27 July 2014

July 2014 MICHIGAN Upper Peninsula 3 - Oh, Captain, My Captain

Friday night we were on the lock viewing deck watching this freighter pass though the locks. It was rather odd looking as it had an awkwardly tall tower on the back. When J & M caught up with us, they said they had briefly chatted with a gentleman and his wife who were watching this ship, the Pathfinder, with particular interest. We decided to ask him if he knew anything about this odd configuration.

It turns out, he did. He was the Captain of this very ship (or barge, in this case) for the last 13 years of his 40 year career of sailing the Great Lakes. He retired this March and this was the first time "his" 606 foot long barge had come through the locks since then. The crew was hooting and hollering, smiling and saluting from deck as they passed their Captain who stood on the other side of the security fence. Photo from his book. See below.

We asked about the tall tower on the back of his barge. He said it was actually the Dorothy Ann, a separate tug boat that was specially made to attach and work with the Pathfinder. To read more about these two interesting vessels, go to:

We chatted a long while, trading his stories with Mike's stories about his dad sailing the Great Lakes and seeing his dad travel through the locks when he was a tyke. "Mrs. Captain" said she was a little worried about having him home all the time. I gave her a hug and said "No worries, it will all work out." 

It was a very special and sentimental day for Captain Gary W. Schmidt and his wife, Mary. We were glad we could share a tiny bit of it with them and congratulated them both on this new chapter in their lives.

Here's a plug. Turns out the Captain has written a book about his Great Lakes experiences titled Real, Honest Sailing with a Great Lakes Captain. It received a Silver Award in the Nonfiction Book Awards of the national nonfiction Authors Association, so it must be good. 

I sounds like a great read. I'm sure you can find it several places, but here it is on the Book Nerd website:

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