Wednesday, September 23
Yesterday Steve Heronemus made it out for another sail using the adaptive equipment the SEAS and Harken team developed, but it was more than just a second sail with the new equipment. The sail was both a tribute and the continuation of what is now a Heronemus family tradition.
On Friday, September 4, Steve Heronemus was able to do something he had been unable to do for over a decade, go sailing. Before being diagnosed with ALS, Steve had spent time sailing on Lake Michigan with his father, Dick Heronemus. The SEAS and Harken teams developed an adaptive solution for one of the Sail Sheboygan Sonars which allowed Steve to skipper and trim so Steve and his dad could share a sail together yet again. Tragically, on September 16th Dick Heronemus passed away.
The funeral service concluded on Tuesday and Steve and family remained in Sheboygan to attempt the second sail the next morning. Light winds, too light to effectively sail, kept the boat at the dock but the time was spent discussing future upgrades to the equipment. Planned improvements include the incorporation of a Sip Puff system and other electronic upgrades. These talks were followed by lunch at the Sheboygan Yacht Club where Dick Heronemus had been a longstanding member.
After some troubleshooting at the dock the team launched in the early afternoon in a light southeast breeze. Just feet off the dock Steve had already taken control of the boat and continued to maneuver out of the harbor with the support crew standing by. As they reached the lighthouse the SEAS support team left the boat to Steve and his son Matt to sail on their own together. A new tradition had begun, and as SEAS board member Tryg Jacobson said, “The torch has been passed”.
With the support crew following on a radar equipped safety boat and the rest of the family following on another powerboat Steve and his son were left to sail together on their own for nearly two hours before the wind died enough that the support crew jumped back on board to help with the return trip to the dock. It was another successful trip and a step toward a broader program. Three generations have now taken advantage of the possibilities opened up with the new equipment. The equipment has enabled a man to once again enjoy his love of sailing, but also allowed a family to share that experience together and in times of pain. This is about more than adaptive sailing.