Next week I'll be embarking on a two week adventure, helping an owner move his 42 Carver motoryacht from Mackinaw City down to Chicago, down the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers, then up the Ohio River to Pittsburgh. 

My question is for you Lake Michigan boaters, any general advice like, stick to the windward shore, or not. We'll probably have to stop part way to Chicago, at least to fuel, maybe for overnight.

Any tips are welcome. And please don't suggest I'm not qualified, like last year when I asked about Chesapeake Bay....

Jim

 

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We boat Northern Michigan and Wisconsin every summer.    Some destination points to stop at that we like if come down the Michigan side half way are:

North Port, MI

Leland, MI (Port of Refuse for Northern, MI)  Cool town

Portage Lake, MI (Onekama Marine Full Service Marina)

Ludington, MI - cross at this point straight over to Manitowoc, MI   It is the shortest distance and you might get to see the car ferry Badger that runs this route.  Starts running 20th of May

Sheboygan, WI (Harbor Centre Marina) our home port very nice.    

I leave it to others for southern stops.    My other advise is watch the weather carefully and do not underestimate Lake Michigan waves or weather.   We normally don't go when there are 3 foot or larger waves forecast.

Good luck and enjoy,

Mark

Thanks Mark. The crew are flying in May 10 for a May 11 departure. 

I was assuming that prevailing winds are from the west, therefore hugging the Wisconsin shoreline would keep one out of strong winds / waves, but looking at Windy.com for the coming week or so shows that's not the case, for this week anyway. Winds tend to run from the north more than the west.

I brought my previous boat from Georgian Bay down to Holland several years ago, 40' Cruisers motoryacht.  It was forecast calm with light winds, instead it was 3-5' waves, which means occasional 10' waves, close-spaced.  Winds were hard out of the south-southwest, unpredictable, no shelter.  

I was warned not to try cutting through the islands in the peninsula pointing west toward Beaver Island, go all the way around in the shipping channel.  I somewhat hugged the shore after that, had to run at a slow plane most of the way in the waves.  Plenty of places to stop for fuel or overnight, I wanted to keep the tanks full and heavy, and we needed breaks from the rough going.  We stopped for fuel half-way through each 8-hour day.

I don't know the Wisconsin and Illinois side as well, appear to be fewer ports, but still plenty.  That side is much rockier than the Michigan shore.  Wind is typically out of the west, but they get some monster waves there sometimes. 

I used Navionics on an iPad for all my nav and fuel planning, it did a nice job.

Ludington to Sheboygan might be a good place to cross to the west coast.  Frankfort is a very nice harbor, Jacobson Marina treated us well.  I planned to make it to Manistee from Mackinac Island, but I was stuffing the bow and the sun was setting, so stopped in Frankfort.

While I've not done Michigan, I've done Huron. Watch the weather closely, go out expecting twice the waves they forecasting, whatever you're used to on the ocean cut that in half because the waves on the lakes can be steep and short period. 

This time of year call all your planned stop as some places may not be open yet. 

A good halfway point on lake Michigan on the Wisconsin side is Racine. Two marinas, Pugh and Reefpoint, both have fuel, and pumpouts. Reefpoint has a good restaurant and bar. There is also a hotel with bar and restaurant. I have my boat at Pugh marina and could be of some help if needed. A good spot to cut across the lake is from Ludington Mi. to Manitowoc Wi. The Badger car ferry makes its crossing at that point so you could follow it if nervous about the lake crossing.   

Traverse City was a CCCC Rendezvous and Morland's return to the home port of Michigan City, IN. Is documented.  A few years later we attended the Rendezvous in M.C.I. One of our party took the western side to Chicago and came over later. Greg G is the one you should contact about Lake info. Coming south there's a doa raised bridge that may limit clearance without lowering roll bars and antennas.  Once on the Illinois it's a matter how far do want to go and are the wickets down, if not additional locking is required. Normal last stops on the Illinois are Peoria and Beardstown.

Harbors at Peoria,  towboat dock at Beardstown, hail and get permission and instruction. 

Grafton Harbor at the confluence with the Mississippi is full service and the food is good.  Alton marina is closest to the dam and has fuel. My harbor across and upriver about 2 miles.

The new edition of Quimby's is out. All river charts are downloads now.

Tim

I'll second Mike's comment. Make sure you call ahead to your stops (and maybe some in between just in case) to see if they are open and if they have fuel. We moved from Saganaw Bay to Georgian Bay the first week of June and many of the marinas were just opened, limited staff and we were often the only boat in the water.

I got burned by this last year. Didn't call ahead to my first planned fuel stop, closed covid. No problem, I had plenty of fuel to make the next port. I actually called this one, they said open til 6, cool I'd be there by 4:30. Got there just before 4:30, no one to be found. A few minutes go by and one of the attendants came down and sad they closed at 4:30, wouldn't sell me fuel or give me a slip, I ended up just taking an empty slip. F**k!Ended up stuck there for 4 days because weather I wanted to beat on the first day rolled in in the morning. All because I didn't call, then got bad info to top it off. 

Steve said:

I'll second Mike's comment. Make sure you call ahead to your stops (and maybe some in between just in case) to see if they are open and if they have fuel. We moved from Saganaw Bay to Georgian Bay the first week of June and many of the marinas were just opened, limited staff and we were often the only boat in the water.

Hi Tim,

No rendezvous in Traverse City -- There was one in South Haven in 2003

Timothy "Tim" Miller said:

Traverse City was a CCCC Rendezvous and Morland's return to the home port of Michigan City, IN. Is documented.  A few years later we attended the Rendezvous in M.C.I. One of our party took the western side to Chicago and came over later. Greg G is the one you should contact about Lake info. Coming south there's a doa raised bridge that may limit clearance without lowering roll bars and antennas.  Once on the Illinois it's a matter how far do want to go and are the wickets down, if not additional locking is required. Normal last stops on the Illinois are Peoria and Beardstown.

Harbors at Peoria,  towboat dock at Beardstown, hail and get permission and instruction. 

Grafton Harbor at the confluence with the Mississippi is full service and the food is good.  Alton marina is closest to the dam and has fuel. My harbor across and upriver about 2 miles.

The new edition of Quimby's is out. All river charts are downloads now.

Tim

Owner will have a new hard copy of Quimby's on the boat. There will be another captain who is familiar with the lake, he'll be on board as far as Chicago. Thanks for all the info!!  Weather will be the major scheduling factor, although as said above, you can't depend on weather forecasts more than 4 hours out LOL

Call when close,  I may have the boat commissioned by then,  if not I can drive. 

Char, I'd like to say that was a test but you would catch me at too.

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