Between the pandemic and the precipitation, the traditional “Pottahawk Pissup” hasn’t been such a traditional party event over the last two years.
On Sunday, as OPP officers shielded from the rain in a command centre at the Port Rowan marina, there was little for them to do.
“It’s been a very uneventful day,” said Acting Sgt. Ed Sanchuk.
For an event sometimes billed as North America’s biggest boat party, there were only 24 vessels out on the water Sunday afternoon, said Sanchuk.
Some bigger boats headed out in better weather on Saturday with a plan to stay just off the island but the officer said a brisk wind, blowing in an easterly direction, was problematic for anyone wanting to anchor at the point.
In years gone by, Pottahawk Sunday was known for drawing up to 10,000 people and more than 2,000 boats to the deserted island that has no roads, washrooms or cell service.
Police are often pressed into service for rescues, accidents and drunk boat-driving problems.
Last year with pandemic restrictions urged, only about 700 boats went out and, in 2019, there were about 500 boats.
Sanchuk said the police always highlight personal safety on the water but he emphasized that, with the choppy waves, rain and high winds on Sunday, taking precautions was even more important.
He said officers removed an impaired person from the water and dealt with a collision in Long Point that involved impairment on Saturday night.
At the nearby Boat House Restaurant, owner Angelo Georgallidis said he hadn’t prepared for the normal Pottahawk crowds on Sunday because he had seen the weather reports.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be very good but, sometimes it happens.”
Several small groups of people dodging the rain by taking a snack to the marina’s sheltered pavilion were surprised to even learn about the Pottahawk Pissup Party.
“We’re touring around antique stores,” said one man from the Niagara area.
“We just thought it was a good day to avoid the tourists.”
Another woman who stopped at the shelter to have coffee with friends, said she would take note of the date for the annual event.
“So I remember never to come on this day.”