Houghton/Hancock MI


Waiting a change in the weather

Waiting a change in the weather


I’ll complete my trek across the Keweenaw today and head toward Marquette.  I stayed longer than expected due to stiff wind in both directions over the last two days, but today the sun is bright, the sky clear and the wind, though from the wrong direction, light enough to allow progress to the east.  Tiny is on his way to Whitefish Point, where we hope to visit the Shipwreck Museum and go out to the Edmond Fitzgerald site and hold a bell ceremony. 

 I don’t know where I’ll be stopping along the way.  There are still a lot of things to see and do.

Houghton has been a great place to rest up.  There are lots of interesting people and history here.  I love being tied up right down town and talking to the people as they stroll by.  Every once in a while a true sailor and kindred spirit will come by, like my new friend Bill.  He brought me three things a sailor “needs” on a boat, music, a good read and raspberry jam!  Homemade right from his own vines, mind ya.  I put it in my yogurt.  He reminded me of Dan and Forest that gave me wonderful smoked fish, and Mark with his most helpful book, The Superior Way, all from Two Harbors and of Stephan in Grand Marais and his wonderful photographs. 

Another gentleman and his daughter stopped by offered assistance getting propane or supplies.  Just good people wanting to be helpful. And I mustn’t forget the Lift Bridge operators so helpful in gettng me through and on my way even though I missed my chance to go through with the M/V Ranger III, (the National Park vessel that was returning to homeport).  And the young newspaper man who worked hard researching out who I was and how to get in touch with me then spending time this morning before I sail to listen to the “tales” of this particular ancient mariner.

I believe there in is the real adventure, the people!  The people that pass, even though so briefly, through the life of a traveler/sailor.  To all of you, I will not soon forget your kindnesses.


41 Responses to “Houghton/Hancock MI”

  1. Waltskis says:

    Captina Tommy,
    When you get to Seward Alaska please feel welcome at the William H Seward Yacht Club. We’ll save a hot shower for you!
    Walter Heins
    907 360 5342

  2. T-bone says:

    Hey Tommy,

    Cut your goddamned hair!

  3. Connie Howes says:

    Hi Tommy
    Be sure to look us up when you get to Kingston, Ontario!
    Love the blog, the pics and your sense of adventure.
    Connie and Paul
    Kingston, Ontario
    613-453-xxxx(edit by t.) Connie’s cell

  4. Jeffrey Johnston says:

    Hi Tommy. What an amazing adventure you’re embarking on. I admire your adventurous spirit. This is the type of endeavor that so many of us dream of, but very few of us actually accomplish. I’m looking forward to keeping up on your progress. I’m in Sault Ste. Marie, on the Canadian side. When you get close to the Soo, if you need help with anything just let me know. I work very close to the locks, across the street from the Roberta Bondar marina,so hopefully I’ll get to see you when you pass through. If your interested in any media coverage, there’s a news website based in the Soo here that provides us coverage for the TransSuperior yacht race. I’m sure they would love to do a story on you.

  5. Tommy,
    You are living my dream,by “doing” the Northwest Passage, and leaving me here in southern Ontario. I will try my best to keep up with your journey. Please be safe. And warm. This latter will probably be the hardest thing to do.

    Again I will keep up with your travels as best I can and try to write often. I know that you will be lonely once you clear the mainland of Canada and head north. Happy trails!!

  6. Maryjane Westra says:

    Dear Tommy:

    What an incredible adventure! I will be following you and wishing I were there. (Well, maybe not.) I am a Lake Superior sailor and it’s fun reading your reactions to the wonderful spots on the Big Lake. I’m glad you walked Black River Falls. You will enjoy the Whitefish Bay.

    Besides being an incredible sailor, you are an inspirational writer! (Are you published in other venues?) Keep up the blog .. you have me hooked.

    Maryjane Westra
    S/V Abigail Susan

    youtube: Abigial Susan

  7. Tim Helgesen says:

    A big thank you for sharing your journey with us. This is a great site and I wish you all the best on your adventure. Your writing and pictures are just excellent. It was nice of you to visit our little corner of world. Your blog is one of the first things I check each day. I know it is a lot of work and you certainly have your hands full, but us armchair adventurers really appreciate you taking us along for the ride. Best of luck and thanks again.

  8. Annie & Bruce Yokum says:

    We were given your website via email from Good Old Boat. We went all the way back to the beginning of your blogs to get “caught up”. We so appreciate being able to follow this trip of a lifetime! Your writing is inspiring as well as entertaining. We now look forward, with anticipation, to each days “log” as we begin to take this journey with you! (We downloaded google earth to follow along as well!) Thank You!

