Category Archives: Lake Erie

Did this guy gamble and lose

Catawba Island, OH, Lake Erie
Posted by Bill

Well, we are wrapping up our time here at the lake house. The weather has been really nice compared to the heat and humidity we are used to down south. We have been busy getting the yard and house in shape, and have decided to keep it another year, unless someone makes us an offer on Zillow.

We have been getting together with friends on a regular basis and made a couple of trips to Put in Bay in the process, and it has been really nice catching up with everyone.

The other day we were taking the recycling to the collection bins (we are recycling fanatics!), and we saw this guy in front of us:
Gambled and lost
Of course my warped mind focuses immediately on the stain on the back of his pants. The question is…did he gamble and lose, or did he just sit on a Clark bar? Leave a comment and tell me what you think…lol!

As I have commented before, we have enjoyed having a real bathroom to our selves and a real kitchen, and especially a car; but we are getting anxious to get back to the boat…especially with a few weather systems brewing in the tropics.

One other thought…I saw this picture and thought it might be a good idea for a dinghy! It might not hang well on the davits though.

A trip to Costco and a visit with our old neighbors

Catawba Island, Ohio, Lake Erie
Posted by Bill

Today we made a run to Costco in Toledo! Those of you who know me, I love Costco, and I needed a fix (actually we did need some stuff that we knew was a lot cheaper there). On the way back we stopped at our friends and previous neighbor’s (George and Nancy) house in Freemont. They lived next to us in Powell and were good neighbors as well and good friends. They sold their house in the spring and moved north to Freemont, close to where George works. They bought a house that was built in 1924 and are re-doing it. The house was very cool and built like a rock. It has many of the original light fixtures in it and it is in amazingly good shape! It was built in the prohibition and has a “speak easy” in it…a party room, with a locked liquor storage area. We drank some wine, went to dinner, and enjoyed catching up with them. We couldn’t believe that it has been a year since we saw them.


North Harbour Island party

Catawba Island, Lake Erie, Ohio
Posted by Bill

We have settled in to the creature comforts of living on dirt, enjoying our own real bathroom, real kitchen, and having a car especially! This is the first time we have spent more than a weekend at our lake house without having a boat. It is kind of a bummer, but we have enough things to do here at the house to keep us from missing it too bad. The first full day we were here, the weather was fantastic and there was a nice steady breeze out of the SW, perfect for sailing. It really hit me on that day and I wished we were out there!! Many of you know our friends that live here on Catawba, Jen and John. They grew up here and when we met them they were living in Columbus, Jen working with Tricia. We became good friends and did lots of stuff together, including getting married. Yes, you read it right, we had a dual wedding, in the Park of Roses, conducted by the mayor of Hilliard. It goes without saying, but afterwards we had a huge party!! Let me tell you…it is the way to get married. Simple and informal. So Jen and John moved back to Catawba to raise a family and we didn’t see much of them until we started boating here many years ago. We pretty much consider them extended family. So Jen and John, together with some of their family members, own an island in the Canadian waters of Lake Erie – North Harbour Island. It is around 16 nautical miles north of where our house is on Catawba. It is approximately 860 feet long, and 225 feet wide. Every year they throw a big party on the island for all of their family and close friends. For years there was a big pig roast, but now everybody just brings something to grill and a side dish or two. We have been lucky enough to be invited each year, and also lucky that we were here to attend this year. We mixed up some Pain Killers and packed some hard ciders and jumped on their boat. The weather was great this year!! It was really fun, nice to see the usual attendees, and great to spend time with Jen, John and their girls Kate and Allie (both attending OSU this year…GO BUCKS!!).

Boat ride over:

Approaching the island:

Island shots:

Guests anchored on the lee side:

Kids enjoying the Maui Pad:
This was really cool. Holds 1200 lbs. of weight.

