Few would argue the premise that Kenosha’s most beautiful asset is the lake — the primary feature which differentiates Kenosha from so many Midwestern towns.
Yet it’s one thing to look at the lake — and something very different to be on the lake. It’s obviously healthy to be on the lake, as this natural activity is immediately relaxing.
Kenosha has its own tall ship, expertly helmed by Captain Andrew Sadock, longtime sailor, philosopher, musician and rugby player. When asked about how he applies team dynamics learned in rugby, Sadock says, “We work as a team, where no one person is more important than the other and communication is key. And we include the ship as a member of the team.”
Visitors to Red Witch find the unobstructed view of Kenosha’s tree and bluff-lined coastline and incredible sunsets to be truly inspiring, regardless how many times you’ve seen them.
“Sailing on the lake invokes a sense of humility — as the second the sails are raised and trimmed, and the engine shuts off, one is guided by wind and sea rather than personal will,” Sadock said.
Such is life to these sailors who see the horizon differently from the helm of a tall ship.
Although traditional in appearance, Red Witch has full amenities for up to 49 passengers, built for charters, day sails and twilight sails. Many a marriage proposal have happened on board, with guests succumbing to the romance of a sunset and soft breezes.
Tall ships were built for one purpose, namely, to carry many tons of cargo in extraordinarily heavy seas to distant ports. Red Witch was so meticulously designed by renowned naval architect John G. Alden that Sadock feels she sails herself.
“Within one minute of raising and trimming sail, the helmsperson may take their hands off the wheel until a necessary change of course or sea conditions,” he clarifies.
Although relatively small (77 feet in length over all) compared with the other tall ships that will visit Kenosha for the Tall Ships Festival, she shares their Great Lakes maritime history.
Red Witch is an exact replica of an early 19th century Great Lakes working schooner, the workhorses of America’s transportation system. The ship has a hull of cypress on oak, wooden blocks and a gaff rig. Ships from this time period started as transportation. They were home to the settlers before the homes were built, then the school until the schools were built.
Modern replicas of historic vessels require a lot of maintenance and skilled craftsmen throughout the year. Red Witch’s maintenance team includes a sixth-generation Maine shipwright, a former America’s Cup sail-maker, a master marine mechanic, a master welder, two born tinkerers (her relief captain and deck manager/senior first mate), and a seasoned owner who prudently listens to every word of advice.
Kenosha’s Southport Marina provides exceptional support. In sum, more than a dozen skilled technicians are required to prepare the vessel each spring. And all of that before she even hits the water for the season.
Red Witch’s journey has been extensive. Although her blueprint was penned by Alden in 1922, whomever commissioned Alden to design the vessel changed their mind. The blueprint sat in an archive until the mid-1980s when a young Ph.D. in maritime history named Raymond Ashley spied Red Witch’s design, and thought she’d be a great sailing schooner.
He moved to Bayou La Batre, Ala., to build the ship as he preferred cypress for the boat’s hull, decks and cabin — a tree indigenous to the area. Red Witch’s construction was completed in 1986. Ashley then sailed the vessel via the Panama Canal to San Diego. Then to Maui, Hawaii. Then back to San Diego. Then via truck to the Great Lakes, where she spent time in Cleveland and Chicago. Sadock passionately will tell you, “We look forward to many more years sailing Red Witch in Kenosha’s beautiful waters.”
The tall ship rendezvous in Kenosha is made possible by a collaboration of Tall Ships America, a non-profit organization based in Newport, R.I., and port cities around the Great Lakes. Red Witch will lead the “Parade of Sail” on Thursday and offer sail-aways during the festival.
Patricia Lock is tall ship festival consultant for the city of Kenosha.About Red Witch
Flag: United States
Home port: Kenosha
Sparred length: 77
Total sail: 2,100 square feet
Rig height: 73 feet
Gross tonnage: 41