Profile: Michael ‘Tug’ Buse ’01 (Bowdoin Magazine)

Tug Buse '01 (Illustration: Chelee Ross '12)

This profile originally appeared in the Summer 2011 issue of Bowdoin magazine.

From August 2009 to October 2010, Tug Buse sailed a homemade 14-foot boat down the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, around Florida, and up the East Coast to Brunswick.

Hometown: Seattle, Wash.

Bowdoin major: History (with a minor in Africana Studies)

On the Adventure: I had some help, primarily from my dad, a professional boat-builder named Alan Thomle, and a few friends, but mostly I did the work on Adventure myself over five years. I was a college professor from 2004 to 2009 at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, where I began my trip, and I worked on Adventure over the summers. She’s built of red cedar strips on plywood frames. Her decks are plywood and her mast is Douglas Fir.

Motivation behind the trip: In 2004 I took the job in Sioux City, and I thought I would lose my mind being landlocked in the middle of the continent. I had an epiphany one day while I was sitting on a bench by the Missouri River: a water escape route lay before me. The idea was to travel down the Missouri and then the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. Since Bowdoin was my home for four years, I chose Maine via the Gulf, around Florida, and up the East Coast, as the ultimate destination for my voyage.

At the end of the trip: I stayed in Maine and drank in one of my favorite places on Earth for a few weeks. Spent a lot of time at the ol’ alma mater. Then I hitched up the boat and trailer and headed back out to Seattle, where I’m originally from.

Meals while sailing: A lot of dried and canned foods, including canned bread.

Morning ritual: Enjoying a fried egg sandwich on a bagel with a nice cup of tea.

Favorite state: Mainington. I can’t choose between Maine and Washington. They are very similar in many ways, but also different enough to make the change from one to the other interesting. I look at them both as my waterfront homes that just happen to be on opposite sides of the continent.

Preferred communication: Old-fashioned letters, though I rarely have time for them these days, so must resort to e-communication. A friend of mine and I are talking about getting old wax sealing sets and old fountain pens and writing truly old-fashioned letters to each other.

Time travel: Appomattox Courthouse, 1865. I would watch the Confederate surrender, and interview everyone I could. I would especially like to interview Joshua Chamberlain and try to explore some of his Civil War memories not recorded in the history books.

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