Sunday, July 14, 2013

2013 Lake Erie Sailing Trip - Day 4

Day 4 – Pelee Island to Put-in-Bay

We woke up to a stunningly beautiful morning, not a cloud in the sky to be found, a nice steady wind, and an eager crew.  Before leaving the marina, we do a bit more snake hunting and fishing, while Ana and Melissa walk over to the Pelee Island Co-operative, located directly behind the marina, to try and find some more bandages for her hand.  I felt compelled to tell the group about my grandpa’s thoughts on the concept of the Co-op.  You see, Saskatchewan is the home of the Co-op and every small community in the province has one.  The typical Co-op is a general store that sells everything from hardware to groceries and my grandpa always says, “If the Co-op doesn’t sell it, you don’t need it.”  Turns out, she didn’t really need those bandages.

As we were preparing a bacon and egger breakfast on cafe Bella Blue, Magnus and Stella managed to catch a turtle, so we were summoned over to inspect the prisoner.  I took a couple pictures then put him back down on the dock, where he scurried away and plopped back into the water.  These marina waters were alive with creatures, from the plentiful snakes to turtles, giant carp, cranes, bass and sunfish.

After cleaning up, we threw off the lines and set sail for Put-in-Bay, with Captain Chris at the helm.  I was more than willing to hand the boat over to him and take on a passenger role for a change.  After giving Chris an overview of the boat and its controls, he took over and was a natural helmsman.  He and Melissa are keen to buy a sailboat so have been researching them and learning as much as possible.  As our course was directly upwind, he had to tack back and forth to make headway, but with a steady ten knot breeze, he kept up a great pace and provided a lovely sail, by far the best of the trip.  Ana and I sat together at the bow of the boat, with our feet dangling over, getting treated to a frequent, refreshing splash of cool water.  I’m pretty sure that’s the first time we’ve sat together on our boat while somebody else piloted and it was relaxing indeed.  Every time I looked back at Chris, he had a big smile on his face and was doing the thumbs up, definitely a natural sailor.  Melissa was stretched out on the deck, soaking up the vitamin D and bobbing her head to the great tunes playing over the stereo.  As we were slicing through the waves, feeling the sunshine, it occurred to me that it was Monday and the rest of the world was at work.  This broadened my smile.

After 15 miles of sailing we arrived at Put-in-Bay, located on South Bass island, which is the busiest of the Lake Erie islands and a little slice of the Caribbean right on our doorstop.  We walked over to the US Customs video phone and were cleared through after providing our passport information.  Chris and Melissa were astounded at the simplicity of the process, after being verbally accosted many times at the highway border crossings between Ontario and New York.

Our fine guests disappeared then returned with a six seater golf cart and we took off to explore the island.  The island is not very big so it takes less than an hour to explore most of the roads.  We made stops at the Perry Caves, Sand Bar, grocery store and the liquor store, where Chris procured us four Buzz Balls, which he grabbed from a big tank of ice cold water.  The guy working the cash register said, “You guys ever had these before?”

We replied, “No”.

“Well,” he said, “be careful.  The first one will go down okay, but after that watch out.  These four are enough to keep you going all night.”

Sounds like a party.  Chris distributed a Buzz Ball to each of us.  On closer inspection of the package I found they were 20% alcohol, which would explain the “Buzz” part of the name.  Ana nearly spit her first mouthful out so she handed hers over to me which I dutifully drank, then finished off my own and was well on my way to a state of intoxication.  We drove the cart back and Chris and I got settled in the gazebo, which was on the dock beside the boat, while the kids and ladies walked back to town to do some retailing.  Before long, the skies darkened and it turned from a sunny, beautiful day into a fierce downpour, so we hustled back into the boat, grabbed some talls boys from the cooler and continued our conversation.  The rest of the gang soon arrived, soaked from head to toe, but looking quite happy with their purchases.

We cooked up a great chicken dinner and spent the rest of the evening in crazy conversation, Pictionary and making all sorts of obscene references to Buzz Balls.  We tried talking Chris and Melissa into going out to experience the Put-In-Bay nightlife, but they were content hanging out with the family.  Or they may have climbed out the front hatch after we went to sleep and did some family-free clubbing.  If so, they hid it well the next day!

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