Kelley's Island and Put-In-Bay on South Bass Island, OH

Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Ohio, USA

041-39.360 N
082-49.260 W
Marine forecast for this location

Ahoy from Put-In-Bay in OH!

Rafted BoatsWe're currently located in the Bass Islands at the S end of Lake Erie. You're probably saying to yourself, "Islands", "Ohio?", "What's he talking about?" But yes, it's true, there are islands in Ohio! These islands seem to be a Mecca for local boaters wanting to get out on the water and let their hair down. The two largest islands, Kelleys and South Bass, had major festivals this weekend, so even more people than usual showed up. As a result we pulled into Kelleys Island on Thursday and decided to stay 3 days instead of trying to fight the crowds and find dockage, plus the forecast was for hoot, humid and unsettled weather.

Kelleys Island is only about 11 miles from Sandusky, so our trip from Cedar Point was very quick. The marina staff put us in a corner of the marina, with a wall directly in front and on the side and a boat on a dock directly behind. Then as the weekend progressed a line of boats was rafted alongside of us, totally locking us in. It's a good thing that we had said that we were staying for 3 days, as there would have been no way to get us out before that!

Glacial GroovesKelleys Island is a bit schizophrenic. They make a lot of money off of the tourists and the businesses clearly want the tourists, but the locals and snowbird type of residents don't seem to share that view. I have never been in a place where there were more "no trespassing", "private road" and "keep out" types of signs posted everywhere. They even had lots of signs stating that you have to use the sidewalks or you may be subject to a $100 fine. Perhaps they've had problems in the past, but we certainly didn't see any issues while we were there.

On both islands golf carts are the typical mode of transportation. It's a great way to get around and I can't imagine what the roads would be like if you replaced all of the golf carts with cars. We rented bicycles on Kelleys, and over 2 days covered virtually all of the island. There's not a lot to see, but one of their claims to fame are some "glacial groves" which were formed a long time ago. Perhaps if I were a geologist, they would have been more enthralling, but in the intense heat and humidity they were simply interesting.

Friends?Water SnakesOne thing that Sue wasn't overly fond of was that the wall that we were docked next to had lots of water snakes living in it. They're harmless and seem to be quite scared of humans. Sue, who's deathly afraid of snakes, wasn't at all happy that you could regularly see the snakes sticking their heads out of the wall. I got to onto the boat first to make sure that we didn't have any unwanted guests (we didn't), and I even think that Sue relaxed a bit around them.

On Thursday night we had a strong thunderstorm go through which knocked out power to the island. The component which failed was right near the marina and we saw a shower of sparks just before the power went out. Unfortunately that was also accompanied by the smell of hot insulation/components within the boat. I couldn't find anything and the generator fired up, so we ran that to keep the AC running. Just before going to bed I checked the generator and found that the head gasket was leaking coolant externally, so I shut down the generator. I called the manufacturer on Friday and the tech that I spoke with suggested that I try Bar's Leak as a temporary solution. Amazingly it sealed the leak and I'll permanently fix the issue in Milwaukee.

On Saturday they had a parade which had a lot of local color and that night they a great fireworks display. Their timing was perfect as just as another strong line of thunderstorms blew threw just as we got back to the boat. On Sunday, after most of the boaters had sobered up, the boats next to us de-rafted and we headed to Put-In-Bay (PIB) on South Bass Island, which was only an hour away.

PIBWe had been warned to NOT go to PIB on a weekend as it's just too crazy. On top of that PIB was having their Christmas in July celebration. Unlike Kelleys Island, PIB embraces tourists and boaters. They have lots of marinas and a large mooring field. The cold front that brought all of the rain also cleared the oppressive heat, so we picked up a mooring ball and headed into town to explore. We found a town packed with shops, restaurants and bars and bars and...well, you get the idea. It seems that everyone from Ohio goes there to drink and they think that while they're on an island that laws no longer apply. We didn't experience this first hand, but were told that by many locals. We were also amazed at how many staggering drunks we saw on a Sunday afternoon. I'd hate to see Saturday night!

Golf CartsOn Sunday night I fired up the generator only to find that it wasn't producing any voltage. After a couple of hours of debugging on Monday I determined that the electronic voltage controller module had fried. I don't know if it was related to the power surge on Thursday, but it's mighty suspicious. I ordered a new one and it'll be waiting for us at Port Huron.

Despite the over abundance of partiers, we had a very nice time in PIB and would go back there in a heartbeat, but only during the week. It's much prettier than Kelleys and much more friendly. Today we're headed towards the Detroit River. It's only about a 55 mile trip, but we have to deal with the current in the Detroit River and it's also very difficult to find any marinas that can handle a boat with a 5.5' draft.

-- Geoff & Sue

For the cruiser:

On Kelleys Island we stayed at Kelleys Island Seaway Marina. We heeded advice that it well protected from swell and wakes and was quieter than the downtown marinas. That was a great plan as the other marinas were rocking and rolling with wakes and the storms that passed through. Dockage was $1.75/ft. Note that they charge $1 for a 5 minute shower. Golf carts are ridiculously expensive at $14/hr and $145-$125/day! We rented bikes at the Portside Marina for $15/day or $20/overnight. We can highly recommend the Island House for dinner and the Winery for lunch/pizza/sangria.

At PIB we picked up a mooring ball for $30/night, but you get a $5 coupon that can be used for food, drinks or your next mooring. There's a free water taxi to bring you to shore where there are nice bathroom facilities. Golf carts are $12/hr and $50/day at Delaware Rentals and you can easily see the entire island in a hour if you don't stop anywhere for long.

Log ID: 1371

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Photos/Video: Photo Album Kelleys Island and Put-In-Bay 

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