On the right tack: Cleveland Sailing Charters offers smooth Lake Erie sailing, boating lessons

FreshWater managing photographer catches a glimpse into life on the Wabi Sabi in this photo essay.

Looking for a way to unwind and relax on the open waters of Lake Erie? Or perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn how to sail a boat. Well, FreshWater Cleveland’s managing photographer Bob Perkoski was pondering the same two scenarios when he met Captain Scott Sanders and his company, Cleveland Sailing Charters.

Sanders is one of the only captains chartering leisure sail cruises out of downtown Cleveland. Now in his third season with his 28-foot sailboat, the Wabi Sabi, Sanders takes up to six passengers out on Lake Erie for sunset sails, tours of the shore, weddings, or general cruises.

Sanders has even been known to take a group on a “sailgating” cruise around First Energy Stadium during Browns homes games, or he will customize the charter trip for the customer.

Passengers can sit back and relax, or they can get a sailing lesson from Sanders and actually help sail the boat.

Sanders, who has sailed his entire life and is the former executive director of Earth Day Coalition, decided to get his captain license three years ago and bought the Wabi Sabi, which loosely translated from Japanese means acceptance of transience and imperfection of life.

Sanders says he chose the name because his father, before he died, begged him to sell their old boat. “’Get rid of that thing,’” was one of the last things he said, says Sanders. “It’s a very appropriate name for a boat—live in the moment, embrace nature, and don’t become attached to things.”

Passengers on the Wabi Sabi can choose their voyages, Sanders says. “Some people want to learn to sail and I instruct them, under my supervision,” he explains. “Some people want to sit on the bow and drink champagne and float.”

Sanders does ask some questions to get an idea of what his passengers want from the trip before they sail away. “We listen to what the customer wants and then look to the weather,” he says. “We always ask about [if anyone gets] motion sickness, in which case we’ll stay within the breakwall. But some people want to get right out there.”

Most trips last two to three hours, but Sanders says some passengers book a four- or five- hour sail, or even book the entire day. The majority of his guest are from out of town, and Sanders says his charter is often in the top three reasons they came to Cleveland, along with the Marble Room and the Cleveland Museum of Art.

He adds that the pandemic boosted business, as people were looking for something socially distant to do (all COVID-19 protocols are followed on the boat).

Sanders charges $225 per hour during the week and $250 per hour on weekends and holidays. There is a two-hour minimum and the fess pay for up to six people per charter. Food and drinks are BYOB; and alcoholic drinks are permitted. Cleveland Sailing Charters books trips from late April or early May through the middle of October.
People can book their charters online or by emailing Sanders for more information.

Bob Perkoski
Bob Perkoski

About the Author: Bob Perkoski

In addition to his work for Fresh Water, Bob Perkoski is the official photographer for LAND studio and Cleveland Burlesque. He recently published a book of his photos Rust Belt Burlesque. He's had work published in other books like LGBTQ Cleveland by Ken Schneck, Rust Belt Chic: The Cleveland AnthologyRust Belt Chic: The Pittsburgh Anthology and Moon Cleveland by Douglas Trattner. Previously he was co-founder/art director for Balanced Living Magazine. His substantial portfolio includes news coverage, portraiture, commercial imagery and fine art. Perkoski's first solo show, These Walks of Life premiered in December 2016 in Negative Space Gallery. Visit Perkoski Photography for complete profile information.
Originally from Conneaut, Ohio, Perkoski now lives close to the city in Parma. He has been Fresh Water's managing photographer since the publication's September 2010 inception.