Great Lakes Sailing Co. http://www.greatlakessailingco.com Fri, 29 Aug 2014 14:36:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 It’s all about ‘Priorities’ http://www.greatlakessailingco.com/all-about-priorities/ http://www.greatlakessailingco.com/all-about-priorities/#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 14:36:33 +0000 http://www.greatlakessailingco.com/?p=7883 When my husband and I decided to buy a new sailboat, we had to consider all the extraneous costs—slip fees, insurance, upkeep, winterization, launch fees, winter storage. It really adds up. Especially considering we have only so much vacation time, so the boat would be sitting at the dock most summer days. It was hard […]

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When my husband and I decided to buy a new sailboat, we had to consider all the extraneous costs—slip fees, insurance, upkeep, winterization, launch fees, winter storage. It really adds up. Especially considering we have only so much vacation time, so the boat would be sitting at the dock most summer days. It was hard to justify, not to mention to afford our dream boat.

Thankfully, a friend suggested the Great Lakes Sailing Co. Having a boat in their charter fleet is the best of both worlds—we get the sailing time we want, on our own boat, without all the work and upkeep. Dave and Kristen and the staff take care of everything! Best of all, the partnership has made it much more affordable. Even in a short sailing season, the revenues greatly offset the cost of ownership and we still get ample use time on our boat.

Being a Hunter dealer made the process convenient and their years of sailing experience were invaluable as they guided us through the process of choosing the right boat, sharing the pros and cons of various options, and outfitting it with the proper safety equipment. The first time we saw our new boat it was ready to sail!

Dave went above and beyond, spending the time to make sure we knew our boat, top to bottom, and that everything was exactly as we wanted. They even went sailing with us, training us and our friends on all the safety features, and, of course, to practice docking.

Our biggest concern at first, though, was having strangers sail our boat, but we quickly came to trust that our investment is in good hands. At Great Lakes Sailing Co. they vet every charterer to be sure they are competent and qualified. Most people who charter from them are repeat customers. Many attended their sailing school and they’ve known them for years. That’s the benefit of partnering with a company that offers this range of sailing services. If a charterer needs a refresher for docking, anchoring or any aspect of cruising, Great Lakes Sailing Co. has 12 licensed captains on staff to ensure they are comfortable and confident before starting their charter. And this is above and beyond the standard screening and charter briefing.

Sure, we’ve had some gorgeous, sunny days when we’d like to be sailing, but the trade-off is immeasurable. Our experience so far with Great Lakes Sailing Co. has been nothing short of fantastic! They are true professionals, but more importantly, they’ve made us feel like part of the family.

Kimberli B. – “Priorities”

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Ellen Davis Traverse City http://www.greatlakessailingco.com/ellen-davis-traverse-city/ http://www.greatlakessailingco.com/ellen-davis-traverse-city/#comments Tue, 19 Aug 2014 01:59:29 +0000 http://www.greatlakessailingco.com/?p=7875 We have a really great foursome working with us this summer.  Ellen, Taylor, Sabrina and Chelsea keep the boats, docks and marina grounds clean and tidy.  They make us look good. Today was a sad day.  Ellen has decided, after 4 summers with us, to pursue an internship now that she’s graduating from college.  We […]

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We have a really great foursome working with us this summer.  Ellen, Taylor, Sabrina and Chelsea keep the boats, docks and marina grounds clean and tidy.  They make us look good.

Today was a sad day.  Ellen has decided, after 4 summers with us, to pursue an internship now that she’s graduating from college.  We are trying our best to be supportive, but quietly we are trying to figure out how to sabotage her internship and any job interviews so she’s forced to come back for another summer.

Ellen made all of our jobs easier, because she was so good at hers.  She did it with a smile and a sarcastic wit…with a delivery that only Ellen could deliver.

To say that Ellen will be missed is simply an understatement.  We’re all pretty much in denial.  “She’ll be back”.  The false hope has firmly set in.

The reality is…she might not be.  See…I can’t even type a definitive sentence about her future.  Had to include ‘might’…makes it feel like there’s still a chance.

