Friday; August 30th – we stole up toward the lake as if conducting our normal routine to visit Findlay, OH. Preparations were in work and this gave us some time to be closer to the area of dispute. The letter was out from the Bicentennial (cover for our militant action group) organizers that the World Court had determined the islands, Port Clinton, and Toledo were to revert to Canadian government control.
Saturday; August 31st – Our cover for the foray to the Lake was to look over a boat in Sandusky Harbor Marina. (http://www.yachtworld.com/boats/1978/Irwin-37-2537909/Sandusky/OH/United-States#.UiXRdTasiFw)
We stopped to see a second vessel, then went onto Port Clinton. A festival was in progress. Looked for all intents as though Canada was allowing ‘business as usual’. The Knights of Columbus were having their annual perogie and fish fry. Mindy and I enjoyed quiet lunch at the Underwood Grill, a clandestine meeting place for Patriots. We took the Jet Express Ferry to Put-in-Bay to meet up with our compatriots. Ominously, two Canadian vessels (warships, actually) were moored at the Port Clinton City Docks. The oppression was obvious and the platoon of soldiers in the vicinity indicated all was not normal.
We met with our team almost moments after arriving in the Bay. A meeting was called and we would get underway on Millennium Falcon III as soon as we got aboard. We missed our courier rendezvous with Brad and Meg Wareham from Chicago because of the call for this meeting. We were supposed to have news of a Chicago contingent of ex-patriot Ohioans from there, but whether they made it or not we can’t say. A circumnavigation sail around South Bass Island was our cover for the meeting. Brian and Melanie Ross and a friend joined us from Southern Cross. Assorted fruits and ‘nuts’ were out, some fine area wine, and smiles abounded while we planned the protest events for the next couple of days. Canon fire was heard as we left the harbor. Apparently, the ‘new’ governors were enforcing the new border. Tensions were rising. Our Brig Niagara was in port from our Pennsylvania naval detachment, but the Canadians’ vessel Friends of Good Will (likely a politically elected name) was rumored to be en route.
Sunday; September 1st – The morning was quiet, overcast, and foggy. Our skipper decided to reconnoiter the bay by kayak. It is a laminated wooden construct. This natural material allowed him to blend in with the entire environment better and it’s construct gave him a much lower profile in the water. He was gone for more than an hour, and we were relieved to see him when he returned. The skies were clearing.
Mindy and I were strolling about the island and the town, listening and watching as we enjoyed the sights. More strangely dressed people were about in all the areas of the town. It was obvious the Canadians were present. Another camp was established on the grounds of the National Park. A smaller group than ashore in Port Clinton, but well armed, none-the-less.
We were elated when patriot troops arrived ‘guns’ blazing and thundering. TBDBITL* (ta-biddle) company came into the harbor in a blaze of pomp, ‘firing’ off their weapons as the ferry brought them to the waterfront. They proceeded to parade through the town and around the square. The Canadians and their militia squad cleared the streets in the face of this formidable force! We knew when they stopped in front of The Roundhouse, faced it, and played Hang On Sloopy that victory was going to be ours. The company, ‘instruments’ blazing, marched off to an undisclosed location.
Back on the Millennium Falcon III, we listened to another foray by TBDBITL into the Canadians’ encampment. It went on for a couple of hours. During the ‘concert’, the 1812 Overture was played and the Canadian’s opened the engagement with pyrotechnic fire. Badly directed, it missed both the shore skirmish and the Niagara. Put-it-Bay was OURS!! We celebrated by exploding the arms barge’s entire store of pyrotechnics. What a fabulous show. Were it not for the pending actions of Monday, one would have thought it a tremendous fireworks display!! We had a front row seat to it all.
Monday; September 2nd – The skipper had us under way early. ‘Safety Squadron’, a flotilla of more than fifty ‘privateer volunteers’ was to muster off the Bay at 0800 to escort Niagara and her counterparts out to meet the British and Canadian fleet. This was our ploy. We would sail under the guise of ‘escort’ vessels to keep unsuspecting boaters from interfering with operations by the tall masted fleet. Then, we would turn on them at the Niagara’s signal and bring this border action to a halt. The islands and Port Clinton/Toledo would remain in U.S. hands. “Don’t Give Up the Ship”, Perry’s battle flag repeating Stephen Lawrence’s last words was our rallying cry.
We stood off for two hours, gathering our safety flotilla. Southern Cross, with the Ross’s, and Tropical Dreamer, Ron and Vicky Fantozzi, Mike Grey, Jeff & Bernie Marshall and Gordon Fowler, Alum Creek Sailing Association had shown it’s force in this coming fight. An hour’s sail/motoring out to intercept the enemy we peeled off and shadowed our vessels from about 500 yards off. Called by our controllers, under the name Fanautical, we took up positions flanking both fleets. But if we thought we were going to be the only ones in this fight, we were wrong!
Thousands upon thousands of boats and yachts, steamships, and one barge were present. The ‘warship’ fleets were nearly prevented from converging due to the number of smaller sailing vessels come out to observe the fight. The U. S. Coast Guard had a cutter present that had to get under way to separate out as best as possible the smaller vessels, most ignoring any attempted blocking action by the Safety boats.
In the end, Niagara bested Detroit and in the treaty signed on the barge, the international border between Canada and the U.S. reverted to that which has stood in two hundred years. All vessels departed the area. only two were known, out of the thousands, to require assistance. No collisions (of consequence) occurred and all vessels retired to their respective home ports.
*TBDITL – The Best Damn Band In The Land – acronym for The Ohio State University Marching Band
Note: It was a bit difficult to write this and I haven’t done as well as I might have. The difficulty comes as the reality of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria is the ‘real thing’ when it comes to battles like this. This weekend, thousands upon thousands watched a ‘show’ of sailing vessels not seen on the Lake in two hundred years. Yet, two hundred years ago our country was embroiled in just such a combat action as those taking place in south-west Asia. Some of us were there this weekend to commemorate the sacrifices and bear witness to what our nation has become because of the sacrifices of sailors, marines, and farmers,..yes, farmers gave that we might have peace along a three thousand mile border. People around the world are still fighting for the kind of peace we have in our country. I give thanks to God and his grace for our two nations.
- Brig Niagara to take part in Ohio battle re-enactment Monday (goerie.com)
- Schooner Madeline sails in War of 1812 reenactment (stripes.com)
- Battle of Lake Erie re-enacted for its bicentennial (stripes.com)