Weekend Adventure of a Hunter 456 Named Ariel

by David Paligo


A few weeks ago, Bill Collinson and I were invited to sail with Jeffery Robb Sr. and Jeff Robb Jr, to Put-In-Bay (PIB) on their Hunter 456 named Ariel. This was going to be an exciting weekend to return to PIB, this time on a 45-foot sailboat.

Friday October 25, 2019: Bill & I drove up to Sandusky Ohio to meet up with Robb Sr. (J1) and Robb Jr. (J2) at Sandusky Harbor Marina (SHM). We loaded the boat with our gear and went out for dinner at Margaritaville, great food. We called it an early evening as we planned to head out early in the morning to beat the weather that was supposed to hit us mid-day.

Saturday October 26, 2019: We woke up to cloudy skies and cool temperatures. We left SHM around 0830 and motored out of the channel before unfurling sails right in front of Cedar Point amusement park. As we got out into open water, the winds were 11-15 knots with gusts of 22+ so we reefed the main and jib. The seas were 4-5 foot rollers with occasional 6-7 footers and we were still getting 6 knots SOG. We made it to PIB, pulled into A Dock around 1230 just as the heavy rain and SW wind hit us.

We headed out for a late lunch but because it was Halloween Boo Bash at PIB, it was standing room only in every bar on the strip and had to locate a place several blocks from the sailboat. The rain was heavy and the 30 knot gusts of wind almost blew you off the streets and the docks. When we returned to the boat in the evening, we noticed that the water level was lower so we attempted to push the boat away from the dock to adjust the fenders. With 4 guys pushing, we were able to adjust the fenders and dock lines. The boat’s deck was now even with the dock and we did not need the 3 foot step ladder to get on or off the boat. Forecast for Sunday departure did not look good so we decided to wait out the weather another day.

Sunday October 27, 2019: Smart decision for not attempting to return to SHM, woke up to 28-32 knot winds with gust of 37-43 knots out of the SW and the boat wedged tight against the dock. As we headed out for breakfast at Frosty’s, we also noticed the boat was another 16-18 inches lower than when we went to bed, nothing alarming, but glad we moored out on the last walk instead of closer to shore.

The weather was easing, winds were dying down so we decided to have a laid-back dinner at Mossbacks Grill as many of the restaurants and bars were shutting down for the season. Later on that evening, we went up on deck and noticed the water level was almost overflowing the dock. As none of us had experienced this before, we googled it and discovered the high-water level further intensifies a natural effect called a seiche, a change in water level across the lake because of wind or atmospheric pressure. SW winds across Lake Erie around PIB can mean a 6-7-foot difference between Sandusky (PIB) and Canada similar to water sloshing back and forth in a bowl.

Monday October 28, 2019: Beautiful morning and perfect conditions for our return trip. As soon as we cleared PIB harbor we hoisted sails and set course for SHM. Light air conditions, so we decided to start the ‘iron wind’ and continued to motor sail. As I was driving, I noticed debris in the water, to our surprise it was a branched buck (deer) swimming right in the middle of Marblehead & Kelley’s Island channel. We arrived in SHM and put Ariel back in her slip to get her ready to be put on-the-hard for the winter. Great adventure with a great crew.