Welcome to Lake Erie

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The smallest of the Great Lakes by volume, Lake Erie lies upstream from Lake Ontario, receiving its water from Lake Huron to the north via the St. Clair River. It gets its name from native peoples who lived along its southern coastline – the Erielhonan.

Here are some facts about the lake:

  • length: 241mi / 388km / 209nm
  • width: 57mi / 92km / 49nm
  • depth: 62ft / 19m
  • deepest: 210ft / 64m (shallowest at west end: 7.4m)
  • surface area: 9,910 sq mi / 27,7000 km2
  • coastline: 871 mi / 1,402 km / 731 nm (incl islands)

Due to its shallow depth, the lake warms rapidly in the summer, reaches higher than average temperatures and frequently freezes over completely in the winter

Lake Erie lies generally along the line of the prevailing winds. This has implications for sailors, especially as this is a very shallow lake – actually, the shallowest of the five Great Lakes. Storms on the lake can be quite intense and waterspouts are not uncommon. 'Fetch' is the distance over which wind can blow unobstructed. Generally, the longer the fetch, the steeper the waves that are generated. On Erie, the water can be as much as 3/4 – 1 m higher at the eastern end than at the western end when the winds are blowing hard.

The Lake Erie basin encompasses parts of Ontario, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Indiana. This area has very good farmland and has been intensively farmed for over a century. This is also the most heavily industrialized lake in the Great Lakes.

Considering the amount of shipping that this commercial activity generated, it is not surprising that there are a significant number of shipwrecks – some 200 alone off Long Point!

There are approximately two dozen islands in the lake - the majority, and those of any real size, at the western end. These offer excellent waters to explore (and some delicious wines to enjoy from fine island wineries).

The ports and harbours that ring Erie offer everything from great rock and roll music (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland OH) to the solitudes of the world biosphere of Long Point (a favourite sailing ground of mine) to picturesque island villages. Erie is a delight to cruising sailors.

Check out some of these harbours in the following port reviews or plan an interesting cruise to experience all that this great has to offer.

Lake Erie Ports

Ashtabula, OH
Barcelona, NY
Bolles Harbor, MI
Buffalo, NY
Cedar Point, OH
Chagrin River, OH
Cleveland, OH
Colchester, ON
Conneaut, OH
Dunkirk, NY
Detroit, MI
Erie, PA
Erieau, ON
Fairport Harbor, OH
Huron, OH
Kelleys Island, OH
Lorain, OH
Mentor, OH
Pelee Island, ON
Port Burwell, ON
Port Colborne, ON
Port Clinton, OH
Port Dover, ON
Port Glasgow, ON
Port Stanley, ON
Put-In-Bay, OH
Toledo, OH
Toledo Beach, MI
Vermilion, OH
Windsor, ON

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