Sailing the Great Lakes Part Two

Published in the July 2018 Issue November 2018 Feature Tim McKenna


Looking to the east is Kelleys Island. There is a nice anchorage on the north side with easy dinghy access to the state park beach. This is a good overnight anchorage except in north winds.

One of the good things about sailing in and around the Islands in Lake Erie is that you have both easy and beautiful sailing as well as some navigational challenges if you want them. The sail between Middle Bass and North Bass Islands often reminds me of sailing in the Keys or Bahamas, although the wildlife is different. If you are looking for something a little quieter than Put-in-Bay, you have several choices around Middle Bass Island. The anchorage in Schoolhouse Bay on the east side is very good except in east winds. There is a quiet and secluded anchorage between Middle Bass and Sugar Island which offers good protection from all but strong westerly winds. Middle Bass also offers a very nice State Park Marina and the Middle Bass Island Yacht Club (ILYA) for those looking for some amenities.

Calendar Full Of Events

There are a lot of sailing events throughout the Great Lakes all season. Every sailing club and yacht club has its own local and regional races. Then there are the “big ones.” Each July the Chicago to Mackinac and the Port Huron to Mackinac races get the most attention. The Chicago Mac Race will typically see more than 330 boats take the line off Navy Pier for the sprint up Lake Michigan. The Port Huron Mac Race starts a week later at the southern end of Lake Huron. This race is the longest consecutively run freshwater sailing race in the world. Both races are amateur events, but the competition can be intense with sailors coming from all parts of the country to participate. The Lake Ontario 300 Challenge also starts in July each year. The annual 300 nm race around Lake Ontario is sponsored by the Lake Ontario Offshore Racing of the Port Credit Yacht Club. The 2017 Biennial Trans Superior International Yacht Race begins August 5. Participants will sail a 326 nm course from the start near Sault Ste. Marie through the Apostle Islands to the finish line near the Duluth Ship Channel.

Stay tuned. We will be bringing you the stories of sailing, cruising and racing on the greatest resource in North America…the Great Lakes.

About The Author

Tim McKenna is the founder of Erie Islands Sailing School. He began sailing as a child on Lake Erie and, as they say, the rest is sort of history. Tim has competed in most of the Lake Erie races as well as more than a dozen Port Huron to Mackinac races. Although a lifelong Great Lakes sailor, Tim has also enjoyed the opportunities to do some extensive “Blue Water” sailing in the Atlantic, Pacific and Caribbean. He has done multiple deliveries to and from the Caribbean from New England and the Chesapeake, sailed to the Azores and even had a trip from Gibraltar to the Canary Islands. Tim has sailed through or around most of the Islands in the Caribbean and even managed to live on his sailboat for two winters in the Bahamas.

Tim holds a USCG 100-Ton Masters license and is certified by the American Sailing Association to teach sailing. Having taught sailing at schools on Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair, as well as in Florida, California and the Virgin Islands, he decided to put together a sailing school where it all started for him—the beautiful waters of Lake Erie. He enjoys sharing stories of many sailing adventures, the people met and the fantastic boats on which he has sailed.

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