  9. David says:

    Hi there Tommy. I was sent to your site from Good Old Boats Magazine. Basically, I’m a Navy vet who subscribed to the magazine from “Flack Jackets to Life Jackets” for sailors in a war zone. I’m a reader ever since. My “old boat” was in ice all winter. Black Locust and coal was burned in a small wood burner. It was an unbelievable experience.

    Good luck to you.


  10. Woody says:

    Capn Tommy
    Be sure and tie up at the wall in downtown Marquette and not at Presque Isle. There are a number of us local sailors who will be watching for you and want to assist you in obtaining supplies or whatever. Would love to buy you lunch or dinner if that would work out………
    Fair winds, Woody

  11. Jim Knape says:


    You found the best place in Houghton to dock. The reason is that if you walk about 200 feet up the hill the the Ambassador Bar you can get the best Pizza in this part of the state. If you get a chance order the Taco Pizza its great.

    If you stop in Marqiuette try the Veiling Saloon for local Whitefish>

    Jim Knape

  12. Brent Maidl says:

    Tommy, I love youre sailing the big lake. A buddy and I sail out of Duluth on a columbia 8.7 on the Yes Dear and always have an adventure. Were shooting for Isle Royale and maybe the Slate Islands this year, that were made by a meteor and has woodland caribou. Very cool. The weather changes so fast out there some days. I talked to Bob McGrew last night and he said youre house is good and safe and say HI, also from other people I didnt catch. sorry. He told me he’s driving his new harley here to kick my ass if I dont get off my pills, but thats another story. We all love what youre doing, so enjoy, stay warm and be safe. Stay clear of the three witches. Brent

  13. Tiago says:

    Hi Tommy.

    Thanks to Good Old Boat newsletter I found this site/blog.
    What an adventure you’re living, and what a pleasure to read your blog.

    Such a small man I feel sailing my boat up and down the Tagus river here in Lisbon, Portugal.

    All the best to you!

  14. Eric Phinney says:

    I just found your site via the folks from Good Old Boat. I will be great to follow your journey. Is your charting page not working or did i miss something. I would love to see where you actually are as i am not familiar with many of the place names you mention in the blog.


  15. Larry says:

    Wow! Just think – someone tells me about your website, I click on it, and what do I see? Home!!

    I live in WI now, but you’re traveling the waters were I grew up.

    I agree with Jim K. above about the Pizza at the Ambassador. Hope you had a chance to try it!

    Good luck with your adventure!

  16. Patrick says:

    I have a 31AC on Lake St Clair. Not sure what your sail inventory but if you need a backup roller furling Jib I would be happy to loan you my old one. Also have an old screecher. drop me an email if you are interested in meeting up whether you need the sails or not.
    Patrick Pettengill
    F31 #136 “Espresso Grande”

  17. Thomas says:

    Hello Tommy:

    Today I found you. Today you inspired me. Two and a half years ago I discovered my love for the sea. It immediately overwhelmed me. Since that moment I have begun my quest. I am learning to sail, have purchased a sailboat (a pacific seacraft flicka) and am storing her in my barn as I slowly get her ready for my sail. I retire in 4 years and I will be 63. I hope to solo sail to Hawaii. A floating monastery as it were. Truly…..a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I will anxiously follow your progress and I wish you fair winds and following seas every step of the way.


  18. John Shea says:

    We could surely use some more photos of the boat, or a floor-plan, maybe. Where is the stove, and how is it fed?

  19. C.O. says:

    This sounds likes a wonderful adventure. I am looking forward to following your journey.

    I am from Minnesota originally and have spent a lot of time around Lake Superior. I even lived in Houghton not far from where you were docked. I now live in Brevig Mission AK, a small village about 75 miles north of Nome. You will sail right past us at the end of your trip. Last year the vessel Tyhina (http://www.tyhina.com) stopped in our bay to wait out the weather. They had just completed the Northwest Passage. When you get up this way we would love to have you stop in.

    Looking forward to seeing you.

    C.O. Rudstrom

  20. unstranger says:

    Came across your blog yesterday. I have an interest in boats generally, particularly in building one. Also, I’d like to learn to sail and retire to a life of gypsy yachting, if there’s such a term. In any case it’s great to meet this blog as I can glean a clearer picture of what may be in store for me should I succeed in my intentions.

    Good stuff.

  21. Brent Maidl says:

    Welcome to the fresh water. My first message to you got erased, not sure why. We love what youre doing. I talked to Bob Mcgrew two days ago (who got me into Tristan Jones) and he said to tell you the house is safe and looked after and hello from many others. I’ve had many amazing adventured on the big lake, and sail a columbia 8.7 called the yes dear with my buddy marc. Were shooting for Isle Royale and maybe the slate islands that were made by a meteor this year and it also has woodland caribou. Very cool. Be safe and enjoy. One hand for yourself, and one for the ship. Brent

  22. Ron Quednau says:

    are you panning to stop in ERIE, PA?
    Could give you some support with car etc… as needed?
    My hobby is sailing and ham radio….
    Best of luck….

