This was the day Solem, sixty four, of Rice Lake had been ready 14 years for. It was the day that he and his fiancee, Laura Davidson, forty six, of Rice Lake would information the forty seven-foot metal trawler underneath Duluth’s Aerial Raise Bridge and into the remainder of their lives.
“It has been a whirlwind few days,” Solem stated, hauling extra gear from the boat to his pickup on shore Saturday morning.
Solem, a Vietnam veteran and a welder by commerce, had constructed the Sarah J from scratch. He constructed each little bit of it, from the metal hull to the 33-foot mast. He did all the development in a Quonset-fashion shelter produced from a picket body and plastic sheeting in his dad’s yard in Rice Lake.
Solem and Davidson had launched the boat in July final yr on the Knife River Marina. The plan was to go for the East Coast, right down to Florida, by way of the Panama Canal and as much as the Pacific Northwest. They plan not only a lengthy cruise. They hope to spend a lot of the remainder of their lives dwelling on the boat.
“We needed to take off final fall, however every part simply sort of snowballed,” Solem stated.
The boat’s diesel engine was overheating, and the issue proved troublesome to unravel. By the point Solem found out the answer, it was too late within the season to go away.
“We received one other season with the household, one other season on the deer shack with my dad,” Solem stated.
Don Solem, Bruce’s dad, is ninety. A World Struggle II veteran, he had served on the united statesSaratoga, an plane service, within the South Pacific. He was there at Spirit Lake Marina earlier than daybreak on Saturday, together with Bruce’s sisters Laura Solem and Kitten Hutchings and their husbands. Solem’s sisters and pop can be on board for the brief run to Barker’s Island Marina in Superior, the place the Sarah J would tackle gasoline.
Additionally on board was Solem’s lengthy-time boat-constructing good friend Jon Bendz of Lafayette, Calif., who plans to be a part of the crew for a number of segments of the voyage.
A bit after 7 a.m., Solem fired up the John Deere diesel. It purred at idle. The Sarah J, named for a granddaughter of Solem’s who died in a home hearth, eased away from the dock and onto Spirit Lake.
As with all main voyage, preparations all the time come right down to the wire. Solem had felt the strain.
“It is not a worry or nervousness,” stated Solem, a tender-spoken man. “It is simply making an attempt to think about every little thing. If you’re lastly leaving, it is a mixture of aid and pleasure.”
On the river, Solem guided the Sarah J down the delivery channel, previous squealing gulls and honking geese. Bendz took the wheel for a…