What do giant crystal apples and 16-foot fiberglass fish have in common? Both drop on popular tourism areas at the stroke of midnight, New Year's Eve. The apple, of course, settles in New York City's Times Square to the cheers of raucous crowds. The fish, appropriately a walleye, descends in Port Clinton, Ohio, the self-proclaimed "Walleye Capital of the World." Watched by a smaller, if no less enthusiastic crowd, it marks the first of many events that the Lake Erie port hosts each year. Up the shoreline, the communities of Marblehead, Catawba Island and Lakeside schedule their own events, also to attract tourists, which are the lifeblood of these vacationland towns. An estimated 3,000 jobs here depend on out-of-towners having a good time. As communities powered by the marine industry and linked to the big lake, they welcome cruisers and trailer boaters with open arms. With abundant lumber and great fishing, boatbuilding in Ottawa County began early. Lyman Boats was founded by cabinetmaker Bernard Lyman in 1875, and Matthews Boats came to Port Clinton in 1906, building yachts up to 110 feet. Lymans, wooden lapstrake masterpieces, were built in nearby Sandusky until 1980, and you can still see many of the highly collectible boats cruising around. Links to the marine industry remain; the county has 146 licensed marinas with more than 15,000 wet slips and lots of dry rack storage, creating Lake Erie's highest concentration of boats. Hundreds of boats wait in many showrooms. Lake and Bay Yacht Sales (yachtworld.com/lakeandbay) sells boats from Davis, Topaz and Egg Harbor and offers a long list of pre-owned yachts. MarineMax of Ohio (marinemax.com) is widely known as the Sea Ray Boats authority and part of the "world's largest boat retailer" corporation. Harborside Boat Sales (harborsideboatsales.net) delivers excellent service at both Midway Marina in West Harbor, Catawba Island and Bass Haven Marina in East Harbor, Marblehead. To check out other big yachts, head to Jefferson Beach Yacht Sales (jbys.com) on Catawba Island, where Sunseeker, Viking, Princess and Regal yachts are sold. Options for docking are countless. Full service Gem Beach Marina (gembeach.com) on Catawba Island in West Harbor has 350 boat docks accommodating up to 45-foot boats. Last year, Gem Beach opened its brand new pool and splash pad. The marina's waterfront restaurant offers live entertainment throughout the summer season. It's affiliated with Beach Towne (beachtowne.net), a unique waterfront community close by. If you want to spend time off your boat in a quiet setting that has a ThermoSpa and Jacuzzi, Our Sunset Place is a top bed and breakfast that delivers a stunning view of the lake, sunsets and stars (oursunsetplace.com). Portside Marina out on Kelleys Island (portsidemarinaki.com) is a cruising destination unto itself, recently rebuilt and renovated with 115 slips and accommodations for up to 80-foot vessels. Here you can eat and drink at Dockers Waterfront Restaurant and Bar. Ottawa County welcomes trailer boaters, too. Four public boat ramps maintained by Ohio State Parks are in Marblehead, as is one operated by the county. The state-owned Portage River Access is in Port Clinton. You can launch at any of them for free. Rescue Marine, the TowBoatU.S. responder for the entire area, is based out of Shrock's Marina in Marblehead. With their fleet of fine boats, they are ready to respond at a moment's notice. Boaters still avoid running aground at night with help from Marblehead Lighthouse, the oldest continuously operating beacon on the Great Lakes. This historic landmark is one reason around a million visitors come to this tiny town of 1,000 residents each year; about 25,000 of them climb the 77 steps to the top of the tower. East Harbor State Park features Ohio's largest campground, with 570 campsites, a 1,500-foot sand beach and 9.5 miles of hiking trails. Main Street is lined with restaurants, art galleries, antiques, quilt and crafts shops. Galleries in Marblehead include original oils at the Dziak Gallery, whimsical prints by children's book illustrator Jodie McCallum at her gallery, and glass blowing demonstrations, cutting and jewelry at Ferguson's Gallery and Studio. The Kelleys Island Ferry operates its route to Ohio's largest island from here. Also well protected from wind and storms, East Harbor forms the western border of this town and is host to many marinas. Tibbels Marina runs head boats for anglers and operates a full service RV park and bait shop. Bay Point Marina, with 750 slips, is the area's largest. SkipperBud's, at the former Marina del Isle, provides sales, service and storage with new yachts from Tiara and Cruisers (skipperbuds.com). Cleats Grille here claims to have the world's best chicken wings. Mel's Crow's Nest offers fine dining indoors or out in a casual, relaxed atmosphere. Netty's Famous Chili Dogs are legendary, and if you want breakfast between the hours of 5 a.m. and 2 p.m. weekdays, grab a seat at Port N Starboard Restaurant (it's open until 2 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays). Johnson Island, connected to Marblehead via a toll bridge, once had a prisoner of war camp for Confederate officers captured in the Civil War. Its cemetery is the main historical attraction that remains.