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 sailboat handling, steering, waterway navigation, marine safety and various cruising techniques used by seasoned sailors!

Based in its home port of Mackinaw City, Michigan, the Retriever will utilize harbors throughout the northern Great Lakes as classrooms to teach youth how to sail.  Program options include two-night weekend cruises, and six (6) day – five (5) night programs. There are also extended holiday weekend programs on Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends! 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 and may have a maximum of eight (8) youth members due to the sleeping accommodations on the vessel. All participants must be registered members of the Boy Scouts of America.


Forms & Resources


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.


David Rowe

Whether on the lakes or the seas, David Rowe is truly a sailor for over 40 years.

He is the Chairman of the Michigan Crossroads Council Sail Training Committee. He has led sail training programs for youth sailing in the Boy Scouts since 1979. A college sailing instructor in the British Virgin Islands, Rowe teaches sailing and live aboard fundamentals all over the country and world. David is a Coast Guard licensed Captain. He holds; a Great Lakes Masters 100 Ton License, an ocean going Operation of Uninspected Passenger Vessel Waters qualification, an Auxiliary Sail Endorsement, and Assistance Towing Endorsement.

Dave has participated in many long distance races including: Six time participant in the Annapolis to Bermuda Ocean Race, Six Port Huron to Mackinac Races, Eight Chicago to Mackinac Races      

His committee of sailing enthusiasts is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the beautiful Alden 52’ ketch “Retriever”, providing offshore sailing and live aboard experiences to Scout units from throughout the U.S., cruising the northern Great Lakes.

David Meyer

Dave is in his second season aboard the Retriever, and has had over 30 years’ experience sailing the Great Lakes. He received his training through the Delta College sailing school in 1986 and has spent most of his time sailing his own 25 Catalina and 36 Catalina.  He is an attorney in private practice, in Saginaw, Michigan, specializing in environmental, real property development and municipal law, although his summers are normally focused on sailing the upper Great Lakes.

In addition to his own boats, he has had  experience in sailing other boats of equal or greater overall length, in the Great Lakes,  British Virgin Islands and the Puget Sound areas.  His main sailing experience, however, has been in the upper Great Lakes, and primarily Lakes Huron and Michigan.  His experience in Lake Superior has been limited to the eastern shore.   Since 1998,  Dave’s  Lake Huron experience has been primarily in the  Straits of Mackinaw area, together with the entire North Channel, St. Mary’s  River and Georgian Bay areas.  He is well acquainted with all ports in the northern Lakes Huron and Michigan.

As Dave nears retirement, he is looking forward to spending more time in sailing, and  looks forward to  sharing his experiences on the water with others, particularly youth.  He has had the pleasure of teaching his own children the basics of sailing, which he believes has made him a better sailor.

Dave  holds a   Master license,  50 Gross Registered Tons, for Steam, Motor or Auxiliary Sail Vessels, upon the Great Lakes and Inland Waters ,which was originally issued in 2007.

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 is in his 4th season aboard “Retriever”. He looks forward to the opportunity for you to be a part of The Great Lakes Sailing Adventure.

Michael Harrington

Mike is one of the captains of the “Retriever-“a 52 foot ketch owned by The Michigan Cross Roads Council of the Boy Scouts of America.  The Council operates The Great Lakes Sailing Adventure program whose mission is teach young people to sail and to develop stewardship of the Northern Great Lakes.

Professional Sailing Experience:

Mike has had the opportunity to sail in all of the Great Lakes for more than thirty years.  He has also had extensive voyages in our major rivers and canals, The Gulf of Mexico and The Atlantic Ocean.  He holds a 100 Ton Masters License with endorsements for Sailboats and Assistance Towing.  Mike has served as both a Mate and a Relief Captain on a couple of tall ships.  While having these experiences, he has enjoyed teaching many young people to sail, which is his main reason for being a captain for the Boy Scouts on the “Retriever.”

Professional Experience:Captain Mike has been recognized several different times in his educational career for his ability to interact positively with students.  He genuinely likes helping young people succeed.  His experience listed below highlights a career devoted to helping students succeed:

School Principal—14 years; Guidance and Substance Abuse Counselor—22 years; Instructor in Higher Education—5years; Adjunct  Community College Instructor –9 years.  He is certified to be a school administrator, guidance counselor and teacher in several states.

Community and Civic Service:Mike was a hospice volunteer for several years.  For more than twenty years, he has been a mediator for the Community Dispute Resolution Program, which is sponsored by The Michigan State Supreme Court.  Mike is a retired Bois Blanc Township Trustee.

Education:  Western Michigan University:  B.S. and MA:  The Pennsylvania State University:  M.Ed

Stephanie Watkins

Captain Stephanie Watkins began her sailing at 16. Today, at 53, she is experienced with over 10,000 hours of accrued sailing on the waters of US/British Virgin Islands, Florida Keys, Puget Sound, Sea of Cortez, Belize, and The Great Lakes. Students enjoy her relaxed “no stress” teaching style. She maintains your safety while you learn sailing in an organic atmosphere of discovery; letting the boat and wind be your greatest teacher. Capt. Steph welcomes all experience levels and ages into an atmosphere of positive energy, team building and adaptable teaching styles. Stephanie is an enthusiast of life with a passion for teaching sailing, animal rights, yoga/meditation, the creative process and a healthy lifestyle.

Captain Stephanie Watkins holds a USCG Master 50-ton license, current CPR/First aid certifications and all credentials needed to meet the professional requirements set by the American Sailing Association. She has a Bachelors in Education and has taught Fine Art in public schools and tutored math and reading.

Quoted from a student “Our Captain Stephanie was great–she was knowledgeable and made the whole trip a real pleasure-it could not have gone as well without her know-how, easy going approach and love for being on the water. Captain Stephanie was the perfect match for us.”

Tom Gorsline

Tom has a passion for sailing and over the past 24 years has enjoyed sailing his Catalina 34 sailboat on the Chesapeake Bay from his home port of Oxford Maryland and more recently on the Great Lakes where he now resides in Traverse City with his wife Teri and daughter Teaghan.

Tom recently earned his 100 ton masters captain license and auxiliary sailing endorsement and is looking forward to sailing with the scouts and teaching the fundamentals of sailing on the Great Lakes.  Tom earned a secondary education degree from Central Michigan University and was a secondary education teacher with Haslett High School in Haslett, Michigan.  Tom later moved to Frederick Maryland where he founded and published Frederick Magazine, a lifestyle magazine for the metropolitan area of central Maryland for 25 years.

With a desire to sail the Great Lakes he moved his family to Traverse City, where he is a member of the Grand Traverse Yacht Club.  Tom and his wife Teri are the publishers of BayLIfe Magazine a lifestyle magazine for the Grand Traverse area and in the summer months they spend their time on the water and enjoy teaching their daughter the joys of sailing on the pristine waters of Lake Michigan.

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