So if you are an HR director doing some research on a prospective new hire and go to the Google machine and type “ellen davis traverse city” and you stumble across this blog post due to those strategically placed keywords, along with the carefully placed SEO tags and the title of this blog post, “ellen davis and traverse city”…read this carefully — DO NOT HIRE ELLEN DAVIS.  That’s all you need to read.  No need to read anything else in this blog post.  Hit the back button and move to the next prospective new hire.

It looks like we’ll have 3 of the 4 returning next year.  Sabrina should be back.  She teases us with the idea she might stay down at school.  But she’ll be back.  She better be.  She likes to spend money on fancy schmancy make-up and will need to fund her habit.  Chelsea will be back, we hope.  Chelsea started working with us late in the season and we are still getting to know her quirks.  So far all we can judge her by is her work…which speaks for itself.  We’re very lucky to have stumbled across her.   Taylor is the wild card.  She’s our free spirit.  I wouldn’t be surprised if we got word that Taylor ended up working at an organic farm in upstate New York while teaching yoga part-time and studying transcendental meditation.

As for Ellen?  Even if the chances are one in a million, “you’re telling me there’s a chance”.

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Unsalted Island Hopping http://www.greatlakessailingco.com/unsalted-island-hopping/ http://www.greatlakessailingco.com/unsalted-island-hopping/#comments Mon, 18 Aug 2014 14:02:31 +0000 http://www.greatlakessailingco.com/?p=7859 If you picked up a copy of August’s Cruising World Magazine you would have seen this great article about our annual Unsalted Island Hopping event.  If you didn’t see it, here’s your chance. Once a again a big THANKS to Cruising World for the exposure, Mike Lee for the story and Marianne Lee for the […]

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If you picked up a copy of August’s Cruising World Magazine you would have seen this great article about our annual Unsalted Island Hopping event.  If you didn’t see it, here’s your chance.

Once a again a big THANKS to Cruising World for the exposure, Mike Lee for the story and Marianne Lee for the photos.

Who says you can only island hop in the tropics?

great-lakes-map

 

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Balancing Escapsim & Reality http://www.greatlakessailingco.com/balancing-sailing-vacation-escapsim-reality/ http://www.greatlakessailingco.com/balancing-sailing-vacation-escapsim-reality/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 17:52:22 +0000 http://www.greatlakessailingco.com/?p=7834 Sailing often conjures up thoughts of Jimmy Buffett, Margaritas, warm breezes, sunshine, no worries mon, stress-free and laid-back.  And in the charter business, we are on the other end of folks taking hard-earned vacation time and spending hard-earned money to forget about the realities of everyday life for a while. And we take that serious…that […]

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Sailing often conjures up thoughts of Jimmy Buffett, Margaritas, warm breezes, sunshine, no worries mon, stress-free and laid-back.  And in the charter business, we are on the other end of folks taking hard-earned vacation time and spending hard-earned money to forget about the realities of everyday life for a while.

And we take that serious…that they’ve spent their hard-earned money with us for a little escapism.

So there’s a delicate balancing act that must take place between getting into that ‘Margaritaville’ state of mind…while also being held accountable for the safety of the boat and the crew, along with reacting to good ole Mother Nature…you know, that ‘reality’ part.

With safety, comes a more enjoyable and relaxed sailing vacation.

So if you’d like to experience a little escapism, and not have it suddenly ruined by a cold hard slap of reality, here are few things to consider:

  1. An honest and detailed charter application.  The more information provided in your charter app, the easier it is for us to determine if the boat being requested will be comfortable and appropriate based on the captain’s (and crew’s) experience.
  2. Get in some docking practice.  In the Caribbean, there’s not much docking being done.  In the Great Lakes…we dock.  And if you’re a little nervous about docking, let us know.  We can work with you on the morning of your check-out doing a little docking and marina handling.  And guess what?  Everyone could use more docking practice.  You are not alone.  Trust us.
  3. Involve the crew.  It’s good to have your crew pay attention during your morning briefing.  All on-board should have a general knowledge of the boat.  Simple things like knowing how to start the engine, anchoring signals and throwing dock lines become very important when needed most.
  4. Look at the weather.  I can remember taking my 101/103 class years ago with Capt Dan.  He drilled into us that if you decide to go out for a sail, look at the weather and decide if you have the experience and confidence based on what the weather is (or will be) doing.
  5. Understand reefing.  You might think it’s cool to fly full sail and bury the rail…until something gives.  Not only is is hard on the rigging, it’s also inefficient.  Not sure how to reef, or why, or when?  Just ask.
  6. Plan accordingly.  Don’t go 60 miles north, if you have to return to the charter base the next day and the forecast is calling for strong winds out of the south. That makes for a long day, and an unhappy crew.
  7. Be willing to adapt.  It’s good to have an itinerary.  But with sailing, it’s also good to be able to adapt accordingly based on the weather, the crew and any other unexpected circumstances that may arise.  Sure, you can be completely dedicated to visiting a certain island, anchorage or port.  But if the weather does not want to cooperate, don’t force it.

