28 Years After Wedding Aboard “Tregurtha” Woman Sees Ship Again

Woman who married the Captain aboard his ship watches it sail under the Aerial Lift Bridge

DULUTH, Minn.- Many people can name the venue where they had their wedding, but not many can say they see it go by in Lake Superior.

The most memorable part of Joan Coughlin’s wedding wasn’t that her best friend was her bridesmaid, or that her soon-to-be husband sailed the Great Lakes for 55 years.

The biggest part of Coughlin’s wedding was the venue.

She was married on her husband’s ship, the Paul R. Tregurtha.

Now, they don’t just let anybody use a ship for their wedding. The groom, Gerald, was the Captain of the Tregurtha back in 1991.

So, for the wedding that October, he received permission from his shipping company to use the ship, it just had to be in Minnesota waters.

Luckily for the couple, the ship was due back in the Twin Ports just in time.

“It’s one of the most beautiful boats on the lake. The interior is built for guests from big companies and so it’s very luxurious, very beautiful,” Coughlin said. “We were only allowed 15 people as guests.”

Quite a few things went in the couple’s favor that day. High winds almost kept them from leaving for their honeymoon. But the winds died down, Joan said, right when they needed.

28 years later, the lift bridge rose Wednesday afternoon as crowds of people peered across the lake to see the massive Tregurtha roll through.

But, only one in the crowd was watching her wedding venue sail under the bridge, a reminder of that magical night.

“Precious Gerald, the Captain, my Gerald, passed away in 1997,” said Coughlin. “So when I came down to see his ship come in, it’s a lot of memories for me.”

The perfect way, she said, to remember a one-of-a-kind wedding, given to her by a one-of-a-kind man.

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