Romance, Adventure, and Advocacy on the Great Lakes

Uncharterd WatersBy Mary McKSchmidt, Published by 14 Karat Books   248 pages   paperback or Kindle edition   $15

The five Great Lakes – Superior, Huron, Michigan, Ontario and Erie – comprise the largest body of fresh water on Earth. They cover more than 95,000 square miles, an area bigger than the sate of Texas. Twenty-four million people in the U.S. and 9.8 million people in Canada rely on the lakes for drinking water, jobs, and a way of life, and their basin is home to over 3,500 species of plants and animals including more than 170 kinds of fish.

With an abiding, lifelong love of Lake Michigan inspired by the gift of A Childs’ Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson when she was a child, Mary McKSchmidt met the man she would marry, a self-described “boataholic” named Rubin, shortly after graduating from Michigan State University and was soon crewing on his Hobie Cat. Larger boats and adventures throughout the lakes would follow over the next three decades.

Upon learning that her beloved lakes are endangered by approximately 22 million pounds of plastic flowing into them each year, McKSchmidt resolved to inspire others to take on the monumental task of saving them. Leaving a lucrative job as president of a Fortune 500 company, she reinvented herself as a writer, photographer, public speaker and most importantly, an advocate for cleaning up and protecting the lakes. “Just as I must balance the forces of nature while behind the wheel of a sailboat,” she writes, “I discover I must heed the voice of my heart as well as my mind to reach those I hope to engage in creating the political will necessary to prioritize the lakes so integral to our lives, so easy to take for granted.”

Mary McKSchmidt’s articles have appeared in SAIL, and she is the poet and photographer of Tiny Treasures: Discoveries Made Along the Lake Michigan Coast, a book about wildflowers found as she hiked, biked and camped alone along the lake’s eastern shore. She and Rubin have sailed three of the five Great Lakes, the North Channel into Georgian Bay, lakes throughout the Midwest, the San Juan Islands, and the Caribbean. Her monthly blog and “Skosh of Poetry” can be found at