Friday, July 19, 2013

2013 Lake Erie Sailing Trip - Day 13

Day 13 – Cleveland to Eastlake

We had three choices for our next stop.  We could travel to Eastlake, Mentor or Fairport harbours, all of which were quite close together and only about twenty to thirty miles away.  Mentor was tempting, as it’s a beautiful yacht club with a big pool, but as we’d been there several times before and seen pretty much all of what there is to see there, we decided against going there.  We had not spent a night in Fairport, but had been there the previous year to a restaurant called Pickle Bills (see last year’s blog posting around this same time), which is the only restaurant I know of on the lake which has boat parking right at the bar!  We didn’t remember the marinas themselves being all that special, so we decided on Eastlake.

We left Cleveland around 6am and by then it was already hot and windless so I cranked up the motor and we did it power boat style.  As soon as were offshore a mile or so, the bugs began collecting in the cockpit, and got steadily worse, so I sent everybody down into the cabin while I did battle with the wretched creatures.  I counted at last ten distinct species.  There were the standard mosquitoes, who were biting my ankles, legs and shoulders then these little black flies, which look exactly like house flies, but have a nasty bite which, fortunately, don’t leave any marks but hurt like hell.  They concentrated their attack on my feet.  Then there were these little green bugs which instantly explode when you touch them, leaving an artistic green splatter on the cockpit cushions, bimini or boat hull, wherever you made contact.  I had thousands of these other little green suckers which didn’t leave a stain, but just landed on me and walked around on my skin for no apparent reason, every time I looked down my arm there were a dozen of them crawling around.  I saw fish flies, midges, moths and a couple gigantic yellow creatures that I had never seen before.  As the sun rose and the heat came I looked as if I was wearing a bug sweater so I had to get out my secret weapon.  We have this little Portuguese broom called a “basura” which is the most versatile, multi function tool on the boat.  It is a miniature corn broom, about two feet long and used, among other things, for swatting bugs, cleaning off spider webs, scrubbing the boat, cleaning the cushions, scratching one’s back, fluffing one’s hair, beating the children, wacking your wife ass, then using as a shield against the inevitable counter attack.  In fact, as I sit here looking at the basura, I’m thinking we should start mass producing them and selling them, as there is nothing quite like them available in stores.  Perhaps I’ll set up a little sweat shop in our basement and put the kids to work building corn brooms, man I get some good ideas early in the morning.

After beating off the bug sweater with the basura and trying to clean up the bug remains in the cockpit, I stopped the boat and ordered everybody in for a morning swim.  I also got out a bucket and rinsed off as much of the nasty bug stains as I could, which had completely ruined our beautiful cleaning job from the previous day.  If you can believe it, the water temperature was 32.9 degrees so jumping in didn’t give you that immediate cold shock, but was nonetheless most refreshing.

We pulled into the marina to find a small, secluded and very nice yacht club.  The girl working at the fuel dock assigned a slip to us and informed us that the first night’s stay was free, yay!  We got our boat docked, plugged into shore power and let the sweet a/c start working its heart out.  With the lake water that warm, it takes a while for it to get the temperature down, but it eventually did, which was a welcome relief from the heat.  We had a walk around the clubhouse and marina grounds, found a nice playground complete with a basketball court and tetherball pole, so we played a few rounds of each, then instead of dying of heat exhaustion, got our swimsuits on and headed down to the small, but nice little beach.  Magnus and I did some snorkeling for a while, but the visibility was very poor, so we swam around in half a metre of water and flipped over rocks, looking for crayfish or any other creatures of interest, but didn’t really find much of anything, besides some nice rocks.

Stella and her mom scoured the beach for rocks and sea glass and found some nice pieces so Stella took their collection and set up a display on the picnic table.  Ana settled into the comfy adirondack chair with a book and spent a couple hours reading while I either played with the kids or sat beside her enjoying the sun.  Magnus is a real water bug and did not leave the lake until we hauled him out so we could get ready for dinner.

We had a great meal in the clubhouse and met a bunch of the locals, in particular Buzz and Sally who were in the 41’ Beneteau sailboat right beside our slip.  We grabbed some drinks from the bar then they introduced us to some of the other members.  Dinner was delicious – we both had a seafood platter and shared a calamari appetizer, and the bottle of wine I got from the bar cost $12.50, which made me instantly angry with the Ontario government.
Buzz and Sally had sailed extensively through all the great lakes and described Lake Superior as their favourite.  If you look on a map you will see that these lakes cover an enormous area and the possibilities for exploring are limited only by your imagination, available time and budget.  But then, with a good imagination you can probably figure out a way to handle the time and budget issues, so imagination is really the only thing that matters.  Traveling these lakes is something I would love for Ana and I to do once the kids are older and into their own lives and boats.

We had a relatively early night, as we were planning for a 5 am start to Ashtabula.  We also began planning for our trip home, and since the forecast was looking very windy and possibly stormy for Friday, we decided that we might do a night sail the following evening across the lake to arrive in Dover sometime Friday morning.  But we’d wait and see how the forecast looked before setting out.

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