Lake Erie Islands

Hi All,

Sailing season on the North Coast is soon upon us and I'm in need of advice for a cruise and camp adventure with my family, the Lake Erie Island's are the proposed destination. We would trailer up and launch off Sandusky, Ohio (most likely). Anyone with perls of wisdom for cruising as well as camping, would be much appreciated. Specific information on Lake Erie Island's is that much better.

Happy Sailing,

Ron D. White

Hopefully you've gotten a chart and started looking at all the islands, there are more than most think. Most are private or uninhabited with foreboding shorelines. The most popular and ready for tourists is South Bass with the town of Put-in-Bay offering restaurants, nightlife and historical sites (Go up Perry's Monument). State run camping is at the other end of the island, about a 3 mile walk but there are bike and golf cart rentals, and taxi services.
Kelly's Island can handle some tourism but is mostly turn-of-the century residential. It's interesting to see but not a full day's worth and I'm not sure about camping.
A nice adventure would be to sail to Cedar Point amusement park. Located on the end of a penninsula off the mainland, it has docking and offers the most roller coaster rides in the country.
I'm sure the web is full of info on private camping and cottages, docks and misc activities. Good luck!

Check out the article in the latest S n' W where there is a great article on the intrepid sailors from Fleet 37 (Hoover Sailing Club)and their epic voyage to Put in Bay.

J. Lewis FS4177 (ex-Flt 37)

A much nicer area to put in is Catawba Island State Park. They have 4 slots and lots of parking, and you can leave your car and boat there if you are going over to the State Park on South Bass. From CISP it is only about 4mi to the Campground on the west side of the island.

The South Bass Island (aka Put-In-Bay, aka lots of other things...) Campground is a beautiful location on stone cliffs. They have docks for your Scott, and a launch ramp too in case you get stuck over there by weather. Semi primative camping, and some very nice campsites. Hot showers and basic flush toilets. No electric that I remember.

In the central yacht basin of South Bass is another set of State Park docks. I think it is free to dock there, and you can stay on your boat if it is set up for sleeping. No camping here, but lots of hotels, bars, and other debauchery. Call for rules on this set of docks, as I'm not sure what the rules are here. This is probably 7mi from the Catawba launch site.

Middle Bass Island is building a State Park, and I think they now have docks. I believe they are planning camping, but not sure when. It is worthwhile checking to see how far along this has come. Middle Bass is a much quieter island, and worth a visit. You can travel to and from MBI via a ferry that docks in the yacht basin.

The City Docks in downtown Put-In-Bay are REALLY expensive, and nuts on the weekend. On the other hand if you like loud music, and pretty girls dancing on the bows of powerboats, it may be worth the effort. Good showers and toilets available, and you don't have to use the docks to use the facilities. I think the city docks charge by the hour unless you are staying overnight.

Lots of nightlife and good restaurants in downtown area. Also nice park for picnic. As I said, weekends are nuts. From the campground, you can visit and return to relative peace.

The entire Bass Island chain is beautiful to sail around. I would not try to do it all in one day. In fact, with wind, you would spend the better part of a day just sailing out of Put-In-Bay around Middle and North Bass Islands. The wind does not often last all day.

These Islands are all rock. Only sand beach I know about is on the south side of South Bass, and it is not really friendly to anchorage. Plenty of places to anchor and swim from the boat though. Do get a good chart of the area. Lots of rocks to avoid.

I would not try to sail out of Sandusky. It is a long haul to any of the Islands through more motorboat chop than you would think possible. I'm guessing it is 12-15mi, but could be more. Port Clinton would be a more interesting ride, but Catawba is easy.

Don't know anything about Kelly's Island, except that it is a quiet spot. Not likely to be any Scot friendly landings, but don't know.

Update to Bass Islands info. I was very premature on the opening of Middle Bass Island State Park. I just read that transient dockage and primative camping are available starting July 1, 2009.

has info on staying there. Should be able to link to the South Bass State Parks too. This is a brand new facility and should be both very nice yet not quite settled, and I'm guessing undiscovered. I hope to get over there some time this Summer, and will report.