John grilling some…what’s that…BACON…oh yeah baby!!!:

Left to right…Kate, Jen, John, Allie:

Week one in the “real world”

Catawba Island, Lake Erie, Ohio
Posted by Bill

Well…we’ve been back in the real world for a week now, and some times the real world ain’t so bad. As in previous visits, we can’t believe we ever dealt with the rushing around, the traffic, the road construction and living with appointments, without even a thought. It was the norm, but now the contrast with our cruising life style is striking.

We spent a few days in Columbus, having several visits with kids and grandkids…that was awesome!! We miss them terribly, and we feel being away from them is the “true cost” of cruising. Tricia’s sister and her husband offered us a place to stay (for which we are grateful) and we got to spend some time with them, which was very nice. We are fortunate to have many friends in the area, and we had several happy hours of 10 or so people to catch up. We miss them as well and it is always fun to get back together. We had several appointments with our doctors as they are also still here in Columbus. On top of that we did some shopping at places we know we can get bargains, and stocked up on a few things. We don’t usually have a car, so we took advantage of having the rental. The time in Columbus was pretty busy with all of the above and the time went fast.

Then we made our way up to Lake Erie. We still have a house there that has been sitting empty for almost a year, and I was anxious about what we were going to find there. Other than being a little musty, everything was good! We got it cleaned up, ran to the store for a few things, and settled in, cocktails on the front porch looking out at the lake…all is good! Tried to start our Jeep Wrangler in the garage and could not get it to turn over. The battery was purchased in 2007 and sure enough, after having it tested, we needed a new one. It is running pretty good now. Now we will begin working on the yard (which has been neglected), and will spend time with our many friends here. Ultimately, we need to decide if we are keeping this house, or put it up for sale. We were hoping that our kids would use it more and that we would spend part of the summer here, which would justify keeping it. The weather is great in the summer, much more comfortable than in North Carolina where the boat is, and it is nice to have a real bathroom, kitchen, and a washer and dryer for a few weeks!!

While we are here we will need to start ordering the stuff we need to get the boat ready to head south again. The planning process begins! In retrospect, I guess the “real world” isn’t so bad…it is really great to spend time with family and friends!!!

We are now a motor boat.

Erie Canal, Tonawanda NY, Latitude/Longitude: 43 01.3N, 78 52.3W
Posted by Bill

Yesterday after we landed at Rich Marine we had to get ready to have the mast taken down so we could transit the Erie Canal. The lowest bridge heights are 13 feet and we have a 54 foot mast. So we busted ass and took down the sails (not an easy task for a boat our size). We finished up around 8 PM and went to find a place to eat. Now Rich Marine is not in a very good part of town, and we walked around for at least an hour trying to find a place to eat. Plenty of places…none open. WTF? The best place in the area was open but closed at 7:30. Again…WTF? So we go back to the boat and Tricia makes a home made pizza…yum! Of course I made cocktails. And a good time was had by all.

This morning we moved the boat over to the crane area and the yard crew took the mast down and built a support structure to hold it while we transit to the Hudson River. The crew was really good and a very colorful lot, which I always appreciate.

Here is them taking the mast off with a crane.

Here is the final result.
DSC_0008 cmp

We are officially a motor boat.

We left Rich a little after 4 PM and motored down the Niagara River. We had a downstream current between 2.5 to 3.5 knots, which is pretty strong. At one point the boat’s speed transducer said we were moving 5.5 knots and the GPS on the chart plotter showed Course Over Ground of 8.7! When we hit Tonawanda Creek we made a right and went into the Erie Canal. It was really cool. The Niagra had some really varied scenery, from interstate 90 running along side, to factories, to riverside homes with sprawling lawns and boat docks.

Tonawanda and North Tonawanda are really nice towns. We stopped there for the night and walked into both towns which are on opposite sides of the Canal. We stopped at JP Dwyers Irish pub and had some downright awesome wings. Then walked over to the other side of the canal and went to Smoke on the Water, and had awesome pork bar-b-que. Highly recommend both places if you ever get this way.

