water.

Underway, I am conscious of Lake Superior’s dangers stemming from its mass. Three-hundred-and-fifty-miles long and 1,300 feet deep, it is the largest lake in the world, holding ten percent of the planet’s fresh water. Like the ocean, this water body is big enough to create weather; it happens unpredictably. Fog, ice, wind, and rocks have sunk hundreds of vessels in the past few centuries. Once sunk, cold water temperatures prevent microbial growths that would otherwise float human bodies to the surface. Lake Superior swallows ships and mariners forever into its depths. If you take a misstep and fall into the water, hypothermia will kill you in less than two hours.

In this moment, I take comfort in the good boat we leased. She is a beefy, solid feeling monohull that behaves well. I feel somewhat accomplished in my sailing performance, too. This spring’s how-to-sail course paid off and I made the boat go from place to place without too much angst. Until now.

To be continued…

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