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Sailors return from “Sea Change” trip: Part two

The Gordon family returned to Knife River from a five-week sailing trip on Lake Superior in late June. They were greeted by a short-lived but violent storm. Submitted photo.

From Katya Gordon

Amicus Adventure Sailing 

Katya Gordon and her husband, Mark, own Amicus Adventure Sailing, a charter sailing business that is operated out of the Knife River Marina. They live in Two Harbors with their two daughters, Cedar and Lamar. The family, along with three college students, recently returned from a five-week sailing trip around Lake Superior called Sea Change, during which they docked at ports to spread the word about climate change. Katya wrote a two-part story for the News-Chronicle summarizing their trip. Read part one here.

On Isle Royale, we learned from John and Leah Vucetich, lead researchers of the now 60-year-old study (the longest in the world) of wolves and moose. We also spent time with Candy Peterson, one of the original researchers who still comes back every summer with her husband, Rolf, to continue tracking and studying the wolves and moose. We learned more than can be covered here; suffice it to say that wolves are not doing well on Isle Royale. The moose, due to overpopulation, are heading towards mass starvation. We encourage anyone who is interested in learning more about the wolf moose project or the park’s current stance on the topic to go to www.isleroyalewolf.orgto learn more. As Candy told me, “We welcome visitors. All taxpayers should know what they are paying for. And, this stuff is important!”

We actually visited Isle Royale three times over the two months, twice circumnavigating the island. In early May, we hiked through snow patches on the trail and left at dawn through a thin film of ice. In late June, the bugs had come out in full force. So fun to see it through a season!

On our final day of “Sea Change,” we woke up in Grand Marais. Everyone was depressed and sluggish, with big goodbyes looming. “Time to clean!” I said cheerfully. So we kicked the blues by deep-cleaning “Amicus II” which, after five weeks of heavy wear, really needed it.

Two days later, we took off for Isle Royale one more time with four new participants who had signed up through the North House Folk School. They were not young adults, but they were young at heart and up for everything that we did on Isle Royale, including seeing at least six moose and hearing the south pack of wolves howling.

In the last week in June, we headed south for the Apostles, with our third and final crew. During the last five days in June, we were witness to the transformation of the season—from the deep chill of the north shore to the heat and thunderstorms of the south shore. On our last day – June 29 – we left Port Wing in terrific offshore breezes — breezes that, it turned out, died as soon as the hot air from shore lost its punch. In a dead calm, we motored towards Knife River, but when we turned on the weather radio we heard storm warnings all over the place, one advising “hail falling in Duluth and heading northeast.” We stopped motoring and stayed far out from shore. The air out on the water was too cold for thunderstorms to hold their energy, and most of them followed the shoreline. However, one long, black line headed straight for us, and we knew we weren’t going to get out of this one. We took down the main sail and put up the storm sail, just in case. We floated silently, watching. There was continuous but very distant thunder and no lightning visible. Jaw-dropping mirages were everywhere. Here’s how our conversation went in the cockpit: “What’s THAT?” “A mountain?” “A volcano?” “Another mountain range?” “Hey, look at that!” “What IS that?” “Land?” “No, fog.” “No, cliffs.” “There are no cliffs on the south shore.” “Actually I think it’s fog moving under hot air.” “Look, it’s a pile of snow!”  

When the storm actually hit, it sounded like a dump truck of coins had just tipped over us. Dime-sized hail clattered and splashed on the water, creating a million ripples. Short blasts of wind barely registered on the storm sail. It was all over in twenty minutes, and crisp blue sky and billowing white clouds followed. Without fanfare (and without wind), we glided into Knife River.

But the sailing season has only just begun. We are now doing day sails out of Knife River seven days a week and have really appreciated all the interest and referrals from local people and businesses. More and more, we are learning how much we depend on one another along the North Shore to provide visitors with fun and varied experiences so that they keep coming back. Everything about us can be found on Facebook (search Amicus Adventure Sailing) or on our website: Follow our trips on our blog at