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Erie Islands

Posted by calebpifer on June 8, 2006

It seems like an unofficial tradition has developed during the Cleveland event of the TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® Series. The Erie Islands off of Cleveland make for an excellent tall ship gathering spot right before the Cleveland event begins. Both in the 2001 and 2003 TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE, we made stopovers on the US Brig Niagara in the Erie Islands for a raft-up with several other tall ships.

One of my fondest memories of the 2001 summer occurred when  Niagara decided to spend the night at Kelly’s Island before heading into Cleveland the next day for the Parade of Sail. We rafted up along with two Canadian schooners “Bluenose” and “ Highlander Sea” (Highlander Sea now sails under a U.S. flag). The afternoon was spent swimming and sailing the three small boats that we have onboard Niagara. After sailing a 200 ft long ship, the small boats were actually quite challenging for us to sail! The weather was fabulous that evening with a gorgeous sunset over the rigging of Niagara. The three vessels decided to hold a giant joint barbecue on the beach. I volunteered to help out the cook prepare hamburgers and hotdogs that evening. The cook and I prepared the food on Niagara’s woodstove and then ferried it ashore using our small boats.  We enjoyed a nice bonfire and the camaraderie of over eighty crewmembers that hail from all corners of North America. The peace and solitude of Kelly’s Island was most welcomed that night, as all of us knew that Cleveland would be anything but quiet and peaceful!  

Once again in 2003, Niagara and Bounty made a stopover in the Erie Islands. It was a wonderful evening as I got to catch up with old friends and crewmates while enjoying a bonfire and cook-out on the beach. There will be opportunities to crew as a trainee onboard many of the vessels attending the Cleveland event. If I had to make a prediction, I would guess that the 2006 CHALLENGE will be similar to years past, and a stopover in the Erie Islands will be a part of several of the ships agendas.

– Cal Pifer
American Sail Training Assn.


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