Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer

Sustainability & Eco-Tourism

About Our Initiatives

Dreamcatcher Sailing is committed to the practices of sustainability and eco-tourism (see below for our definition). Sailing is a natural for this because it uses the wind. We also try to reduce waste wherever possible in our food service. Even using our diesel whenever necessary last year, we used only 50 gallons of fuel and went over 4000 miles with over 1000 guests. That is over 90% wind power! Our goal this year is to cut that further. Bayfield and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is a pristine area, which we all love and wish to protect for generations to come. We believe in doing our part by offering access to the water and the Islands that can go on indefinitely without polluting or using limited resources. We also believe that global warming is caused by human actions and that a little change from everyone can greatly reduce the severity of this disastrous impact.

We have added solar panels to keep the batteries charged on two of our boats, in addition to updating the lighting systems on both of those boats.  Click here to read more about it.

The problem with going green is that after several years of a commitment, you have done most everything you can, but there is always more once you start thinking about it. Our new drinking glasses, using local water and making iced tea, are a few things we continue to do. The other minor improvement is that we replaced our outdated 12volt refrigeration system on Dreamcatcher as well eliminated buying block ice that gets trucked in and replaced it with ice from our new efficient ice machine. We calculated that we are saving about 10 times the electricity from using the old 12v system and probably a lot more savings from not trucking heavy ice into Bayfield.

Ideas are always evolving. We have picked away at our meager fuel usage and cleaned up a little, but our larger impact is definitely sharing our passion for this green sport. This year, we have added sailing school to help people who need to start from scratch and learn how sail as one of their lifetime activities. We noticed a void in the offerings locally as most of them are aimed at a semi-experienced population who wants to learn how to charter their own boat. Our sailing school is for learning sailing. We see the bareboat charter fleet motoring all the time, even in good wind. What a waste! What a pleasure it is to teach the skills that will make people confident enough to be able to sail into an anchorage if (when) the motor doesn’t work. We hope our sailing school students go on to become lifelong sailors.

Buying Locally

We are committed to purchasing local products and using local services whenever possible. Our lunches come from Wild by Nature Market & Big Water Cafe and Coffee Roasters in Bayfield and Coco Artisan Breads in Washburn. They all use locally grown fruits and vegetables when available and most or all of the ingredients are organic. We buy most of our marine and other supplies from local stores as well to promote a healthy community and cut down on the use of fuel for transporting the goods.


No one seems to be able to define it, so here goes–A system that operates in a way that greatly decreases environmental impacts while supporting the community and businesses that allow the system to exist. The savings from energy conservation and a decrease of other inputs into the system, along with spending money locally more than offset the additional costs associated with operating in a way that lessens the impact on the earth. The results of Sustainability are more profitable and efficient for businesses, households, governments and institutions within that system.

Eco-Tourism & Eco-Tours

Eco-tourism – travel that preserves the environment and promotes the welfare of local people,” Michelle Higgins in “Buzzword of the Year: Eco-tourism” New York Times 1/22/06

Eco-tours are tours that highlight the local eco-system, culture, history and people while operating in a way that does not alter or harm them. All of Dreamcatcher Sailing’s trips are eco-tours: we observe the natural environment without interfering with Lake Superior’s ecosystem.

Our Electric Motor Experiment, 2006

We fit Dreamcatcher with electric motors in 2006 as an experiment, using trolling motors for a fishing boat. They wore out during the season, so the immediate result was that we needed some more durable motors, which are currently quite expensive, but the other lessons learned were far more valuable. We often think that technology is the key to changing our future. Because battery power is limited and the speed of the boat greatly changes the efficiency, we had to figure out how to motor less and sail more to make it work. We used to think that the best site-seeing was many miles out into the Lake. This required either a perfect wind or a lot of motoring. We found that some of the inner islands, with their slightly smaller caves, were equally captivating to our guests as long as we quietly get in close and take our time. With less motoring, smell and noise, the overall experience greatly improved and guests were more satisfied. Also, some improvement in the sails and our light wind sailing skill let us sail when we may have motored before. Again, more satisfied guests. We did like the quiet electric drives and would like to invest in a re-powering of our fleet to electric with solar recharging capability when it becomes commercially viable. However, we have cut down our fuel use so much by using common sense and a change of perception, that we may just buy another boat and make her sail fast, instead! Sometimes, the simple solutions are the best ones.

Food Service Reductions

We have greatly reduced our packaging and food waste, while improving the quality of our lunches. Rather than individual box lunches with lots of wrapping, packaging and cardboard, our provider quarters a variety of sandwiches and they come in a dishwashable container. Guests can take only what they wish to eat, which cuts down on overall food waste. The savings of this method allowed us to raise the quality of the lunches greatly without additional cost to the guests. For drinks, we use a new breakthrough invention–the glass! (actually, unbreakable glassware.) On each glass there is a message about how much fuel we could save as a country every year if we gave up bottled water–you will have to come and sail to find out.