What’s A Put-in-Bay Winter Like When The Ferry Boats Stop Running?

Some say the Put-in-Bay Winter officially begins when the last Put-in-Bay Ferry Departs. By this time, islanders have either prepared for the seclusion..or not. Islanders have either stocked their freezers, loaded up with several months of prescriptions, and supplies or, they now must rely on the local island airlines that service the Bass Islands in Ohio.

A few hundred islanders living on South Bass Island known as Put-in-Bay, Ohio, now must rely on the island airline transportation companies for basic needs. Even the US Mail must be transported to the island daily when weather conditions permit. A Put-in-Bay Winter means planning and accepting that many times plans will fall thru. Dense Fog, heavy snow snarling winds, and freezing rain are just a few reasons why the airline might not fly. When planning that winter vacation, everything moves back a day, sometimes two, as you fist must be able to get off the island to even get to your flight.

Put-in-Bay Winter Airlines Are The Lifeline

With no hospital on South Bass Island, everything from childbirth to stitches and even a case of the flu means a ride to the mainland for care. An estimated over 14000 people are transported back and forth each Winter. Put-in-Bay is home to Island Air Taxi, and Port Clinton Ohio is home base for Griffings Island Airlines. Both fly a range of planes that can transport four, six, and sometimes more passengers. Each of these planes is known for their substantial lifting capabilities as newspapers, milk, and island fright deliveries are not light.

The local Put-in-Bay Airport runways are not lit further complicating matters. Flights are only permitted during daylight hours and, of course, when mother nature cooperates. The flights are not long. In fact, at around eight minutes, they may be the shortest airline flights in the country.

Conveniences that we take for granted, such as a trip to the movies, local mall, sporting event, or to visit friends, requires careful planning around weather conditions and flight schedules.  When demand is high, and the planes are flying, it does not necessarily mean there will be a seat available if you failed to make a reservation. If that is not enough of a shock, an adult one-way ticket will set you back in the neighborhood of $48.00, and that gets expensive over time.

Island Airlines Serve As The School Bus

Local school students residing on the neighboring Bass Islands hop an airplane to school rather than a bus in the frigid Put-in-Bay Winter. The Lake Erie Bass Islands all share one school located in downtown Put-in-Bay. Like most schools, the local high school sports teams compete in a variety of competitions, from basketball to educational. Unlike most schools, they first might board an airplane for a flight to the mainland to then take the bus or van to the venue.

Islanders Get Around The Inconveniences Of A Put-in-Bay Winter

Islanders who spend the Winter on South Bass Island have ways of getting around inconveniences. It is the norm for families to have several freezers that are well stocked before ferry service ends. Shopping online through portals such as Amazon can get just about anything to the Port Clinton Airport, where island airlines will transport it to the island for about $5.00 or $.15 per pound. Fresh bread, newspapers, produce, and eggs fill any empty seats on a flight to stock the local grocery.

Some islanders embrace this lifestyle and wouldn’t trade it for anything. One islander commented, “between the card games, ice parties, pot luck dinners, and community events, there is something to keep everyone occupied most of the time. The local bank opens one day a week, and Put-in-Bay’s one and only gas station is open for a few hours on select days. Put-in-Bay Hotels & Resorts have long since served their last guests of the year, and only a couple of Put-in-Bay Bars are open in the Put-in-Bay Winter months.

Ice Fishing Snowmobiles & ATV’s A Part Of Winter Fun

Once Put-in-Bay is covered in snow, the ATV’s and snowmobiles share the streets as an alternative method of transportation. Residents of South Bass Island love their Ice fishing and anxiously await the arrival of the frigid temperatures of January and February to freeze Lake Erie Solid. Colorful ice fishing shanties begin to appear on the ice once its thickness is deemed safe by local ice guides. The locals catch the prized Lake Erie Walleye, and the occasional Perch thru-holes cut into the ice.

On occasion, and when conditions permit, old Christmas Trees are recycled by ice guides to mark a trail across the frozen ice to the mainland for ATV’s and snowmobiles willing to chance the trip. In yesteryear, many older model cars would have their roof cut off to become ice cars. Without a roof, chances were good to escape if the car went through the ice.

Locals love their Put-in-Bay Winter. One is even well known for shaking her “snow globe” to assist in winters arrival. While Put-in-Bay may host hundreds of thousands of tourists in the spring-summer & fall, only a select few will ever witness her beauty and solitude in the frigid winter months, and perhaps that’s intentional.