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Old 10-06-2009
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2 Week Lake Michigan Trip Help.

I'm starting to plan a trip this summer for two weeks. Leaving sometime early July next summer. I will be leaving out of Muskegon and heading north on Lake Michigan.

This will be my 1st LONG trip like this and would like to make it up to the bridge. I would also like to stop and a number of ports along the way. I would like to see the best of the west coast of Lake Michigan has to offer.

Any help with planning my trip would be great! Where to stop, stay, eat, do, anything......

Also a great list of supplies and things I should have with me on this trip. I'm pretty green to these long trips, so the better prepared I am going into the trip, the more enjoyable it will be for all those on board.

thanks for the help in advance!
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Old 10-06-2009
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Hi Brunet,
We sail out of Holland and cruise as well.

I simply copied and pasted a reply I sent to another boater asking the same question.

BTW, I recently sailed to Portage Lake and absolutley loved it for an out of the way winderness type of anchorage that also has nice Marianas.

Make sure you pick up a copy of Lakeland Boating's Ports-o-Call.
It is a great cruising guide for Lake Michigan.

Really, that whole side of the lake is lined with harbors about every 20 to 40 Miles. It has been my experince that you can't go wrong with any of them.

If your going all the way to the bridge, make sure to watch your charts at "Gray's Reef" and don't try to make any short cuts through there. Stick to the well marked channel.

The following is copied from a previous post.

You can see a lot in two weeks.

Cruising Guide?
Lakeland Boating's "Ports - O -Call"

I would start right next door at White Lake.
Have you been there?
There is a very nice area in Portage Lake that I have wanted to visit.
I have never been there but it looks great.

And of course, make sure you stop in Charlevoix.
Everybody raves about it.

If your looking for lots of wilderness with not a lot to do and plenty of peace and quite, than be sure to hit Beaver Island as well.

Pentwater, Frankfort....

Ludington would be fun just for the fact that you get to see the Badger coming and going. But I understand, she can leave a bit of a sooty mess.

For a quite anchorage, drop the hook off of South Manitou Island.

Really, I don't think you can go wrong with any of the ports along that side.
And they all seem to be spaced about 2o miles apart, which makes for some easy harbor hopping.
Courtney is My Hero

If a man is to be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most - E.B. White

Last edited by sailortjk1; 10-06-2009 at 10:52 AM.
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Old 10-06-2009
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I agree with my friend sailortjk1. He has much more experience on the east coast of Lake Michigan than I. From my experience as well, hard to go wrong. I've been to Holland, Pentwater, Frankfort and Muskegon. Frankfort has good food within easy walk of the marina with a range from great burgers to fine contemporary dining. Pentwater seemed to have some nice places as well, though we ate with friends either on the boat or at their summer cottage so I didn't experience any restaurants. My brother-in-law likes Grand Haven and everyone raves about Charlevoix. The Lake Michigan Port-o-Call is a great cruising guide... Well worth it.
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"To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it - but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.”
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Old 10-06-2009
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I've made the run a many times and each port has it's pros and cons. My favorites are Northport, Leland and South Manitou. I'd recommend a copy of Richardson's Cruising Guide for Lake Michigan. You get charts and marina details as well as photos of the approaches, which can be handy for locating things.
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Old 10-06-2009
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I can't tell you about Lake Michigan but

I did my first 2-week cruise last summer. I sailed around Georgian Bay.
It was absolutely fantastic!
Here are a couple of observations from a first-time cruiser:
  • plan your meals carefully, make a list of all the food you will need, cut your food list in (at least) half! - we came home with almost as much food as we started with. We met up with friends along the way who insisted on feeding us. We also made a few unscheduled stops and ate at restaurants.
  • plan your fresh water supply very carefully. Then reduce that to about 30%. We estimated about 2 litres per person per day. Then we added a buffer and stowed 70 litres for a 2-week trip. We ended up using about 25 litres all together. (2 people for 12 days)
  • plan your wine consumption carefully - then add at least 25%. We budgeted 500 ml per person per day (about two glasses). We ended up having to buy an additional 3 litres.
  • you really won't get through a 60 of rum by yourself!
  • take lot's of pictures.
  • my wife wrote a journal - it was a riot. (she made it sound as though I spent the whole trip napping!)
  • I wish I had planned on going half the distance and spent twice as much time at some of our anchorages. We had to be back in two weeks for my wife to get back to work. As a result we motored more than I would have liked, and didn't get to stay at a few of the places I wanted to.
Anyhow. There are a couple of things to bear in mind.
Enjoy your trip.
1989 Hunter 30'
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The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever. - Jacques Yves Cousteau
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Old 10-06-2009
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South Manitou and a little further north Grand Traverse ( the bay is nice) Charlevoix (and lake Charlevoix), Petoskey and Beaver Island. That far north you're already almost at the bridge. Frankfort is nice too- slightly funky approach. Get Richardson's and Ports 'O Call.