It’s simple, really.  By using good ole common sense and taking time to think things through, you can have the perfect balance of escapism and safety.  And at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about…returning home safely from a memorable sailing vacation.

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Great Lakes Sailing Co. Gear http://www.greatlakessailingco.com/great-lakes-sailing-co-gear/ http://www.greatlakessailingco.com/great-lakes-sailing-co-gear/#comments Thu, 26 Jun 2014 14:33:33 +0000 http://www.greatlakessailingco.com/?p=7764 If you have ever found yourself wondering how you can get your hands on some sweet Great Lakes Sailing Co. gear, or pick up your new “Yellow Cap”…well now you can thanks to the magic of the world wide web. We’ve got all our gear available for sale right here on the shiny new Great […]

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If you have ever found yourself wondering how you can get your hands on some sweet Great Lakes Sailing Co. gear, or pick up your new “Yellow Cap”…well now you can thanks to the magic of the world wide web.

We’ve got all our gear available for sale right here on the shiny new Great Lakes Sailing Co. website…and we have some NEW gear arriving soon.

 

Great Lakes Sailing Co.

 

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An Unsalted Island Journey http://www.greatlakessailingco.com/an-unsalted-island-journey/ http://www.greatlakessailingco.com/an-unsalted-island-journey/#comments Wed, 21 May 2014 18:17:27 +0000 http://www.greatlakessailingco.com/?p=7441 Last summer, Marianne Lee and her husband Mike Lee, traveled along during our annual Unsalted Island Hopping event. You can read a great article written by Mike, accompanied by beautiful photos from Marianne, in June’s issue of “Traverse the Magazine”. Here’s an excerpt: “The idea to island hop was the brainstorm of Dave Conrad and his […]

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Last summer, Marianne Lee and her husband Mike Lee, traveled along during our annual Unsalted Island Hopping event.

You can read a great article written by Mike, accompanied by beautiful photos from Marianne, in June’s issue of “Traverse the Magazine”.

Here’s an excerpt:

“The idea to island hop was the brainstorm of Dave Conrad and his gang at Great Lakes Sailing Co. in Traverse City. Why not bring together a group of sailors to explore the reaches of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron and check off as many islands as weather and sailing skills allowed. There are more islands in that region than most people realize, with many uninhabited. Discovering new-to-you islands was a way to bring out everyone’s inner Shackelton right in the middle of the United States.”

Beaver, Mackinas, Les Cheneaux, Government, and High were the only islands we actually tagged that week in the water.  The potential was there for four or five times as many, but with sailboat cruising that’s sometimes just how it rolls.  There’s a certain coconut rum-drink attitude required that you can’t take anything especially destinations, too seriously.  If you do, you might as well stick with rush hour traffic-destination, your workplace!”

There’s still room in this year’s Unsalted Island Hopping event, if you feel like experiencing an “Unsalted Island Journey” of you own.

