Monday, August 5, 2019

Have you ever seen Lorain?

We are underway westbound in Lake Erie, bound for Sandusky, Ohio by way of Lorain harbor. Sandusky could have been a long single day, but we wanted to linger in Cleveland this morning. Lorain is about the halfway point and has a protected harbor. Today's post title is a favorite mondegreen from a Creedence classic, our first on the boat. When we were in the bus, pulling into a rest area, there's a bathroom on the right.

Not the best lighting, but our only chance for this shot. That's Vector inside the "C".

Shortly after my last post, I called the downtown marina in Cleveland to see if they had room for us, or at least a place to land a tender. They told me they were full up, but the long face dock was being reserved for a large yacht that was unsure if they could make it in. They told me the yacht was sending someone over to measure, and they should know by 2pm if the dock would be available or not; coincidentally about the time we would arrive. They said we could tie up the tender if not.

Vector docked behind the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

As we got closer to Cleveland we could see a very large but familiar yacht anchored offshore of the breakwaters; a quick check of the AIS confirmed that it was Bella Vita, whom we had encountered docked back in Clayton. We guessed this might be the yacht in question and we knew for sure there was no way she was getting to that dock.

World's largest rubber stamp.

Sure enough, when we called back about fifteen minutes out they told us the dock was available and we could come right in. By 2 we were tied alongside at the "Rock & Dock," behind the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (map). At $2 per foot, this is the most expensive marina in Cleveland, but it's the only one right downtown. And on a Saturday afternoon in the height of the season, it was packed and hopping, with three boat clubs taking up the bulk of the dockage, their members congregating in circled chairs every few dozen feet.

Our neighborhood from Terminal Tower. Vector is just about center frame, above the dome (click to enlarge).

In the immediate neighborhood is not only the aforementioned Rock Hall, but also the Science Center, the William G. Mather steamship museum, the Goodtime III tour boat, a popular trendy nuevo-Mexican joint with three sand volleyball courts, the waterfront "Cleveland" sign popular with tourists, a pedal-boat and jet ski concession, and First Energy Stadium, where the Browns play.

Fountain of Eternal Life, with Terminal Tower (looking much shorter than reality) in the background.

Our good friends Jo Ann and David arranged to come down to meet up with us at 4pm, and in the meantime I walked around the neighborhood getting my bearings. At some point I noticed the access road to the pier was closed off, with police directing traffic, and when I investigated I learned the Browns were having a scrimmage at 4pm. That meant no parking available anywhere and miserable traffic, so our plans for cocktails on board went right out the window.

Instead they picked us up in front of Rock Hall and we went down to The Flats neighborhood for dinner, after first battling our way through the game traffic. With them was a six-week-old puppy, whom they are fostering for a guide dog program. The dog was incredibly cute and garnered lots of attention everywhere we went. They are old hands at this, having now fostered several guide dogs, and even adopting one who washed out of the program (due to allergies). Apparently, foster handlers get first dibs on adopting dogs that don't make the final cut.

Nari the guide-dog-to-be.

Parking at the Flats was also tight, because having just a single downtown game would have been too easy. The Indians were also playing downtown, at Progressive Field not far away. Riding around in the dog-mobile, a long-wheelbase Chevy van, limited our choice of spots. Eventually we made it to our restaurant, appropriately the Thirsty Dog, and discovered we could have driven right up to it in the boat. If we ever come back and anchor we will keep in mind that The Flats has easy boat-in access, right on the Cuyahoga River.

The most I could capture of the rotunda ceiling at Heinen's, formerly Cleveland Trust.

This is the same river, by the way, that caught fire several times, once in my childhood memory, eventually leading to federal environmental regulation. While I would not drink out of it, it's come a long way since then, and now tour boats run up and down the river all day, turning around at Collision Bend before the riverfront becomes strictly industrial.

The floor of the same space, complete with intact Cleveland Trust logo and a harmonious arrangement of tables.

After dinner, David and Jo Ann took us on a brief tour of downtown. Urban renewal has also come a long way in the decade since our last visit here, when they also drove us around downtown. They also ran us out to Walmart to reprovision. We were hoping to wrap the evening up with a brief visit aboard Vector, but parking was still impossible in the very popular waterfront area, even well after the scrimmage was over. We agreed to try to reconnect the following day instead.

Yesterday morning I put the e-Bike on the ground and set out to explore a little of downtown on my own. I first made my way to the Terminal Tower, a landmark building that held the record as the tallest building outside of New York City for quite some time. The lower levels that once comprised Cleveland Union Station are now a shopping mall, but still decorated in the original Beaux Arts style. The mall is dying on the vine.

Cleveland breakwater light on our way out of the harbor.

I purchased a 1pm ticket for the 42nd floor observation deck, and had nearly perfect conditions for an expansive view in all directions. Afterward I rode through downtown some more, stopping at Heinen's Downtown market, cleverly integrated into a nicely done restoration of the Cleveland Trust rotunda building. Lots of Cleveland's historic buildings have escaped the ignominious fate of similar buildings elsewhere, and are making comebacks through repurposing. This morning, looking for a post office, I ended up in The Arcade, now mixed use with retail on the lower levels and a Hyatt hotel above.

The Arcade, now a Hyatt hotel with struggling retail below.

We again got together with Jo Ann, David, and Nari-the-puppy in the evening. Parking was not as tight, and we got the chance to do a little tour of Vector and some cocktails aboard before heading off to dinner; at my request we went a bit further afield to Little Italy, which involved a lovely drive through the parkland of Doan Brook gorge, past the cluster of museums around Wade Oval, and through the campus of Case Western Reserve University. We had a nice dinner at Mia Bella.

Nari visits Vector before dinner. Steamer William G. Mather in the background.

While fairly busy all weekend, the marina was positively empty this morning, and after my excursion to the post office we offloaded the last of the trash and recycling and made ready to get under way. It was a great stop and I could easily have spent another few days in Cleveland, but there is much left for us to explore in the great lakes before the marinas close in Chicago.

Update: We are anchored in Lorain Harbor just west of the east breakwater (map). It was a flat calm cruise and we made excellent time. We're eating aboard tonight but I may splash the tender and go ashore just to have a look around. Tomorrow morning we will head to Sandusky.


  1. Your getting closer to lake st clair. Enjoy put in bay

  2. Sean

    Sorry if this is a dupe but the first one seems to have gone into the ether on my computer.
    Why and when do the marinas in Chicago close down???

    1. The majority of marinas in Chicago close on October 15th. DuSable is open to the 31st but it is the most expensive marina on the lake. The reason is simply the weather. Ice forms in the marinas in the winter, water lines need to be turned off and drained, reverse cycle heating units don't work, etc. etc.. Boats up here in the north do not stay in wet slips year-round; they are all hauled out and shrink-wrapped for the winter. Commercial harbors stay open until ice finally shuts them down, but nothing can go all year; even the St. Lawrence Seaway shuts down for part of the winter.

  3. Interesting. Never occurred to me they would close them completely and that early. On Long island we never shut the marinas completely and relied on bubblers to protect the boats and docks that stayed in our the winter.

  4. Sandusky is a weird place. We used to drive through and stay there on our way to visit our daughter in the midwest, and it wasn't until we ventured off the main drag that we came to like it. Looking forward to your post about it!


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