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2 Week Lake Michigan Trip Help.

4193 Views 22 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Brunet33
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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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.
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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.
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.
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.
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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.
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,

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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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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?
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.
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?
There are several possible anchorages when heading north: White Lake, Pentwater Lake, Portage Lake, South Manitou Island, Betsie Lake, Grand Traverse Bay, Lake Charlevoix (Round Lake, Horton Bay, etc.)...
any better than others? Where would you recommend? Do you just fnd a good spot and toss out the anchor?
Great Lakes Cruising Club

You might want to consider joining the Great Lakes Cruising Club The Great Lakes Cruising Club, which will give you access to the club's harbor reports. You'll get details like where to drop the hook, where to eat, where to shop, what shoreside sights to see, and a contact person (Port Captain) to call if you have questions. If your trip will get you to the Mackinac Bridge by mid-July you can attend the GLCC annual rendezvous which will be held at the new marina in Mackinaw City.

No one mentioned the current in the Manistee River that you have to be aware of if staying there. Be sure to get some smoked fish from Fish Town in Leland, and have the whitefish at the Bluebird restaurant. The docks at Leland were upgraded when I visited in 2007. There aren't so many places to drop the hook on the east side of Lake Michigan, so most of my trips have been harbor-hopping. Besides those locations mentioned, you can drop the hook in Arcadia Lake. I also recommend you pick up Richardson's chart book.

In high season, you will need to get to marinas early in the day or you may be rafted off. If staying in a state harbor, you can make reservations ahead of time. The disadvantage to doing that is you don't have the flexibility if you have weather delays.
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any better than others? Where would you recommend? Do you just fnd a good spot and toss out the anchor?
Portage Lake has a good, protected anchorage just across the lake from the Portage Point Inn. Watch your water depth!

Lake Charlevoix is a highly recommended anchorage. Round Lake (within L. Charlevoix) is great for anchoring and has plenty to do ashore if you have a dinghy. Additionally, you can find any number of good bays within Lake Charlevoix proper if you check your charts.

The anchorage at South Manitou Island is a bit scary to me personally. The bottom is a mix of sand and rock and the bay is only protected if the wind is from the west or northwest. Check your forecast carefully before heading to the Manitous for an overnight stay!

I also believe there is a good anchorage in St. James Harbor on Beaver Island, though I've never been there personally.
I also believe there is a good anchorage in St. James Harbor on Beaver Island, though I've never been there personally.
St James is a very nicely protected natural harbor/anchorage.
Just be very careful on the water depths there. It looks to be deep enough but is actaully very shallow. Stick in the main channel till you are inside.

Ditto your comments on Portage Lake.
Keep on eye on North Point, the shallow runs out into the lake much further than you would think. It is also very clearly marked with a Green Can and charted properly.
The depths up in the North West sector of the lake off of Portage Point Inn are very deep (30'-50') right up to the shore line. I generally look for 10' to 20' for overnight anchoring.
You might fine this link helpful as well.
You can view NOAA charts on line.

NOAA's On-Line Chart Viewer

Not real helpful in plottong courses but helpful in studying local waters in which you plan on sailing someday. (Not as helpful or as easy to use as a chart book such as the Richardson that has already been suggested; but still a good tool). If your like me, you can spend hours just looking at and studying charts. I also highly recommend (in my previous post) getting Lakeland Boating's Ports-o-Call cruising guide. Lots of good info there.
Thanks to all who has helped out. If someone can think of something else that has not been talked about yet, please add that info. Anything to make this a great trip!

thank again for everyone's help!!!!
Perhaps we'll pass each other somewhere along the route, as we're planning a clockwise circumnavigation of Lake Michigan starting in Grand Haven for the summer of 2010. What's your boat?
My boat is a catalina 30 out of Muskegon named Moonshadow II. When are you going to be leaving on your trip? how long do you figure it will take you? I plan to leave sometime after the 4th of July. Still planning out the trip all winter though. I'm looking forward to exploring the north on my boat.

Do you get on any other sailing sites? If so, what are some good ones?
Brunet33 - We're planning to leave in early June and be out at least until sometime into August. Because of the length of the trip, we've got an extra long list of spring work to complete and probably won't splash her until late May, which is about a month later than usual. We're also just taking out time planning this winter and enjoying the process.
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