For many of us, sailing is an introspective activity. This is certainly true for Ron Dwelle. In this book, Ron tells of cruising for 20 years on lakes Michigan and Huron . . . meandering from port to port and anchorage to anchorage and moseying in a similar way through the byways of his mind from rumination to rumination. Call it Ron’s sentimental journey – a sentimental journey home. The Great Lakes are home for this sailor.
Ron is not one to follow the crowds or to do what everyone else is doing. He is one of those rare Great Lakes cruisers who does not dream of escape to the Caribbean. Each summer he turns the bow of his boat north and writes of his cruises in the colder and more remote waters he has grown to love. He compares his Great Lakes sailing with experiences racing offshore and cruising the East Coast and comes to the conclusion that he grew up sailing in the world’s best cruising grounds.
In doing so, Ron reassures Great Lakes sailors that their sailing experiences are as challenging, memorable, and valid as those experienced by sailors on both coasts. Ron has been there, done that, earned the T-shirt, and returned home. Likewise, he gives credence to coastal cruising as a pastime and to cruisers as individuals who go for the pleasure of the voyage as well as for the destination: “Cruising is about passagemaking. No sooner does someone learn how to sail than they want to go some place . . . More and more, I’ve come to regard only the true cruisers as serious sailors, and the passages are the paradigm of their existence.”
Indeed, Summer Studies is a passage in many ways, a look inside the head of one Great Lakes sailor who genuinely enjoys the activity and the locale. While you may not agree with all his conclusions, the introspection is worth the voyage.
Summer Studies: Retro Cruising on the Great Lakes by Ron Dwelle (Xlibris, 2000; 405 pages)