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Rhys05 08-22-2012 02:35 PM

Traverse Bay Area
Hey, the Admiral and I are thinking about taking our 18ft trailersailer up to Traverse Bay over Labor Day, just wondering if anyone had any suggestions for where to launch, good places to anchor, suggestions on places to sail to in the area, marinas with transient slips, campgrounds, etc. I've been lurking here for quite a while, but this is my first post. Thanks in advance for your help!


schoolmarm 08-23-2012 07:36 AM

Traverse Bay Area
We are big fans of Northport. Boat launch and nice marina there. Not sure on campground as we are on the boat when there.

wingNwing 08-23-2012 02:24 PM

Re: Traverse Bay Area
Love Northport; left there 10 years ago to go cruising and live aboard full time, but it's still our hailing port. It's good in any wind except SE. If the winds are out of the south, Sutton's Bay is a great alternate anchorage.

Rhys05 08-24-2012 08:06 AM

Re: Traverse Bay Area
Do (can) you anchor out in the bay, or do you take a mooring or a slip in one of the marinas? This will be our first time on (relatively) "big water," so inquiring minds need to know! Thanks for the tips so far! We stopped by our local sail shop last night and they suggested putting in near Traverse City. I'm thinking about sailing from there up to Northport or Sutton's Bay (depending on wind and weather), spending the night, and sailing back. We are just excited to be GOING somewhere on our sailboat rather than just going in circles on small lakes (not that that isn't fun, it is...). We are already on the look out for the next step up, as the dream is to do exactly what you are doing WingNWing, but I'm happy to get all of the experience we can on this little pocket cruiser for right now.


tomandchris 08-28-2012 04:32 PM

Re: Traverse Bay Area
My suggestion would be to split the difference and do Suttons Bay for launch. Then you can make your sailing decisions based on the wind. There are good facilities for launch at Elmwood in Traverse City, at the municipal marinas in Suttons Bay and Northport. Suttons Bay is in the middle and they have transient slips and you can anchor in the bay or Omena Bay dependent on the wind. Northport and TC both have transient slips as well. However, this is the last hurrah weekend for most and you can almost count on most to be packed. The following weekend will be no problem.

If you are camping seperate from the boat your options are Leelanau State park at the tip of the penninsula about 8 miles north of Northport or one of the campgrounds on Lake Leelanau. Leelanau State Park is rustic and also has cabins if they are not already booked for Labor Day.

Right now they are forecasting plenty of wind to start the weekend. The big lake will be running at 5-8' Thursday to Saturday. Another reason to stay in the Bay as the fetch is not bad except from the N. Hope it changes or my trip to Beaver Is. and Mackinac Is. will be postponed.

Good Luck

tomandchris 08-28-2012 06:34 PM

Re: Traverse Bay Area
It turns out that Saturday will be a zoo at Suttons Bay. They are attempting a world record raft up of canoes and kayaks. So far over 800 registered and they are hoping for 2000 to beat the record. They will be everywhere putting them in the water. NP probably a better bet and then go to SB Saturday evening or Sunday.

Rhys05 08-29-2012 08:43 AM

Re: Traverse Bay Area
How would you rate putting in at Traverse City and sailing up to and anchoring in Bower's Harbor for the night? The charts show some decent 5-10ft water (we only draw 2 feet) in the north end of the harbor that might be good to anchor in, but ActiveCaptain doesn't have any anchorage reviews up there. Part of the impetus for this trip is that we would like to "go somewhere" on the boat, so there is some appeal to that area since we could sail to Marion (Power) Island for the day and anchor up in the harbor at night and sail back to Traverse City when it is time to leave. Thoughts?

tomandchris 08-29-2012 09:08 AM

Re: Traverse Bay Area
That would be doable dependent on the wind. It is about a 12-15 NM trip from TC to Omena Bay. As long as the wind is not out of the S you are OK anchoring there. If it is go to the S end of Suttons Bay and anchor there. If you stay in Omena Bay try Knot just a Bar. Great restaurant sitting right at the base of the bay. Good food, even better view.

Grand Traverse Bay is great sailing grounds with lots to see and do. The biggest problem with it is that it is a lot of tacks out most of the time. In the days of the schooners the main port in GTB was Northport where the rail cars took the product S. The schooners could find themselves taking forever getting back out of the bay once in TC.

You will find Power Island crowded, and sometimes entertaining, on the weekend.

have a good trip.

Rhys05 08-29-2012 09:18 AM

Re: Traverse Bay Area
No thoughts on Bower's Harbor though? Thanks for the tip on Knot Just a Bar, that sounds like a good place! Our boat is pretty small, our hull speed is only 5.25 i'll be happy to average 4 knots most of time, its probably going to depend on what time we are getting there (and the winds) as to where we will put in and where we will sail to on Friday. I would like to sail somewhere on Friday, anchor out for the night, sail somewhere else on Sunday, anchor out for the night, and then be able to get back to where we parked by mid/late morning on Monday so that we don't get back home (central Indiana) too late on Monday evening. I'm good with tacking, its SAILING, if i wanted to go straight TO somewhere I would be into power boats! :)

tomandchris 08-29-2012 09:06 PM

Re: Traverse Bay Area
Sorry, my mind was on Omena and not on Bowers Harbor. That could be good for you actually. Not sure how many transient slips they have but you can call and find out. Not many options unless in front of private property for anchoring. Also, if you are in Bower's Harbor, which is about 7 miles from TC. The Boathouse restaurant is also very good. A little more upscale than Knot, but very nice with a view of Bower's Harbor and a sunset if you are there at the right time.

From Bower's Harbor it is a run of about 10-12 NM to Suttons Bay or Omena. Based on what you want to do on Monday it would probably be best to finish at Bowers Harbor on Sunday afternoon and then you only have a short trip back to TC on Monday AM. I think that Elmwood and Clinch in TC are full for the weekend but maybe not Friday night. You can check them at as they are both reservable harbors. The balance in the Bay are not reserveable but can usually handle a small boat on a wall or somewhere.

I also like to sail, but sometimes the wind says no and you do what you have to. The biggest myth is that you sail wherever you go. That may be true in a small lake where you can drift for the day, but in the Great Lakes the "iron jenny" gets used a lot. Case in point, I moved my boat from TC north to Northport today. Wind on the nose at 5 knots. I could have sailed but it would have taken me 10 hours or more. I pulled out of the marina, set the auto pilot, and was in NP in a little over 3 hours. In fact, I would still be out there and not sending this note. Now if it would have been blowing 10-15 I would have sailed, but 5..........not today.

Have a good weekend. Bring gas for the outboard and hope you don't need it.

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