When I think of Ann Perrault, a childhood nursery rhyme phrase comes to mind, with obvious variations, of course: Rub-a-dub-dub, three maids (or three men in the more modern version) in a tub.
But in this case, it’s Ann in the tub, wearing all the hats of the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker metaphorically, but the real vision tracks her heading out to sea. With a deep entrepreneurial spirit and love for Detroit, Ann is now wearing the hat of captain, though the river vessels are more sophisticated than a nursery rhyme tub.
“Ann is the most visionary person I know. Ann sees possibilities everywhere,” said Perrault’s lifelong friend, Shea Howell, of her friend’s contagious love for the river and its surroundings.
As the former co-owner of Avalon Bakery, where Perrault feels she made an impact on Detroit, she now is sharing her passion for sailing with customers on the Detroit River, launching out of the Grayhaven State Harbor, a DNR harbor where Perrault has a concession contract.
Perrrault also added a powerboat component with Riverwise Detroit Boat Tours thanks to the use of a state-certified powerboat owned by Howell, who also helps in running tours. Perrault co-owns the business, which includes Detroit Sail Boat Tours with Kristian Jorgensen, and she has a dedicated first mate and friend in Julion De’Angelo, a quiet guy known for DJ’ing who gives Ann a hug at the end of his shift.
The team takes reservations for folks to enjoy a sail or a powerboat tour on the Detroit River that Perrault calls “a group experience to get out in nature and see Detroit from the water.”
The trips become a story within a story as groups that hire them use the cruises to celebrate birthdays, make wedding proposals or go to elaborate lengths to host a gender reveal.
Yes, a gender reveal.
Yes, a gender reveal.
Drew Roberts, 26, of Lincoln Park, wanted to surprise his family and friends on a recent sunset cruise to reveal the gender of his first child with Chi Chi Dean. Roberts had seen something similar on a TikTok video and he put his plan into action to have Max Flight Helicopter Services out of Grosse lle Township fly over and disperse a chalk powder-like substance to reveal their baby’s gender.
The best part is that Roberts himself wasn’t even in on the secret — that burden was put upon Chi Chi’s best friend, Lasha Young.
“I had to keep that secret for a week,” said Young, adding that it was one of the hardest things ever.
The group of friends partied and laughed and freaked out every time the river swelled from a passing boat. Then came the helicopter charging up the river on a mission, circling the boat a few times to build anticipation. Suddenly, a streak of blue power shot against what little cloud coverage there was, and Roberts and Dean exclaimed how happy they were.
“I am just so happy I can’t even describe it,” Roberts said.
Perrault has seen this happiness before. It’s the type of gratifying moment that keeps her motivated.
It doesn’t just stop at the tours, Perrault and team would like to somehow be part of getting her passion for marine life and education into the Detroit schools’ curriculum — yet another way she would like to make an impact on Detroit.
There is room in her rub-a-dub-tub if it means positive changes that help the community embrace living by the water. For more information or to take a tour or sailing lessons, check out Grayhaven State Harbor on Facebook or detroitsails.com.