Book gets to heart of boating experience for 24 womenLast year, Nancy Ojard of Knife River was asked to contribute a chapter to a book, along with 24 other women, describing about their experiences as boaters. Lisa Favors, the author of “Women On Board Cruising” wanted a book that shared the trials and tribulations of long-range cruising from a woman’s perspective.
By: News-Chronicle, Lake County News Chronicle
Last year, Nancy Ojard of Knife River was asked to contribute a chapter to a book, along with 24 other women, describing about their experiences as boaters. Lisa Favors, the author of “Women On Board Cruising” wanted a book that shared the trials and tribulations of long-range cruising from a woman’s perspective.
Favors wanted to do the book in order to encourage other women boaters – who range from an unwilling partner of an enthusiastic boater, women who may be looking at doing extended cruising trips, to women who are thinking of captaining their own boat. The book was released in early June of this year and is now available online.
“My husband, Rich, and I have been boating since we dated in high school,” Ojard said, “Boating was an unspoken part of our wedding vows. She said only in recent years would she consider herself a true boater. In 2001 and 2002 the couple navigated the eastern part of the United States in a 43-foot Motor Trawler called Proud Heritage.
“Among the boating community, this trip is know as the Great Circle Loop,” she said. Ojard’s chapter in the book describes her boating history – misgivings and experiences leading up to the extended trip as well as a snapshot of experiences during the trip. Here are some excerpts from her chapter:
“Rich and I made plans … on doing the trip in two segments: The first half bringing us from Bayfield through Lake Superior through the Soo Locks along the eastern shores of Lake Michigan, down to Chicago and then following the Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi, Cumberland, Tennessee, Tombigbee and Black Warrior rivers to the Gulf of Mexico, leaving Proud Heritage in Florida for the winter.
“Our plan was to complete the second half of the loop in the spring of 2002 by heading around the tip of Florida, cruising the Intracoastal Waterway up the East Coast to New York City. Here we planned to take the Hudson River to the Erie Canal and Oswego Canal, crossing Lake Ontario into Canada. We’d work our way across Ontario via the Trent-Severn Canal System to Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay and North Channel, taking a hard right we’d head through the Soo Locks and back to the waters of Lake Superior.”
“As we all know, life happens. Our oldest son, Nels, became engaged. He and Sara decided to get married in September 2001, which would be right after we had planned on leaving for “The Trip.” As parents of the groom, we realized our actual presence was not necessary in the wedding planning process but it was important for us to figure out how to get to the wedding in Iowa while cruising down the river system. We spent some time calculating where we expected to be on our trip and decided St. Louis would be a good place to leave Proud Heritage and drive to Iowa for the wedding.”
“While cruising can be a very relaxing experience, you always need to be aware of your surroundings and be ready for the unexpected. When traveling by water you usually find yourself coming right into the heart of towns and major cities. That’s especially true traveling up the East Coast on the intracoastal. One minute you’re cruising backwaters and marshes, watching dolphins jumping your wake and sea birds diving. And then, right around the bend, you’re in a major shipping port with a variety of channel markers and shipping vessels. Situations can turn from calm to chaos in a short period of time.
“Somewhere between Daytona Beach and St. Augustine in Florida, we met a towboat traveling north. Tows are not common on the intracoastal but with our river experience we felt like experts in the art of passing tows. But with a narrow channel and the moderate boat traffic, this was a different situation. We followed the tow for a while, waited for a straight stretch and then radioed the captain requesting a starboard pass.
“As we pulled alongside the tow, Rich kicked up the throttle. Halfway through the pass we realized we were being sucked into the mud and were stuck. Our wake hit us, then the tow’s wake hit us and Proud Heritage turned on her side. It happened in a matter of seconds, but the sinking feeling felt permanent.
“As the both wakes passed, Proud Heritage righted herself, but we were firmly in the mud. Lots of thoughts go through your head at a time like this: Glad we got the towing insurance. Hope the bottom is OK. Did we get mud in the fuel, in the engines? And, of course, a few expletives.”
“Rich and I met wonderful people on our adventure. We identified boaters doing the Great Circle Loop on the river system by the “Looper” flag flying on the bow of their vessel. Proud Heritage traveled with other boaters on and off the trip, meeting up with them at locks, marinas or towns further along the trip.
“We hung out at a dock near St. Louis while we went to our son’s wedding and became the boat noted for ‘the couple who went to their son’s wedding’ by other boaters on the river. Stories, adventures and experiences get passed on from boater to boater at locks and happy hour marina gatherings. These stories are a way for boaters, who are living a transient lifestyle, to connect with people they might not otherwise get to know.
“It becomes a boating community where people help each other and look out for one another. Good friendships are developed not necessarily on past history but on common boating experiences. We shared a historical memory with friends on the boat Magenta Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001.”
“In the fall of 2007, Rich and I sold Proud Heritage. We purchased a 55- foot Ocean Alexander in Fort Myers, Fla., and christened her the Superior Lady with the intent of sharing our boating passion with our grandchildren. We also plan on taking additional long-range cruising adventures and maybe repeat the Great Circle Loop.”
“Cruising and living on board a boat is an amazing experience. I’ve found that cruising has helped me to see the world from a different perspective and given me a greater appreciation for the beauty of our country and her history. In some ways it may have even defined me, even if that wasn’t my intent. The people, places, experiences and memories have become so much a part of how I now look at life. This may be what it really means to be a boater.”
Nancy and Rich Ojard live in Knife River. During the summer, they cruise the Apostle Islands, Lake Superior’s Canadian North Shore and Eastern Shore as well as the Keweenaw Peninsula. Superior Lady’s home port is in Pikes Bay Marina near Bayfield.
Women On Board Cruising
($24.95, 276 pages)
By Lisa Favors
Available on Amazon.com and at www.favorsventures.com/hm-pr.html