Stephen Brede is a 63 year old journalist and photographer who thought for many working years of making a non-motorized voyage, a walkabout, though in the end it is a walkabout with a paddle. Stephen has always been drawn to the water, it brought him from East Lansing to Petoskey, Michigan, years ago. Legendary canoeist, Verlen Kruger, who began paddling at the age of 41 and died 41 years later in 2004, inspired Stephen with stories of his long distance canoe voyages. Kruger also designed and built the expedition canoe that is Stephen’s new home office, the Seawind.
The trip around Lake Huron began on June 21, 2009 at the south end of the Mackinac Bridge on the first day of summer. His goal was the north end of the Mighty Mack before the storms of November and he made it back to his starting point on September 19, 2009. He paddled 69 of those days and traveled 814 miles.
Circumnavigation of Lake Michigan was the quest this summer. Stephen paddled north from Petoskey Harbor, 6 blocks from home, on June 24, 2010. He returned to Little Traverse Bay from the south on September 27, 2010. He spent 60 days on the water and paddled 861 miles. This was a very windy summer and there were many days spent on shore waiting for favorable conditions.
After taking the summer of 2011 off, following the death of his father, Stephen launched his beloved Seawind back into the water and followed his dream around the coast of Lake Erie, the southernmost, shallowest, smallest by volume of the Great Lakes. Embarking on June 22, 2012, he returned on August 29, 2012, putting 585 more miles on his canoe. He paddled a total of 47 days on Lake Erie.
Circumnavigation of Lake Ontario was the goal this summer. Stephen decided to start near the mouth of the Niagara River in New York and travel counter-clockwise. This is the smallest Great Lake in surface area. He paddled 33 days out of the 44 day trip, starting on July 14, 2013 and ending on August 29, 2013. The distance paddled on this smallest Great Lake was 466 miles.
Stephen is preparing for the cold waters of the largest Great Lake. Known as Gichigami, Great Sea, to the Ojibwe, Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area. He plans to paddle the United States coastline this summer, roughly half the total circumference.