Getting Ready for the Total Solar Eclipse Over Lake Erie

The big day, April 8, is almost here — and everyone is wondering where the best spot is to get in on the action.  

An illustration of a man looking at the solar eclipse.

Editor's note: Still wondering where you will spend the big day? Check out our list of Total Solar Eclipse hot spots.

When the eclipse passes over Ohio on the afternoon of April 8, it’s estimated that as many as 500,000 people will be in the Buckeye state along the 115-mile path of totality, which will enter the state stretching from Defiance almost to Cincinnati, moving northeast before going over Lake Erie and into Canada.

But Jake Dunfee doesn’t think many of them will be on the water.
“It’s early enough in the season that a lot of boats aren’t even in the water,” says Dunfee, the owner of Shrock’s Marina in Marblehead. “Most big marinas aren’t even open right now.”

Still, he says he’s gotten a couple requests to put boats in the water early and knows of other marinas who have received similar requests. Dunfee, who also operates Rescue Marine Towboat U.S. says the weather in April will pose challenges that some boaters — who typically are out in the summer — may not be used to.

“This time of year, it’s usually windy,” he says. “That’s not always good boating weather.”

Even on summer days, it’s colder than you might think on the water, and in April, it’s even colder. Dunfee also notes that the water temperature, which can get into the upper 70s in the summer, will be around 40 degrees.

“Above all, make safety your top priority,” he says. “Only go out in conditions you can handle and in a craft you can handle.”
U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Phillip Gurtler, public affairs officer for the Great Lakes, says for the four minutes or so the eclipse passes over, it will be like boating at night.

“Our safety message isn’t that much different than in general,” he says. “Wear a life jacket, make sure you have your proper navigation lights and make sure you’re visible to other boats.

“And don’t operate a vehicle intoxicated. We can’t emphasize that enough.”

Knowing that some people will venture out on the water, the Bay Boat Club — located in Bay Village, Ohio) issued a letter with the following warning to its members:

• The city will have traffic congestion, making it difficult to tow a boat.
• Total darkness will be during the eclipse, navigation lights will have to be on front and rear.
• Those watercraft without lights that cannot operate after dark should not be operated during the eclipse.
• Water temps still cold, making hypothermia happen quickly.
• Water rescues may take longer due to services being utilized elsewhere.
• Coast Guard will be looking for captains taking people out to view from the water with out the Captains license.
• Please take time to think about the situation and use common sense when trying to figure out if the lake is going to be the best place to view the eclipse from.

Follow Us on Social for Live Updates on April 8

How big will the crowds be? How will the eclipse look on film and video? Will the weather cooperate? Follow us on Instagram (and be sure to check Instagram stories) for live updates throughout the day on April 8. We’ve partnered with photographers from around Lake Erie to see the eclipse through their lenses.

Kat Goldwarg plans to be at the Niagara Parks Power Station in Niagara Falls to capture the eclipse. “I was a tour guide there and I'm certain it will be an exceptional location to enjoy and photograph the eclipse,” she told us. “It's located right across from the Horseshoe Falls.  April 8 will bring so many together, from locals, near locals, and guests from afar. I'm keeping an eye on the forecast, even if there are a few clouds, it will surely be an amazing day with awesome photos to share.”

Gabe Leidy hopes to spend the day in downtown Cleveland. “In a dream scenario, we will use this once-in-a-lifetime event to showcase our city’s beauty for the rest of the world to see,” he says. “For photographers, events like the solar eclipse are our ‘Super Bowl.’ Carefully planning, practice, and preparation are needed to execute a vision, and a little luck will be needed on the Big Day, as well.”

Matt Lance, who flies his drone from Cleveland, was still trying to figure out the best place to shoot when we checked in with him. "I'm still playing it by ear," he told us. "With 1.5 million people coming in and with a Guardians game, there is a chance there will be [temporary flight restrictions] around Cleveland airports, so we will see. Worst case scenario I just walk up to Avon Lake power plant area and see what I can grab."

Daryll Mummey moved to the lake four years ago — and has been capturing it ever since. He says the forecast for April 8 shows his hometown of Willowick, Ohio, only has a 40% chance of getting a clear view. So he came up with a backup plan: “We’re going to drive where ever there is the highest chance of clear skies for the magic four mins of totality.”

Ryan Ouellette, who is based in Ontario, isn’t sure yet exactly where he will be stationed on April 8, but his stunning drone footage should provide an interesting take on the event. Given that he shoots from hundreds of feet up, he could be impacted more than most by a less-than-ideal day. “For me, it’s all weather dependent,” he says.

• Gabe Wasylko will be in downtown Cleveland on April 8 — and he'll be ready. "Research, planning and practice has been at an all-time high over the past few weeks as I prepare my gear and location plans for the big event on April 8. I have some creative ideas in mind, but I am most of all looking forward to taking in this momentous event in the city I know and love.”