It was the summer of 1946. Three of us teenagers from Grand Rapids, Michigan, all about to join the military, caught a car ferry to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and backpacked through the Porcupine Mountains on one final adventure together. At the end of the week we were caught in a three-day torrential rainstorm that washed away the trail. We took shelter in a traveler’s hut at the mouth of Big Carp River on Lake Superior, where the floodwaters washed a boat onto our shore. We figured we could sail the 12 miles back to civilization.
I made a square sail from our pup tent, rigged it on a couple of saplings, and off we went. We stripped off all our clothes and sailed away the beautiful day, going downwind with giant lake trout leaping all around us and eagles flying overhead. We left the boat at the Union Bay campground, hiked a mile to our car and caught the car ferry back to Michigan, all of us burned to a crisp but happy to return from the “sea.”