Fairport Harbor, OH
Lat: 41° 45.853 Long: 081° 16.753
Lying between Cleveland and Ashtabula, Fairport Harbor is both a commercial/industrial harbor and a very popular destination for cruising sailors. Situated at the mouth of the Grand River, Fairport Harbor has been an industrial port through most of its history. Iron ore was a common commodity feeding the ever-hungry steel mills of the area. Coal and grain were other major commodities. Today, bulk carriers are likely to be carrying sand, limestone or rock salt through the port.
Located 30 mi/48 km east of Cleveland, Fairport Harbor is a true working maritime village. Its history as a successful working harbor has left its mark everywhere. It is a village where a visiting sailor will feel very much at home. The village has a European flavor as a result of many immigrants from Finland and central Europe. Its beaches are among the best along the Erie coast line. For many cruising sailors, Fairport Harbor is a must-stop port.
The approaches to Fairport Harbor are clear from all directions during the daylight hours.
FROM THE EAST
The eastern channel is a wide, relatively straight channel. The channel is formed by a breakwater that runs in an northeast-southwest direction, about bit less than .5 nm offshore. Approaching the river mouth, the breakwater angles northwest to form the eastern side of the main channel. Coming in the eastern channel, a course of approximately 267oT for about 1.2 nm will bring you into the river mouth channel. An excellent visual marker from offshore is the steam plume from the Perry Nuclear Generating Station. It is located approximately 6.75 nm east of Fairport Harbor and visible approximately 13 nm offshore.
At night or during bad weather, approaching from the east needs to be done very carefully. In foul weather, when heavy seas are running, the far easterly part - about .45 nm long, is frequently submerged and very difficult to see. It is not well marked at night. It can pose a major threat to your boat. In such conditions, it would be much more prudent to avoid the easterly entrance and sail on to the main entrance, another 1.2 nm west, keeping well clear of the breakwater as you do.
FROM THE NORTH AND WEST
The west breakwater has a Fl RED light at its outer end. There is a Fl GREEN light marking the end of the east-side breakwater. Once in the main entrance channel, a course of 180oT will bring you right into the river.
MARINAS, YACHT CLUBS, MOORINGS, ANCHORAGES
There are a range of marina facilities in Fairport Harbor, ranging from commercial facilities to smaller, recreations marinas.
Grand River Marine Inc (440) 352-7744
Grand River Marine is the first facility you will come across as you make your way into the harbor. This is a full-service marina located on the east side of the channel. They have about 180 slips with approximately 6-10 available for transients. There is a fuel dock (gasoline only) and a pump-out station. Water and power are available at each slip. A complete range of engine, mechanical and fiberglass repairs can be carried out. Restrooms and showers are available and they have a travel lift.
Grand River Marine (440) 352-7200
Grand River Marine is the sister operation to Grand River Marine Inc. (above). It is located right across the river on the west side. It has several slips for transient sailors. They have a fuel dock (gasoline only). There is no pump-out station. They can provide repair and maintenance services for engines, mechanical systems and hulls. There is water and power available dockside. There are restroom and showers available. They have a travel lift. There is a small ship's store on site.
Douglass and McLeod  (440) 352-6156
Douglass and McLeod are located on the west side of the river, immediately south of Grand River Marine. They have several slips available for cruising sailors. There is water and power available as well as restrooms.
Fairport Harbor Yacht Club (440) 354-9083
FHYC sits on 12 acres / 5 ha of parkland on the east side of the Grand River. There are approximately 6 slips for transient sailors. There is no fuel dock but there is a pump-out station. There is water and power at each slip. Their clubhouse has restrooms and showers. Their extensive grounds have picnic areas and BBQ/fire pits. They have a travel lift. Internet service is available.
Grand River Yacht Club (440) 354-9056
GRYC is located directly across the river from FHYC. It has several slips available for transient sailors. There are restrooms and showers available. Amenities include picnic areas and BBQ grills.
Western Reserve Yacht Club (440) 354-9813
WRYC is situated further up the river on the east side. It shares space with River Bend Marina They have approximately a dozen slips available for transient sailors. There is no fuel dock but there is a pump-out station. Water and power are available dockside. Their clubhouse has restrooms, showers, laundry and kitchen facilities. Their grounds offer picnic and BBQ areas, a childrens' playground and a beach. There is internet access.
Harbor Towne Point Rack and Marina (440) 357-0269
Harbor Towne is located east of the harbor entrance but still behind the breakwater. It has approximately a dozen slips for transient sailors. There is a fuel dock (gasoline only). There is no pump-out station. Staff can arrange for mechanics if you need repair or maintenance work done on engines or mechanical systems. There is water and power available at each dock. Haul-out is available. There are restrooms and showers. There are picnic areas and BBQ grills to use on the grounds. There is also an on-site restaurant and pub with views that look out over the lake.
REPAIRS & MAINTENANCE, PROVISIONING, BANKS/ATM's
Boating Headquarters is located southwest from the harbor. They offer full service for engine and mechanical repairs on a wide range of makes and models. Dockside service is available.
Harbor Towne Point Rack and Marina (See above)
Grand River Marine (See above)
There is a Redigo Food Mart in Fairport Harbor. They carry fresh produce, bakery goods, meats and a range of grocery items. It is walking distance from the harbor, on the east side of the river.
There is a FirstMerit bank branch in downtown Fairport, a short walk from the harbor on the east side.
Tri-Point Medical Center (440-375-8100), a full-service, major hospital, is located 6 mi/10 km south in Painesville.
There is no pharmacy in Fairport Harbor. However, there is a Walgreens Pharmacy (440-350-1928) located about 3 mi/5 km south in nearby Painesville.
PLACES TO EAT
Pickle Bill's is a very popular, nautical-themed sefood and steak restaurant/pub. It is located on the west side of the river and docking is available for patrons. It has great views and an upper floor deck with panoamic views of the river. It also has a floating bar/grill that makes for a unique dining experience.
Brennan's Fish House is a long-time favorite located in 200 year old building on the west side of the river, just north of Douglass and McLeod Marina. Its very popular with locals and visiting sailors and its nautical theme suits its seafood menu.
Sunset Bar and Grill is located at Harbor Towne Point Rack and Marina. They have an open-air tiki bar with great views of the lake - as does the restaurant. Dining is casual and can be enjoyed indoors or outdoors. There is docking for patrons.
THINGS TO DO/SEE/VISIT
Fairport Harbor is a place to relax and Headlands Beach State Park is a great place to do so. Located to the west of the harbor entrance, it is the largest natural sand beach in Ohio. Swimming is a natural and the park has walking trails, picnic and BBQ areas and childrens' play areas.
Fairport Harbor Lighthouse and Marina Museum is located on the east side of the harbor. It has a terrific collection of Great Lakes and Coast Guard artifacts. Any sailor would find this a fascinating place to visit.
The weekend following Labour Day is the Perch Fest. Along with a perch fishing tournament, all of the businesses in town collaborate to celebrate this tasty species of fish that Lake Erie is famous for. Look through the Fairport Harbor tourism site which will give you all kinds of ideas on getting the most out of your visit.
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