A few photos of the islands and activities from past events;

Harbor 1 Bois_Blanc_Twp_Marina Sunset island from water aerial aerial 2112 Mackinac Island Round Island Lighthouse Drummond-Island ManitouIslands018 Unsalted Dock underway compressed

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“Learn How to Sail” http://www.greatlakessailingco.com/learn-how-to-sail/ http://www.greatlakessailingco.com/learn-how-to-sail/#comments Fri, 16 May 2014 17:25:41 +0000 http://www.greatlakessailingco.com/?p=7390 I remember walking back from the dock on Houghton Lake to my dad’s cabin when I stumbled across a small sailboat for sale in a neighbor’s front yard.  I recall thinking how cool it would be to actually know how to sail it.  The Jimmy Buffett in me had this idea of what sailing must be like.  Escape […]

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I remember walking back from the dock on Houghton Lake to my dad’s cabin when I stumbled across a small sailboat for sale in a neighbor’s front yard.  I recall thinking how cool it would be to actually know how to sail it.  The Jimmy Buffett in me had this idea of what sailing must be like.  Escape and adventure.  But…there’s no way I could ever afford to learn how to sail.  At the time, it seemed like I had a better chance of landing on the moon that learning how to sail.  I had NO idea where to start, and I assumed sailing was a ‘rich person’s sport’.  So, I’d be forced to stick with playing basketball…that’s what I was good at.  And it didn’t cost much.

Fast-forward a bunch of years and I had migrated from ‘downstate’ to Petoskey, Mi.  I wasn’t there long…2 years maybe.  But one of the very first things I did was search “learn how to sail” on the good ole internet.  I was still lost.  It still seemed like this unobtainable Buffett-esque dream that I’d never actually fulfill.

And then came the move to Traverse City 10 years ago.  One of the very first people I met was Dave Conrad.  At the time, he was the captain of the Nauti-Cat on West Grand Traverse Bay (Dave and his wife Kristen now own Great Lakes Sailing Co.).  I was invited along for a sail one evening aboard the Nauti-Cat (a 47′ catamaran).  It was the first time I had ever stepped foot on a sailboat.  It was much different than the ski boats and pontoons I grew up with on Houghton Lake.

I was hooked.  And that was just from riding along on a big ole barge of a catamaran. We were sailing…but we weren’t really ‘sailing’, if you know what I mean.  But you may not know what I mean if you haven’t learned how to sail…yet.

Dave and I became good friends.  And 10 years later I’ve managed to put together my own little sailing resume that would surprise the heck out of that same young kid staring and dreaming at that small boat all those years ago.

Sure, it’s not much compared to all the old salts out there who have been doing this for a long time.  But for me, it’s quite the accomplishment for a Flint kid who obsessed with basketball growing up.  Highlights include:

  • Several Caribbean sailing trips, including one that was a boat delivery after hurricane season.
  • ASA 101/103 sailing course through the Great Lakes Sailing Co. sailing school
  • Crewed on a race boat
  • Captained a 39′ monohull during our own West Grand Traverse Bay sailing trip with friends
  • Sailing to Beaver Island from Northport…in the dark…and the rain…alone at the helm at times.
  • Countless hours spent sailing West Bay in all kinds of weather and on all kinds of boats (we’re lucky…we all live blocks from the water and work in the industry, so impromptu sailing is pretty much the norm)
  • Purchased a small 23′ Hunter.  Crazy right?!  Sailing is too expensive!  A ‘rich person’s’ sport.  I bought that boat for $3500.  I keep it on a mooring ball for $650 a year.  It’s 2 blocks down the road, right on West Grand Traverse Bay — the “Snoloha”, pictured above (a 23′ foot boat would have seemed like a mega-yacht at one time).  Sure, $3500 and $650 a year is nothing to sneeze at…BUT it is WAY more affordable to own a sailboat and to learn how to sail than I, or most people, realize.
  • Sailing the “Snoloha” to Omena Bay.  Watching from ashore as the anchor broke loose, experiencing a busted jib halyard, a torn main sail and a 17 mile motor home into the wind with a 4HP outboard and fuel capacity of .75 gallons — all on the same trip.
  • I now work in the industry with the crew at Great Lakes Sailing Co.

It’s crazy.

My point  – Learning to sail IS obtainable.  Yes, it can be daunting at first.  Where do you start?  Can I afford it?

