Come set sail aboard Michigan Crossroads Council’s sail training vessel Retriever!

The Retriever, a 52′ ketch, is an offshore sail training vessel where youth will learn the fundamentals of sailing, including sail trim, helmsmanship, navigation,  marine safety and skills used by seasoned sailors!

Based in its home port of Mackinaw City, Michigan, the Retriever will call on harbors throughout the northern Great Lakes teaching valuable sailing skills along the way.  Program options include six (6) day – five (5) night cruises, and a 3 night Labor Day weekend. The Retriever is designed to accommodate a maximum of 10 youth and two (2) adults. Co-ed crews are welcome, but the advisor must contact the council in advance to discuss accommodation options.

Programs are available for any BSA Troop, Team, Crew or Ship. Non-BSA groups must contact Michigan Crossroads Council for information about Great Lakes Sailing Adventure programs. Participants must be at least 13 years of age by September 1st of the year they participate for week-long Packages.   Boy Scout Troops are limited to 10 eligible youth and two (2) adult male leaders. Co-ed Venture Crews or Sea Scout Ships must have co-ed adult leadership. All participants must be registered members of the Boy Scouts of America.

Pre-Planning Webinar

Great Lakes Sailing Adventure MCC
Great Lakes Sailing Adventure MCC Scout at the helm


During your sailing adventure, you’ll get to stop in any number of great ports. Grab some fudge on Mackinac Island, go hiking on Beaver Island, or camp for a night on the beaches of Petoskey- the possibilities are numerous! Please check the Leader Guide for the latest information.


Bob Pawlus

Bob began his lifelong love of boating at age 9. He has been actively involved in sailing instruction to youth and adults for almost half a century. He started sailing by working in a youth sailing program at a YMCA summer camp in Oscoda, Mi in 1968. Captain Bob continued his passion of sailing instruction by being a Board Member of a youth sailing school on Lake Charlevoix in Northwest Michigan. For 18 years he owned and operated a charter sailboat company on the Northern Great Lakes.

Captain Bob is comfortable on a variety of vessels. He has raced in 18 Mackinac races. In the Caribbean, he captained an 80 foot sailboat and an 80 foot performance catamaran. He was a wheels man on a Great Lakes Freighter. When he is not out on “Retriever” he captains a car ferry.

Pawlus is a Coast Guard licensed Captain. For over 3 decades he has held a Great Lakes and Near Coastal (Ocean) 100 ton Masters License,with an auxiliary sail endorsement and commercial assistance towing endorsement. He has logged over 100,000 miles under sail, all over the world.

Bob’s passion is teaching young adults how to sail. As he so aptly conveys it, “What better way than 6 days of total immersion in an offshore sailing adventure, on a vessel that has sailed halfway around the world. 

Captain Bob has been aboard “Retriever” since 2014. He looks forward to the opportunity for you to be a part of The Great Lakes Sailing Adventure.

Captain Brian L. Eickel

Raised in Bay City Mi. and started amateur sailing and racing on the Saginaw Bay at 10 years old. 35 years later in 2003 he received a 100 ton Masters endorsement from the USCG, and in 2020 received his 200 ton endorsement. His first nautical job (2003) was for the Genesee Parks and Recreation on the Genesee Belle. He joined Lodge 2 Port Huron International Ship Masters Association Captain Eickel transferred his pennant (12170) to Lodge 7 Detroit.

Captain Eickel worked for FCA (Chrysler Corporation) for 33 years and retired in 2016. He has worked for several boat lines and current works as a seasonal Captain for Huron Lady ll in Port Huron and Bay Sail on Appledore V as a relief captain in Bay City, Michigan. He also is the Executive Officer on the USNSCS Grayfox in Port Huron. (United States Naval Sea Cadet Ship). We are pleased to have him joins us as a relief Captain on the Retriever (52 foot Ketch) out of Mackinaw City, Michigan.

Captain Brian joined the Port Huron Yacht Club in 2019, and is a member of several committees there. He also races in the PHYC / SBC – Southern Lake Huron Yacht Racing series on “Sapphire” (41 foot Hunter sailboat), “Angry Cupcake” (33 foot Ranger), and “Aonbharr” (33 foot Soverel).

Captain John Waechter

John learned to sail from his future wife Sue when he was seventeen years old.  Sue’s enthusiasm for the sport was contagious and soon John was racing collegiately in Flying Juniors and crewing foredeck on a Pearson 26 during the summers.

John moved to Michigan in 1980 and began crewing on a Tartan 37 but a former Olympian in 470’s introduced John to Lightning sailing in 1983 which soon took over John’s interest.  John has raced in several of North American Championship races for Lightnings and J22’s.

Although turning 70 in 2021 he is still actively racing 18’ Interlakes at Grand Traverse Yacht Club in Traverse City. He and Sue are the proud owners of “Inspiration” a Catalina 309 which they dock at Bowers Harbor Yacht Club, close to their home on Old Mission Peninsula.  John has enjoyed cruising on the Great Lakes, the British Virgin Islands and Key West.  He holds a USCG 50 Ton Masters License with endorsement for sailing vessels and is certified sailing instructor through the American Sailing Association.  He loves to teach and looks forward to teaching students of all experience and abilities.

Captain Amy Olenzek

Amy started sailing when she was 16 on the schooner Appledore V. She went on to work as a deckhand aboard the 154’ schooner Highlander Sea. From there she became a licensed mate in 2010 aboard the schooner Appledore IV and the yawl Carlyn. Her experiences have taken her to the St. Lawrence Seaway, up and down the East Coast, to the Gulf of Mexico, in Puget Sound, and to every Great Lake. Along the way she earned 200 GRT Mate and 100 GRT Master licenses to operate in the Great Lakes and Inland Waters.

When she is not sailing in the summertime, Amy is a French teacher in Grosse Pointe, MI. Spending time with young people has always been something she enjoys doing. It is part of her philosophy that doing something is the best way to learn, which is a concept she puts into practice both in the classroom and on the water.

Captain Greg Thompson

Captain Greg Thompson has been an expert at small boat handling and waterskiing since he was 14 years old. A former Marine, Captain Thompson started sailing in 1973 on a Sunfish. He has extensive experience having cruised both sides of Lake Huron and the North Channel for 45 years. He also enjoys racing in Lake St. Clair and is a member of Detroit and Port Huron Yacht Clubs. Presently, Thompson is serving as a sailing instructor at Lake St. Clair Sailing School and holds a 50 Ton Master License with Sailing and Towing Endorsements. We are pleased to welcome Captain Thompson to the GLSA program!

Captain Dane Fortney

Dane grew up in Michigan and has been a boater in and around Michigan all of his life. In 2006 he began sailing extensively on his 37 ODay around the Great Lakes .

He has been active in club racing on Lake St Clair and has participated in the Port Huron to Mackiniac sailboat race.

Dane started with the Great Lakes Sailing Adventure in 2021 and is excited to continue giving his knowledge to help scouts learn to enjoy the passion of sailing.

He is recently retired from a career in the auto industry and is a live aboard during the summers in Charlevoix, Michigan. When not working with Retriever, Dane cruises extensively in the Northern Great Lakes from Traverse City to the North Channel.

Dane is an alumni of Michigan State University where he participated in varsity football and track.

Dane holds a 100 ton Master License with an auxiliary sail and towing certificate.