We'll do some puttering along the East side of the lake next summer too.

Last edited by cormeum; 10-06-2009 at 04:00 PM.
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Old 10-06-2009
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Those are all beautiful. Especially Leland, Manitou islands, and Northport.

But don't forget Harbor Springs on the Little Traverse bay across from Petosky. I have raced in 2 Regattas there. Gorgeous small town atmosphere. Great restaurants and, if you like to have a good time, the Bar/Restaurant, "The Pier" in the marina.

After you leave Charlevoix, and before you get to Petosky, stop in at Bay Harbor and grab lunch or dinner. You wanna see the ultra rich, including movie star's mansions and mega yachts? Right there my friend. Prepare to roll your tongue back into your head. That is of course if that sort of thing interests you. The marina bar/restaurant has some pretty decent food.

Don't forget a visit to Beaver Island.

I am in serious envy of you!

Safe voyage,


Last edited by Mauryd; 10-06-2009 at 08:09 PM.
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Old 10-07-2009
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I've been to all the ports between Muskegon and the Straits on Lake Michigan's east coast. This summer we cruised from Grand Haven to Portage Lake and stayed at least one night in every port in between. Here's a quick synopsis of our opinions on those ports:

White Lake: We loved the small, family-friendly feel of the WLYC. The ammenities (warm pool, nice grills, patio, bar, playgound) were great. Probably too short of a sail for your needs from Muskegon.

Pentwater: Great town with plenty of touristy shops and good food/drink. We love the live music at the Village Cafe & Pub. The Brown Bear has good beer selections and decent bar food. We've stayed at both the municipal marina and Snug Harbor. The municipal is cheaper, but it can rock-n-roll if the big lake is rough and the metal pilings on some of the floating docks are really noisy. Snug Harbor has slightly better showers, but it's usually crowded and the often require you to tie stern-to another boat in the same slip. There's a nice easy walk to the state beach that's recommended if you need to stretch the legs.

Ludington: The municipal marina here is very nice with excellent shower/bathroom facilities. The rates are great too. Harbor View Marina is a bit more upscale, but so are the prices. Basically the only difference is the pool at HVM. Both are walking distance to town and supplies. The town is so-so for shopping/dining.

Manistee: We didn't think the town was anything special, but the boardwalk along the river is very nice. The municipal marina is bare-bones, although they claim to be updating it within the next couple of years. We'll likely skip Manistee next time we head north.

Portage Lake: We loved Portage Lake and the marina at the Portage Point Inn. The lake is clear and beautiful and the Inn has decent food and friendly staff. The marina facilities are new as of 2008 and are very nice. There's an indoor pool, hot tub, shuffle board, basketball, nice beach, dune climb, bar, restaurant, and plenty of activities/rental toys. The draw back is that the showers/bathrooms are a bit of a hike from the marina.

Leland, Northport, Suttons Bay and TC are all also great stops. The Manitous make a great stop-over on the hook if the weather is decent and winds are out of the west/northwest.

Charlevoix: Both the lake and town are spectacular. The municipal marina was redone in 2009 and is very nice, though you'll need reservations. Mooring/anchoring in Round Lake is also very nice if you have a dinghy. Whitney's Oyster Bar has decent food and drinks. Don't miss a sail down the Lake Charlevoix if you have time. Horton Bay is an excellent place to drop the hook for a night.

Petoskey/Harbor Springs: These two towns have perhaps the best shopping/dinning you'll find between Muskegon and Mac Island. The marinas are decent and the water is brilliant blue.

Enjoy the trip and the planning process!
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Old 10-09-2009
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Thanks for all of the great tips for the trip..... I can't wait till next year to actually head out on the trip.

any other advice that anyone could offer would be great.

Also, I think it would be great to anchor some places for the night as well. Can anyone recommend a few of these while heading up north?
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Old 10-09-2009
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Make sure you monitor the weather and wait for the appropraite window. Nothing worse than getting caught out and not prepared for the weather. As you know LMichigan can and will get very nasty.
Courtney is My Hero

If a man is to be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most - E.B. White
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