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post #1 of 4 Old 02-09-2002 Thread Starter
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Detroit and St. Claire Rivers

I hope to make my way from Lake Erie to the North Channel this summer and wonder if anyone who has travelled on the Detroit and St. Claire Rivers could comment on the ease of travelling on those rivers. Is current a problem when heading upstream? What is the average current on the rivers? Are there some spots that are particularly bad? I assume that the rivers are very heavily travelled by commercial Great Lakes shipping, and that this poses a serious danger to us little guys. Do those of you who travel on those rivers regularly have suggestions as to how to ease that danger? Obviously, keeping a sharp lookout is important, but are there other things that you guys suggest that might ease this danger a bit?
I''m grateful for anything suggestions or ideas that might make the voyage a bit safer and easier.
Peter K.
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post #2 of 4 Old 02-14-2002
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Detroit and St. Claire Rivers

I have had lots of experience with travel on both the Detroit and St. Clair rivers. A trip from Put-in-Bay on my C&C 35 MKI at 6 knots would take approximatly 10 hours to Lake St. Clair. This is against the current of course. Lake St. Clair has very little current action and is about 26 miles across to the St. Clair River. You figure taht one out. I keep my boat at the head of the Detroit River and go up to Port Huron every year. It can be a 10 to 11 hour trip. My suggestion for both rivers is to use a very detailed chart and stay as close to shore as you can. This keeps you out of the current and speeds this up a lot. Commercial traffic is not usualy a problem. Freighters stick to the bouyed channel and your best time is by staying out of the channel. Also, freighters are huge and easy to see way in advance of actually meeting up with one. The current under the Blue Water Bridge at Port Huron/Sarnia is terrible. Stay as close to the Canadian shore as possible. Again, use the chart, you can go quite close. If you stay in the middle, you will be there all day and also have the danger of downbound freighters which come through at a raapid speed. Have fun in the North Channel, it''s the greatest. Join the Great Lakes Cruising Club, they have extensive private charts of the North Channel which are a great aid.
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post #3 of 4 Old 04-25-2002
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Detroit and St. Claire Rivers

I sailed from Saginaw Bay to Galveston Bay through Lake Huron and Lake Michigan down the Illinois River and Tombigbee Waterway and other rivers. It was a wonderful experience and I wrote a book about it called "All Goes Well." You might enjoy reading it before you go (or while you are sailing!). Visit my site at You can also contact me through the web page.
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post #4 of 4 Old 05-02-2002
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Detroit and St. Claire Rivers


Transiting the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers is relatively easy. Make sure you have the "book chart" (I don''t have the number off hand) that covers from the lower Detroit River to Port Huron. The currents in both rivers run about 1 1/2 to 2 knots except for the final stretch under the Blue Water Bridge at Port Huron where the constriction accelerates it to about 4 knots for about a 1/2 mile until you pop thru (hug the Canadian shore to reduce this effect). As far as commercial traffic, it is pretty constant, but there is usually plenty of water outside the marked channel, so you just pop outside the buoys when encountering a freighter and you''re all set. They are speed restricted in both rivers, so they are not throwing tremendous wakes. Hope you make the trip.
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