Friday, July 12, 2019

Day 9 - The Fierce Seas Lead to Put-in-Bay

A strong north-east wind has blown up, creating flood warnings for the entire Lake Erie southern shore. The VHF weather station tells us the lake will rise up to nine inches today because of the force of the wind piling up the water on the coastline. Poor Vermilion - it is going to be seriously underwater.

There is a nearby grocery store we’ve been to in the past, but it doesn’t open until 10am so Ana, Tony, Angela and I go for coffee at a local coffee house while the kids are left in charge of getting the boat ready to depart. At 10:30 we walk to the grocery store but find it’s not just closed; it is empty. With no other nearby options we return to the marina and get ready to depart. Tony has been watching the weather and wants us to leave ASAP as the north winds look to kick up even higher this afternoon. We get Bella Blue all prepped for what is sure to be a rocky ride and then we are off.

The channel leading out of Sandusky bay is always rough and choppy but today it is extra bad. The waves are being pushed directly in from the north and some of them are massive - over 6 feet, maybe more - so the sailboat is lurching and diving wildly, and since the wind is right in our face we can’t even get any sail out to stabilize the boat. Everybody else is down in the cockpit when Ana sticks her head up, surveys the scene, and isn’t phased in the least. In fact, she joins me in the cockpit and buckles in for the wild ride, smiling the whole way, even as the boat crashes down into the waves and is tossed around like a toy. The kids are a little less enthusiastic - Magnus is about ready to barf when he comes out and lies down in the cockpit, but it isn’t long before we get sideswiped and he flies off the bench onto the floor, but laughs it off.

We make it to the shelter of the south side of Kellys Island and rendezvous with Cabin Fever, who are happy to continue onto Put-in-Bay, even though they too got pulverized in the waves. We continue on and make the entire 20 mile trip in a little over three hours. Park Place Marina is where Ana has booked us into and is familiar to us as we’ve stayed here several times before. Like everywhere else, this island has been affected by the high water and we see the ferry passengers disembarking from the Jet Express with rolled up pantlegs, walking through five inches of water on the concrete dock to get to land.

The dock hands are amazing - they do everything I wrote about in a recent journal about what makes a great dock hand. But admittedly, they do get a lot of practice. One of the lads comes by for a chat and tells us during one busy day last week his phone reported that he walked 22 miles in one day, running up and down the docks, catching and releasing boats.

The sun is blazing, but we head out for a walk down the busy strip. There are people everywhere popping in and out of the shops, sitting in the many bars and restaurants, and zipping around in golf carts. One group does a horrific job of parallel parking their golf cart and wind up with two wheels up on the sidewalk. Fortunately, two of the dudes are quite large so they muscle up the cart and drag it over until it plops down back onto the street.

Put-in-Bay is unlike anywhere else on the lake - one guy we meet calls it the “Florida Keys of the North” and it truly is like a small chunk of the Caribbean has been copy-pasted onto Lake Erie. The funny thing is that unless you live in the shoreline areas of Ohio or Michigan, or are a boater that travels the lakes, you have almost certainly never heard of it. Which is fine, because it’s busy enough already!

After picking up some groceries we return to the boat for afternoon snacks and drinks and then the four of us rent a golf cart and do a big circuit around the island. Sadly, it’s a crappy gas powered one so we are forced to inhale fumes during our lovely ride. I don’t understand why they even allow gas powered golf carts in a place like this when the electric ones are so much quieter, cleaner, and functionally identical. Despite having rented a golf cart every time we’ve been here previously, we still love it and discover some new things every time - such as a little nature trail we found.

While we are gone Angela and Tony put together a fantastic meal of bbq skewers with shrimp, tomatoes, and squeaky cheese (Haloumi) so we do some dockside dining and then hang out there visiting and having drinks until darkness falls and the bed calls.

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