14 Aug Sailing on Lake Superior with North House Folk School
Lake Superior is so large that it contains 10% of the entire planet’s fresh surface water, and by surface area, it is the largest lake in the world. For these reasons and more, sailing on Lake Superior was an adventure that definitely piqued our interest. When we were exploring Grand Marais in Cook County this summer, we finally had the chance to get out on the water and go sailing. We couldn’t have been more excited!
On the morning of our sail, we checked in at North House Folk School and made our way down to the docks. North House Folk School is such a neat place—their mission is to “enrich lives and build community by teaching traditional northern crafts”. They offer courses in a wide variety of subjects like cheese making, boat building, sustainable living, outdoor skills, and so many more.
Our boat for our sailing adventure was, Hjørdis, which was named after the mythical Norse goddess of war. The sailboat is a 50 foot schooner and it sure is beautiful. Matthew, our captain, set sail with a junior sailor and one of the North House Folk School interns, Kirsten. We took off from the Grand Marais Harbor and made our way out to the open waters of Lake Superior. It was fun to see Grand Marais from a different perspective than we are used to. Sailing on the water gave us the same views that every visitor to Grand Marais once had before Highway 61 was built in the 1920’s. Before the highway, the only way to reach the town was from the water. How crazy is that?!
We couldn’t have asked for a better morning to set sail—the water was calm, the wind was blowing, and the temperatures were warm. Well, warm for being on the waters of Lake Superior that is. The temperature on land was hovering near 55°F, and the average water temperature of Lake Superior is around 39 °F. That being said, it felt much cooler out on the water than it did on land. A light jacket and gloves were necessary, but it was still a nice, warm morning.
But don’t be fooled from our nice morning; the weather on Lake Superior can change in an instant, and it can get pretty extreme at times. In fact, over the years, there have been around 350 recorded shipwrecks on this giant lake in the north. The large amount of wrecks have convinced some to nickname the lake, “Graveyard of the Great Lakes”. The Edmund Fitzgerald, the America (which we saw when visiting Isle Royale), and the Vienna, are just a few of the infamous shipwrecks resting at the bottom of Lake Superior. And while the tales of the shipwrecks are sad and spooky, knowing this history, just makes sailing on the lake that much more intriguing.
Throughout our sail, we all joined in on telling stories, and we heard some hilarious tales of pranks that our fellow shipmates have played on people in the past. We learned sea shanties and had a fun singalong. We were taught several different tidbits about the basics of sailing. We sailed the boat close to shore to give our landlocked friends on the beach a scare. Micah even tried his hand out at steering the ship.
Sailing on Lake Superior was such a wonderful way to spend a morning. We loved hitting the open waters and getting a taste of sailing on the Great Lakes. The Hjørdis is a beautiful ship, and we couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to share it with. Now, we just need to work on perfecting our sea shanties, and we will be ready for another sailing adventure soon!
We visited Cook County, as part of a paid content creation project. Special thanks to Visit Cook County and North House Folk School for hosting us on this adventure. As always, all opinions are our own.