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The best parts of Nantucket are in Put-in-Bay

Posted by Tall Ships America on June 15, 2010

By Ben Rogers, 6.13.2010

Today I am sore. We are in the final preparations for our first big outing of the summer, heading to Put-In-Bay, Toronto, and Cleveland. Niagara‘s galley stove is wood-fired, so Jesse, Matt, and I stayed behind from the daysail yesterday to split logs, after stretching out our new headrig net on the dock to be measured and cut by Captain Wes. We put on some tunes and the three of us got to work, splitting logs at a steady pace for about six hours. When we were done, we’d worked through the entire pile, a chord and a half of wood. That’s a lot, and that’s why I am sore.

 Our last trip was a huge success. We had a group of college students from Edinboro University, Alligheny College, and Mount Holyoke College, and they were wonderfully keen. Most were history majors, Niagara lending herself well to the history buffs, and Captain Rybka made sure they got their money’s worth aboard our historical ship. The first stop was Port Colborne, Ontario, where the Welland Canal joins Lake Erie with Lake Ontario, and has been, and remains, one of the major crossroads of maritime commerce in North America. Another stop in Canada was scheduled but along the way some bad weather forced us back to Erie, so off the kids went to Cleveland for a tour of the maritime museum there.

Niagara at Put-in-Bay

 Our final stop of the two week trip was Put-In-Bay, Ohio, a place I’d never heard of before joining Niagara, but quickly gained notoriety in my mind as somewhere well steeped in fun times. We took our time getting there, and everyone was the better for it, not the least of whom was the ship. Niagara had her best sailing of the summer so far, so we tacked and wore around the western flank of Lake Erie for two days, while the students got a bit of a taste of life underway on a sailing ship, and the crew got to stretch their sea legs a bit and just sail for a while. Crystal clear nights melted into warm sunrises and hot breezy days. Royals were set, and besides the occasional emergency drill, it was a serene sailing heaven. Bosun Rob was in the rig, tweaking and loving it, the mates were telling jokes and the deckhands were taking naps. The very picture of shipboard harmony. 

Bosun Rob plays in the rig_Photo Ben Rogers

Put-In-Bay is a kind of wonderland, I think. It’s all the best parts of Nantucket, without any of the lame parts, plus a healthy NASCAR/Jersey Shore scene. With the sunlight on the water, Lake Erie gains a dark turquoise quality, coupled with the island shoreline, lending it a nearly Caribbean feel. Instead of roosters going off at sunrise, cigarette boats, Nickleback and Toby Keith start blaring, but it’s all friendly and in no way threatening of cultural violence or tractor pulls. Basically, it’s a place where we Midwestern red necked hayseeds can come and be welcome and have fun without risk of anyone calling anyone a Midwestern red necked hayseed, or anyone altering textbooks. I like it. 

Up the foremast

On a more scholarly note, Put-In-Bay was also the vantage point of the battle of Lake Erie in the war of 1812. It was the base of operations for Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry and the American Navy. It is also the site of Perry’s cave, where the intrepid warrior discovered clean water for his men after falling into a spring of the stuff whilst on a hike. It was a godsend for them because they had inexplicably suffered widespread disease after weeks of drinking and evacuating in the same water. It’s hope for all of us when clumsiness can lead to such heroism. 

Charlie Watch

Otherwise, it’s been lots of day sails, lots of work, lots of rigging, and we are ready for some welcome time underway and night watch. Oh, night watch! That special time for fantasizing about food, sentimental stargazing, and dirty jokes.

Niagara under Sail

All photos taken by Ben Rogers

Interested in sailing with Ben and Charlie Watch? Go here to sign up to sail with the Niagara crew.


2 Responses to “The best parts of Nantucket are in Put-in-Bay”

  1. Jean Lewis said

    What time will the ships be entering the Cleveland port, my sister and I would like to see the ships come into the port. We live in Akron Oh and need to know what time to leave to see this. So if we know what time you are arriving in Cleveland we can adjust from there. Thank You Jean Lewis.

    • Erin said

      Hi Jean,
      There will be a Parade of Sail into Cleveland from 3-6pm on Wednesday, July 7th.

      Fair Winds,
      Erin S.
      TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE(r) Coordinator

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