Friday, July 22, 2011

2011 Sailing Trip - Day 3 - Erie to Mentor

Miles by boat – 75.5

My blackberry alarm sounded at 3am and within ten minutes, we were underway. We slipped silently away from the dock and retraced our path out of the harbor. After a near grounding due to inattention and seemingly inaccurate chart information, we were well enough north of Erie to set our course directly for Mentor, 60 miles southwest. At this point Ana went back below to go to sleep and I set out the sails, made coffee and enjoyed the ride. We motorsailed for a while then after the winds shifted slightly south and strengthened, i shut off the engine and we cruised noiselessly under sail for a nice long stretch. The dawn experience when sailing is extraordinary, you first begin to notice that the lights you see in the distance begin to dim and become more difficult to see. The sky begins to slowly lighten and before long it is not night anymore…but it’s also not quite day because the sun is not visible. When then sun does arrive, it is usually a deep red colour, very vicious looking, and once it breaks it starts to heat up fast and you are soon looking for your sunglasses. During this trip so far the daytime temperatures have been thirty celsius and above with evening temperatures still in the mid 20’s so the air conditioning on the boat is more than a “nice to have”.

Ana wakes up before the kids and comes out to the cockpit with a couple of coffees which is a great start to the day. The kids eventually surface and we immediately take down the sails, whip the clothes off and jump into the lake for our morning family bath! There is nothing quite like having a bare butt bath in the middle of a lake that is so large you can barely make out the shoreline and can be assured there will be no other boaters sneaking up for a view of your tan lines.

Around mid day Andrew and Michelle catch up to us, stop for a quick visit (and Corona) then speed off to Mentor. We arrive ourselves a few hours later, around 2pm, and after a couple slip changes we settle into our spot, directly across from three 60 foot plus yachts. Poor Andrew, he has a 36 Sea Ray which is one of the nicest and biggest boats on our dock, but here in this upper class country club harbor his boat sadly appears a bit dingy-like in comparison, which I can see has bruised his ego. I think it’s called something like “horsepower envy” or something like that. But, as we’ve seen first hand, there’s always a bigger boat out there so even these 80 footers would appear dingy-like next to the 200 foot yachts moored in the Bahamas.

Once we are settled, we head over to the pool with a bag of beer and a bag of laundry and, for once, the child sitting duties Andrew and I get stuck with (playing with kids in the cool pool) turn out to be the better option than what the girls get (folding socks in a hot laundry room). You see, we’ve been abandoned many times before, usually in a mall food court, or bookstore, or park, or hot asphalt parking lot while the ladies embark on retail therapy. So I can’t say I felt too bad.

As we were lounging around the pool, some giant a-hole pulled up in his giant a-hole speed boat which was so loud it was shaking the building. There was a young owner and his buddy floating in the channel revving the two obviously massive engines, trying to attract as much attention as possible. Ana found out later from one of the gas dock staff that he had put $3,000 of fuel in the boat a couple weeks ago, but his credit card was declined and they had to hold his boat until he was able to return with cash which, one can assume, he probably got from his daddy.
We wandered back to the boats and decided to take a power boat cruse back to Fairport harbor, about 6 miles east, which is home to “Pickle Bills”, a legendary seafood restaurant and party spot for boaters. As we cruised into the channel we passed a massive freighter which, judging but the mountains of coal, aggregate and dirt piles which were lined up all along the channel, he was there to pick up a load. Many of the harbor entrances around the lake are like this – very industrial and very functional, obviously with pleasure boating only a small part of the business.
Pickle Bills is the only bar I have ever seen where there is boat parking AT THE BAR. A circular bar extends out into the channel and they have built finger piers into the water where you can tie up your boat while you get sloshed at the aqua-pub. The restaurant part itself is enormous and filled with, uh, statuettes, I guess. It’s sort of hard to explain but there’s everything from a hideous hag of a figurehead riding a bowsprit that greets you when you walk in the door, to a full sized bull shark to a set of realistic, half dressed mannequins playing cards to a giant alligator to hundreds of stuffed ocean creatures everywhere you look. Magnus immediately grabbed the camera and took photos of practically every display in the restaurant, making me believe he may be headed toward a career in photo journalism…or erotic photography. In any case, based on the bizarre surroundings, we didn’t expect much from the food and were stunned when we were served with some of the best seafood we’ve ever had. I had a swordfish dish that was amazing, and the mussels were excellent. Stella gobbled up all her food and Magnus

I forgot to mention, the a-hole with the a-hole boat was also there and as we were going in, he was thankfully leaving, but seemed to love firing up his boat, scaring the living shit out of everybody, including myself. As he idled away most people were rolling their eyes and were obviously glad to see him leave.  Man, I must sound like a grumpy old dude!

After our delicious meal, we hopped in the boat and took off back down the channel. The giant freighter had pulled away and Andrew pulled the boat right up beside it and we had a good look at the behemoth. After that, we headed east back to Mentor, but halfway there Michelle mentioned, “I think we’re being followed”. We turned back to see a helicopter in our path shining a huge spotlight down on the water. We first thought he was on our trail for all the cocaine and weapons we imported but it turned out he was probably looking for his lost car keys.

We arrived back at the dock, set the alarm for 4am and hit the sack.

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