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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This thread is for sailors to share their experiences navigating the east and west shores of Lake Michigan. I am planning a circumnavigation of the Lake for the summer of 2015. So far my plan is vague at best but follows the following route:
-Northport, MI (Grand Traverse)
-Frankfort
-Ludington (great ice cream parlor)
-Pentwater (just because it's cool)
-White Lake Yacht Club
-Grand Haven
-Holland
-South Haven
-St. Joseph
-Chicago
-Waukeegan
-Kenosha
-Racine
-Milwaukee
-Port Washington
-Sheboygan
-Manitowoc
-Kewaunee
-Algoma
-Sturgeon Bay
-Egg Harbor
-Sister Bay
-Washington Island
-Leeland, MI
-Northport (HOME)

I am very familiar with the east(Michigan) coast of the Lake, but I do not know the west side very well.
I would like to do the trip over the course of 2 months. Some towns we may bypass and others might inspire us to stay for a few days. Please share you experiences/opinions/local knowledge, etc...
Thanks
Rob (PuraVida- C-30)
 

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Hello. Be Very careful of long seawalls hundreds of feet long and hard to see at night. & notice sunken wrecks on charts. If you need to, from St. Joe, mich you could go to the nice Hammond Marina, or even anchor behind the seawall. Careful of quiet, huge ships from St. Joe to Chicago.
.....For Chicago. Look at internet Westrec Marinas who operate Chicago marinas. Burnham Harbor is safe area & walk to Soldier field, Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium , Field museum. Dusable Harbor is a great one too.
Monroe Harbor is close to Navy Pier & big ferris wheel. Most of the Harbors north of these are across from huge apartment buildings and parks. (they are nice marinas but harder to be a Tourist).
.....Northpoint Marina, a big beautiful place, is 10 miles N, of Waukegan. Waukegan has boat/engine repairs Larson marine.
 

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What about north of NP? If you are out of NP then you have probably done the Elk Rapids, Charlevoix, Petoskey, Harbor Springs, and Beaver trips and that may be why they are not on your circumnavigation.

However, I have heard great things about Fairport. Not much there but history and great rock walls, but it should be on your list after Washington Island. Then just do a long overnight back to NP.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
What about north of NP? If you are out of NP then you have probably done the Elk Rapids, Charlevoix, Petoskey, Harbor Springs, and Beaver trips and that may be why they are not on your circumnavigation.

However, I have heard great things about Fairport. Not much there but history and great rock walls, but it should be on your list after Washington Island. Then just do a long overnight back to NP.
Thanks for your suggestions and advice.. These are the types of feedback that I am looking for. I have read about Fairport and it sounds very interesting with great locations to drop the hook.

Since our home port is in Grand Traverse, we are very acquainted with the upper half of Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay. This summer we will cruise Beaver, Charlexoix, Petoskey, Boyne City and Mac Island. However, this summer, prior to the 4th of July, we are planning to sail from Grand Traverse to Saugatuck. This is a trip that our 7 year old twins love and have requested. We will allow about 3 weeks for the round trip and will be back in Northport for the 4th of July. BTW, 4th of July in Northport Harbor is a GREAT time and very family friendly. After the 4th we'll head north to Beaver, etc...
How children friendly is Harbor Springs marina? I have never been inspired to visit.
we will this summer however. please visit my brand new blog an feel free to share stories, thoughts and suggestions. sailingpuravida.blogspot.com
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
A quick review of my favorite Grand Traverse Area ports.
Northport- 5 stars Best marina in Grand Traverse. the new facilities are wonderful. great for kids, great food, fantastic marina
Omena- 5 stars no marina, but best anchorage in Northern, MI.
Suttons Bay- 4 stars, Marina is OK bathroom facilities are substandard, but the town is great.
Traverse City Clinch Park- 3 stars convenient location, but very loud on the weekends. Lots of week end warriors wanting to party late.
Elk Rapids- 5 stars great marina, great town, great facilities, but you might have quite a hike from your boat to the bathroom or to just get off the docks.
Also, the lee side of Power (Marion) Island is a wonderful place to drop a hook.
 

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So is your home port NP, or are you docked somehwere else in the GTB? I would agree that NP is an excellent home port, mostly because of what you can access easily from it. We always positioned the boat in NP when we were going to Beaver or had company and wanted to go to Charlevoix for lunch. It is a long way to anywhere from the bottom of the bay.

Harbor Springs is obviously a pretty upscale town, but it is small so there are lots of things for young kids to do, about as accessible as any smaller town. The best reason to visit Harbor Springs if you are in Little Traverse Bay is a W or NW wind of any significance. Petoskey is not user friendly in big blows from those directions and Harbor Springs is extremely protected.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Actually, Omena is my home port, but I spend a lot of time at the NP marina. Over the past 3 years huge renovations have happened in Northport. This towns has come back to life. For some great food, there are 4 very fine restaurants that wont break the bank. The Marina has experienced a complete facelift with new bathroom facilities and landscaping. The village of Northport hosts live music in the park every weekend and a wonderful wine and music festival. This sounds like an ad for NP, but all of the improvements are exciting. My wife and I are teachers and live in Grand Rapids, but during the summers we spend a lot of time with our kids in Leelanau County. If you have not been to NP for a while, you should pay it a visit.

BTW. thanks for the great info about Harbor Springs. We will definitely put in on the list of ports for next summer. We are always looking for kid-friendly harbors.
 
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