Day Sailing Programs

Our public day programs provide an opportunity for individuals to experience and learn about the Great Lakes through a variety of options. From science to music and art to astronomy, these experiences will bring you closer to understanding the importance of protecting and preserving our freshwater resources.

Great Lakes Discovery Sail

Get up-close with the Great Lakes in this hands-on experience for the entire family. The adventure takes place aboard our 77′ schooner Inland Seas and begins as soon as we leave the dock. You will help us trawl for fish, collect plankton, and sample the lake bottom so we can take a look at all parts of the lake. The discovery begins when you hold fish in your hand, gasp at the miniature world contained in a drop of water, uncover animals in bottom samples, and conduct chemical tests on the water.

Plus, participants work together to raise the anchor and hoist the sails, and everyone gets to try their hand at the wheel of the ship while we are under sail. This program will show you new aspects of the Great Lakes, and help you feel more connected to these great waters. There is something in it for everyone!

All in our party, from ages 7 to 77, from fit with sailing experience to couch potatoes with no sailing experience, had a wonderful time. Our 7 year old said it was his “Best day ever!” and swore he would never pee in the lake again. Thank you!

2018 Participant

Each sail is three (3) hours in length. Arrive 20−30 minutes before the scheduled start of the trip. To ensure that passengers receive their full sail time and we stay on schedule, the ship leaves at stated departure times and cannot be held for late arrivals.

General Admission: $35; Children (10 and under): $25

View schedule and buy tickets

Evening Sky Gazing Sail

The open water is an ideal place to experience the brilliance of the stars in a Northern Michigan dark sky, and there is no more informative place to view them than from the deck of our 77′ schooner. During the Evening Sky Gazing Sail program, Astronomer Dick Cookman orients you to the vastness of the night sky, points out constellations, and shares his extensive knowledge of galaxies, stars, observational astronomy, and history. Come with all of your questions and prepare to be amazed. This summer, take advantage of this unique opportunity to experience the Great Lakes in a whole new way. Please dress for cooler temperatures.

This sail is two (2) hours in length. Arrive 20−30 minutes before the scheduled start of the trip. To ensure that passengers receive their full sail time and we stay on schedule, the ship leaves at stated departure times and cannot be held for late arrivals.

This trip was a gift to my husband for his birthday he loves the stars and he loves to look at the night sky he was totally overwhelmed to have this experience and wants to do it again very soon.

2018 Participant

General Admission (all ages): $45.00

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What's in the Great Lakes Food Web?

The food web connects all of the living things in the lakes to one another. Step aboard to get up-close with the fish and plankton that call the Great Lakes home and discover a new addition to the food web – microplastics. Then, set sail and steer the ship as we look for these tiny pieces of plastic with the Manta Trawl. Learn how microplastics interact with life in the Great Lakes and what we can do about them. All microplastics data collected goes to researchers at State University of New York, Fredonia. Participants are also invited to help raise the sails on our 77′ schooner and will have plenty of time to enjoy the experience of sailing.

All the staff and volunteers were upbeat and knowledgeable. They encouraged and engaged my grandson in all the activities and it was a positive learning experience for both of us. Thanks for a wonderful evening.

2017 Participant

This sail is two (2) hours in length. Arrive 20−30 minutes before the scheduled start of the trip. To ensure that passengers receive their full sail time and we stay on schedule, the ship leaves at stated departure times and cannot be held for late arrivals.

General Admission: $30; Children (10 and under): $20

View schedule and buy tickets

Great Lakes Under the Microscope

Experience the micro-organisms and insects in Lake Michigan up close as you examine the bottom of the food web. Raise the sails, steer the ship, and join us on a voyage of discovery that goes all the way to the smallest creatures in the lake. During this two-hour program, you become a scientist and a sailor, adding to our understanding of the Great Lakes ecosystem, with time planned in to enjoy your sail.

Our grandchildren, ages 7 & 9, were engaged the entire morning. Length of 2 hours was perfect. We all learned a lot! Will look forward to repeating the excursion next year.

2017 Participant

This sail is two (2) hours in length. Arrive 20−30 minutes before the scheduled start of the trip. To ensure that passengers receive their full sail time and we stay on schedule, the ship leaves at stated departure times and cannot be held for late arrivals.

General Admission: $30; Children (10 and under): $20

View schedule and buy tickets

Fishes of Lake Michigan

Cast the net from the deck of Schooner Inland Seas. Haul it in to see for yourself what kinds of fish are abundant. Then, raise the sails and steer the ship as you learn about the fish we caught and what that means for the ecosystem. Special guest fisheries researchers will give you the scoop on what’s happening to the fish populations in the lake today. All fish data collected goes to the Michigan DNR.

