Where to Sail when it blows.. What Direction

By Hoppy

The gentle crescent shape of Fort Erie’s waterfront creates a wind venue for any, I repeat any wind direction, with some launches offering better conditions than both Aruba and the Gorge combined. In fact one race is dubbed Niruba, which offers flat water sailing with wind opposing current.

Launches for westerly winds abound on both the Canadian and American shored of Lake Erie, whether it be southwest through northwest, but for the remaining 270 degrees, of the compass, it will be worthwhile to make a road trip to Fort Erie Niagara River Launches. From past experience any true north wind predicted by the weather services rarely happens, because there is always a little bit of east or west in it.

Northwest wind equates to "Niagara Slick" with grassy rigging ( inches from your parked car), sandy launch to the Niagara River at Bowen Park on Niagara Blvd., 2 mile North of the Peace Bridge. Now you can sail choppy Lake Erie on a Northwest wind, but only at Niagara Slick will you find absolutely flat water with river current opposing a Northwest wind. This is the best place to perfect those long carved planing jibes.

Northeast wind sends locals to the Niagara River at the "Old Fort" which lies immediately south of the Peace Bridge, where Lake Erie flows into the Niagara River. As you are crossing the Peace Bridge, look to your left, towards the lake and you will see sailors ripping from Old Fort Erie across the Niagara to the Buffalo Water Intakes and breakwall. Here lies "Niruba, halfway between the old Fort Launch and the Peace Bridge, ultra flat with the northeast wind opposing the current. Brace for powerful gusts when the Aroma of Chinese Cuisine tickles your olfactory senses.

Southeast winds, especially gale force, means an 8 mile trek up HWY#3 to Crystal Beach to a launch at Point Abino, "Poverty Bay" which is a public boat launch on Abino Road. Here we can sail side on shore southeasterly winds with widely spaced, organized swell breaking over waist deep sand bars located off shore from the Buffalo Canoe Club.

Soooo, my American Friends, When Lake Erie is unsailable on those easterly winds,. "East-scape" to Fort Erie’s Niruba or Poverty Bay and catch some great sailing with all of us locals.

Here’s to wind in your sail


PS, the last 6 days in April have blown all day northeast under sunny skies with air temperatures between 60 – 80 degrees, The Old Fort launch has been teeming with both US and Canadian Windsurfers, whose beaming smiles are causing locals to don sunglasses and apply sunscreen.