Ahoy from Cleveland, OH!
One of the things that I underestimated in this trip was the difficulty in working our way from Buffalo down to the other end of Lake Erie. On paper it looks like a 250 mile trip that can easily be broken up into reasonable sections. All of that is true until you take into the account the fact that the lake lies roughly on a NE to SW axis and the prevailing winds are out of the SW. While that in itself isn't unusual, the relative shallowness of the lake is unusual. Lake Erie only has an average depth of about 40' and that leads to very short, steep waves.
In some of my logs I've talked about wave height and their period. One often thinks that wave height is the critical part, but it's really the period that is the most critical piece. The period is the amount of time between wave crests. If you have 5' waves with a period of 14 seconds, which is typical for the Pacific, you've got a nice rounded swell passing gently under you and life is good. If your 5' waves have a period of 4-5 seconds, you've got steep waves coming at you constantly and your boat is pounding through the waves, rattling your teeth, throwing water over the deck and slowing your progress to a crawl.
Due to the combination of the shallowness of Lake Erie, its NE-SW orientation and the normal winds out of the SW, you regularly see 3-5' waves with periods of 4-5 seconds. As a result I carefully plan our passages when the winds are light out of the SW or from some other direction. I also look at NOAA buoy data before heading out so that we're not surprised when we get out there.
We had thought that we were only going to be in Erie for 2 days, but due to the weather we ended up staying 4 days. We had been staying at the Wolverine Marina, but we had to leave as they were booked with boats coming in for the biker's rally. We pulled into the bay and I looked at the winds and saw 15-20 kts from the SW and told Sue to start calling other marinas, as there was no way that we were going to make the 55 mile jump from Erie to Geneva in those conditions. Luckily Sue was able to get us into the Bay Harbor Yacht Club, which was much nicer than Wolverine and the people were super friendly.
Since we were stuck there I was able to go to see Molly Hatchet, which was a band that I listened to in college many eons ago. They were the final band appearing at the biker's rally and I don't know if it was faded memories from college or the fact that the 30 years since then hasn't been friendly to the lead singer's voice, but it certainly wasn't the band that I remembered. Oh, and it was a pretty interesting crowd...
Anyhow, on Sunday the winds relaxed and we motor-sailed from Erie to Mentor, OH. We had planned on stopping in Geneva, but we were making such good time that we continued to Mentor. That was a long day on the water...11 hours. The next day we had a great sail from Mentor to Cleveland, doing 6-8 kts all of the way due to northly winds. Unfortunately our departure from Mentor was delayed due to thunderstorms and we didn't get into Cleveland until 3:30. We had planned on going to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but they closed at 5:30 and we couldn't justify $22/ea for what would have been about an hour of time there. Instead I changed the engine oil and went to the pool, which was quite nice.
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Cleveland Browns Stadium
Today we're headed to Sandusky, OH which is a 58 mile passage. Hopefully we'll be able to sail as the winds will start out of the SE and clock to the SW and we're headed W.
-- Geoff & Sue
For the cruiser:
The Bay Harbor Yacht Club is much, much nicer than Wolverine. They have a new $800K club house with the nicest facilities that I've seen. I almost took a picture of their bathrooms as they're that nice. The people at the marina was super friendly too. Dockage is $1.60/ft.
I was not impressed by the Mentor Yacht Club. You have to pull into their fuel dock to get your slip assignment, which could be difficult for sailboats with a limited turning radius. The docks that they assigned us to only had 50A/250V outlets, but luckily I was able to find an adapter. Their pool area is very nice and it appears that their restaurant is also very nice. They charge $1.75/ft and add on a 3% credit card surcharge (that they didn't mention) and they charge tax on dockage, which is something that none of the other marinas have done.
The Lakeside Yacht Club in Cleveland is nice. Very well protected and nice facilities. Someone from the club came in on a Monday, when they're closed, to check us in. They have a good pool and the restaurant and bar look very nice. However, you are at the end of an airport runway with a fair amount of traffic and there's a lot of highway noise. I wouldn't want to be there without AC. It's about a 2 mile walk to the RR Hall of Fame and/or the Science Center. Dockage was $1.50/ft
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