  23. Bill says:

    Captain Tommy —
    What good fortune was mine to make your acquaintance. Truely an honor and a joy to visit with you and swap sailing stories. As we pass through this life, it’s been my experience that we meet a very few who, though you spend only brief moments together, you part with a sense of having known the person longer … a feeling of kinship of sorts. What a mentor YOU would be.

    I will miss you my friend. And though I wish I had more time to get to know you, you’ll be in my thoughts and I’ll wait eagerly for more news and share in your Greatest Adventure. What an inspiration you are!
    — Bill
    Houghton, Keweenaw

  24. Bill says:

    Tommy —
    I forgot to add, there was a nice story of your journey in our local paper … You made the front page (above the fold even!).


  25. Deb says:

    My friend and I found your adventure through the pastycam website and we have spent the last couple of days catching up from the beginning. You are an incredible inspiration! I will be looking forward to following your blog until you reach Nome safe and sound.
    Thank you for the opportunity to be a virtual mariner. My father and brother both served with the US Navy and I have the salt in my blood too. Best wishes each and every day!

  26. tommy says:

    I have flagged your e-mail and when I get closer will try to make the stop. thats a long way off as of yet. e-mail me a phone # later or a radio call that I might be able to contact you. (will not publish it on the site).

    thanks again for the encouragement. I know I will not be the first or last to do this but I’m trying hard to make it “our adventure”.


  27. tommy says:

    Good idea, I’ll get so down below photos when I can. The “Cozy” is mounted on a board that is then mounted to the dagerboard house. I feed it from a “lite” fiberglass tank. About a third the weight of a metal tank. I go through a lot of propane keeping warm. It’s still winter here on the Getchee Gummee. Up north I will have to rely more on my dress than on the heater, but while I can get the propane, I might as well enjoy it and boy do I.

    Thanks for your suggestions and questions, tommy

  28. tommy says:

    I love Flicka’s! never sailed one but they always catch my eye. The designer was Joel Benjiman (m.s) wasn’t it. He wrote a great book I had years ago about little details that made a boat a ship no matter the size, now the name excapes me. When people say anything about my age, I just tell them “I’m not as old as I’m going to be” or “I’m younger now than I’m going to be” besides old guys rule! tommy

  29. tommy says:

    Thanks for the offer, let’s stay in touch, tommy

  30. tommy says:

    Great meeting you today! Tommy

  31. tommy says:

    thank you so much for breakfast and the fun fellowship of seagoing types. I especially enjoyed meeting Ted. He has my deepest respects. and Stop taking off before Grace all the way in the truck!!!! Its not sailorly.


  32. tommy says:

    David, how do I suscrib to Good Old Boats? Is it an online mag or print? Wow, they sure brought me some wonderful responses to my web site.
    Did you live on your boat?


  33. tommy says:

    Thankyou for your wonderful encouragement! It means a lot to me. I can’t always blog everyday but will try to keep the trip recorded. I’m in Marquette, MI right now. Three days out at anchor or traveling here. Oh the things I say because the wind was wrong!


  34. tommy says:

    Nothing published, but I have written some love letters and a few bad checks. If there is a book in this I’m convenced it will have to write itself. The blogs are so fun and I’m humbled to know so many people are interested in this trip.


  35. tommy says:

    I’m sailing by myself but I am not alone! Glad you’re coming too!


  36. tommy says:

    Thank you Jeffrey, I’ll be using the Canadian Locks for sure. I’ll let ya know a little closer I get as to when. Tommy

    I’d love to have some pix from the locks as I go through, t.

  37. tommy says:

    Thank you I will call when I get closer. Tommy

  38. tommy says:

    Na, For sixty years I did what others wanted or thought I should. Now I do pretty much what pleases me and of course the ladies, too. Besides I save 200 bucks a year not getting haircuts. Tommy

  39. tommy says:

    Thank you. I plan to leave the boat in Nome in September then come back for round 2 in 2010. I’ll coast the whole way back coming down the inside passage to Port Angeles next summer. Tommy

    PS those are my plans and God is probably laughing His head off!

  40. Woody says:

    Hi Tommy
    You are most welcome my new found friend. We all enjoyed meeting you as well. You made Ted’s day. He doesn’t get to talk about his Merchant Marine days much. It meant a lot to him. I will be sure and update him often of your progress. You are so right, you sail by yourself buyt you are not alone. We will write often and be thinking of you.
    Your Marquette friends, Woody, Gracie, Ted, Brad and Pete

  41. Sailing & Yachting…

    […] Truely an honor and a joy to visit with you and swap sailing stories. As we pass through this life, it’s been my experience that we meet a very few who, though you spend only brief moments together, you part with a sense of having known … [……