We saw some weird shit walking around as well. There was some guy parked along the canal in his car with the trunk lid open. Inside the trunk he had a small AV system and he was facing the trunk singing into a mic. He had a nice voice but no audience. He was literally singing into the trunk of his car with no one around. An hour later we passed him again…same deal…singing away. We also saw this car/grill/oven contraption. If the food it makes is even close to Smoke on the Water, I am good with it.
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Island Bound docked in the Erie Canal at Tonawanda
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Bridges and Canals and Locks….Oh my!

Buffalo, NY: Latitude/Longitude 42 56.2N, 78 54.4W
Posted by Bill

Beautiful motor sail to Buffalo today. It took around 4 and 1/2 hours to sail from Dunkirk and it was a day of firsts. First place to sail into with a city skyline…
DSC_0189 cmp

First passage under a lift bridge (I wasn’t sure it was high enough)…

…and swing bridge

First passage through a lock (pretty uneventful)…

We docked at Rich Marine and will have them take our mast down tomorrow so we can go through the Erie Canal. Sad to see these towns in western New York as they are having troubles in today’s economy. Not good to see them struggle. As we talked to locals we came to feel their plight as manufacturing and jobs in general have left the area for overseas competition.

Sorry for the late posts but every day has been full of activity and work and I have not been able to keep up! It should slow down from here on out so I can keep you up to date!

We finally left

Dunkirk, NY : Latitude/Longitude 42 29.28N, 79 20.41W
Posted by Bill

The last week has been so crazy trying to ready the boat and house for departure and we did not get everything loaded onto the boat until Sunday, missing our intended departure on Saturday. Not really a problem because just as predicted the winds blew 30+ knots most of the morning and early afternoon.
We finished loading around 9:00 AM Sunday (2 hours behind!!) and left our dock at 9:15, headed for the fuel dock to pump out the holding tank (toilet waste for you non-boaters) and fill up with diesel. As we pull up to the fuel dock the alternator light goes on….crap! We haven’t gone 100 yards and we are already fixing something! This is usually a sign that the alternator belt needs tightened, so before departing the fuel dock I dig the tools out of storage and make the adjustment, start the engine and the light is out. We head out into the West Harbor channel and 200 yards later the light comes on again…crap! We head back to our dock and I make more adjustments. Finally at 10:15 we leave the dock for the second time.

Earlier the marine forecast said “possible morning showers and waterspouts”…sheesh! Great way to start a voyage. Actually the weather was good until about 2 AM Monday and the wind kicked up a typical Lake Erie washing machine effect that threw us around like a cork, forcing me to hand steer until around 6 AM (“Otto”, our autopilot, isn’t good at steering in confusing waves). Then we got swarmed by thousands of little bugs that stuck around for the duration of the trip, still swarming as I type, so it was a typical Lake Erie experience. After 25 hours of passage we arrive at Dunkirk, NY, tired and bug laden.

Dunkirk Yacht Club turned out to be a real hidden gem. The people were so hospitable that I thought we were in a time warp…back 50 years or so. After talking to them on the phone about possible dockage they called me repeatedly to ensure I got the “local knowledge” about how to navigate the harbor entrance. Upon arrival they helped with the docking, gave us the lowdown about the club and the surrounding area, and invited us to all of the amenities that their club had to offer. The facilities were clean and very adequate and the people were exceptional.

This is the Dunkirk Yacht Club:
DSC_0175 cmp

Here is a pic of the bugs we got swarmed by:
Bugs on boardThey literally covered the whole boat. We had no idea how many there were.

When we docked in Dunkirk I had to wash the boat because the bugs were so bad, but all in all a good passage, and a first destination on our journey.

Here we are at departure:
Departure 2014Pic courtesy of our friend and dock neighbor Brian Leonard! Thanks Brian.

Great stop Dunkirk. We had dinner at Dimitri’s and it was very good, and at Jenna’s for breakfast…also outstanding!

