7/8/17 – 7/10/17: After 2 days in Erieau with high wind warning and severe thunderstorms, we saw a small weather window to make a break for Port Stanley. It was 10 to 20 knot winds the entire way, with the highest winds closest to Port Stanley. We arrived at the marina and were delighted by the charm and eclectic quaintness it had.
The winds were high, but all reports indicated it would be blowing from the north or northwest. If the forecasts were accurate, this would allow the northern shore to provide wind protection against Lake Erie’s reputation of rapidly developing high waves. We left Erieau on a calculated risk, and it paid off. The waves were never higher than 2-3 feet, even though it was blowing 10-20 knots. The shoreline of Lake Erie along this stretch was sand cliffs that had to be at least 100 feet high. At times we were 3-4 miles offshore, and they stood out prominently against the blue sky.
Port Stanley was another busy area, with lots of jet skis, powerboats, and sailboats going in and out of the harbor and racing along the shoreline. The approach was easy and deep from any direction, but there was a bascule bridge (draw bridge) about 1/2 mile up Kettle Creek, where the marinas were located. It opens on the top and bottom of the hour, but only if boats are waiting. We missed the 3:30 opening by about 5 minutes, and had to hold our position in the river until the next opening, along with other sailboats, and several other powerboats.
Kettle Creek Marina was just on the other side of the bridge, only about 250 feet upstream. There were 2 small finger piers sticking out into the river; we tied to the second one. The owners were right there waiting for us, waving us in, and helped us secure Shanti to the dock. We were immediately impressed, not only by the owner’s actions, but also what we saw here. It was a small marina, but it’s charm was refreshing. There were lots of Adirondack chairs overlooking the creek, several picnic tables, a fire pit, and a barbecue area with several grills. There was even a 3 hole “golf course” right next to the creek. Everything was nicely landscaped with flowers, garden statues, and “yard art”. It was a refreshingly laid back environment. The owners stopped by the boat several times to see if there was anything we needed, and talked with us for quite so excited time. They were really great people and run a top-notch marina. Definitely in our top 3 favorites (even despite not having fuel or pumpout service).
Right next to the marina was a yacht club. Several of the members stopped over to chat and to look over our boat. They were happy to share their knowledge of Lake Erie and it’s attractions with us. We sat by the fire pit for a couple hours chatting with them about Port Stanley, their (and our) adventures, and places we should see along the way.
The town of Port Stanley is a tourist destination with lots of coffee shops, upper-end restaurants, two beaches, and a train ride (to where, we don’t know). For being a tourist destination, we found no gift shops at all. All of the shops along the main street were fashion boutiques or fashion accessory stores. There had to be at least 10 of them along the street, mixed in with the other businesses like the pharmacy, realtor, hardware store, and pet store. The only place to buy post cards was at the pharmacy, and only the hardware store had “gifts from Canada”. It was a really odd mix. But the ice cream shop was one of the best ones we’ve hit so far. There were at least 40 flavors of ice cream and gelato to choose from, and from what we “sampled”, they were very good. And they even made their own waffle cones and bowls from scratch! Yummy! Thank God for cholesterol meds, we both should have doubled our dosage after some of these stops!
We really enjoyed our stay here, and the marina owners helped us feel welcome and “at home”. The people here were probably the most friendly we’ve come across. We need to keep moving, though, if we want to make it to Maine this year. It looks like we may have a two day weather window starting tomorrow, which will allow us to get to Port Colborne and finish Lake Erie. But with the way the weather has changed hourly since we’ve been on this journey, we will just have to wait and see what the morning brings.
Pics of Port Stanley
Huge Waves on Lake Erie
The video below shows why we decided to stay an extra day in Port Stanley. The jet skis love it, but notice there aren’t any power or sail boats out there. We saw several sailboats leave the harbor, sail for about 10 minutes, turn around, and high tail it back in. It was that rough (the breakwall where we took this video is about 15 feet above the lake).