Heading to Port Huron, Detroit & Windsor

Written by Randy Whaley on September 3rd, 2009

(44⁰39.556′ N by 083⁰17.091 W -  Mile 644.01 - Harrisville, Michigan)

Since our last entry on August 27th in Charlevoix, we have waited for the weather to clear and the winds to settle.  Originally, we were to leave Charlevoix on Friday, August 28th after having the injectors and the injector pump on the main generator replaced.  A call on Friday morning confirmed that the parts would be delayed until after the weekend, a blessing in disguise since the waves on Lake Michigan reached 6 to 8 feet on the weekend.

After the generator repairs were finished, we were ready to depart on Tuesday, September 1st and fortunately, winds and waves were beginning to diminish.  Once we cleared the Mackinac suspension bridge the seas were all but flat.  That day we ran leisurely at 10 knots to Cheboygan, the next day to Presque Ilse and today on to Harrisville, Michigan.  Each of these runs were smooth and relaxing cruises of 50 to 60 miles.

Along the way, we were in the company of large ocean-going and Great Lakes freighters on their way north bound.  With visibility of over 25 miles it was great to be on the water.  You can tell the recreational boating season is coming to a close however.  Only boats which we meet along the way each day (most likely heading south as we are) are out on the water with a number of smaller, local fishing boats.

As nice as the cruising has been we must still keep a sharp look out on the bridge for floating fishing nets.  These obsructions are marked with a red and green floating flag (3 feet high) on either end with 6″ floating daylight red balls holding the net under water.  These net strings can be up to a 1/2 mile long and are difficult to identify in smooth water.  Rough water makes it that much more difficult to spot them.  Usually, they are positioned in water depths of 80 to 100 feet.  Catch these lines on your underwater running gear and you have serious problems.

Michigan had the foresight to designate the funds generated from fuel taxes and dockage to boating infrastructure.  This money is administered by the Department of Natural Resources and is ear-marked for new docks, launch ramps and fisheries.  This program was initiated in the 50’s and the initial objective was for harbours of refuge not more than 15 miles away along all of the shoreline of Lakes Huron and Michigan.  We have been staying at these harbours since arriving in Michigan on Mackinac Island.  Each of the harbours, usually managed by the municipality or the county offer top-notch facilities and docks.  Ontario and other provinces would do well to study this program to give our ailing municipalities the financial stimulus needed to upgrade their marinas and showcase their cities.

The east coast of Michigan (Lake Huron) is quite different from the western shore (Lake Michigan).  While the western shore has beautiful homes, resorts and commercial developments the eastern shore is less prosperous.  Part of this lies in the fact that the Lake Michigan’s shoreline has natural harbours and high sand dunes that have attracted summer residents for over 100 years.  The eastern coast has fewer natural harbours and appears to be more suited to agriculture.  Simply - the western side of Michigan is more prosperous than the east.

Our plan is to be in Port Huron, Michigan for the Labour Day weekend.  We will stay there from Saturday until Tuesday morning when we will travel down the St. Clair River to the Detroit area.  Two or three days in Detroit near Marina Mile (the main marina area where most of the dealers and services are) then we will cross the river to Windsor to clear Canadian Customs and Immigration.

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