Our arrival at Buffalo was the time for decisions. We confirmed with Winston Trucking that they could truck The Cove from the Cleveland area to Anacortes in August. Chagrin Marine in Willoughby just north of Cleveland was recommended for summer storage and to help with decommissioning the boat. We would head down the southern coast of Lake Erie with a favourable following wind to reach Willoughby. Timing would depend on the weather.
Thunderstorms, heavy rainfall and winds up to 30 knots kept Friendly Cove snuggly tied up at the Buffalo Yacht Club for four nights. Amazingly, this was the longest period of time we were held up with weather directly upon us in the entire Loop trip. Ostensibly, we were no longer “Looping” as we had completed the Loop while on the Erie Canal. We really enjoyed the hospitality of Buffalo Yacht Club; were welcomed by the staff and members and enjoyed their wonderful restaurant and facilities. The weather forced us to read, make muffins, drink tea and snatch dog walks when the rain stopped! The electric bikes were exercised a couple of times to explore Buffalo in between showers.
Buffalo is a city of about 260, 000 people, located on the Niagara River, bordering with Canada, 20 miles south of Niagara Falls.
It’s a good thing that we waited out the weather, which looked somewhat benign by Monday 1st June. Buffalo, and the mouth of the Niagara Rive,r are protected by a series of walls. Erie Lake is shallow and the wind there produces sharp seas very quickly, even though they were not visible from our cosy dock. Presque Isle, Pennsylvania, was our destination for Tuesday, and was 77 miles away. Amazingly, we discovered about a knot of current due to the 10 knot wind which was helping make our run at an average of 9.6 knots per hour. Presque Isle is a huge natural harbour, largely a National Park, with the mainland side being the vista for the City of Erie. Sadly, this city is shrinking in size and has huge racial issues.
We enjoyed an entertaining meal at a lake side pub adorned with beautiful hanging baskets. Another big plus for this stop were the double laundry facilities…I was able to do six loads of laundry while getting the boat ready for decommissioning in two days time. Our preparation involved removing all the seat cushions, pillows, sheets, duvets and clothing.
Wednesday took us to the charming town of Ashtabula, Ohio, Bula for short. It’s still a very active port: receiving West Virginia coal and Canadian iron ore, smelting iron and shipping gravel. This huge great lakes ship was coming out of the harbour as we entered.
A special mention goes to the Ashtabula Yacht Club; four members took our lines at the guest dock, drove me to downtown and shared all the amenities of the Club including a much needed pump-out.
Interestingly, we called Chagrin Marine on Wednesday, indicating we thought we could be in Willoughby on Thursday, then, suddenly, plans were cemented. The Marina said they could haul the boat on Friday (5th June) afternoon, otherwise we would wait until the next Tuesday. We found airline tickets back to Victoria, a hotel near the airport,set ourselves to more cleaning and got the boat ready for storage and trucking.
Our last night of the Loop Adventure was spent at a marina called the Chagrin Lagoon Yacht Club.It was an interesting configuration of lagoon-like dredged channels, with sail and power boat dockage alongside boarded-up individual cabanas set up for summer at the lake. Again, here a number of the club members caught our lines, then stopped by, inviting us for drinks or to watch the NBA playoffs: Cleveland Cavaliers vs the Golden State Warriors. Unfortunately, we were not able to relax in those delightful surroundings, as there were too many tasks for us to do to decommission the boat.
After a hectic morning, we chugged down the Chagrin river to Chagrin Marine, a delightful marine yard with both outside and inside storage that looked like it could handle a big rig low bed truck! Reminicent of when we hauled the boat at Indian Town, here are some snaps of her coming out of the water:
The end of our adventure came quickly, as we didn’t know if the weather would allow for travel on Lake Erie, and we were not sure which location would allow good access for the trucking company. Completing the Loop was an incredible accomplishment for us. Looking back on it, and considering all those events and adventures, we have decided that the people were the best part by far: Loopers, friends who joined us, all the folks we met along the way, and the people who were reading the blog! We feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to see so many parts of the US and in such a unique way. Now, we are looking forward to going home to catch up with family and friends. One of our first post Loop tasks will be to order a Gold Looper flag!