The Fort Erie Beaches Tour ’97

Broad white sandy beaches, warm water, calm bays, huge point breaks. Sounds like a tropical paradise, eh? Well, it’s on your doorstep America, within 1 kilometer of the Buffalo city limits. By now, you may have surmised I’m talking about the beaches of beautiful Fort Erie, Canada. Yes my friends, we have it all. Knee bashing chop at "Hell’s Half Acre", ultra flat at Bowen Rd Park, huge point break at Windmill Point, The Palmwood, and Point Abino, or easy sailing on deep bays at Crescent Beach, Bertie Bay and Crystal Beach..

So come on, let’s take a tour.

Imagine this….. Saturday morning, 75 degrees, winds SW 15-20, the car is packed, boards secured, the kids are on board and the Peace Bridge is shrinking in your rear view mirror. We exit the QEW at Thompson Rd, which takes us to Waverly Beach. This park boasts washrooms with flush toilets, a shaded grassy rigging area, sandy beach launch (between the breakwall and the pool) and one big rock marked with a flag.

Our next stop is Crescent Beach , kilometer to the west of Waverly. Take Dominion Rd west to Crescent Rd, turn left, drive to lake. This beach is pure sand with no rocks, but it may be crowded with bathers.

Next up, Bertie Bay. Take Dominion Rd west to Bertie Bay Rd. Bertie Bay offers a secluded windsurfing beach with a friendly group of sailors who come here for the calmer waters and shelter from strong winds. The sandy lake bottom and beach are also friendly to your feet and fins.

Our next sailing site is Windmill Point. Take Dominion Rd west to Windmill Point Rd. This secluded spot has white sandy mini dunes, making it even more enjoyable. Here an old stone dock lies submerged directly ahead and there is a shoal 2 feet below the surface approximately 100 feet from shore. To locate the shoal, stand at the water’s edge and look to the west for the Point Abino lighthouse. The shoal is along that line 100 feet from shore. This leaves a 200 foot wide safe area to launch between the old dock and the shoal. Excellent starboard ramps and wild port wave rides over the shoal just rip the senses.

Still heading west on Dominion, we stop at beautiful Thunder Bay. Located on Bernard Rd, this site has lots of parking, a grassy rigging area, clean sand beach and lake bottom. When the wind is up, breaking waves at the shore make an exciting way to introduce yourself to wave jumping, strong current and negotiating shore break. This site is less extreme than most, so all you break is your ego. Your rig is safe as you perform the "walk of shame". Been There, Done That, Aced It.

Following Dominion to the end, we turn left onto Gorham Rd and proceed directly to the Palmwood Beach Park at Crystal Beach. Acres of grass on a manmade point reach 200 meters into Lake Erie. A rocky launch on the East side leads to a clean slate bottom and some of the cleanest 2 meter wave faces on the lake. This means at least two bottom turns on each wave when the wind blows Northeast. A Northeast wind sends out a call to actual surfers to converge here and really surf. When the wind backs off, it’s great entertainment to watch the surfers pump their board to work these steep faces.

Our last stop today is the whitest wave magnet on the Great Lakes. Abino light shines brightly on the end of Point Abino at the end of Point Abino Rd and invites monster, glassy faced waves to form, organize, and break around the Point. I have seen an aerial photo showing 5 long, clean wave faces spaced 100 feet apart, following the entire contour of the Point. The best may be yet to come. The Town of Fort Erie may be opening a beach on the East side of the Point, with a grassy rigging area. Southwest winds will be perfect from the south end of this beach.

Well folks, this ends our westerly leg of the Fort Erie Beaches Tour. I’ll be reporting on the Niagara River Tour Next. Till then, may the wind fill your sail and the surf be friendly. Hoppy