Cabin Country: Escaping via sailboat

  • Updated: July 31, 2014 - 3:19 PM
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After a modest start on Lake Calhoun, the Passe family graduated to sailing Lake Superior and beyond in a 38-foot sailboat they named HOLA.

My husband and I are sailors, mostly on Lake Superior now, though we have sailed all the Great Lakes, in the Atlantic, and as far out as Newfoundland. HOLA, our British-built 38-foot sailboat, is where we hide out from late spring to early fall.

We started sailing on tiny urban Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis 41 years ago, with a summer class from the city’s Parks and Recreation. By the following year, we had our own 17-foot day sailor tied at a Lake Calhoun buoy. With our children as crew, we advanced in boat size and skills to the St. Croix River, Lake Pepin on the Mississippi, and finally Lake Superior and beyond.

Of course, there are exhilarating times when we are gliding fast up and down in a glorious northwesterly breeze with all sails flying. This is when we and HOLA look like stars in a publicity video for some fancy product — with hair in the wind, sunglasses and toothy smiles. Beautiful and superficial.

And there are scary times such as storms that we can’t avoid with threatening skies and no hope of shelter. On one night passage from the Apostles Islands to Isle Royale, HOLA was surrounded on three sides by lightning bolts striking the water. Our then teenage son and I were on watch while my husband and daughter rested below. My son’s comment was: “And to think I could be on a date on land, and I am here in a lightning storm at night, with my mother, in the middle of the lake.” The only way out was to turn 180 degrees and escape straight in the opposite direction. We did, but it was ugly and serious.

So what about the hideout part? Maybe that’s our favorite part of being on our boat. First, even in challenging situations, we trust HOLA to keep us safe. She is sturdy and well equipped. When the going gets rough, the best way to relax our fear is to listen to her rhythm and feel the motion of her keel slicing the water. “She knows what she is doing,” we say. She is also very comfortable. She stays dry inside when waves rush over the bow. She has two heads (that’s bathrooms in land terms), a lovely wood-paneled salon, a galley with a marine refrigerator-freezer and a stove with an oven. She has a cabin heater and the ultimate luxury — a wine cellar. What better place to cocoon in the fog or a wilderness anchorage on the Canadian shore? We may be there for days, listening to music, reading a good book, with the warm aroma of a chocolate cake baking. That’s our hideout, comforting and sublime.

ANGELE PASSE, MINNEAPOLIS

Tell us about your favorite hideout, be it a lakeside lodge or a primitive fire pit. E-mail your story along with photos to cabins@startribune.com or submit online at www.startribune.com/hideouts. Don’t forget your name, city of residence and the general vicinity of your cabin or campsite.

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