For charter yacht captain, Lake Superior brings the magic home


By Barbara Brown Meredith The County Journal

BAYFIELD — Glistening sun-dappled waters, warm summer breezes, and the majestic Apostle Islands. That’s the magic experienced aboard “Sarah’s Joy,” a 34 foot charter sailing yacht captained by Paul Bratti of Bayfield.


Bratti, a retired Chief Petty Officer who commanded the Coast Guard Station in Bayfield from 1989 to 1993, has been assigned to various ports of call including the Florida Keys, Hawaii, and Antarctica. The Bayfield Station and Lake Superior was his last stretch of duty. Never really wanting to be too far away from the water following his retirement, Bratti and his partner and brother-in-law, Peter Schuchardt combined their love of sailing and created Animaashi Sailing Company.


“Pete bought the boat and I’m the captain. It’s a nice little family business,” Bratti said.


Bratti is the only USCG-licensed captain for the company. His season is mid May through the first weekend in October.


Bratti said the majority of his cruises are half-day rides offered twice a day from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m


Full-day trips and evening cruises are also available for charter. Whether you’re a seasoned sailor, a novice, or a confirmed landlubber, any of these trips are guaranteed from beginning to end, to be alternately peaceful or exhilarating, depending upon the wind.


Full-day trips leave the dock at 9:30 a.m. and return to port at 4:30 p.m. Evening cruises are two or more hours of end-of-the-day sheer enjoyment. “Sarah’s Joy” is located at the first finger pier at Bayfield’s Main City Dock. Reservations are required for full-day trips and evening cruises. (Call for costs)

AT THE HELM — Captain Paul Bratti takes the wheel aboard 'Sarah's Joy', a 34-foot sailing yacht owned by the Animaashi Sailing Company of Bayfield.

Bratti is licensed to carry up to six passengers. While out on the lake, he welcomes passengers to learn the ropes, take over the helm, or just sit back and relax.


Bratti attracts people from all over the Midwest and other regions who can’t resist setting sail on the beautiful, blue waters of Lake Superior.


Through his years with the Coast Guard, Bratti has gained a keen knowledge of Lake Superior, the waters surrounding the Apostle Islands, and has researched the local history of Madeline Island, Red Cliff, and Bayfield. Born with the gift of gab, Bratti provides an exuberant narration on those subjects.


One of the ipso factos Bratti relates about Lake Superior is that it is the largest fresh water lake in the world by surface area, about 32,000 square miles.

“Lake Superior has an average depth of 500 feet and the deepest point is 1,333 feet. Lake Baikal in Russia is the largest fresh water lake in terms of volume. It has depths of over 4,000 feet,” Bratti said.


Bratti takes his passengers wherever the wind may blow in various channels throughout the islands. When the lake is silver and lying flat, he’ll look for a “pond” of water where the wind is contained in a large circular area surrounded by still water.


Sailing along the mainland shoreline with its red brownstone banks and bluffs or coming close to the partially submerged shipwreck "Fedora" is part of the sightseeing adventure.


One of the passengers from last week’s sailing schedule, Lisa Plaxton, spent her summers in Toronto on Lake Huron. This was her maiden sailing voyage on Lake Superior.


“The sandstone cliffs along the lakeshore are very much like Lake Huron. I feel very much at home,” she said.


Janette and Mark Lonsdale celebrated Mark’s 40th birthday by chartering “Sarah’s Joy.” “This is my first trip sailing on Lake Superior,” Mark said. “I have a lot of respect for this lake.”


For information about chartering “Sarah’s Joy,” contact Captain Paul Bratti at (715) 779-5468 or visit the web site at or write to P.O. Box 1395, Bayfield, WI 54814.

Passengers enjoying a cruise on 'Sarah's Joy', a charter sailing yacht in Bayfield owned by the Animaashi Sailing Company, are Lisa Plaxton and Shelly Boone.

Reprinted with permission from The County Journal