Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Dunkirk, NY

We awoke to a gorgeous sunrise on Monday, September 17 but delayed our departure from Erie until the wind died down a little.

 Then we made our way to Dunkirk on a beautiful sunny day.  We had calm seas encountered and very little boat traffic.

We listened to the Slow Burn podcast about the Bill Clinton empeachment and its start with the Monica Lewinsky affair.  These podcasts are fascinating and help make the cruise much more entertaining and informative.  Jonny kept calling marinas all along our route to find the cheapes fuel prices but we missed our opportunity for the best prices which were in Pennsylvania.  It turns out New York has very high taxes on fuel,  which shouldn’t have been a surprise to us. 

At first we were going to anchor in the Dunkirk’s harbor just inside the breakwater.  But once we decided to buy fuel at the marina called Holiday Inn at Chadwick Bay, we thought we would just go ahead and stay there as well (plus the nearby anchorage had no attraction to it).  It turned out that the marina was not all that attractive either but the dockhand was helpful and friendly and it was a calm and secure place to stay for the night.

We learned that a local restaurant had a special on buffalo wings that evening so since the price was right and we were getting close to Buffalo we went for it. Dinner was OK and afterwards we walked through the town (or city) of Dunkirk which has definitely seen better days.  At least 35% of the storefronts on the main drag were closed up and as far as we could see the town had few, if any, redeeming features (though there were a few attractive buildings)!

That evening we had a fabulous sunset and watched the Emmy’s (not a great show).  We were looking forward to getting to our next stop in Buffalo where Stephanie would be flying in to spend a long weekend with us!

Monday, September 17, 2018

Erie, PA

We began a long day of travel on Sunday, September 16 bound for Erie, PA.  But first we stopped at the town dock in Ashtabula to take advantage of their free self-service pump-out. Since we didn’t explore the town the day before, we decided to take a few minutes to do so.  It turned out that Lynn’s negative first impression of the day before was ill-advised.  Ashtabula was really quite charming with attractive architecture, cute shops and interesting restaurants.  It touted its designation as America’s Main Street Winner in 2018. We strolled along its Bridge Street and stopped for coffee at a cool coffee shop.  Jonny liked the featured grind so much that he bought a pound for the boat. 

From there we proceeded on our cruise on a beautiful sunny day with flat seas. It was a perfect day to be on the water!  As we approached Erie, PA, we saw a schooner leaving the harbor and a lighthouse guiding our way in.

To approach Erie, one has to enter a very long and extremely well protected harbor.  It was easy to see why this is such an important port. We thought we would tie up at the city dock and explore the town for a couple of hours but discovered that it was only for commercial traffic, i.e. the local ferry.  So we made our way to Wolverine Marina where they told us we could tie up for $5 per hour.  The dockmaster turned out to be a very friendly woman who oriented us to the town and eventually waived the fee.  

We walked up the broad main street of the town that led away from the waterfront in search of a brew pub that had been recommended by a live-a-board at the marina.  Erie is a small city that looks like it is trying to become more attractive but is not all the way there just yet.  But it does have potential and some of its architecture is quite beautiful.

It also had some interesting historical and funky murals.

Many stores were closed because it was Sunday but we managed to find a cool place called Voodoo Brewery that was open.  Jonny chose it because of its extensive array of beer that they brewed themselves.  We settled into comfortable Adirondack chairs in their outdoor courtyard and enjoyed a relaxing hour.

From there we returned to Zendo and headed out to a beautiful and extremely well-protected anchorage in Presque Island Park which forms the outer perimeter of Erie’s harbor.  The few boats that were already anchored there left by sunset and we were alone in an idyllic spot.   There were no houses and only a small marina with lots of sailboats.  Jonny went for a swim and we enjoyed dinner on the aft deck and watched a fabulous sunset.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Ashtabula, OH

The first thing we did on Saturday, September 15 was to have breakfast at the Lakeside Yacht Club in Cleveland before we resumed our cruise.  Because Stephen couldn’t find a viable ride from Ashtabula (our next stop) back to Cleveland for his Sunday morning flight, he would stay overnight in Cleveland on his own.  After saying our goodbyes, we shoved off by 10 a.m. for a long day of travel.

The day was stunning with blue skies, perfect temperatures in the 70’s and calm seas.  We passed a few boats whenever we cruised through populated areas but for the most part it was pretty quiet. 

We passed a lighthouse and an attractive bridge as we arrived in Ashtabula. 

We had to wait a bit for the 5:30 opening of the very interesting looking drawbridge.  While waiting for the bridge to open we attempted to tie up at the town dock but it was too crowded and miscalculating the current we almost got tangled in the lines of some fisherman at the dock.  