Having the live animals to observe was excellent. The outing was a great value.

2017 Participant

This sail is two (2) hours in length. Arrive 20−30 minutes before the scheduled start of the trip. To ensure that passengers receive their full sail time and we stay on schedule, the ship leaves at stated departure times and cannot be held for late arrivals.

General Admission: $30; Children (10 and under): $20

View schedule and buy tickets

Steady the Ship

Early European settlers used sailing almost exclusively for travel and trade and it is still one of the best ways to connect with the Great Lakes. On this sail, you will have an opportunity to raise the sails, steer the ship, learn the forces keeping the ship afloat, discover why the ship stays upright and moving forward, and learn how sails work. This experience also helps participants place schooners in a historical perspective on the Great Lakes and provides an opportunity to simply relax aboard a majestic tall ship schooner.

Once again a most enjoyable sail. Staff and volunteers were welcoming and knowledgable. We didn’t have much wind, but just being on the water and ghosting along was fun and relaxing. We will be back next year. A great program for the Great Lakes.

2018 Participant

This sail is two (2) hours in length. Arrive 20−30 minutes before the scheduled start of the trip. To ensure that passengers receive their full sail time and we stay on schedule, the ship leaves at stated departure times and cannot be held for late arrivals.

General Admission: $30; Children (10 and under): $20

View schedule and buy tickets

Specialty Sails (Beer Education, Breakfast, Fall Dessert, Fall Colors, Father's Day Discount, Wine Education)

Beer Education Sail

Join Inland Seas and Short’s Brewing Co. for this tasty and exciting evening. While under sail in Suttons Bay, Short’s will have staff aboard providing a unique look at brewing in Northern Michigan. This two-hour sail will provide beautiful views of the bay from the deck of the schooner Inland Seas, a beer education, and tastings for all passengers ages 21 and up. Cost: $45

Breakfast on the Schooner Sail – Suttons Bay to TC

Join us for a 2.5-hour unique sailing experience aboard our 77′ schooner Inland Seas. This sail will depart from the Capt. Thomas M. Kelly Biological Station in Suttons Bay and return to shore at Discovery Pier in Traverse City. Enjoy a homemade hot breakfast prepared for you while under sail on this traditionally rigged ship. Breakfast includes pancakes, sausage, fruit, coffee/tea, and more! Transportation back to your vehicle will be provided (additional 30-45 minutes at end of trip).

You will have the opportunity to help hoist the sails and steer the ship or just relax and enjoy the ride. Crew and staff will be available to answer your questions and provide schooner yarns (stories) when requested.

Cost: Adult $45; Child $35

The breakfast event was very nice. Staff and volunteers were very friendly and made the morning.

2017 Participant

Fall Color Sail

Enjoy the beautiful fall colors from the deck of the 77′ schooner Inland Seas as she sails around Suttons Bay. Fall is a relaxing season in northern Michigan as temperatures are comfortable and traffic is light. On this sail, participants may help the crew in raising the sails and steering the ship, or just sit back and relax while taking in the wonder our Great Lakes provide us.

Thanks for a great trip and a new way to do a color tour! The staff and volunteers were awesome!

2018 Participant

Fall Dessert Sail

A schooner sail is a fun way to end your wine tasting day! The Fall season is a great time to be on the water in northern Michigan. Temperatures are comfortable, traffic is light, and we just may see some fall colors. Enjoy coffee, hot cocoa, and a special local dessert on this 2-hour fall sail. Participants can help raise the sails and steer the ship or just sit back and relax.

I attended the dessert cruise. It was a ton of fun. Everyone was very friendly, the desserts were great!

2018 Participant

Father’s Day Discount Sail

Join us for this special 2-hour Steady the Ship sail. On this sail, you will have an opportunity to raise the sails, steer the ship, learn the forces keeping the ship afloat, discover why the ship stays upright and moving forward, and learn how sails work. You will also have the opportunity to go below deck and explore life on a schooner.

As a special for Father’s Day, sons/daughters can sail for free with their fathers, grandfathers, or those who are father-figures to them. Use promo code FathersDay19child (for child ticket) or FathersDay19adult (for an adult ticket). *Limit: One free “child” ticket per paying father ticket.

Wine Education Sail

Leelanau County and the Grand Traverse region are known for their many wineries. Join us for this two-hour sail around the beautiful Suttons Bay where you will taste local wines, along with pairings, as you learn why this region is successful in growing grapes. Adults 21 and older only. Cost: $45

View schedule and buy tickets

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