Monday, September 21, 2015

Exploring Put-In-Bay, South Bass Island, Ohio

August 19-21, 2015: Put-In-Bay seemed to have just about everything we'd want in a getaway destination: close to home, easy access by boat with nice launch and trailer parking nearby, lots of restaurants, history, and beautiful surroundings.  We made the decision to go to Put-In-Bay during the week, because we had heard that the weekends could be quite crazy (like the whole town turns into a frat party) and most of the marinas require rafting of up to 4 boats (not interested!).  While we were there Wed-Fri, it wasn't very crowded and boats were not having to raft up as far as we could tell.  Just as a precaution though, we had gotten a reservation at Miller Marina, which was one of the few that did not require rafting.  While we did not experience too much of the party atmosphere, it was easy to imagine how different the weekends must be!

Ben and I on the tour train
We decided the best way to explore Put-In-Bay for us was on the Tour Train.  For only $9 per person (with the $1 off coupon), we were treated to an hour long ride, a history lesson of Put-In-Bay, and drop off/pick up at some of the top attractions on Put-In-Bay.

Entrance to Perry's Cave
Inside Perry's Cave
Antique Cars at Perry's Cave / Family Fun Center
Our first stop was the Perry's Cave Family Fun Center, where we were able to tour Perry's Cave, a natural limestone cave 52 feet underground with an underground lake.  The steep steps and slippery surfaces were a little difficult for this 6 month pregnant lady, but I made it! :-)

The museum at Perry's Monument
Perry's Monument
Perry's Monument
Next we took the Tour Train around the island to the museum and Perry's Monument, which was "established to honor those who fought in the Battle of Lake Erie, during the War of 1812, and to celebrate the long-lasting peace among Britain, Canada and the U.S. The Memorial, a Doric column, rising 352 feet over Lake Erie is situated 5 miles from the longest undefended border in the world." - from  It was a beautiful inside, and a $3 fee got you a brief history lesson on an elevator ride to the top of the monument with outstanding views of Put-In-Bay and the Lake Erie Islands. 
View from the top of Perry's Monument
View of Put-In-Bay harbor from the top of Perry's Monument
23 weeks pregnant on the top of Perry's Monument
We spent a bit of time enjoying the views of Lake Erie, the islands, and even as far as Canada from the top of Perry's Monument before the howling 30 knot wind chased us back down the elevator.  We would definitely rate it a "must see" on Put-In-Bay.

Downtown Put-In-Bay - golf carts are the most common mode of transportation
Downtown Put-In-Bay - The Round House Bar
Downtown Put-In-Bay - Mossbacks
Lunch at Mossbacks - Perch & Pierogi (an interesting menu combination!)
Put-In-Bay's famous Boardwalk Restaurant
The Upper Deck at the Boardwalk Restaurant
View from the Upper Deck at the Boardwalk Restaurant
We really enjoyed the variety of restaurants in Put-In-Bay, and ate at The Boardwalk Upper Deck, Mossbacks,  Hooligans Irish Pub, and a quick lunch at the Dairy Isle.  Dana's favorite was lunch at Mossbacks (perch AND pierogi!!! 2 of my favorite things!) and Ben's favorite was dinner at Hooligans (try the beer cheese dip).  We got ice cream a couple times from the PIB Candy Bar - soooooooo good!

Overall, as a destination we really enjoyed Put-In-Bay, but we weren't very impressed with the marinas and docking situations available.  There was not much protection from wind and waves to be found, and we spent every day/night there rocking & rolling on the boat.  If we went back, on a weekday, we might just try the city docks (shown in the photo above) and hope that we didn't have to raft off anyone.  I'm not sure we're brave enough for a weekend!  The other thing we noticed was that everything was very expensive on the island... probably since it's an island and you have to eat somewhere!  We ended up splitting meals most places we went, so definitely keep that in mind if you go!

Next post we'll review our stay at Kelley's Island and share a video of that "rocking & rolling" I mentioned... it was so crazy!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Trailer Boating to Put-In-Bay, South Bass Island, Ohio

A rest stop somewhere on the Indiana Toll Road
August 19-21: We were looking for a quick getaway and to explore someplace new, and Seapickle had never been on Lake Erie, so we made the decision to pack up the boat, truck and trailer for an about 4 hour tow on the Indiana and Ohio Toll Roads to the Lake Erie Islands!  As far as trailering goes, this was by far the easiest tow we've done with the most convenient access to trailer-friendly gas stops along the way.  We did, however, rack up about $80 round trip in tolls!!!

Arriving at Mazurik Access Area on Lake Erie
Seapickle launched and ready to go. Very nice launch ramps.
A beautiful, calm Lake Erie greeted us after the storm passed
Before leaving, we did some research on various places to launch that would also allow a secure place to store the truck and trailer for the long weekend.  The Mazurik Access Area on on the north side of Marblehead Peninsula offered concrete ramps, a huge, well lit parking area, and was just 7 miles South of South Bass Island.  I couldn't get a straight answer from anyone when I called to inquire, but we had no problems leaving the truck and trailer parked in the lot for 4 days.  Oh and the launch was free!  Just as we finished putting the canvas up, we had to wait out a heavy, but brief storm before launching the boat.

Put-In-Bay - Perry's Monument in the distance
Passing south of Middle Bass Island and the remains of the Lonz Winery
Turning into the bay and Perry's Monument from the water
First night's dinner stop, The Boardwalk, from the bay

Ben found and ordered a Lake Erie chip for our gps on craigslist before we left, and the 7 mile trip from the launch ramp to Put-In-Bay was pretty straightforward with no hazards.  Only when we neared the island did we have to make sure to go around north of Ballast Island (between Ballast Island and Middle Bass) instead of between South Bass and Ballast Island.  We entered the bay without any problems and scanned the shore to figure out where to find our dockage for the night at Miller Marina.  As soon as you enter the bay, the no-wake starts pretty immediately.  The Boardwalk mooring balls are immediately to starboard and we had to go around them to get to the marina.
Seapickle docked at Miller Marina, Put-In-Bay, Ohio
Docked at Miller Marina, looking out into the bay and Gibraltar Island
Sunset over the bay from Miller Marina
 We arrived at Miller Marina just before closing time (5pm) as we usually seem to do!  We got tied up for the night, with the harbor master requesting we set out extra lines (uh oh!) and would settle up in the morning.  We knew from researching and looking at photos of the marinas that dockage at Put-In-Bay was.... interesting... but we were happy to be at a marina with a reservation and settled in for a few days.  We'll expand more on a review of Miller Marina in the next post, and then also more information about Put-In-Bay and South Bass Island!