Setting sail for arctic waters from a local portCaptain Tommy D. Cook was ready to set sail solo for the arcticfrom the launch at Agate Bay. Yes, bound for the arctic from Agate Bay.
By: Forrest Johnson, Lake County News Chronicle
Captain Tommy D. Cook was ready to set sail solo for the arcticfrom the launch at Agate Bay.
Yes, bound for the arctic from Agate Bay.
Not sure that’s happened before.
The former Coast Guard boatswain, who sailed on ice breakers numerous times in Polar seas and claims to have been seasick in all the world’s oceans, was at waters edge in Two Harbors readying for a trip that would take him across the top of North America. He was setting sail for the fabled Northwest Passage of arctic exploration lore, bound for the icy waters that claimed Franklin and other explorers, hoping for an early breakup of sea ice.
He said he wasn’t out to break any records or make any claims of seafaring prowess.
It’s just something he’s wanted to do for a long time and now with global warming providing the leads in sea ice that might make it possible, the time has come to give it a try.
And provide a little urging for people to get outside and follow their dreams. Or at least give their dreams a try.
And he means that.
“People can’t just sit in front of their TVs and fulfill their dreams,” he said, balancing atop the hull of his 31-foot Corsair catamaran, the Captain Lemuell R. Brigmann III, named after his mentor. “Life is meant to be lived.”
I can imagine the sight of a catamaran sailing through the confines of Parry Channel at 75 degrees north latitude, dodging ice as it heads toward the north coast of Alaska, past Point Barrow to eventually winter over in Nome.
I mean, a catamaran is the Carribean, the Lesser Antilles, Australia. The Northwest Passage? The 67-year-old Port Angeles, Wash. native says bring on the effort, let’s see if we can make it through to the other side before autumn and the return of the pack ice.
Captain Tommy and his two pals Ken and Tiny towed the catamaran through an icy blizzard in Montana and Wyoming to seek the farthest west point of the Great Lakes to begin the journey. That meant Duluth but the harbor ice had choked the boat launches. The threesome headed up the Lake Superior coast to find the boat launches at McQuade and Knife River also full of ice. The icebreaker Sundew broke up the harbor ice last week readying for the first ore boats of the year. That did the trick and the boat launch at Agate Bay was passable at least, with some help from a city crew to shove some snow out of the way.
He would set sail from Two Harbors, head toward the Apostle Islands, past the Keewanaw Peninsula eventually slipping through the locks at Sault St. Marie. He was using the Great Lakes as his proving ground, to fix what breaks and get used to the boat before heading out into the ocean. He would set sail, that’s right, he’s planing to sail under mast all the way, heading out of the St. Lawrance River to Labrador and up the Canadian coast as the sping turns to summer.
He’ll be tuned into satellite images of the pack ice to determine just when it breaks and when he darts toward the opening.
The biggest thing, though, is that he’s attempting the adventure in the first place. He wanted to let others know that dreams can be accomplished, that the journey can begin.
He wanted to stress that.
People can set out to find their dreams.
Here, here, Captain Tommy.
Readers can follow his progress throughout the spring, summer and fall as he makes the great arc from the inland sea of Lake Superior to the far coasts of Alaska. It will be an epic journey. Tune in at arcticsolosail.com to follow the route.