sburke91

Western Lake Erie Islands/Cedar Point

16 posts in this topic

With winter coming here in the midwest, I'm already thinking about next year.

Now that we have something closed bow that behaves well in moderate chop, I'm looking at a trip to South/Middle/North Bass Islands, Kelleys Island, and Cedar Point sometime late spring or early summer.

I made a lot of trips to South/Middle and Kelleys via the ferry in my 20's, but haven't made the trip via my own boat.  Is there anyone familiar with the area that can make some recommendations?  Some things I'm chasing down:

  • Boat launch and secure truck/trailer parking in the Marblehead, Catabwa Island, or Sandusky areas
  • Anything to look out for docking at North Bass Island
  • Weeks NOT to go, due to crowds, weather, etc

Odds are good we'll either rent a house on Kelleys Island or stay at Breakers at Cedar Point.  My 6 year old daughter and I enjoy sleeping on the boat, my wife, not so much.

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Ummm,  "put in bay" docks are not family friendly after dark.  Watch your weather and you can go pretty much anywhere you like.  Winds can blow the lake up quick so keep eye on the weather.  Holiday weekends are not the time to go. 

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45 minutes ago, Brian S said:

Ummm,  "put in bay" docks are not family friendly after dark.  

That one I know--I may or may not have contributed to that not family friendly atmosphere in my early 20's :)

My thinking is a few hour trip to put-in-bay in the morning, see a few things, then high-tail it north or west, before the party crowd sobers up for the day.

I'm struggling a little finding a good place on the mainland to launch and leave a truck and trailer for a few days to a week though.  I'm willing to pay for security.

 

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You can rent cabins on the island that are on the west side.  Boat launch right next to them. Never done it just saw them last time we were there. 

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We used the state park ramp on the west side of Catawba a few times with the old boat to shoot out to our house on Pelee island. It's a steep ramp to open water but the parking is safe and once you're in the water the location cannot be beat. I'll definitely echo the sentiment that you cannot take family to the bay once the sun is set, that being said a Sunday afternoon is actually a really nice time to be there. The drunks are all waiting for the ferry by then and the restaurants are all switched to kid-friendly mode. Most of the yacht clubs will open up to docking non-members on a Sunday as well. Just avoid any holiday weekend and keep a very close eye on the weather. There is no meaner b!tch than Lake Erie, and one of those bowrider trips to Pelee I mentioned started on a calm sunny day and turned into the scariest day of boating in my life. 

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13 hours ago, Specialk9991 said:

We used the state park ramp on the west side of Catawba a few times with the old boat to shoot out to our house on Pelee island. It's a steep ramp to open water but the parking is safe and once you're in the water the location cannot be beat. I'll definitely echo the sentiment that you cannot take family to the bay once the sun is set, that being said a Sunday afternoon is actually a really nice time to be there. The drunks are all waiting for the ferry by then and the restaurants are all switched to kid-friendly mode. Most of the yacht clubs will open up to docking non-members on a Sunday as well. Just avoid any holiday weekend and keep a very close eye on the weather. There is no meaner b!tch than Lake Erie, and one of those bowrider trips to Pelee I mentioned started on a calm sunny day and turned into the scariest day of boating in my life. 

Thanks.  Will the state park let you leave a truck/trailer overnight?  I'm looking at a long weekend (not on a holiday weekend), and we'll likely do South Bass on one of the weekdays, either before or after the weekend, just for a couple hours--go up into the monument, grab some lunch, and then head back out.

I'm most curious to see how Middle Bass has been renovated, as the last time I set foot there, I was in my mind 20's, and Lonz's was still in full swing.

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I don't know if it was within the rules, but I did leave my truck there once overnight. It was only one night and I made sure to park in the back away from everything else so it wasn't in anyone's way. As long as you're not causing trouble, I don't think the rangers will bother you. I do remember seeing a few trucks/trailers there for extended periods of time.

Weekdays are good for PIB, I don't know if they will do it again, but last year the Park Place Boat Club ran a deal for non members, my 32' was like 50-60 deer for the day and it included 30 deer worth of gift certificates to use at any of their restaurants, which includes The Boardwalk (probably the best restaurant on that island). 

I can't say much about middle bass, I have a friend with a lake house there and the island is pretty quiet now. The state park there is definitely the place to dock. If you remember the old Lonz (before my time), the new one will be quite a shock. Several years ago, one of their outdoor patios collapsed and someone was killed. After that the business declined sharply and it closed shortly thereafter, taking most of the island down with it. It fell into such disrepair that when the metroparks finally bought it a couple years ago the building was not salvageable. I understand the exterior walls are still standing and the interior has opened as an open-air park. I heard the cellars and some anterooms are opening for tours soon. 

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On 10/27/2016 at 9:03 AM, Brian S said:

Ummm,  "put in bay" docks are not family friendly after dark.  Watch your weather and you can go pretty much anywhere you like.  Winds can blow the lake up quick so keep eye on the weather.  Holiday weekends are not the time to go. 

We are looking at a long weekend this summer, I understand the weather can change quickly and the waves can be intense with the shallow water.  Have you boated much there with your 204?  Having an open bow scares me a bit from some of the stories I have heard.  Hoping to rent a condo or house with a dock or just rent a slip at a marina.  Haven't looked at anything yet just starting to plan and saw this thread.  

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I've been to the island by a friends boat,  but have been on Erie quite a bit.  Your 204 will handle some pretty big water. You will give in before the boat does.   If you watch weather and plan accordingly you will be fine.   Last trip we went from Toledo beach marina to the island in 2-3 ft chop.  Came back on mirror flat water.  All depends on time of day and weather conditions.  