2012-2013 Recap

Since this blog is really intended to keep friends and family informed of our whereabouts when we actually do start cruising, I haven’t posted anything new in the last couple of years.  The posts up to this point were a combination of practice, giving the blog site a good workout, and also posting a few things about Lake Erie that might benefit other cruisers.

That being said, and in keeping with concepts, I thought I would post an update that highlighted the last few years.

First, I must say that we are enjoying the boat very much.  This was our 3rd year (time flies!) and we have gained much knowledge about how to maintain, sail and maneuver her.  This year we spent some live-aboard time on her while doing some extended trips about Lake Erie.  Tricia cooked some fantastic meals in spite of the Lilliputian stove and oven, and the constraints of a small galley, but I am not surprised.  We have found the boat to be very comfortable and quite livable.

The boat handles the sometimes treacherous state of Lake Erie much better than the crew, and her stability, quality and comfort has shown true in some pretty nasty conditions; even when we were hit by the 70 MPH winds and golf ball sized hail of the July 1, 2012 storm.

Last fall we had the bottom of the boat sandblasted and this spring painted with new barrier coat and antifoul paint that is rated for tropical salt water.  The previous paint was for fresh water only.  Next year we will have the engine inspected again and also the rigging, and the boat should be ready to take to sea.  We also purchased a bigger engine for the dinghy as the 2.5 HP (power boaters called it our “pocket sized motor”) was not going to cut it in the Bahamas or Caribbean Islands, so the future “car” is ready as well.

IB Launch 2013_12

Fresh bottom paint job.

We really enjoyed having our daughters, son-in-laws and grandkids visit the last couple of years.  Seems like they are on their way to becoming seasoned “old salts” and are more sea worthy each year.  Oskar even did some line handling this year!

Sarah Pete Lake 2013 _02Sarah Pete Lake 2013 _03

Sarah Pete Lake 2013 _06Sarah Pete Lake 2013_11


We hit the usual cruising spots the last 2 years, including Put in Bay, Kelleys Island, and our favorite…Vermilion, and we spent 5 days at Put in Bay for the Battle of Lake Erie bicentennial celebration.  It was cool to see the tall ships that stayed in port.  The town was an absolute ZOO during that time period – the most crowded I have ever seen the place – and it was nice having an escape on our mooring in the bay.

We followed the tall ships out to the original battle site just east of West Sister Island (along with several hundred other boats) and got to see some of the reenactment, but it was mostly just massive boat chop (think washing machine) and chaos.  It is the kind of event that brings out the asshole in every skipper.  At least we didn’t pay the fee to have a “preferred viewing spot” – those people really got ripped off.

All in all, a good couple of years.  The boat is ready to take us south when we are able.

Snowfall 2010_11



Hopefully soon…I can’t take any more northern winters!!!


6/19/2011 : Vermilion, Ohio : Coordinates N 41.425288  W 82.362378


The Vermilion River viewed from McGarvey’s Landing

Vermilion is one of our favorite places to visit on Lake Erie.  It is very picturesque, has good docking facilities, good protection from the weather, and many shopping and eating options within walking distance.

The town has maintained its charm and leveraged the waterfront along the Vermilion River and Lake Erie.  In the early 1900s it was one of the only ports along the lake that catered to pleasure craft.  Today there are 3 primary options for transient docking:    Water Works public docks, McGarvey’s Landing (both maintained and managed by the Vermilion Port Authority), and the Vermilion Yacht Club.

As you enter the river from the lake, on the left will be a series of canals lined with homes.  This area is called the Lagoons.  Prior to 1928 this area was a wide beach and marshland.  The area was dredged and lots were plotted to develop a summer home community.  Most if not all of the homes are a cape cod architecture and have water frontage with private docks.  Along the second canal is the Vermilion Yacht Club.  The yacht club has excellent facilities and it is a very quiet place to dock your boat.  The Lagoons has an excellent beach area that is arguably one of the best on Lake Erie.  Nice sand, well maintained and very broad.

