-- Last Updated: May-16-13 11:53 AM EST --
First off it is commendable that you want to honor your friend and help raise some money to support the family. A crossing while fun might limit the number of people who want to participate, thus limiting your fundraising ability? Maybe something like a race around Kelleys or SBI would attract more people to your cause and help raise more money. I know the owner of the kayak rental at SBI had expressed interest in hosting/organizing a race. Maybe this would appeal to her?
With that being said, a crossing is unpredictable and having a good weather window is critical to making it all the way across. It has been 3-4 years, but a buddy and I made the crossing in one day and I know there are others who have done the same over the years. Look up my trip report on this website.
In summary it took two pretty high level and conditioned paddlers 9.5 hours to cross from Catawba, south of Middle Bass, up eastern side of Pelee and then make the final long crossing to Point Pelee. We only made quick stops on the southern and northern tips of Pelee. The national park on the tip of Point Pelee is really long, like 6+ miles long and there are a few more miles to Leamington Ontario. I think we did 32-33 miles and it was close to 40 to reach Leamington. We arranged for Pelee Wings (outfitter) to pick us up and shuttle us to their store where they let us camp overnight in their side yard. We had to bushwack through the underbrush to find the main road to be picked up. What a pain in the butt while hauling gear. Technically you can paddle to Pelee Wingís doorstep, but there are the extra miles you need to account for once you get to the Canadian Mainland. You canít camp on Point Pelee, so our closest option was Pelee Wings. When we landed, a ranger conveniently motored up on the beach on an ATV to say hello and check our paperwork. We should have called in to customs at Pelee Island, but waited until we reached Pelee Wings.
On our trip we lucked out and had a decent tailwind on the long crossing between Pelee Island and the Canadian mainland and pretty much surfed the whole way. We wondered why we didnít see many boats and found out afterwards there were tornado warnings on shore! Without the extra wind push Iím guessing it would have taken us closer to 11 hrs.
We didnít paddle home, but took the Ferryís back from Leamington to Sandusky, OH. With a layover on Pelee Island I think our ferry trip still took almost 7 hrs. We probably should have paddled home since we had the wind to our backs on the following day! We accomplished what we wanted to do and didnít want to chance the weather demons and all-in-all the ferry ride was enjoyable as well.
If youíre leaving from the Sandusky or Lakeside areas, plan on adding another 5+ miles to your trip. You also didnít mention if youíre looking to cross in one day or spread it over a few days. Obviously stopping at Kelleys or SBI wonít get you very far. Your best option if youíre splitting your trip into multiple days is to camp on Pelee Island. There are only two designated camping locations on Pelee, the municipal primitive camp on the eastern side of the island or in the back yard of the Anchor & Wheel restaurant on the Northwestern corner. You can paddle up to the beach at the municipal camp ground, cross a road and youíre there or if you make your way to the Anchor & Wheel you have to land near the Scudder dock and arrange for a shuttle/taxi to get to camp. The taxi number is online. Itís a long walk with camping gear, so shuttle is preferred. I have seen and heard of people commando camping on fish point, but itís not a designated site.
Over the years, we tried a few times to make the crossing in two days and were pinned by weather on the north beach twice. Both times we woke to whitecap swells to the north as far as you could see. One time we took the ferry to Leamington where we had a shuttle arranged and the second time we just paddled home after waiting out the weather.
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