Become a Friend of Perception


Our Board purchased the schooner Perception to provide Tuition Free Sailing Adventures for Gold Star Teens, grieving youth, and other worthy youth groups, which members may nominate.  Sailing adventures are 4-day, 3-night cruises out of Northport for 5 youth and a youth counselor.  Eight weeks in June and July are available for these adventures.  Our young sailors will have the opportunity to experience team building, leadership, and character building in a fun, healing environment, and develop enduring friendships with those who have faced similar traumas.  Those who have experienced loss will feel the calming effects of our beautiful Great Lakes, a feeling of being at one with nature, a sense of one’s place in the universe, and the satisfaction of mastering the skills of sailing a tall ship.  Your membership fee of $185 supports the yearly operational costs of schooner Perception.


Members are eligible for free sails on Perception Saturdays and Sundays from 1 PM to 3 PM throughout the sailing season.  Members may bring guests if space is available.  Cruises to local islands or the North Channel will be available in August and September.  Veteran sailors, landlubbers, and those who would like to learn to sail a schooner are all welcome.  Friendly and anxiety-free training is available from our paid captains.


Members are also asked to contribute a minimum of 15 volunteer hours.  This may be in the form of maintenance work, working with kids, skilled clerical, financial, fundraising, or technical help.  If you do not wish to volunteer your time, we ask that an additional contribution of $150 be given, all of which goes directly toward funding youth programs.

Become a Member NOW for the 2019 Season and be entered into a drawing for a Special Event aboard Perceptionworth $750!

Your Special Event could be a birthday or anniversary party, a starlight or full moon sail, wine-tasting cruise, or whatever you wish it to be.  Limit 20 guests on 3-hour sails, or 6 guests on an overnight sail.  Special offer ends December 31, 2018.  Drawing will be held January 2, 2019.

If you’re interested, click here and tell us about yourself!

Ready to join?  Click here to submit your membership fee:

Michigan Challenge Traditional Sail Training is a 501(c)3 nonprofit
EIN 81-3333441


Veterans’ Sails on Perception

We had the opportunity to host several sails with veterans and their families at the Elk Rapids Harbor Fest!  We were lucky enough to be joined by Greg McMaster and his crew from Eagle-Eye Drone Service, who made this awesome video of one of our voyages:

First Gold Star Program

Our first 4-day program was a wonderful success!  Our Gold Star Girls learned the parts of the boat, the names of the sails, how to throw dock lines and raise and lower sails.  They learned how to coil and hang halyards.  They got lessons on the physics of the block and tackle system, making an eye splice, tying knots, and steering.  They know a tack from a jibe, a staysail from a jib, and a sheet from a halyard.  They enjoyed leisure time having a cookout in Northport’s Marina park, swimming, playing badminton, playing cards, visiting the unique shops of Northport, having their portraits sketched, making new friends, and a campfire on beautiful Braman Hill overlooking the picturesque town of Northport, Michigan.

We wish to thank the folks at G. Marsten Dame Marina for their generosity, their excellent facilities from their air-conditioned lounge, excellent restrooms and showers, and their beautiful park and swimming beach.

Here are some cards we received from our participants:

“Thank you so much for all of the work and love you put into this project.  It means so much to me and my family to know that there are people out there that truly care and want to make a difference.  You guys are truly amazing people!”

“Thank you for having us here!  I loved driving the boat and the journey.”

“I had a great time and thanks”

“Thank you so much for this incredible opportunity!  I am so appreciative of what you are doing to suppo;rt our Gold Star families and honor our fallen heroes.  It has been a great week and to watch (name withheld) grow and experience this was amazing!  Your guidance and support means a lot to us.  We look forward to more sailing adventures with our Perception family!”

Click on the Arrows to see Photos of our Program:


previous arrow
next arrow

Rigged and Ready!

Thanks to many talented volunteers, Perception‘s running rigging is complete and sails are bent on.  On our maiden voyage Perception performed beautifully, and crew began learning the ropes.  Here she is in Grand Traverse Bay on a beautiful July day.  It’s been almost a year since the board of Michigan Challenge travelled to Martha’s Vineyard to purchase her.  After all the hard work and the help of many generous donors, sailing her is truly a dream come true.

Launch Day!

Launch Day!

On Monday, June 18, Perception touched fresh water for the first time!  The best way to share our excitement is to direct you to the link below, which will take you to reporter Savannah Fish’s coverage of the event.  We thank Savannah for her excellent coverage on a very damp day.

We would also like to thank Record-Eagle photographer Sarah Moore Kuschell for this photo of Perception being lowered into West Grand Traverse Bay. See more of her photos of the big day at:

We also are indebted to the following for their financial assistance:  Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation, August A. Busch III Charitable Trust, Schmuckel Family Foundation, Rotary Club of Traverse City Good Works Fund, Dr. Susan Wainwright,William S. Harper, Nick and Susan Hansen, and Margaret Fogiorne.

We would also like to thank Dave Darga of Harbor West Yacht Club for providing winter storage and moving our masts and spars, Team Elmers for carefully hoisting Perception off the jackstands, onto the truck, off the truck, and into the water, and Premier Marine Services for hauling Perception across the street to Discovery Pier.

Ready For Launch!


President’s Comments

Captain Bryan Smith, President

Michigan Challenge Traditional Sail Training

It’s hard to believe that launch time is really here!  We have been extremely fortunate to have a dream team of volunteers who have appeared like a gift from heaven at the time we needed them and with the skills required to help with our restoration, upgrades, and repairs.  I will always be indebted to them for their valuable expertise and willingness to pitch in and get the job done. Our team is small now, but we will have need for more volunteers in the near future and welcome your participation. We are scheduled for launch on Monday,  June 18 when Perception will be loaded onto a truck and transported across the street to Discovery Pier.  There an Elmer’s crane will lift her off the truck and into Grand Traverse Bay just to the north of Manitou.  Then the masts will be set and rigging will begin!

Renovations and Repairs

Once Perception was settled in Dave Darga’s boatyard in Greilickville, Michigan, just north of Traverse City, volunteers began the tasks of bringing her up to code and making her look new and sparkling after her 1000+ mile journey from Massachusetts.  Perception got rust treatment, fresh paint inside and out, and a weak spot in her hull was repaired.  A cover was built to provide shelter for winter work. Talented volunteers made new decorative beak boards, a boom crutch, teak blocks, belaying pins, and deck boxes.  They refinished the teak cockpit and interior teak woodwork. Rot was discovered in her main mast and skillfully repaired.  Worn leather was replaced.  Her electrical and plumbing systems and engine were overhauled. The anchor chain was cleaned and repaired.  Finally, the winter cover came off!

previous arrow
next arrow

From Saltwater to the Great Lakes

In July of 2017, Michigan Challenge’s Board traveled to Martha’s Vineyard to see Perception for the first time.  They enjoyed a brief sail before de-rigging her for transport to Traverse City, Michigan.
previous arrow
next arrow



The Sail Mail Newsletter