This area is covered in the Chartlet 14842, "Islands in Lake Erie".   The clarity of the water in Lake Erie (due in part to the zebra mussel) has caused shallow bodies of water, like East Harbor, to be full of thick grass and weeds.  This is because the sun penetrates to the bottom where the weeds can grow.

Depth is always an issue in East Harbor.   The entrance channel from the lake is pretty good - mostly 9' or more and maybe dropping down to 7' in a few places.   Entering the harbor, depths are typically less than 5 feet, except for a slightly deeper "valley" running parallel to the shore that separates the harbor from the lake.

This "valley" is part of a channel marked by a series of privately maintained buoys, just as you enter East Harbor, to your starboard.  Their approximate locations are indicated by the red and green dots that I have inserted in the chart above.  This channel seems to be free of weeds - like they cut them regularly.   You will see depths as low as 5' in this channel -- but it may be false readings due to the grassy bottom.  In 2010, the water is forecast to be about 2' above low water datum (charted depth).  This should give you a little "cushion".  Still, I wouldn't anchor here if my boat drew much over 5 feet, just to be safe.

Upon entering the harbor, turn to starboard and follow this channel as it parallels the shore.  When the channel starts to curve around toward the middle of the harbor, leave the channel and continue heading parallel to shore (heading approximately NW), far enough to get you away from traffic.  The farther from the channel you go, the more likely you will get in a lot of weeds.  We anchored here in 2007 and couldn't go very far because of all the weeds tangled on my props.   Last year (2009) the weeds didn't seem to be as bad.

This anchorage is well protected from winds in any direction -- you are basically surrounded by land.  A good friend of mine in a full keeled sailboat joked that he never had to worry about whether his anchor set -- he would blow only so far until his keel got stuck in the grass and mud!

The bottom is thick grass and mud.  If you get your anchor set, holding is good.  This is no place for a light, fortress-type anchor.  I tried a fortress once and it took 8 tries to get the anchor to set, because it wasn't heavy enough to cut through the grass.  You may have similar problems with any Danforth-type, although a heavier Danforth would be better.

The proper anchor, in my opinion, is a heavy plow or Bruce type anchor.   I use a 22 lb Delta which sets well -- usually the first or second time.   Don't forget, "Back Down to Set" !

Once your anchor is set, take some anchor bearings.  If spending the night, this is best done just before dark.   There are no "easy" lights to use - most are privately maintained.  You should be able to see a water tower with a light, either to the south or the west.  There are security lights at the State Park - I usually try to find one that "stands alone" and will be easy to pick out after dark.  Some of the marinas have distinctive lights -- sometimes, the light on Marina Del Isle's rack storage building seems to stand out, as well.  In addition to anchor bearings, this might be a good place to try out your GPS "anchor watch" feature!

Anchor lights are a MUST in East Harbor, because fishermen come out at all hours of the night, and some of them zoom pretty fast along the shoreline.  In addition to an anchor light, I leave a lantern in the cockpit to give off some added light.
Pet owners with dinghies may have a little challenge finding some shore that is easy to land on and tie up.  The land by the trails (6 in the chart above) is mostly overgrown with bush, although there are some clearings every so often along the shore,   These can be pretty steep and rocky, depending on water levels.  

You can try to go ashore by the state part (2), which had some clear areas by the water's edge.  The boat ramp area (3) has a small dock, meant for people who need to tie up while launching your boat.  You could tie up there and go ashore for a short time.   There is a porta pottie by the ramp, an added plus!     

Speaking of facilities, there are several bathrooms at the State Park.  In the middle of the camp sites (a little north of the "2" on the chart above), there is a shower facility with flush toilets.  There is also at least one other smaller bathroom there.  Restaurants also have facilities, if you stop to eat.

If you take your dinghy anywhere in East Harbor, be mindful of the thick weeds that are outside of the channel.  If you try to go directly across from the anchorage to the state park, for instance, you might be able to walk across the grass faster than you can motor!

For food, we have always enjoyed the restaurant at Marina Del Isle.  We dinghy in to Marina Del Isle's  farthest west channel, which has some dockage for small boats and dinghys near shore.  Their restaurant was very good, but now has changed and will become a "Cleats", whatever that is -- I think some kind of sports bar.  We'll have to try their food some time.

A favorite spot for breakfast is the Penninsula Restaurant, which is just across the road from Marina Del Isle and about a block or two east.  There may be some other close-by restaurants by the other marinas, too -- we just don't know about them.

One of the marinas in East Harbor usually has a band after dark -- or at least it sounds like that, when the wind blows toward the anchorage.  If you're inclined, take your dinghy and follow the noise.

If you've brought your dinghy, you could explore some of the marinas that lie up the channel to port when you enter East Harbor.  There are beautiful beaches on the lake, on either side of the entrance.  On a good day, you will see many boats anchored along shore to the starboard of the entrance.

There are jogging trails along the spit of land maked "6" on the chart above.  My experience is that the mosquitos can get pretty big back there, so take some repellant or go in the heat of the day when they are snoozing.

When leaving the anchorage, and weighing anchor, you will be surprised just how much your anchor "weighs"!  If it's anything like I've experienced, you'll be pulling up another 10 lbs of grass.  A suggestion - keep a scrub brush and water handy to wash off the rode, chain, and anchor before you stow your ground tackle.  The muck will stain your boat.  Look at the photo below:

East Harbor
East Harbor is one of our favorite anchorages.  It is protected 360 degrees, so you are never subjected to strong winds and waves like other anchorages..
1 - General Anchoring area
2 - East Harbor State Park
3 - State Park Launch Ramp
4 - Marina Del Isle
5 - Beautiful Sand Beach
6 - Trails
Select an Anchorage Below
Expect to find some added grass when you weigh anchor !

East Harbor, July 2007
For added photos of the East Harbor Anchorage, click on the link below ...