It is an easy walk to town center or to the commercial area east of downtown.  There are many restaurants within walking distance, including one of our favorite restaurants – Chez Francois.  Chez is an upscale, gourmet restaurant right on the river.  You can dine inside in a formal atmosphere or eat on the patio overlooking the water in a casual atmosphere.  They also have an excellent bar called Touche which has its own menu, including many items that are also served in the restaurant.  The food and atmosphere are fantastic!  They have several docks that can be used while dining at no charge, so you can bring your boat or you can dinghy over from where you are docked.  The Water Works Port Authority docks are adjacent to the restaurant.

McGarvey’s Landing has dockage along the waterfront of Quaker Steak and Lube.  It is a fun, casual restaurant that is known for their chicken wings.  They have bands on the weekends and it gets pretty crowded.  It can be noisy on the weekends but quiets down after 11 PM.  It is fun to dock there and people watch.

If you walk to the commercial area east of downtown, within 20 minutes you can find grocery stores, pharmacies, West Marine, fast food, various restaurants and a hardware store.

From Memorial Day to Labor Day it is best to call ahead and reserve dockage as it gets very crowded.  If you dock at McGarvey’s Landing make sure you say hello to Sailor, the golden retriever of one of the dock masters.

First Overnight Voyage

6/18/2011 : Put In Bay, Ohio : Coordinates N 41.656641 W 82.820159

Anchored at Put in Bay

Anchored at Put in Bay

After several weeks of day sailing we have worked out the kinks and gotten used to sailing and docking the boat, and we made our first overnight trip starting with Put In Bay. There is an event every year that is coordinated by a Columbus Ohio FM rock station, QFM 96, called the Put In Bay Breakfast Club. QFM 96 broadcasts their morning show from The Boardwalk restaurant on the upper deck and everyone starts drinking at 6 AM. It is usually well attended and always very entertaining. Some friends of ours from Columbus were staying on South Bass Island (where Put In Bay is) and we decided to meet them for the Breakfast Club.

Put In Bay has a history of drunkenness and debauchery that dates back to the late 1800’s and it gets pretty crazy on the weekends at night. The main street downtown is lined with bars and restaurants and some small touristy shops. Beyond the main street there are quite a few residential homes, hotels, B&Bs in addition to other sight seeing things to do. It is actually very cool for Ohio. Ferry service is available from Port Clinton, Sandusky and at the tip of Catawba. There are public docks and mooring buoys for boats to tie up. It is affectionately called “the Key West of the Midwest”. Below are pictures of some of our favorite stops.

The Boardwalk:
PIB 2011 07 04_04 cmpThe Boardwalk offers great waterfront views, fully stocked bars and pretty good food. They have excellent Key West Pinks shrimp and their own recipe for lobster bisque. Outstanding!

PIB Frosty Bar cmpThe Frosty Bar serves cold Labatt Blue drafts in chilled fish bowl glasses and there is always an interesting crowd in there. Their pizza is marginal at best, but somehow it tastes fantastic at midnight after some serious drinking.

Mojito Bay:
PIB Mojito Bay_2 cmpMojito Bay has a cool décor featuring swinging bar seats and a “beach like” sand floor.

Round House:
PIB Round House Bar cmpThe Round House Bar is actually round and has a big crescent shaped bar. They usually feature pretty good bands and there is almost always a crowd. It has an interesting history which you can check out at

We attended the Breakfast Club and afterwards hosted a mid-day happy hour with our friends aboard the boat.

PIB 2011 06 17_09 cmp

The day before, on the trip from Catawba to Put in Bay, we were getting a “low batt” message when trying to engage the autopilot. So we decided to dig in to that and try to get “Otto” working again. Anyone who owns a boat can attest to the fact that being a contortionist is a mandatory prerequisite for ownership, and this became a prime example in spite of the roomy design of Island Packets. We had no luck in finding any loose wires or voltage abnormalities so I will have to call Raymarine and figure out what to do next.

Some other very close friends who live in the Catawba area met us for dinner at Put in Bay, and afterwards we called it a night. Tomorrow we head for Vermillion.