The Fleet

Looking back, most of the watercraft we’ve owned have been geared toward adventure. Whether exploring the St. Croix, Minnesota and Mississippi rivers, exploring the far reaches of Lake Superior, or setting off on a 7,000 mile cruise, Peg and I have seldom been content to chill at the dock.

Grumman Canoe

Dreams usually start somewhere. For me the dream of sailing started with a 17′ Grumman canoe, onto which my mom and dad built a sailing rig like this.

We only ever tried it once, during a family camping trip to northern Wisconsin, with disastrous results.  The happy upshot is my mom broke down and rented us a Sunfish from the campground and bought me a sailing manual.  We had a blast cruising around the small lake.

Sometime thereafter I discovered dirt bikes and later girls, both distractions from sailing. 

Sears Snark

The next boat came to us when Peg and I were married and in our first house on north 2nd street in Stillwater, Minnesota.  A neighbor sold us his Sears Snark and we had the start of a fleet.

A fairly awful boat, it still provided a lot of fun.  Later the Snark went to my mom and then on to my older sister.

Yamaha Waverunner

Next we got into the personal watercraft craze.  Peg bought a Yamaha Waverunner.  It was under powered and skidded around as if on ice.

Sea Doos

Then I picked up a Sea Doo SPX.

Then Peg upgraded to a Sea Doo GTX.

The Sea Doos opened up a new range of exploring.  With our kids, Nikki and Chris, we explored the St. Croix and up the Mississippi from South St. Paul to the Ford Dam.  Kyle McGlade and I went as far south as the top of Lake Pepin.  But the most extensive exploring happened with Brian Lorentzen and his SPX:

  • South St. Paul to the Coon Rapids Dam on the Mississippi
  • South St. Paul to Shakopee on the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers
  • Shakopee to Mankato on the Minnesota rivers
  • Starting at Bayfield, WI and touring the entire Apostle Islands.
  • Duluth to Two Harbors and up the Columbus river

Crestliner Apollo 18

Around then we inherited my dad’s fishing boat.  Powerboating did not fit our way of thinking and it was soon history.

Nacra 5.2

Our first catamaran came as a birthday gift from Peg.  A 17′ Nacra, it was fast and fun. Peg, Chris, Brian, Aketoshi Sohno (a peer from Japan), Rob and Kyle sailed on her.  Kyle and Rob managed to pitch pole her, cartwheeling her end for end.

Hunter 260

Our first cruising sailboat was also tied to a birthday.  In 2001, on my birthday, Peg diverted us from a planned lunch and surprised me by agreeing to buy a Hunter 260 I had been eyeing.

In her we sailed the St. Croix from above Stillwater to Prescott and the Mississippi as far as Lake Pepin and St. Paul.  On her trailer we went to the Apostle Island for a one-week tour.

Hunter 340

The next cruiser was a Hunter 340.  Peg decided it was time to move up after we charted a Hunter 36 in the Florida Keys in 2004 with sister Margaret and her husband Doug.

In the 340 we ranged farther on the St. Croix River, as far as LaCrosse, WI.  The 340 also participated in the St. Croix Sailing Club racing series.  We hosted groups from work, offered several days of sailing in the United Way auction, and generally sailed the hell out of her.  Many nights were spent at peaceful anchor out on the Croix.  My logs show we averaged 55+ outings per year during this time!

Ericson 23

During this time I discovered a love for buying, restoring and selling trailer-able sailboats. The first I bought from Gerry Speiss, of “Alone Across the Atlantic” fame.  It was an Ericson 23 and I learned a lot.  I only sailed her once but made a tidy profit.

Catalina Capri 22

The second trailer sailer was a Catalina Capri 22. 

 

We raced her a couple of times but the main voyage was a one-week trip with Rob “Bullwinkle” McGlade from Grand Portage around Isle Royale.  We had great weather and stunning scenery.  At times we did look like the Clampetts with all sorts of stuff hanging of the rails.

Schock 23 #1

The following season I bought a Schock 23 and Peg duplicated the Isle Royale trip with me.  Again we had great weather.  This boat also travelled the Mississippi up through the cities to see the new 35 bridge being assembled in Minneapolis.

At this point we were pretty settled on having the Hunter 340 on the St. Croix but wanted something a little bigger than the Schock 23 for going to Lake Superior.  With this in mind I bought an S2 7.9.

S2 7.9

A spacious and solid boat, it would have served well…

Gemini 105M

…if Peg hadn’t seen an ad for a Gemini catamaran available in Bayfied.  The result was we sold the 340 and the S2 and bought the Gemini 105M “Endeavor”.  More on the Gemini here.

Schock 23 #2

While the Gemini was our Lake Superior boat, we still had a slip available at Bayport, so I bought another Schock 23 to sail on the St. Croix.

After a couple of seasons Frostbight also went for sale and we concentrated on bringing the Gemini to Hudson in preparation for doing America’s Great Loop.  Once the Gemini was home and being worked on we suddenly had no sailable boats: not a good situation.  Thus I bought three “temporary” boats for diversion while we worked on the Gemini.

Catalina 25

The first, a Catalina C25 saw much of the St. Croix and took Rob to Lake Pepin for the first time..

MC Scow

The second was an MC Scow, a fast and twitchy racer. The scow hull planes in moderate breezes and can hit the mid teens speed-wise.  Not a relaxing boat to sail, as she darts off in a new direction the moment your concentration lapses.

Stott-Craft Bass Boat

The third was a Stott-Craft bass boat.  Purchased for $380 from a local auction place.  I fixed it up and got it running, but time was short before the loop so it went off to a new owner.

 

As we set off on the Great Loop we sold off most of the fleet, leaving Endeavor as our sole flagship.

Bayliner 2452

Near the end of the Loop we had been making plans for future aquatic adventures.  Doing another year-long Loop was out of the question, at least in the near term.  We knew that we wanted to go back and explore some Loop areas further, but did not want to sail to those places at 6 mph.  So a trailerable boat made sense.  We spent the last few months of the Loop research such boats.

Thus, two weeks after arriving home we bought this 2001 Bayliner 2452 Express Cruiser.  She was extremely well maintained and mostly turn-key.  We renamed her Options and planned her first big trip to on the Canadian Canal system (Trent-Severn and Rideau) for Spring 2019.  More about Options here.

Com-Pac 16

To satisfy our sailing addiction, I picked up  this cute Com-Pac 16 sailboat.  A project boat, she didn’t last long in our fleet and is now on to another owner.  Just a bit TOO small for our needs.

After long deliberation, we decided that Endeavor, wonderful boat that she is, did not fit our long term plans for trailer-boating. While she was fantastic for live-aboard sailing, we could could not easily move her to choice destinations. Leaving her to rot most of the year at a dock was not an option. Thus, in May 2018, Endeavor moved on to new owners. As of 2019 they are sailing her down the East Coast toward the Caribbean.

Precision 18

With only Options, a power boat, remaining in our fleet, I began feeling the urge to sail again. “Top Knot”, a 2008 Precision 18 trailerable sailboat has filled that need… for now.

Top Knot is a sweet sailer, easy to launch solo, with surprisingly space below for short sleep-over trips.

After testing Options on the St. Croix and Mississippi a number of times we came to the conclusion that we are not power boaters. Too much noise, too much fuel consumption, too much complexity, etc. Quietly slipping through the water powered by sail or small outboard motor is our style.

So Options went to new ownership in August 2019, exactly one year from the date we bought her.

The evolution of our fleet continues! Currently just the Precision 18, but soon to add a craft suited to trailer-boating adventures.