Lake Michigan, USA - Will MccReadie
My Watermark is Lake Michigan, Illinois.
I was ten years old when I first captained a sailboat. The cool, deep water of Lake Michigan slapped jauntily against the hull of the Shamrock, my grandfather’s forty-foot sloop. Memories were really what held this ship together, it had won the famous Chicago to Mackinac race in the eighties. The stories I’d heard from my mom and her siblings, and the odd cast of crew members who would pop up around town as I got older, revealed their exciting history as a sailing family on the wide lake, a lake so big that when I was little I believed it was the ocean.
Shamrock was a quick little boat, and my cousins and I scurried around the deck like rope rats, tightening halyards and letting out the jib, touching this and moving that, overall it was a miracle we didn't capsize. Actually, it was my grandfather's steady hand on the tiller, keeping us plying over the water on a course to the verdant green spit of land called Horseshoe Island.
He was a true sailor, he’d raced huge boats in his youth, 70-foot Transpacifics, the kinds of boats most people never even get to see in their lifetimes, shrouded in mystery and the drama between man and the open ocean. My dad was a sailor too, he’d worked on my grandfather’s crew in the ‘Mac races, but he was nowhere near the legendary status my grandfather held.
Turning my eyes to the approaching shoreline, I flicked a large horsefly from my arm as I took a seat on his lap, and he took my small hand in his weathered, rope-worn paw and put it on the tiller.