after the major frustration I’ve been having with sailing at Kent Lake, I decided to try out a new option. I realized that driving down to Sterling State Park on Lake Erie near Monroe, Michigan, would only be maybe 10 or 15 minutes farther of a drive than I had been making up to Kent Lake. that was a short enough increase in driving to make it worth checking out.
the weather forecast for the weekend was a chance of rain on and off. I got a little worried as I was driving down – there were pockets of rain (some light, some a little heavier) as I was driving, and I thought I might have to skip out on the sailing.
the state park has a boat launch, but it is located back in one of the lagoons, and you’d have to motor out into the main waters of Lake Erie. so instead, I was planning to launch from the beach, but the parking lots are set off quite a ways from the beach, so I parked and walked down to scope things out. there was a gravel access road that went down to the beach (I think the state park uses it to re-grade the beach). the water looked pretty shallow, and fairly calm, but there was a bit of wind. as I was walking in the parking lot back to the truck, there was a strong wind blowing at my face and towards the water – I was hopeful for some good sailing.
it took me 20 or 30 minutes to get all my gear around, and stacked nicely in and on the Sunfish. this was the 1st time I’d be using my Sunfish PVC dolly to haul my boat a considerable distance, and I needed to get everything, as I didn’t want to make multiple trips. the PVC dolly did great through the parking lot, across the grass and gravel path, and even some in the hard-packed sand, but it gets bogged down in the softer sand, so it made it maybe 25 to 30 feet from the waterline. I had to drag the Sunfish the rest of the way across the sand.
I got everything all set up and started out on the calm waters of Lake Erie. but that beautiful wind out of the west I had felt up in the parking lot had completely died off, and I drifted and had to use my paddle for the first 20 minutes or so. it was plenty hot, though, so after a while I stuffed my life jacket in the storage cubby, and sat down in the cockpit and let the sail all the way out to try to let the boat run in the light breeze. right about then, the wind started picking up a little bit (and coincidentally, that’s when my GoPro Surf Hero camera quit on me – the memory card was too full of old videos!). I did get this screen-grab, but the rest of the video isn’t very exciting as I drifted/paddled in the calm water.
the wind stayed pretty light, but I was at least able to sail a few nice reaches back and forth as the wind came and went, and then finished up with a nice easy run back to the beach after maybe an hour and a half on the water. the PVC dolly worked great hauling the boat back up to the truck and trailer, where I packed it all up and headed back home.
so, now I’ve sailed a Sunfish on Lake Erie, Lake Huron, and Lake Michigan – 3 of the 5 Great Lakes. I think the last 2 will be a bit harder to accomplish… both would require a serious drive: probably 6 hours to Lake Superior, and Lake Ontario would be 4 hours if I drove through Canada and dealt with the hassle of customs at the border(s) or 7 hours if I drove entirely in the US to avoid Canada. maybe I can plan some camping trips for next summer at one, or the other, or maybe even both!