If there is any advice I can offer from my learning experience of getting involved with sailing, it would be this:

  • Hire a captain for a day sail.  That’s right.  You could always book a boat for day, with a captain.  Pick his brain.  Get involved.  It’s not the same as a full on sailing course, and there are no certifications, but it would be a great way to at least get a feel for sailing if you’ve never had the opportunity before.
  • Hang out around sailors.  I’ve learned sailors typically are more than happy to take people out for a sail.  I love exposing people to sailing for the first time aboard the “Snoloha”.
  • Check out your local yacht club.  There’s bound to be someone that needs an extra body on board — ‘rail meat’ as they call it.  I’m grateful that Scott and the crew of “Illusion” had welcomed me aboard.  I didn’t know anything about anything…but I learned.  And before long I went from rail meat to working the foredeck and actually had some responsibility.
  • Take a class.  Great Lakes Sailing Co offers some great options to “learn how to sail“.
  • Join the Boat Club.  A Great Lakes Sailing Co. Boat Club Membership is the PERFECT way to have access to a fleet of smaller day sail boats, at an affordable price.
  • Look into community sailing programs.  Here in Traverse City we have TACS – Traverse Area Community Sailing.  TACS is a local non-profit organization that provides affordable sailing opportunities to residents and visitors of the Grand Traverse Region.

So what’cha waiting for?!  If some dude from Flint who thought sailing was only something Jimmy Buffet sang about can figure out how to do it, I’m sure you can as well.

Argh!

Rod Call

The ‘Snoloha Dude’

The 'Snoloha'

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Meet Capt. John http://www.greatlakessailingco.com/meet-capt-john/ http://www.greatlakessailingco.com/meet-capt-john/#comments Wed, 07 May 2014 13:57:50 +0000 http://www.greatlakessailingco.com/?p=7281 We are excited to welcome Capt. John to the Great Lakes Sailing Co. staff of award winning ASA sailing school instructors.  John and his wife Cyndi will also be leading our Unsalted events. They recently finished a five and a half year around the world cruise.  They departed from Beaver Island and headed out the St. Lawrence […]

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We are excited to welcome Capt. John to the Great Lakes Sailing Co. staff of award winning ASA sailing school instructors.  John and his wife Cyndi will also be leading our Unsalted events.

They recently finished a five and a half year around the world cruise.  They departed from Beaver Island and headed out the St. Lawrence for what became a 42,000nm and 48 countries adventure.  A bit over half the trip was on their Moody 46 cutter rigged sloop, followed by two years on their Lagoon 440 catamaran.  Cyndi is a fantastic chef and is very versatile in all operations onboard.

John has a rather diverse background (and yes, we thought of Leonardo DiCaprio’s character from “Catch Me if You Can” as well when we learned about it).  He has an undergraduate from the University of Michigan, went to Medical School at MSU, spent 17 years in the USAF/ANG.  He is an Orthopedic Surgeon (ret), a Flight Surgeon, and a pilot.  He has been racing sailboats from the age of nine and has over 20 Port Huron-Mac and Chicago-Mac’s under his belt.  Holds USCG 100 ton Master Captain and is a certified ASA instructor on multiple levels.  Personally has well over 50,000nm of offshore experience as captain.  AND… is also author of the children’s adventure sailing story “Tommy Tiller and his Dog Rudder”.

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Why Sail Here? http://www.greatlakessailingco.com/why/ http://www.greatlakessailingco.com/why/#comments Tue, 06 May 2014 19:51:19 +0000 http://www.greatlakessailingco.com/?p=7274 Our homeport of Traverse City, as well as the entire northwestern corner of lower Michigan, tends to get mentioned on every ‘list’ and travel article under the sun these days – Top Ten Summer Trips, Top 5 Foodie Towns, Most Beautiful Place in America, The Hamptons of America (yes, that was a real article from […]

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Our homeport of Traverse City, as well as the entire northwestern corner of lower Michigan, tends to get mentioned on every ‘list’ and travel article under the sun these days – Top Ten Summer Trips, Top 5 Foodie Towns, Most Beautiful Place in America, The Hamptons of America (yes, that was a real article from Forbes) and on and on and on.

While there’s no shortage of reasons to visit the area, we feel there should be more attention paid to our beautiful sailing grounds.

Everyone knows why you should sail the Caribbean…but Why Sail Here?

Click here to download our Why Sail Here PDF.

Download the PDF file .

