Local women embark on big voyage on a small boat
May 26, 2009
By Jim Feehan
As a small girl growing up on the shores of Lake Sammamish, Katie McPhail couldn’t wait to go boating each summer. She operated a boat independently at 13, before she obtained her driver’s license.
“I like that boating offers a little bit of freedom,” the 26-year-old said. “I like exploring and it’s close to riding in a convertible without road rules.”
Beginning this week, McPhail and her sister Elizabeth McPhail, 22, will circumnavigate the eastern half of the U.S. and Canada in a yellow, 16-foot aluminum boat.The 6,000-mile route, known to boaters as “The Great Loop,” is a full, counterclockwise circuit, down the Mississippi River into the Gulf Coast, around Florida, up the eastern seaboard, through Canada and across the Great Lakes.
This week, Katie will leave Seattle with the boat on a trailer. Her voyage begins on Lake Michigan near Chicago on June 3. Then, she’ll head south on the Chicago River to Peoria. On June 6, she will stop to attend Elizabeth’s graduation at Knox College in Galsburg, Ill. At that point, the two Issaquah High School graduates will tour the country and return to Lake Michigan near the end of August, Katie said.
“We’re really looking forward to this cross-country road trip on water,” she said. “Along the way, we’ll stop at cities along the route.”
Katie was inspired by a story of three boys who completed The Great Loop on a similar trip, more than 20 years ago.
The two will take inland waterways and not venture out into the ocean or the middle of the Great Lakes, Katie said.
“Our biggest challenge will be dealing with hot, humid weather and heavy rains,” she said.
Until the economic downturn forced her layoff, Katie had been the business manager for the past three years at Duroboat, a small aluminum boat company in Maltby.
She said she hopes the trip will boost interest in sales of the lightweight boats that have no welds and rivets. They hope to reach out to young people, particularly women, who are interested in travel, boating and adventure, and show that boating is a hobby, maybe even a lifestyle, accessible to all.
“The demographics for boating skews toward males 45 and older,” she said. “We want to show that young people, particularly women can enjoy boating.”