On Lake Erie

June 1, 2009; I’ve left Josh and Tiny to their land adventures and caught the afternoon South West breeze on to Lake Erie.  The wind is warm and just strong enough to scoot the Cap’n Lem along toward the Bass Islands.  They are still over the horizon but I expect to see them any time now.  If this wind holds I may sail into the night.  The moon is waxing and the lake is lovely.

It doesn’t.  At sunset the wind sighs and dies.  The islands are just ahead.  To the South in the distance, flashes of lightening, a storm is brewing.  Will it overtake me? I motor the last few miles in the calm water to Put-in-bay on South Bass Island.

I’ve experienced lots of things on the water in my 43 years, but a lighten strike isn’t one of them.  I hope to keep it that way as long as I can.  I take extra precautions.  A battery cable clipped to the shroud might help disperse a charge building up in the mast.  That’s a lot of metal 40 feet in the air on a stormy night.  The stainless steel gantry is bonded to a hull plate.  I make mental note to not touch metal any more than I must in operation of the vessel.  I get the mainsail down and stowed. 

The storm is closer now but still to the south.  The wind comes up.  North East and 20 kts but I’m in the islands making way to the bay.  The lightshow is spectacular.  I don’t often see such on the Olympic Peninsula.  My excitement builds.  Too bad the word awesome is so over worked.

A fast ferry, that is a very fast ferry, comes up behind me making way into the harbor.  I check my stern light and move even more to the right feeling my way into the anchorage.  But there is no anchorage in Put-in-Bay!  Only mooring buoys and lots of them neatly spaced in row after row.  It sure must be something to see them all filled on 4th of July.  I had rather anchor; catching a mooring buoy sailing alone is bit trickery.  But the Cap’n helps by drifting down on buoy H-6.  I catch it with a line, quickly tie a bowline and feed the bitter end through the loop.  I’m careful not to let the line pull me from the amma always reminding myself I can let it go if it becomes too much.  I can always come back around and try again, but no… bitter end through the deck bolt, another bowline…I’ve got it. 

Put-in-Bay is protected on all sides, all sides except the NNE.  “How does the wind blow, Mr. Mate?”  “NNE, Sir!”  The rain hits, the lighten misses and the Cap’n spends the night bobbing and weaving like a prizefighter in practice.  I sleep but little at Lat. 41° 39.318’N ~ Lon. 082° 49.283’W.


6 Responses to “On Lake Erie”

  1. pat & peter says:

    we are only virtual sailors (from Port Townsend) and are enjoying your voyage immensely. We read about you in the Peninsula Daily & followed you since. One very cool thing would be a google push pin type of chart or something that will show your current location. The “chart his progress” link doesn’t really show where you are at a glance. Something for your ground crew to do maybe? we hope to join your welcome home bash! Cheers! :)))

  2. John Shea says:

    Cap’n Tommy:
    We hiked South Bass Island about 30 years ago. There is a small cave that is either steeped in history, or perhaps steeped in local tall tales, I can’t recall which.
    Years ago, the campground was on the southern tip of the island, and had no dirt in which to anchor a tent-stake! It seemed to be solid basalt, over which there were stone ruins of some former structure.
    The Perry monument is striking, and tells the story well.
    Fair Winds!

  3. kianavit says:

    What words… super, an excellent idea

  4. Dennis Roundtree says:

    A light day for comments so I’ll chime in once again. I’ve seen several mentions of a book. If you do decide to undertake one count me in as another ‘sale of your sail’. Soon you’ll be in waters I know on the St Lawrence from my cruise ship times. I saw lots of Belugas and some Minke whales around the Sagenuay. Your christening brought memories of the ones I’ve attended of: Seaward 1988, Royal Viking Sun 1988, Royal Viking Queen 1992, Dreamward 1992, Windward 1993, Norwegian Sky 1999 (most memorable: in NYC with Sex and the City gal Kim Kattrall as Godmother and quite entertaining), Norwegian Star and Norwegian Sun co-christenings in Miami 2001, Norwegian Dawn 2002, Norwegian Jewel 2004, Pride Of America 2005.

  5. Scott says:

    You used to be able to rent a bicycle in town (Put-In_Bay) and ride out to the winery for a tour (and free samples after :p I like the push pin idea too. I’ve just been dropping the Lat/Long into Google Earth…
    Smooth sailing

  6. capt bruce says:

    gad tommy!
    what great stuff!i can only hope the night terrors and fatigue that the sea makes in men will leave you alone.but then…you are only alone right?
    carry on my friend,and let tiny and josh know that they are welcome here at the farm anytime they want.the menu is heavy with goat and a smattering of roadkill rabbit.
    fresh meat is something you may be deprived of right now but i’ve seen you survive on lesser provisions,remember?

    i’ll continue to follow your adventure with passion knowing that once i was part of your lifelong love affair with the sea.

    once a sailor,always a sailor
    a sailor never grows too old
    that he does not care to go back
    for one more wrestling match with wind and wave
    i know this of myself
    [jack london]

    remember that safety is forth.
    if it ranks first,we should never rise from our bed each day.

    eat ..gobble up the freezedrieds,break open the canned fruit and the maple syrup and watch the sky stay lighter each night as solstice grows near.
    trick the force of “ma”nature.
    bend it to your will.

    i’m with you tommy!in spirit and heart.
    capt bruce