Once the bridge opened we went up to the Ashtabula Yacht Club which we had been trying to contact all day for a reservation.  Upon arrival, we decided that the set up did not look very attractive and neither did what we could see of the town.  We were clearly the largest boat around so we decided to to do a 180 and anchor out in a nearby anchorage.  Of course we had to wait for the bridge to open again, which we did, then proceeded to the anchorage which was between the two breakwaters for the town.

We were one of only two boats in the large anchorage. Our view on one side was not the most attractive as what appeared to be a big mining site lined the shore.  There was a concert of sorts on shore and the music wafted across the water as we ate leftovers on the aft deck.  After sunset we were treated to long fireworks display which is always a treat!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Cleveland, OH

We left Put-in-Bay at 7:30 for the run to Cleveland on Thursday, September 13. The weather was overcast and a little misty.  We cleared the nearby island and then encountered swells of one to one and a half feet but we were able to take them at a good angle. All the coastline was shrouded in fog. It was rough enough that Jonny took Lynn’s place in going below to make lunch.  

As we got closer to Cleveland we could see its skyline through the mist and by mid-afternoon the sun came out.

Arriving in Cleveland, we cruised past a very long breakwater that protects the city’s waterfront. We arrived at the Lakeview Yacht Club which was just two miles east of downtown Cleveland.  We tied up at the dock for transients and went up to the comfortable yacht club bar for a drink. There was some kind of social event going on so we were there for a short while then went back to Zendo for dinner amidst a gorgeous sunset.

The next day we Ubered to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame where we thought we would spend a couple of hours then go on to something else.  But the museum was so interesting that we stayed all day.  There were lots of exhibits of movies, music and paraphernalia representing the most fun days of our youth and the great artists and music that we had the privilege of growing up with.

Returning to Zendo, we took advantage of the yacht club’s bar again before walking back and encountering this unique floating device.. 


We had dinner on board enjoying the smoked meat we had purchased in Montreal along with Lynn’s new homemade coleslaw recipe from Robbie.  That evening we kept trying to find an early Sunday morning ride for Stephen from Ashtabula (our next destination) to the Cleveland airport.  Unfortunately there were no viable options so Stephen would have his last night with us and find alternative sleeping arrangements for the following night before his flight. It was great to have him visit again having joined us for our Down East adventure three years ago. 

Friday, September 14, 2018

Put-in-Bay, OH

We made our first big foray into Lake Erie departing Detroit on Wednesday, September 12 at 8:30.  It was a fine sunny day but cool enough for jackets. It was also the first day of travel with Stephen Chew who had flown in from Sacramento for a few days. 

The current was fast and we were flying at 9 mph for a couple of hours until we entered the lake.  As time wore on, it became a little rougher and some cloud cover developed.  It got increasingly uncomfortable on board so much so that Jonny went down below to make our lunch.   Apparently Georgio wasn’t too happy with the rocky seas because he left a little gift for us on our cabin rug.  Poor thing!

We arrived at Put-In-Bay by 2:40 and selected a mooring ball in the almost empty mooring field.  The tender came to pick us up and we walked into town for a beer. 

Put-In-Bay is pretty touristy but because it was after Labor Day and wasn’t busy at all.  The town is actually quite pretty and we could see why it had been recommended to us by many cruisers.  It had lots of gaily painted restaurants and stores and a very nice park along the waterfront.

After taking a stroll through town, we headed back to Zendo where we had chile for dinner sitting on the aft deck.   It was a lovely evening  and we had fun with Stephen telling stores and reminiscing about our long friendship together.  The next day we would be heading to Cleveland for two nights. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Detroit, MI Part 2

On Thursday, Sept. 6, we moved Zendo only three miles down the Detroit River to Milliken State Harbor Marina.  We couldn’t find anyone at the yacht club to get a pump out so we decided to get one at Milliken.  Unfortunately when we arrived we discovered that their pump out station was  being replaced and therefore they had none.  The new one was to be installed the day after we planned to depart.  So we turned around and went all the way back to the yacht club to get a pump out. Finally, by noon we were back at  Millikan, all tied up and ready to explore Detroit some more. 

We visited the Ford Piquette Ave. plant which was the site of the manufacturing of the Ford Models A,B, C, etc. and which is especially famous for the Model T.  It was an interesting tour with lots of beautifully restored cars.

We had lunch at a cool and delicious restaurant called the Dime Store and later in the afternoon we participated in a very interesting walking tour.  It was called Detroit’s Rise, Fall and Renewal.  We saw how much Detroit has gone through as it has worked to overcome all the problems it has experienced over the last decade or more.  We were very impressed by the city and the progress it is making to restore the splendor that it once had.  

