Where is the Linda Mae?
For forty years the Linda Mae has been an icon on the shoreline of Wildwood Park with her familiar green and yellow color scheme. Her home port next to the also familiar green and yellow pier at Gate 1 of the Nottingham Water Transfer Station will no longer be. Linda Mae’s new home port will be at Chagrin Marine and with her will be the Popeye and Express boats. The move was necessary as Cleveland Metroparks dissolved their interests in the fishing charter business with Captain Vitas Kijauskas and his fleet. This is only the beginning of Linda Mae’s long and arduous journey east.
On October 20, 2018 a violent storm blew in over the water of Lake Erie. Captain Vitas and a crew man remained vigilant through out the evening securing the lines of his fleet and the other boats moored at the floating docks. After monitoring the Wildwood Weather Station weather and wind all night the storm seemed to be subsiding and the winds taking a turn away from the harbor. In the early morning hours of October 21 Captain Vitas felt confident enough to temporarily resign his post at the dock.
As Captain Vitas returned to the dock he sadly discovered Linda Mae thrown into the gas docks with only her bow and windshield above water. An unpredicted four and a half foot storm surge that lasted for seven minutes as recorded by the instruments of the water plant nearby proved to be too strong for this glorious 67 year old green and yellow steel vessel. This was a sad and memorable day for all those who witnessed the aftermath of this pop up storm surge the left Linda Mae, for the first time in her career, submerged under water. Her recovery begins.
The recovery of the submerged and damaged Linda Mae proved to be a feat in itself that lasted three long days due to poor weather conditions. The job of bringing Linda Mae above water was a collaboration of the Coast Guard Marine Safety Office, underwater marine contractors and the expertise of those trained to perform such a difficult operation. Once again, on the waters surface it was time to assess the damage done to this once magnificent vessel and devise a plan for the restoration of Linda Mae to get her back in Lake Erie again.
Now in dry dock, Linda Mae is on a long road to restore her back to her original glory. The restoration process is a combined effort of many experienced individuals from welders to clean up crew to diesel engine experts. Only the best for the 1934 Detroit Diesel which was built during the Great Depression to keep Americans employed. During World War II the Detroit Diesel was converted to water cooled to be used in vessels for the Normandy Invasion. After World War II one of the many surplus engines was made available to Nolan Ship Builders in Erie, PA finding its way into the Linda Mae in 1951. Restoration is currently underway and soon the green and yellow steel icon of Lake Erie will be seen full of anglers or those just enjoying the afternoon on the water.
The new home port for Captain Vitas Kijauskas and his fleet will be Chagrin Marine located in Eastlake at 226 E. Island Drive. To make a reservation or book a private charter for the 2019 season please call 216-481-5711. Bait and tackle will be available for purchase at Chagrin River Bait and Tackle (140 Forest Dr., Eastlake).