As a fairly experienced East Coast sailor, Stephen Blakely always wondered if boating is really that different elsewhere in the United States. A boat is a boat, after all, so do you really need new skills when you enter new waters?
As it turns out, the answer is yes: There's a lot to learn.
For the first time last summer, Blakely got to explore one of America's vast inland seas by sailing the full length of Lake Michigan in the Chicago to Mackinac Race - the longest (333 linear miles) and oldest (102 years) annual freshwater sailboat race in the world. The race starts off at Chicago's Navy Pier and ends at the southern tip of historic Mackinac Island (pronounced "mack-in-AW") at the western corner of Lake Huron.
After four days of non-stop sailing, Blakely returned to shore with some surprising, amusing and painful lessons.