Sailing an I-36 on Lake Erie
By Jeff Crosby
(You can click on the pictures for a larger view.)

After making the Fall membership meeting last year and enjoying the chance to meet a great group of people along with sailing San Francisco Bay. I thought you might enjoy some photos of Lake Erie.

My wife, Paula and I, sail Taboo, a 1977 Islander 36, out of Brands Marina, Port Clinton, Ohio. We are one of two Islander 36s that hail from Brands. Port Clinton is located on the Southwest shore of Lake Erie. We are some 40 miles West of Toledo and some 17 miles south of the Canadian line.

Lake Erie is the shallowest of the Great Lakes with an average depth of a little over 35'. The west end of the lake is the shallowest end with many shoals, reefs and islands. These structures are what gives the area its character. The reefs provide the breeding grounds for a great local fishery. Port Clinton advertises itself as the "Walleye Capital of the World" with many national walleye fishing tournaments. In fact, not unlike Time Square we celebrate New Years with a "Walleye drop". A 16 ft fiberglass walleye is dropped from some 100' in the air to bring in the new year.

There are over 20 islands at this end of the lake with many good harbors and anchorages. The most famous of which is South Bass Island. South Bass is noteworthy from several perspectives. The 405 foot tall, Perry's monument, picture attached, was erected to honor Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry and his victory over the British, during the War of 1812 and the Battle of Lake Erie. Perry was commander of the American Fleet composed of some 9 small ships built and commissioned in Erie, Pennsylvania. During the battle, Perry lured the British fleet under Commodore Barclay, out from Amherstburg at the mouth of the Detroit River, into the narrows between South and Middle Bass Islands.

As the story goes, Perry knew he was out gunned and could be out maneuvered by the superior British fleet. Perry had his ships fill the holds with rocks from what is now known as Ballast Island. His ships were so low to the water that they presented a smaller target to the enemy. Perry defeated the British and secured Lake Erie for American forces. He sent the now famous message to his Commander, " We have met the enemy and they are ours". The battle not only secured Lake Erie but if Perry would have lost, Ohio, Indiana and Michigan would now be part of Canada.

South Bass Island is also noted for its harbor Put in Bay. Put in Bay provides a sheltered harbor with a municipal marina and mooring balls. The town has many small shops but is most noted for its many taverns one of which is listed in the Guinness Book of World records. The Beer Barrel Solon has the longest continuous bar in the world. The bar is longer than Perry's monument is tall, 410 ft. 5 inches long.

I have also attached a picture of the command deck from Henry Ford's flag ship. The deck was removed from the freighter, brought over to the island on a barge and lifted into place on the cliffs of South Bass. Originally intended to be a bed and breakfast it is now owned by a local car dealer. It has been featured in many magazine articles and is absolutely gorgeous inside. The owner claims that if you sleep in the master bedroom located in the old pilot house you can look out the window and feel the ship move with the waves.

If any of our membership is ever in the area, we would love to show you Lake Erie and the Erie Islands.

# 708 Port Clinton
Jeff Crosby