Marine News from the Great Lakes

Your Next Read: “Uncharted Waters”

Published: Wednesday, April 10, 2019
By: Amber Stark

Mary McKSchmidt’s second book, “Uncharted Waters: Romance, Adventure, and Advocacy on the Great Lakes,” offers valuable lessons about creating balance in your life, finding and following your passion and standing up for what you believe in. It also taught me not to judge a book by its cover.

We all know that adage, but we do it anyway. Admit it. I’ll admit that this book never would’ve caught my eye on a bookshelf. Even after a friend handed it to me, I wasn’t really interested in adding it to my to-read list. Advocacy? That sounds like work. Romance? That sounds a little too Harlequin-y for me. Adventure? I like adventure, but one out of three? Maybe I’ll pass.

I’m so glad I didn’t pass.

As a fellow writer and someone who appreciates the great outdoors, I was intrigued by the prologue, and then hooked as I saw a kinship with McKSchmidt. Our modes of transportation may be different – she’s a sailor, while I’m an RVer – but that search for balance between a corporate office and nature? I get it.

McKSchmidt takes readers on a journey from South Africa, where she had to steal water to survive, across the Great Lakes, a resource so important to her that she quit her job as a Fortune 500 executive to protect it. From page 49, when she discusses the “transition from the life of my heart to the reality of my days,” I found myself actively cheering for her.

And I don’t think I should cheer alone. From her essay about Toledo’s 2014 water crisis to Flint’s ongoing water crisis to the prevalence of microbeads in our water, “Uncharted Waters” is extremely relevant. Well-written, witty and informative, this memoir has something for anyone who’s ever enjoyed the Great Lakes. Yes, even a little romance, although I might have used the word “love.” McKSchmidt’s love of sailing, love of the Great Lakes, love of nature and love for her husband, Rubin, is prominent throughout this collection of essays and explains her passion for protecting the Lakes and the plant and animal life in and around them.

Would I change the cover? Yes. But do I think McKSchmidt has created a book that could make a difference? That can touch the hearts of others? I have no doubt.

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Amber Stark is a former newspaper reporter with a reading addiction, having read 77 books in 2018. Most of her reading is done while camping or sitting on her porch. When she’s not reading or enjoying the outdoors, she handles media relations for a local university and entertains her 10-year-old son.


This article first appeared in the Spring Issue (Mar/Apr) 2019 of Great Lakes Scuttlebutt magazine.

tags: Books & Charts, Great Lakes, Sailing, Women in Boating

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