Our own (not-quite-as) tall ship: Two Harbors family returns home after 10 months of tropical sailingThe tall ships and their crews may be hitting the Northland this week, but if you want a personal story of what it's like to live on the open seas, ask the Gordon family.
By: Claire Hoffert, Lake County News Chronicle
The tall ships and their crews may be hitting the Northland this week, but if you want a personal story of what it's like to live on the open seas, ask the Gordon family.
The family – Mark, Katya, Cedar and Lamar – recently returned to Two Harbors after a 10-month voyage cruising the Bahamas.
Part family adventure, part chartering business, they brought 20 different people on board with them for anywhere from four days to 2 ½ months, including four young adults who collectively spent six months living and sailing with the Gordons on their 40-foot steel cutter, Amicus.
“My favorite part was the actual sailing,” Katya Gordon said. “I loved the overnight sailing, the long passages and also meeting really remarkable people.”
Their route took them through the Great Lakes and the Erie Canal, down the Hudson River and into New York City, and down the Atlantic Coast to Florida, where they weathered Hurricane Sandy along the way.
“Florida was hard,” Katya Gordon said, “Going down, it just got hotter and hotter. “
Sailing through the Intracoastal Waterway to Miami, they crossed the Gulf Stream to the Exuma Islands. From there, they traveled northwest to the Eleuthera Islands and then the Abacos, where they hosted several charter vacations for others, including a six-person family from Wisconsin and a three-person family from Grand Marais.
Katya Gordon's favorite place was the Eleuthera Islands, while Cedar Gordon disagreed.
“I really liked the Abacos Islands, “ Cedar said. “There was really great snorkeling.”
In April, they headed north from the Abacos to North Carolina, an offshore passage of five days, and then visited the Dismal Swamp in North Carolina. They were stuck in Cape May, N.J., for much of April – beset with the same dismal weather that brought repeated blizzard conditions to the Twin Ports area. Reaching New York in early May, they traveled back through the Erie Canal and crossed the Great Lakes in frosty conditions. Finally back in home territory on Lake Superior, they returned to business and charter-sailed with a family to Isle Royale, then to the Apostle Islands with a final group. They reached their home port of Knife River on June 30.
Happy to have more space, but missing the boat, the Gordons say that there are good and bad about coming home.
“The thing that I don't like (about living on the boat) is you make friends, but you have to say goodbye,” Katya Gordon said. “We love coming home and seeing our friends that we don't have to say goodbye to.”
“It's nice to have a lot of space, but I miss the boat, too,” Cedar Gordon said. “I miss my bunk and I miss being outside a lot.”
They returned to Minnesota with many of the same lessons learned that they came away with on their first trip to the Bahamas in 2006, a trip chronicled in their recently published book, “Big Waves, Small Boat, Two Kids.”
As before, the weather took charge of their daily lives and overall plan, while the friendships built with others along the way proved a highlight of the journey. They said they loved returning to Lake Superior, and their children adored living aboard and preferred the watery life to the more secure, predictable rewards of life on land.
What made this trip special, they said, was the number of people – particularly families and young people – with which they shared their liveaboard life. For the Gordons, inviting others into their sailing home is the best method of teaching and spreading a simpler way of life. Learning how to sail is a big plus, too.
Continuing their charter business this summer, Amicus Adventure Sailing, the Gordons will take many people out on day and overnight sails on Lake Superior.
“We love taking people sailing,” Katya Gordon said. “To share it meaningfully is really fun for us.”