Great Lakes Sailing Co.
Started in 1983 as Michigan’s only full time charter operation, Great Lakes Sailing Co. has grown to become a reputable and reliable charter fleet and sailing school.
Our charter fleet is the largest on Lake Michigan and offers meticulously maintained sail and power yachts. Two Great Lakes Sailing Co. sailing school instructors have been named “ASA’s (American Sailing Association) Instructor of the Year” and Great Lakes Sailing Co. has twice been named “School of the Year”.
Great Lakes Sailing Co. continues to offer outstanding sail education and provides a top-notch fleet of charter vessels for the more experienced sailors.
Dave & Kristen Conrad
Dave and Kristen are the owners of Great Lakes Sailing Co.. Dave was General Manager at Bay Breeze before purchasing the company in June of 2008.
Dave has been sailing the Great Lakes, Caribbean, Gulf Coast and beyond for about 20 years. He has extensive experience in captaining charter vessels 50 to 90 feet and managing charter companies in the Caribbean and the Great Lakes. He holds a USCG Masters 100 ton Captain’s license and is an American Sailing Association Instructor certified for levels 101, 103, 104 and 105.
Kristen Conrad’s main role in the summer months is the “quality control tyrant” where she performs the final inspections on the cleanliness of each vessel before charter and assists in office management. Kristen has a Masters in Social Work and works with adolescence with special needs.
Paul Davis, General Manager, is an avid racer sailor and has delivered vessels all over the Great Lakes and from Manzanillo, Mexico to LA.
He’s a veteran of numerous Port Huron to Mac and Chicago to Mac races and on his home waters of Traverse City, Paul sails his Lightning and races on Capt. Dan’s Cal 40. Paul has a 50 ton USCG Captain’s License and is certified to teach ASA classes 101, 103, 104, and 105.
Doug Holst, Dock & Fleet Manager, started working in the sailing industry at the age of 17 as crew on a charter catamaran and continued to work summers there until he graduated from Michigan State.
Doug then moved to St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands and worked as a charter captain for 7 years and sailed most islands between Dominica and The Bahamas.
Doug moved back to the mainland to work with Great Lakes Sailing Co. teaching sailing and maintaining the fleet. Doug holds a USCG 100 ton near coastal masters license and ASA instructor certification for 101, 103, 104 and 105.
Dirk Wissbaum started at Great Lakes Sailing over 14 years ago rigging boats and working on mechanicals and then started teaching and captaining after getting his USCG license. Dirk’s a Navy veteran and has experience working on Mississippi river boats before coming to Great Lakes Sailing. Being an avid Blues musician is another part of Dirk’s colorful character. He’s been spotted playing at Foxy’s in Jost Van Dyke, BVI and at many blues fest around the country. Dirk holds a USCG Masters 100 ton Captain’s license and is an American Sailing Association Instructor for levels 101, 103, 104, 105 and 114.
Click here to meet all of Great Lakes Sailing Co. Sailing School Instructors.
Rod Call, aka ‘The Snoloha Guy’, handles marketing, makes a wicked pot of coffee and does whatever Kristen tells him to do (she’s the real boss).
Rod grew up ‘power-boating’ Michigan’s inland lakes, and was introduced to sailing 10 years ago when his paths crossed with Dave Conrad. Since then, Rod has made several Caribbean sailing trips, assisted with a handful of boat deliveries, crewed on a race league, took sailing classes through the Great Lakes Sailing Co. sailing school and purchased his first sailboat, a 23’ Hunter…appropriately named, “Snoloha”. His wife deals with it all.
Wilamena, our Marina Mutt gets an honorable mention. She isn’t so good at handling a wrench or answering the phones, but she is pretty good at keeping the geese off the docks. We all have our specialty.
With the combined efforts of our full-time and seasonal staff, we keep the fleet mechanically sound and spotlessly clean. Our goal is to ensure that every sailing school student and charterer has a good experience cruising our beautiful waters and that they get hooked on the feeling of being under sail.
Great Lakes Sailing Company
12935 S. West Bay Shore Drive
Traverse City, Michigan 49684