Schooner sailors settle in Onset for the weekend

Apr 25, 2023

Every part of the 78-foot Schooner Huron Jewel was built by Hugh and Julie Covert — except for the ship’s wheel, a 19th-century antique. 

“Every piece of wood, we cut,” Julie said. 

The tall ship docked at Onset Pier on Friday, April 21. 

The Coverts set sail from Michigan in August on a nine-month voyage they’ve dubbed the Dream Inspiration Tour. After 7,300 nautical miles and a trip to the Bahamas, bad weather brought them to Onset for a temporary stay.

At each stop on the tour, the Coverts give dockside tours of the boat and encourage people to follow their dreams, like the Coverts themselves did by building and sailing the Huron Jewel. 

According to Hugh, the pitch works. At least once per stop, someone who went on a tour will say they’re ready to pursue their own dream after seeing Hugh and Julie live theirs. 

“The hardest part is always starting [the dream],” Hugh said. “Not so much the doing, but just starting.”

Hugh compared his and Julie’s dream of building the Huron Jewel to painting a massive canvas.

“It’s just more paint,” he said.

While the final product may look daunting or impossible before starting,Julie said, it’s the same basic components whether big or small. 

The Huron Jewel features 30 different types of wood, each with a different purpose. For instance, the ship’s masts and internal structure are made of short-leaf yellow pine, while the bulkheads, the walls within the ship, are made of red elm. 

Hugh has been sailing and building ships since he was 4 years old. The Huron Jewel is the ninth ship that he’s built. 

“When you’re building things they just get bigger and bigger and bigger,” Julie said, referring to the ship’s tall design. 

In their hometown of Drummond Island, Michigan, the two run a sailing tour business together using their ship. 

Stops in small towns in Massachusetts, Virginia and Ohio have been the highlight of their adventure.

Smaller towns don’t see many tall ships pull into harbor, so the Huron Jewel becomes a tourist attraction. 

To get from Michigan to Ohio to the East Coast and beyond, the Coverts traveled through the interconnected Great Lakes, then along the St. Lawrence Seaway through Canada, which empties into the St. Lawrence Gulf and allows access to the Atlantic Ocean. 

Assisting Hugh and Julie on their journey are two deckhands and one short-term volunteer. 

Not many tall ships can normally dock in Onset Pier because of its relatively shallow water, but the Huron Jewel’s design allows it to become a “shallow draft vessel”, which means the ship doesn’t sink as far into the water. 

More information on the Coverts’ tour can be found at