Talk about the trip of a lifetime!
Lakeland College grad Gary Weichmann '72 and his son, Joe, are on the front end of an incredible sailing journey that started in Sturgeon Bay at 6 a.m. on June 6 and will last at least a year-and-a-half.
The Weichmanns will sail their Catalina 445 through Canada and enter the Atlantic Ocean near New York. They'll hug the east coast of the U.S. before continuing on past the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, South America and Central America. If all goes according to plan, the father-son sailors will arrive at their final destination of Costa Rica sometime in late 2015.
"We are not on a fixed schedule or course," writes Gary in an email. "But we have windows we're trying to meet. I want to meet my mother on the Erie Canal, go to the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York City over Labor Day and stay in Charleston for a month."
The idea was hatched on a cold November day in Sturgeon Bay. Gary and his son had just winterized and covered the boat, and were talking while driving home to Neenah. Gary mentioned the possibility of the trip and Joe "was all in, immediately."
Joe, 28, crafted a letter of resignation to his employer. Gary, 64 and retired, began working on logistics.
"I then started a mental plan on how to tell my wife," Gary writes. Mindy, he explains, loves to sail, too, but she gets seasick and wouldn't be up for such a long, arduous journey.
So, it's just the boys.
"Every time someone asks Joe why he is doing this, he responds, 'To be with my dad,'" Gary writes. "I respond, 'To be with my son.'"
Gary points out that he will miss his wife, his daughter, his granddaughter, his dog and cat and playing tennis and golf with his friends. But he knows how special this time with his son will be.
"I am blessed, and I know it," he writes.