News and views, and history and humor, about the lake I love.

"I can hear my granddad's stories of the storms out on Lake Erie, where vessels and cargos and fortunes, and sailors' lives were lost." ~ James Taylor, Millworker

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Lakeside Wooden Boat Show

What could be more enjoyable than spending the day around old wooden boats? Nothing, as I learned Sunday during my attendance at the Wooden Boat Show in Lakeside, Ohio. The weather could not have been more perfect, either, with sunny skies and a stiff breeze from the northeast that cooled things down just right. Mame Drackett, the tireless organizer of this popular annual event, is to be applauded for a well-organized, well-run show. I attend several different boat shows in the area but I the Lakeside show stands out for its homey, relaxed atmosphere.

This "Chautauqua on Lake Erie" is a real jewel, The onshore boats, which comprise the bulk of the exhibits, are nestled among huge shade trees overlooking the historic dock. These are mostly smaller boats, less than 20 feet in length, representing the most popular classic wooden boats, like Lyman and Chris Craft, but also a fair number of other makes and even a few you've probably never heard of. Mame and Bill Drackett can always be counted on to bring their own collection classic craft from the Sandusky Boat Works.

But enough talk. Let's look at some boats. The photographs below, and in successive posts, will I hope provide some flavor of what can only be described as a wonderful event. Enjoy the boats!

In-water boats arrive at the dock.
Lyman's lined up at the dock, old glory flying proudly in the sterns.
One of the many class boats on land was this 12' Thompson canvas over wood car-top boat.
This 1947 Chris Craft Express Cruiser was a show favorite
Rare Lyman 35' cabin cruiser

Monday, July 22, 2013

Test your knowledge about the War of 1812

Communities along the shores of Lake Erie are geared up to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Lake Erie, fought less than 15 miles from where I am writing this. Folks will be flocking from far and wide to see the veritable flotilla of tall ships as they converge at the western end of the lake for this grand celebration.

In the coming weeks I will be posting information about the events coming up during the Bicentennial festivities. Lake Erie is going to be in the national spotlight. You will want to be a part of it.

The Port Clinton News-Herald has posted this series of 20 questions to test your knowledge about this lesser-known yet important war in our history and so I thought I would share it with you.

Meanwhile, I urge everyone unfamiliar with the Battle of Lake Erie, or Oliver Hazard Perry, to take the time to become familiar with this fascinating part of our history. At the young age of 28, Perry courageously commanded a group of mostly green soldiers, sailors, and militiamen to victory. It was the first time in history an entire British fleet had been defeated. Following the victory, he scrawled on the back of an envelope the now famous words: "We have met the enemy and they are ours."Pretty cool stuff. Perry was an interesting man. I will write more about him in a later post as I delve into this most fascinating bit of local history.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Lakeside Wooden Boat Show Tomorrow

A collaborative effort blending the craftsmanship of the Lakeside Wooden Boat Society (LWBS) and the artistic expression of the Lakeside Plein Air Art Festival will create one of Lakeside's most unique weekends of the Chautauqua season from July 19-21.

The Lakeside waterfront will transform into an outdoor showroom of classic wooden boats as these cruisers line the dock and the lawn of Hotel Lakeside at the annual Lakeside Wooden Boat Show from 12-5 p.m. Sunday, July 21.

More than 50 wooden boats, each classified based on the year of the model, will be featured.

The boats are categorized as historic (prior to 1918), antique (1919-1942), classic (1943-1975), early contemporary (1976-1984) and late contemporary (past 25 years). The sizes of the wooden boats range from 9' to 57'. If you would like to enter your boat, there is still time to register. For more information about registering your wooden boat, contact Mame Drackett at or (419) 798-2050 .

There will be many events throughout the day, including live entertainment, food and 30 plein air painters from across the Midwest. Lakesiders are invited to watch them paint. The term "en plein air" means painting "in the open air."

The artists will paint near Central Park at the Plein Air Paintout from 12-2:30 p.m. Children may paint on the Pavilion lawn from 1-3:30 p.m. for a fee of $2. This children's event is sponsored by the C. Kirk Rhein, Jr., Center for the Living Arts.

A Wet Paint Sale, held on the Pavilion lawn from 2:30-4:30 p.m., will display original paintings that were completed by the plein air artists in Lakeside.

I will be there with my trusty Nikon camera taking photos of the boats and will be posting them next week.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Saving the Port Clinton Lighthouse

For some sixty years a quaint little lighthouse, painted white with blue trim, has stood alongside the Portage River at Port Clinton, Ohio, a quiet reminder of the oft-forgot rich nautical history.

The Port Clinton Lighthouse, built in 1896, lies on private property at Brand's Marina, where its owner, Darrell Brand, had carefully preserved it since purchasing the marina from his predecessor, Dave Jeremy, some 30 years ago. It was Jeremy who, in 1952, was hired by the federal government to remove the structure from the end of the west breakwater pier after conversion to a plain electric light rendered the little lighthouse obsolete. With great foresight, Jeremy decided the light was worth preserving and placed in by the river.

A few years ago Brand decided he needed to take steps to ensure that the little lighthouse is permanently preserved so he began working with the mayor, Debbie Hymore-Tester, to transfer the light to the city so that it could be given a permanent home on the Lake Erie waterfront in the Waterworks Park. Soon after, the Port Clinton Lighthouse Conservancy was established to begin the process of restoration and provide an organizational structure for future fundraising that would be required to maintain the structure.

In December 2011 the Port Clinton City Council voted to accept the gift of the lighthouse as part of a "Phase II" plan to develop the Waterworks Park. However, the following month brought the election of a new mayor, Vince Leone, who had a different plan for the park and mothballed the Phase II plan. When he met with Brand in March of 2012, Leone refused to accept the lighthouse with "strings attached." Brand wanted an agreement with the city that guaranteed that if the city ever decided to sell, move, or use the lighthouse for some other purpose, it would revert to the Brand family. Brand also insisted that the lighthouse be placed on the Lake Erie waterfront.

Mayor Leone and the city administration have been working with a developer, Mike Rose of Washington Properties in Medina, Ohio, on a plan to develop the Waterworks Park. Current plans call for the construction of a fishing lodge complex that would include time-share condominium units and consume a 14.7 acre section of the existing park. After this plan was presented at a public meeting this past March, the Conservancy responded by submitting a comprehensive proposal explaining the economic and historic value of the lighthouse to the city and laying out a plan for placement that would not interfere with the proposed development. This was presented to the administration and council, and briefed to the public at the end of March.

Given the stalemate, the Conservancy then launched a grass roots campaign to educate the public on the issue, holding a series of public meetings and speaking to local civil groups. This led to a dialog opening up between the Conservancy and the City, but following a meeting with city officials in April the mayor told the group he was not willing to accept the lighthouse as long as there were strings attached.

Frustrated with the intransigence of city officials, and aware of the broad support for the lighthouse in the community, the Planning and Development Committee of the Port Clinton City Council met and voted to present a motion to the full council urging the city to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Conservancy to choose a waterfront location for the lighthouse and to develop a timeline for its placement. This motion received unanimous approval by the council at its meeting on May 28th, 2013.

The Conservancy hopes to work with the city administration to craft the MOU mandated by the council, resolve the impasse, and find a permanent home for this historic lighthouse.

In my next post I will give the history of the Port Clinton Lighthouse, and its predecessor light which was built in 1833.