Lake Michigan - Grand Haven to Chicago
I'm looking for some input from the Sailnet community on southern Lake Michigan ports and a possible cruise I'm planning.
We have a 25' centerboard sloop based out of Grand Haven and are thinking of sailing to Chicago sometime this coming summer. However, my wife and I are both somewhat unfamiliar with any of Lake Michigan's ports south of South Haven.
Here are our specifc wants:
a) We'd like to keep daily trips under 30 miles because we have small children aboard. I know a lot of it depends on weather, boat speed, etc. But generally speaking we typically can put 20-30 miles under our keel in a day.
b) We'd prefer to stay within sight of the coast rather than make a 40+ mile crossing of southern L. Michigan.
Here are my questions:
1) Is a roundtrip cruise from Grand Haven to Chicago feasible in our 25 footer given a time window of 10-14 days and the above constraints?
2) Are there any decent ports for an overnight between New Buffalo and Chicago?
3) Any tips for staying a couple of days in the Chicago area? Marinas? Moorings? Etc.?
First let me tell you about me, we were moored in Monroe Harbor; Chicago for over 25 years, we now sail out of Holland (just South of you), we routinly sail to Chicago at least two or three times a season but we do the open water 85 NM route.
You are fimiliar with the ports as far South as South Haven correct?
Well next is St. Joes which is about 20NM's
Than New Buffalo,
Than Michigan City is about 12 Miles from New Buffalo.
After Michigan City you have a couple of more in East Chicago and Hammond, but at that point you are really adding the miles under your keel.
Michigan City to Chicago is only just over 30 miles, to continue to follow the shore would add many miles to that.
If you want to be right down town in the heart of the city; DuSable Harbor and Burnham Harbor have limited slips available for transients. Call ahead as soon as the season opens and you know when you will be going.
Mooring balls are much easier to get in Monroe Harbor (also right downtown), but no shore power or water and you will have to get used to riding the tender back and forth.
I cruised our 25 footer for many years, but I did not have small children on board. Can it be done in 14 days? Deffinitely yes. 14 days is a long time for a trip like this. The big question will be can the children be comfortable on the trip and how much will they slow you. And remeber though, just because you plan on hugging the shoreline does not mean you may not get some nasty seas. In fact it might mean the opposite.
Have fun, and if you need any more help let me know.
BTW, we would love to have you stop in Holland on your way. That could be your first 20nm leg. Look us up, we are at Eldean's Z-46.
I don't mind a 30 mile crossing from Michigan City, but I think crossing from anywhere much north of that would be a bit too much for my family if we encountered any bad weather.
I actually think I prefer a mooring ball to a transient slip, just because it saves on cost and we rarely use shorepower or water hook-ups anyway. Plus, we like to get some use out of the dink!
We stayed at Eldean's for two nights last summer. Remember the big roll cloud storm that passed through on a Wednesday evening? We were there that night and the next. Eldean's was a nice retreat and we'll definately be back for at least a couple of nights this coming summer.
You will be right in the Heart of Grant Park with Buckingham Fountain and Queens Landing to great you.
The Museum Campus is a short walk away; Michigan Avenue, the Magnificent Mile, Navy Pier Dinning and Entertaining are all an easy cab ride.
Some more to add to the Ports o Call we talked about.
St Joes is a good stop, probably the best Marina here for a Transient is West Basin Marina; City of St. Joseph, Michigan
There are a couple others further upriver and a bit closer to town, but they are past two bridges, the bridges operate on a regular basis. These two are Harbor Isle and Pier 33. A few others dot the river. From West Basin, I believe they run a tram or shuttle to down town, this might be Memorial Day to Labor Day only. Check ahead on that. The town is OK in my opinion, I have seen better and I have seen worse (like Michigan City), but If I remember correct, its not very easy to obtain provision here.
New Buffalo is one of our favorites. The town has grown by leaps and bounds recently, but still a nice quaint stop. The Municipal Marina has very limited slips, I think maybe twenty or so, they take reservations at Michigan CRS Reservation Service as does West Basin and any other that is part of the Michigan Park System. from the Municipal Marina you simply step off the docks and are a couple of minute walk to small town shopping and dinning. Its a lot like South Haven but on a smaller scale. Its a very nice stop over and provisions can be obtained a few blocks from the Marina.
I'm sure you would enjoy a stay here.
Michigan City; very nice Marina not much of a town. If your wife likes Outlet Malls they have on there, that's about all they have. If you walk the downtown area, you will find half the store fronts boarded up. The other half should be. A couple of restaurants are an easy walk; Maty's and Galvastons. One thing to check out is the Light House Museum right next to the harbor. If Chicago is your choice in destinations, you might want to consider making the crossing from New Buffalo, it only adds about 15 miles to the trip across.
Both Michigan City and New Buffalo can have problems with shoaling. Be careful, stay in middle and maybe phone ahead for local knowledge.(not sure about current or upcoming status I have not been in either since '06)
Once again, don't hesitate to ask if there is anything else.
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