The next day was Friday and our friend Mary Thieme who we know from the Arsht Center, came to pick us up.  She was born and raised in Ann Arbor and has a home there (as well as one in Miami).  She had invited us to stay overnight so she could show us Ann Arbor and the surrounding area.  The first thing we did was go to Dearborn to see the Ford Rouge Factory where the Ford F-150 is produced.  The tour was fascinating especially because we could observe the assembly line where all the parts of the truck are assembled.  We also visited the Ford Museum which has a collection that included much more than automotive items.  The chair that Abraham Lincoln was sitting in when he was assassinated at Ford’s Theatre was there, blood stains and all.  The museum also had  the bus that Rosa Parks rode in on that famous day. The Ford Museum had outbid the Smithsonian to acquire it!

When we got to Ann Arbor,  Mary drove us through the beautiful (and sprawling) campus of the University of Michigan.  It was very impressive.

At the end of the day we met Lynn’s niece Ellie who is a junior there, for a beer in Ann Arbor’s very cool downtown area.  

That evening, Mary made a delicious dinner and we spent a very comfortable night in her lovely home.  

It was time for Lynn to get another haircut, which she was a little nervous about given what had happened last time.  But Mary recommended her hairdresser who just happened to be available the next morning. So on Saturday morning we did that first thing and Lynn was happy with both the cut and the incredibly reasonable price - just $25 including tip!  We then headed back to Detroit after a further drive through the Michigan campus which was gearing up for a big football game.

In Detroit we visited Eastern Market, a wonderfully large farmer’s market that is an institution there.  We wandered through the many stalls and did all we could to limit the number of our purchases to accommodate our limited storage.  As always with these markets, we loved our experience and left with bagfuls of fresh veggies, fruits and cheeses.  

We had lunch at the famous Russell St. Deli and then Mary drove us back to Zendo.  We had a wonderful time and are grateful to her for being such a great hostess!

That evening, our friend Cathy arrived from Kansas City.  She was coming to hang out with Lynn while Jonny was away.  We had dinner onboard Zendo and the next day Jonny got up early to catch his flight to Norfolk where he was attending the MTOA board meeting (and getting elected to become an officer of the board).  The board meeting preceded the Rendezvous in the Chesapeake which was just cancelled due to Hurricane Florence that was predicted to hit the southeastern coast.  

Lynn and Cathy proceeded to have a gay time doing more of Detroit.  Even though the weather was overcast, somewhat rainy and exceptionally chilly, that didn’t keep us from thoroughly enjoying ourselves.  On Friday, Cathy’s colleague Liz, from Campfire who represents the Detroit area, picked us up and showed us around her hometown of Detroit.  She drove us through all the neighborhoods, the parts that the tourists see as well as neighborhoods that are off the beaten path.  Among the places she showed us was the Heidelberg Project. This is an area of several square blocks that had become quite derelict.  A local man who grew up there was astonished to see how badly it had deteriorated when he returned from serving in the Army.  He began painting some of the houses in bright colors and accumulating whimsical collections.  The art work has expanded significantly and is now essentially an indoor/outdoor museum and art center It has received awards and recognition and become quite an attraction.  It’s another example of Detroit’s efforts to reinvent itself.

Afterwards, Liz dropped us off at the Detroit Institute of Art, a wonderful art museum.  One of the highlights of this excellent collection is a room of Diego Rivera murals representing the workers in the automobile industry. It was complex and fascinating and well worth the visit.  The museum had a great collection of art including classical painters, impressionists, modern art, and more than we had time to see. 

That evening we had a terrific dinner at Lady of the House.  Dining out is one of the things we always enjoy doing together. 

The final full day of Cathy’s visit was even more cool and rainy.  We had a lazy morning and finally headed out so Cathy could see some of the sites like the Renaissance Center and the Guardian building. That evening Cathy treated Lynn to an early and delightful birthday dinner at Parc located in the center of the city at Campus Martius Park. 

Monday, our last full day in Detroit, was a day of transitions.  Cathy and Lynn took one last walk along an attractive bike and walkway near the marina where occasional murals and artwork lined the way.  

Cathy flew out in the early afternoon after a lovely three day visit.   Jonny arrived later in the afternoon along with our friend Stephen who was flying in from Sacramento to travel with us to Cleveland.  We all had a nice dinner onboard Zendo where we had a great view of downtime Detroit and the rotating lights on the RenCen (what the locals call the Renaissance Center)..  The next day we would be resuming our cruise to Put In Bay on Lake Erie.