Ive had my 204 in lk Michigan, Huron, St Clair River, Lk St Clair, Detroit River and Lk Erie and way to many inland lakes to list, in just about every weather and wave condition you can think of.  Never had to an issue.  Just listen to the little guy on your shoulder...if he says "what are you Doing" then it's time to rethink your plan. 

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Great to hear and thanks for the advice. It won't be a total boating vacation like we typically do since we will just had our second child and the inlaws will be with us but we figured it would be fun to get over to some of the islands.  My wife's family had a house up there for years so they know the area but not a lot of experience on the water.

 Before we were expecting the little one we were going to plan a trip to Torch lake and the surrounding lakes but that changed quick so we will keep that for a furture trip.  We typically go to Tennessee/Kentucky/ Southern Ohio but the water up your way looks awesome. 

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On 10/27/2016 at 10:40 PM, sburke91 said:

With winter coming here in the midwest, I'm already thinking about next year.

Now that we have something closed bow that behaves well in moderate chop, I'm looking at a trip to South/Middle/North Bass Islands, Kelleys Island, and Cedar Point sometime late spring or early summer.

I made a lot of trips to South/Middle and Kelleys via the ferry in my 20's, but haven't made the trip via my own boat.  Is there anyone familiar with the area that can make some recommendations?  Some things I'm chasing down:

  • Boat launch and secure truck/trailer parking in the Marblehead, Catabwa Island, or Sandusky areas
  • Anything to look out for docking at North Bass Island
  • Weeks NOT to go, due to crowds, weather, etc

Odds are good we'll either rent a house on Kelleys Island or stay at Breakers at Cedar Point.  My 6 year old daughter and I enjoy sleeping on the boat, my wife, not so much.

Doing some research I found Mazurik State Access Area that people say is a nice ramp (no launching fees) and has well lit 215 trailer spots you can leave the truck and trailer for the duration of your trip. It's only a seven mile trip to South Bass from there and even closer to Kelly's.  

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On 1/18/2017 at 10:08 PM, Hambrick11 said:

Doing some research I found Mazurik State Access Area that people say is a nice ramp (no launching fees) and has well lit 215 trailer spots you can leave the truck and trailer for the duration of your trip. It's only a seven mile trip to South Bass from there and even closer to Kelly's.  

That looks just prefect:

https://goo.gl/maps/LJ9rhXoR7JB2

It looks like a pretty easy lope over to Cedar Point too by boat.

 

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18 minutes ago, sburke91 said:

That looks just prefect:

https://goo.gl/maps/LJ9rhXoR7JB2

It looks like a pretty easy lope over to Cedar Point too by boat.

 

That is a perfect location! Be careful around Catawba and all the other islands. Study a recent chart of the Erie islands before you leave, and pay close attention to your depth finder if you have one. Every one of those islands, and even Catawba, Sandusky, Marblehead and Cedar Point... they're all surrounded by shallow shoals and sandbars just waiting to shred a prop or pull a drive off. You can be cruising along at 30-40' depth and it drops off to two in the span of a few yards. Be careful and have a great time!

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18 hours ago, Specialk9991 said:

That is a perfect location! Be careful around Catawba and all the other islands. Study a recent chart of the Erie islands before you leave, and pay close attention to your depth finder if you have one. Every one of those islands, and even Catawba, Sandusky, Marblehead and Cedar Point... they're all surrounded by shallow shoals and sandbars just waiting to shred a prop or pull a drive off. You can be cruising along at 30-40' depth and it drops off to two in the span of a few yards. Be careful and have a great time!

Thanks.  I have a depth finder and my GPS has the most recent inland lakes map set on it--hopefully it's charts are reasonably accurate.  Are there any high traffic areas to avoid, aside from the ferry lanes?

 

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12 hours ago, sburke91 said:

Thanks.  I have a depth finder and my GPS has the most recent inland lakes map set on it--hopefully it's charts are reasonably accurate.  Are there any high traffic areas to avoid, aside from the ferry lanes?

 

I wouldn't say you need to avoid any particular area or channel, just use caution when entering congested areas, mind the buoys and channel markers (there's a couple around PIB that depict the safe passage around the shoals). The nice thing about Erie is it's a big lake, there's plenty of room for all the pleasure boats and all the freighters and all the cops and everyone is really good about making room for all to have a good time/do their jobs. there's just a few key pieces of advice to have a great time on Erie:

-Follow the rules of the road always, every jurisdiction has a boat, does patrol regularly and won't hesitate to write tickets to keep us all safe. 

-watch your charts for the reasons we talked about. Also keep an eye on the Canadian border, you don't want to cross into another country by accident, US and/or Canadian border patrol will stop you for that.

-it's a big lake, there's plenty of room for all the pleasure boaters, all the freighters, all the cops and everyone else to all have The space they need. Be a part of that effort and "drive defensively". You'll always have enough room to put plenty of water between yourself and other contacts.

-last but maybe most important, do not ever bet on the weather, it's not worth it. I have personally seen beautiful days turn into terrifying ordeals and twice I was sure I wasn't going to make it back to shore alive because I didn't pay close enough attention to what the weatherman was saying. When it happened with my infant son on board, that was it. I never, ever, leave the harbor without a full understanding of exactly what the forecast holds for the particular area I plan to be boating in (that last part is important because it very easily could be bright sunny and call on one end of the lake while a portal to #$^% is opening on the other end.)

 

Just like any other body of water, be careful, follow the rules and you are going to have a great time. Have fun!!!

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