Posts Tagged ‘circumnavigation Lake Erie’

Welcome to Ontario

Author: Ruth

Calm waters at James N. Allan Provincial Park as Stephen paddles west on August 3.


Thanks for the warm welcome to Canada, George Holmes; of the Niagara on the Lake (NOTL) Surf Club!


My dinner with Andre´ and Darla Germain.


Hang ten!



Sleeper Cell

Author: Stephen

50 miles from Buffalo


Wind bound again. Pulled into Barcelona, NY, yesterday afternoon, on a 15 mph following wind. Weather radio called for more high winds, so decided to lay up. This section of coast is lined with 50 foot bluffs, and doesn’t offer many chances to get off if Erie acts up. I paddled around the little village’s break wall into a marina, and tied up along an old steel retaining wall, right in front of what turned out to be a kayak launch site. Waded ashore, asked around a bit, and was directed to Cameron, who runs the marina. His face and body language are that of someone immediately recognizable as kind and patient, and true to form he said it would be fine if I set up the tent behind “Spectrum,” a 45-foot cabin cruiser perched on blocks just a few feet from where Seaweed is tied up. No charge.


Mary wants to get back on the water, too.


I’ve had three meals at the two restaurants up the street, am getting dangerously close to finishing “The Plague of Doves” by Louise Erdrich, and otherwise have been lazily watching kids with fishing rods come and go, with and without fish. The marina has a gentle disarray and nautical clutter, with several dry-docked vessels, including an old fishing boat undergoing a hopeful restoration. A family sits at a picnic table, speaking Spanish. There’s a sign at the beach that says “State Law Forbids Swimming Unless Lifeguard in Attendance” adding, “No Lifeguard Here.” Lots of people go swimming , including me.


The water clarity has greatly improved since I entered Pennsylvania, and appears even better here in New York. The warmth of the water is striking; it’s been in the high 60’s to 80’s the whole trip. The daytime air temperature has been from the high 70’s to over 100. The wind seems to change direction as frequently as the minute hand on my watch. There have been a couple of impressive thunderstorms, but it’s mostly been very dry. Only had dew on the tent one night. Hardly any mosquitos!


Barcelona Harbor


Speaking of the tent, so far the Tarptent has been wonderful (unless you’re a gear head, switch to another blog now. I recommend I’ve pitched it several times on top of the canoe, as well as on the ground. It goes up quickly, and has kept me dry through big, windy rainstorms. It only weighs 26 ounces, plus two trekking poles, and the design is brilliant. It has a sleeping area of about 7 x 3 feet, entrances on both sides, and enough vestibule space for a couple of packs, camera box and miscellaneous clutter. My only concern is the clips and zippers seem pretty light duty, but time will tell how they hold up. My new Blackbird Warbonnet camping hammock is also working well. It replaced the Hennessy Hammock that I used on my Lake Huron trip. I much prefer the side entrance of the Blackbird over the bottom entrance of the Hennessy. The strap hanging system, although heavier than Hennessy’s system, is much easier to adjust. The Big Mamajama tarp (how does Brandon, the designer, come up with these names?), which goes over the hammock, is very nice with lots of room underneath and is also easy to pitch. I adopted a sweet technique, which I learned in “The Ultimate Hang,” an excellent little book about hammock camping. Here’s a link to a description of that,


Tarptent on Seawind canoe


I just looked skyward. The cirrus clouds are really scuttling along. I’d better stop here, make sure the tent stakes are pinned tight, and cross my finger that I haven’t jinxed myself praising my nylon home away from home.

P.S. I’ve decided to stop calling my trip “non-motorized”. There’s so much negativity in the world these days. Instead it’s “self-propelled”. More positive, yes? Or, perhaps, “self-empowered”?

Fairport Harbor

Author: Stephen

Frank Fenoglio


Retired engineer and infinitely curious Frank Fenoglio, of Cleveland, met me as I was pushing off the little island in the Chagrin River I had camped on. We spent the day pushing headwinds and 2-4 foot waves on our way to Fairport, Ohio, where we met his wife, Pat. Frank disassembled his 18-foot Feathercraft kayak, then they kindly took me out to dinner. When he’s not paddling, sailing, or driving his Super 7 race car, Frank’s preparing for an upcoming 100-mile running race.


Everything must go!


Fairport sunset

Storm season

Author: Ruth

Sky over Toledo during the second wave of storms on July 1.


On June 29, 2012, the storm that knocked out power for more than 3 million people, knocked Stephen off Lake Erie. He had just paddled past Catawba Island and Marblehead in the sweltering heat, past countless marinas, but was forced to seek shelter at Cedar Point…almost underneath the roller coaster! Did you know that after the park closes, the loud rock and roll ceases, the people drive away and things finally quiet down, at about 1:30 AM you will be awakened by heavy duty cleaning machines that work all night so the next day’s revelers can dirty it up again?


View of June 29 campsite from the water, note ominous sky, as well as ubiquitous water color of western Lake Erie.


Lake Erie has been lucky for Stephen so far. Because his Spot GPS tracker failed, I traveled to the Sandusky area with a replacement unit. (Spot is working well now, follow Stephen’s progress by clicking on “Where’s Stephen Now?”)  We stayed in a hotel for a bit of relief from the heat, so the night the 70 mile per hour winds, tornado warnings and golf ball sized hail came through, Stephen was camped indoors. We were concerned that Seaweed, tied up at a nearby marina, may have been injured, but she was just wet when Stephen checked on her the next day.


Stephen stowing food in Seaweed at Mariner Village Marina on Sawmill Creek east of Sandusky. The staff there were extremely helpful. Thanks Nick, Jake and Erin!




Mylar balloon message on the shore of Lake Erie

On June 23rd, 2012, Stephen Brede embarked from the mouth of the Detroit River onto the warm, brown waters of western Lake Erie. Once again, a bald eagle soared overhead, how could one not think of that as a good omen, as well as the free breakfast our charming waiter, Brady, arranged for us at the Monroe Street Grill! Long-time friend Perry Clark met us at the launch site with camera in hand. We watched Stephen pack a summer’s worth of gear into his Seawind canoe at a DNR boat ramp that was doing brisk business. Fishing and pleasure boats were launching every few minutes. Dragonflies, herons, gulls, and terns outnumbered the fisher folk.  I would think twice about eating fish that came out of that water, but Lake Erie has the biggest fishery of the Great Lakes.

Stephen getting his feet wet on first day of attempt to paddle the circumference of Lake Erie. June 23, 2012

He’s been paddling for four days and hit the groove more quickly than the on the trips around Lake Huron (2009) and Lake Michigan (2010). There is a problem with the Spot GPS tracking device which stopped functioning in the middle of Maumee Bay. He is on the edge of a live fire zone in Lake Erie, (that’s right, artillery shooting live ammunition out into the lake,) and we wonder if there is some kind of interference with the GPS signal. We’ll know soon and will continue to try and get the link to the map (“Where’s Stephen Now?”) working again. The day of this post is Stephen’s 61st birthday. Happy Birthday, paddle man!

Dragonfly at the boat ramp.