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. Many Great Lakes Sailing Co. sailing school instructors have been named “ASA’s (American Sailing Association) Outstanding Instructor” 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.
It was a natural step to start selling boats as we have managed and maintained all different brands for so many years. Great Lakes Sailing is proud to represent Marlow-Hunter and Jeanneau sailing monohulls as well as Gemini Catamarans in the Great Lakes region.
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 has a masters degree in social work but put her social work plans on hold to play a key role in the start-up and success of Great Lakes Sailing. For the first eight years Kristen helped Dave paint bottoms, rig boats, manage the office, work the boat shows and was the morale booster for the staff. In 2017 Kristen moved on to pursue her passion for working with disabled children but still helps out keeping the rest of us in line!
Paul Davis is the General Manager here at GLSC, he also handles the Parts and Service for new boats as well as existing boats in our management fleet. Paul 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 is our Dock & Fleet Manager and he also handles New Boat Sales. Doug started working in the sailing industry at the age of 17 as crew on a charter catamaran here in Traverse City with Dave Conrad as his captain, he 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 holds a USCG 100 ton near coastal masters license and ASA instructor certification for 101, 103, 104 and 105.
Joanie Leppek is our Operations Manager, handling day to day business management. In addition to her business and accounting background, she’s pretty darn creative. A past upholsterer and pattern maker, Joanie operated a marine canvas business in Seattle before moving back to Traverse City.
Joanie grew up boating on Grand Traverse Bay and thinks a day isn’t complete without a view of the bay. She learned to sail on a boat docked at “Black Mountain Yacht Club” and spent most of a decade racing sailboats in the Puget Sound.
Dirk Wissbaum started at Great Lakes Sailing over 17 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.
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.
Our Captains & ASA Instructors
We have a great group of guys and gals that Captain our boats and Instruct our classes. click here to meet all of Great Lakes Sailing Co. Sailing School Instructors.
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