ERIE, Pa (Erie News Now) – From his sail boat slip at the Erie Yacht Club, longtime sailor Jim McBrier told Erie News Now when the Canadian border reopens to U.S. citizens next month, he expects a big group to set sail back to the yacht club in Port Dover, Ontario.
“We have this long term relationship with them and we all go over there so I would expect we’ll have a whole armada of boats going over there in August.”
McBrier serves as secretary of the Lake Erie Interclub Cruise, one of the oldest international regattas on the Great Lakes. Because of COVID-19, they couldn’t hold the event last year.
For 2021, they had to divide it into simultaneous U.S. and Canadian editions. “This year we decided we’ve got to do an American version and a Canadian version, McBrier said. “The excitement is that they’re opening up the border next month, unfortunately we’ve already split the fleets so we had 25 boats go down to Buffalo and we have another 20 boats over in Canada that are going to have to do the same thing themselves this year.”
Being able to head back to Canada is not just good news for Erie sailors, the Erie Yacht Club cruising fleet, a local group that encourages power boaters to travel together and have fun on the water is excited about it too.
Karen Carns a members of the cruising fleet said, “Last year actually our cruising fleet didn’t go anywhere as a group because of Covid and people are just very very anxious to start traveling and there really aren’t that many places close by, but Port Dover is relatively close by across the lake and we are really looking forward to returning when it’s fully open August 9th.
Carns said depending on the weather conditions, crossing the lake can be fun or harrowing. “We like to try to find a day when the winds are calm and the lake is relatively flat and we can actually get over there in about two hours or so in our power boat,” Carns said adding, “sailors it takes a little bit longer and they want more wind.”
Both Carns and McBrier said Port Dover benefits from Erie boating tourists. “In Dover we all go to the Erie Beach Hotel and eat perch, that’s kind of like a tradition and there are many other good restaurants that we enjoy as well,” Carns said.
“Port Dover is just a wonderful little port that now is starting to grow a little bit as the Canadians move down onto Lake Erie,” McBrier said. “We go out for five days, we either stay in our boats overnight or there are really good hotels over there in Port Dover. We go over there to eat the perch– the finest little smelt perch is in Port Dover,” he added.
But the power boaters and sailors alike are wondering when their Canadian boating friends will be allowed to cross the border into the U.S. and visit the Erie Yacht Club and region again.
“I’m hoping that the United States is open,” McBrier said. “I’m understanding Canada is opening, is the United States opening to all our friends from port Dover?”
“Actually right behind me is the transient dock of our yacht club and right now there are very few boats on it because many of the people that come here are from Canada,” Carns said.
The Erie Yacht Club is looking forward to seeing them come back. “You know they’re welcome to come into our club and eat and drink, they go into town, many have longtime friends here in Erie that they’ve met over the years and I know they go out to dinner downtown and enjoy the city as well,” she added.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has not said yet whether it will renew or update its current border restriction on Canadians coming here. Currently the land border is closed for anything non-essential, but Canadian travelers are permitted to fly into the U.S. An updated decision is expected on Wednesday.