Setting Sail: U.P. couple moves from salt to fresh water fun

By Adelle Whitefoot

Sail 2
MARQUETTE – Douglas and Michelle Black may consider themselves amateur sailors, but that doesn’t stop them from enjoying being out on Lake Superior with the wind blowing in their sails.

“What’s so great about (sailing) is that it’s a balancing act between the wind and the water,” Douglas Black said. “It all comes down to the feel of the boat and watching the sails and the surface of the water.”

The Blacks moved to Marquette from the Boston area three years ago and always talked about getting a boat and getting out on the water, Douglas said.

Sail 1“When we got married we got some gifts. So we used that money and bought this boat,” Douglas said. “We’d seen it at Lower Harbor for sale, kind of looked at it and then we didn’t see it anymore so we figured it was gone. But we saw the same boat again and again so we with a for sale sign, so we bought it.”

Douglas said he has been sailing on and off for almost 12 years now on the oceans and the Great Lakes.

“We’re from the East Coast and the ocean is what we are used to but Lake Superior is just as good as an ocean. It’s even better,” Michelle Black said. “The boat stays cleaner and it’s in fresh water.

“We just came back from California where we got to sail with a cousin in Los Angeles and he said he has to pay someone to scrub his boat every six weeks because of barnacles and all the growths that salt water has. We pull the boat out (of Lake Superior) and it’s pretty much clean.”

For the past two years, Douglas and Michelle have been restoring and repainting the boat they bought. It had been painted with barn paint and the wood and electrical system needed to be replaced, Douglas said.

“It’s been a fun experience restoring it,” Michelle said.

The boat the Blacks bought has been in Marquette for quite some time and they said it seems to be recognized by everyone in the boating community. Now named the Selkie, it is a 1963 Pearson. It’s received the nickname “Barn Paint Barnacle” because the previous owner had painted it barn red. Many people have complimented them on the restoration, Michelle Black said.

“It’s like the boat is part of the community,” Douglas Black said. “Everyone seems to know and appreciate what we’ve done to it.”

Douglas Black said people have been supportive and he got great advice from the Marquette boating community when it came to restoring the boat.

“Everyone needs help sometime,” Michelle Black said. “I don’t know if it’s the Midwest hospitality or not but they are really nice down at the marina.”

The Blacks completely sanded and repainted the hull and replaced the boat’s entire electrical system. They also replaced the gunwale and repainted the wood of the hatch. The craft made its first appearance on Lake Superior after it was fixed up at the beginning of August 2011.

“It was kind of late in the year for sailing, so we didn’t get out much,” Michelle Black said. “(Now) we go out almost every weekend.”