11-May-2002 -- At only 1 km off the shore of Ambassador beach, Ontario, 42N 83W seemed like an easy find for 4 Torontonians. Since it’s on water, morning is the most reasonable time to go, before the winds picked up. This meant four hours driving, overnight in Colchester, in the boat by sunrise and home by lunch. It turned out more complicated than initially imagined. Firstly, we had no boat so we had to find a marina.
Colchester is a small town that boasts a few restaurants and the only marina on the north shores of Lake Erie from Point Pelee to Detroit. It is approximately six kms from the confluence. Randy and his wife Nancy operate this haven in the summer. They received separate calls from 2 strange girls about wanting to go on the water for a day for a “project” This left him quite confused but promised he would have something arranged if the weather was stable. However, he explained, Colchester has no visitor accommodations. He then directed us to Kingsville.
Kingsville is the nearest large town just to the East of Colchester: a quaint, year round, tourist destination tucked away along the shores of Lake Erie.
www.bbcanada.com will direct you to bed and breakfast homes across Canada. We are very thankful to have found on the site Dirks B & B in Kingsville. The directions to Kingsville are idiotproof. Take exit 48 off Hwy 401 and go south on hwy 77 to Leamington. Drive past the Heinz Ketchup Plant and turn right at John’s Auto Shop (Good signs are rare), four stoplights later, turn left onto Division Road and if you see the funeral home, you have gone too far. Hosts, Maggie and Victor were also kind enough to sacrifice their own beds to us. Maggie would then sleep in ‘cell block nine’ (A room under construction). This was our last hope next to sleeping in the car as the remainder of the accommodations in this area are booked months in advance by Birders.
May is the peak migration for a gazillion species of birds through the area. For the uninitiated, birding is a conservationist’s ‘sport’ that includes getting up at unbelievable early hours of the morning to sit in the outdoors with gadgets and wait for that once in a lifetime find. I never could understand it.
So we got up at 6 am to drive to Colchester marina, with our GPS in hand, to be the first to visit the intersection of 2 imaginary lines on Lake Erie.
Lake Erie is the most of shallow of the Great Lakes. The western portion, that also borders Michigan and Ohio, is only 45 feet at its deepest point. Useful for all the wreck divers who journey through the 100-year-old vessels that met their match on the fresh water reefs. Its best-kept secret is its prize walleye fishing in May each year. You can see why accommodations in May can be challenging.
Under the control of Randy and his trusty boat, Scallywag, we got to our destination safely and back within the hour. Comfortable homes line the rocky shore in this paradise lost, where fences are nonexistent and visiting is an evening pastime. It had a quiet, laid back, uncommercialized, cottage feel. Only two other boats were on the water that morning. Both men, dressed in camouflage, appeared to be leaving for a day of fishing.
Many thanks to Sheena Luck, an intelligent, energetic nurse-in-training who is great at flirting her way into a boat rental. Her boyfriend, Adam Phillips, teacher-in-training, who got all the literature and history questions right on our enroute trivial pursuit game. And last, but not least, Neil Simons, driver and GPS operator.