One of the main places I've not mentioned about the West End of Erie is known either as the Hot Hole or the Hot Spot. It's located about mid-way between the mouth of the River Raisin to the North and the channel entering Bolles Harbor to the South. Here's a satellite image of the shore to show you better. I've omitted mention of any details about it on the main page for reasons that will become apparent soon. I mention it here because it's an interesting and somewhat curious place.

The Hot Hole got its name because the water temperature in it is easily 100 degrees or so, nearly year round, even when the lake is frozen over. That's because it receives effluent from the coal-burning Edison plant (the nav landmark with the two tall stacks) that lies along the shore of Erie and the south side of the River Raisin. It's a great place -- albeit a risky place -- to visit on one of the many days when Erie's temperature is on the chilly side and you'd like to warm up with what amounts to a nice bath.

Once you enter (more on that below), just to starboard there's a sandy area (essentially an unofficial beach) that drops off steeply to a depth well over your head in a matter of feet. The usual practice, then, is simply to run one's boat up on the sand (most folks with I/Os don't even bother raising their outdrive), hop off, and run a lunch hook up into the sand. There's little current, so there's little chance that your expensive toy will depart on its own. If it does, it won't go too far too fast.

The Hot Hole is visited by several types of people:

families, kids and all, who want to warm up, swim, or just relax for a while;

water skiiers, since the area of water is "reasonably" large and almost always flat because it's protected almost completely all the way around;

jet skiiers, for the same reasons that water skiiers go, and in addition the water goes back quite far so there's a fair amount of space to explore;

and fishermen, although I can't comment on what they catch there. (One can envisage very large three-eyed, two-tailed fish growing up in such warm waters.)

It's not uncommon to find remnants of a bonfire on the sand from the prior evenings. Or empty beer cans. None of these activities are condoned, by the way, because I believe all the property is owned by the Edison plant and for liability purposes I don't think they're fond of boaters or anyone else venturing into their territory.

The problem with the Hot Hole is that you really need to know how to get in and out safely. There are no navigation aids to help, although you can (and must) line up on the "right bearing" and get in. And there will probably never be any nav aids placed, since the Hot Hole isn't a place where the owners want you to visit, and the Coasties certainly wouldn't want to help you to get there either. So getting in is truly local knowledge, and I won't share it. We've been in many times on our 28 Sundancer (which had a 36" draft), but wouldn't even dream of risking the Carver.

What's the deal? Well, even when lake levels are up (and for sure they aren't up now!), many portions of your path into the Hot Hole are in about two feet of water (on a good day when the wind's blowing out of the East). The bottom varies between rocky, muddy, and sandy; and there are lots of areas of dense grasses you need to go through or (if you're careful) between. The bottom just loves to eat outdrives and props.

One secret to getting in, therefore, is to get on plane at least half a mile from the entrance. Don't forget to trim your boat so the stern and the precious parts attached thereto are as high as you can get them. If that means shifting some human weight towards the bow, so be it. Then, once you're propelled like a rocket coming from Hell and hopefully on the right course, you pray.

See why I'm not encouraging you to go to the Hot Hole, or giving more information on how to do that? It's relatively dangerous, especially if you move bodies towards the bow, which I don't encourage. We even have to use extraordinary care, and make sure our course is right-on, when we take our jet skis in.

Invariably, there are one or more small fishing boats right in the way. (We're talking boats well under 16 feet here, and little freeboard -- precisely the kind of boat you see on Erie when the weather is horrible and the seas are running 6 feet or more, and nobody in their right mind would be on the lake.) As one of the real locals described a few minutes before he let me follow him in, you must say to yourself something like "Sorry, Mr. Fisherman who's in the way, I have a very expensive boat, I've gotta go like a bat out of hell to get in safely, there's no room for me to change course to miss you, so p-l-e-a-s-e move!"

Not liking to pilot my boat that way is another reason we don't go in anything but a dinghy or on a PWC -- and always with great care.

But once you get in to the Hot Hole, ahhhhhhhh, it's so-o-o-o warm!

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