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The BIG News, in case you missed it! http://www.greatlakessailingco.com/the-big-news-in-case-you-missed-it/ http://www.greatlakessailingco.com/the-big-news-in-case-you-missed-it/#comments Mon, 28 Apr 2014 17:26:17 +0000 http://www.greatlakessailingco.com/?p=7258 Here’s the ‘official’ press release announcing our BIG name change! Traverse City, MI— Six years have passed since Dave Conrad purchased Bay Breeze Yacht Charters and Sailing School and he figures the time is right to launch a new name for his company; the Great Lakes Sailing Co. (GLSC). The name change fits the natural […]

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Here’s the ‘official’ press release announcing our BIG name change!

Traverse City, MI— Six years have passed since Dave Conrad purchased Bay Breeze Yacht Charters and Sailing School and he figures the time is right to launch a new name for his company; the Great Lakes Sailing Co. (GLSC). The name change fits the natural progression of the boat business as they take on new boat lines offering Hunter, Jeanneau and Gemini sailing yachts.

“My wife Kristen and I have owned the company since 2008 and the timing is right to upgrade the business name to one that reflects the scope of our marine services,” explains Dave.
“Not many locals realize that the largest ASA certified sailing school and second largest yacht charter fleet on the Great Lakes is located right here in Traverse City. And recently we’ve expanded to become a full service dealer for Hunter and Jeanneau yachts and Gemini catamarans. This expansion makes us one of the largest sailing centers on the Geat Lakes.”

Great Lakes Sailing Co. will be one of the first dealers in the country to offer the all-new Hunter 37 based on the same design as the hugely successful Hunter 40 that debuted last year. “This is a cutting edge, new direction for Hunter. We were very impressed when Hunter 37 debuted in Annapolis and immediately ordered one,” says Dave. In addition to the new Hunter 37, GLSC will also have a Hunter 45 Deck Salon, Jeanneau 379 and the head-turning Gemini Legacy 35 catamaran available for showings and for charter.

“We’re unique in that we are one of the few dealers in the country that offers new model sailboats for sale and for charter,” explains General Manager Paul Davis. “It’s part of our “Learn – Sail – Own” program where you can schedule lessons or charter time on your dream yacht to really get a feel if owning it is right for you.”

Another unique sales approach from GLSC is that they don’t have a sales staff. “Paul, Dave and I are all Coast Guard licensed captains with years of experience as yacht systems technicians,” explains Fleet Manager Doug Holst. “Who better to guide you through the yacht buying process than with someone who has sailed many different yacht makes and designs in all weather conditions? Plus we have years of hands-on experience commissioning and maintaining electrical and diesel systems and rigging. It’s like going to a car dealership and getting the straight talk from the mechanic.”

The crew at GLSC have long been servicing and sailing yachts in the Caribbean as well. Well known in the marine industry, they are contracted to commission and deliver yachts to other charter companies like CYOA based in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. “Sometimes we go south with a crew, knock out the boatyard work, launch the yachts and then safely deliver them where they need to go,” says Conrad. “Sure the weather is good down south but we also take it seriously as these are expensive, complicated sailing vessels.”

Home-based in Traverse City with additional charter operations in Charlevoix and Cheboygan, the Great Lakes Sailing Co. offers over 20 sailing yachts for charter ranging in size from 30’ to 45’, and a nationally recognized, award winning sailing school that teaches adults and families how to sail and cruise on larger boats. In 2012 GLSC added the “Boat Club,” offering economical membership sailing for easy access to a fleet of smaller day-sail boats sized 20’ – 25’.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our Sailing School instructor line-up,” says Conrad. “Three times now we’ve had instructors earn the “Outstanding Instructor “ award from the American Sailing Association, which ranks them in the top 20 out of 2,000 instructors worldwide.” The GLSC Sailing School has 13 instructors and offers basic to advanced sailing courses on cruising monohulls and catamarans. “Sailing teaches life-long skills for all ages, a great activity for families and friends in some of the best cruising waters in the world. We make it easy, affordable, and we want everyone to feel comfortable on the water so they can enjoy the total sailing experience.”

“We want to make the boating experience unforgettable and a true hands-on vacation,” says Conrad. “Whether someone is looking to charter, buy the boat of their dreams and sail away or just sail around the bay, we can assist in every step of the journey.”

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