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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello fellow cruisers,

I'm thinking of cruising the Great Lakes this spring/summer, starting in Chicago and making my way east towards Buffalo.
I'm wondering if this is feasible to do in a ON/OFF method, meaning, cruise for 2-3 weeks, anchor/store the boat for 2-3 weeks so I can return home, then return to the boat, and repeat the cycle.
Starting in Chicago, I'd expect my first ON phase to get me to somewhere around Detroit. So here's my question - do you have suggestions where to leave/dock/anchor the boat for three weeks in the Detroit area? Keeping the boat on a dock in a marina for three weeks while I'm away would be a huge waste of money. Are there places where one can anchor or hang on a can for a reasonable fee?
Next ON phase should hopefully get me to Buffalo, and there the same question arises. Anybody familiar with the area and aware of anchorages/places to keep a boat safe for three weeks?
I'll have my dinghy with me, so anchoring out/on a can is technically feasible and I actually prefer it over being on a dock.

Any tips or comments appreciated!
Stephan
 

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Hi Stephan. I sailed down Huron along your intended route last summer, although sticking to the Canadian side (I infer you're American). I can't recall any place where you could safely anchor a boat unattended for more than a couple of days. I didn't notice any mooring fields, but I wasn't looking for them. Consult the Ports books or Active Captain. They might have that info.

There are many marinas, and I assume there would be transient or short-term dockage available.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi Mike,

thanks a lot for your reply. I will possibly stick to the Canadian side of Lake Huron on my second leg, if there are enough intermediate stops to anchor/dock for the night. I'm single handing and usually will want to stop for the night. Did you write a log/blog of your cruise? I would enjoy seeing the distances between ports etc.
Thanks for the tip to look at Active Captain, I'll go there next.
If dockage in a more remote area is much cheaper I'd try to get past Detroit and keep the boat at such a place for the break, even though that will add complications to my journey home.
For reference, transient dockage here in my home harbor in Chicago is $1 per foot per night on a can, and $2.1 per foot per night on a dock.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Mike,

your tip about Active Captain was worth the price of admission - I can't believe I didn't know this before... There are many dozens of places to choose from in Detroit alone, and their transient rates don't seem astronomical.
Thanks again!
 

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We sailed south from Coburn Island in the North Channel. Our first anchorage was around the point from the Bruce Nuclear plant off shore of Inverhuron Provincial Park. We then spent the next night in Goodrich marina. Our final night in Huron proper was spent near Kettle Point. The anchorages were all exposed to the west, and were only feasible b/c of the benign weather. Once you go past the Bruce Peninsula there really are not protected anchorages. You can basically get in the lee of points and the land, but you have to trust the forecasts, and be ready to move.

Lake St. Clair is interesting. For deep draft boats there are no protected anchorages that we found on the Canadian side. Anchor Bay looks good though. If you draw less than 3' you can probably find some near the river mouths. However, the whole damn lake is around 15' or less. Again, with benign weather we just headed off the shipping lane and anchored out in the middle of the lake. It was bizarre, but completely safe. We could put out hundreds of feet of rode b/c, and even if we dragged, we'd have miles to go before hitting shore. I wouldn't recommend it if weather was predicted, but it worked for us.

Nearing the mouth of the Detroit River there were a few places I was tempted to anchor; up around the small islands. We didn't though, and ended up sailing to Pelee Island where we anchored off the NW shore in the lee of Sheridan Point. Again, it's a fair-weather anchorage. You could anchor in other places around the island depending on wind direction, but beware of the ferry routes. They are big, and move fast.

Long Point is a good place to anchor. We spent a night on the south side of the point hooked near shore. The north side offers lots of good protection, but depths are tricky for us deep draft boats. One great anchorage was up the Grand River. We hooked just where the river bends to the east, tucking up near the marshes. It was erie, especially with the duck hunters blasting away very near by (we even saw the scatter from the shot guns. Really beautiful though. This was a very protected spot, but there is a lot of local river boat traffic. I wouldn't leave a boat unattended for any length of time. I'm sure the locals would go and investigate.

That's about all I can recall right now. As I say, I can't think of any place I'd leave a boat unattended on anchor for more than a day. But there are plenty of marinas that I'm sure would be happy to take your money. Good luck. It will be a great trip.
 

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Mike,

your tip about Active Captain was worth the price of admission - I can't believe I didn't know this before... There are many dozens of places to choose from in Detroit alone, and their transient rates don't seem astronomical.
Thanks again!
It's a great resource. It is a crowd-sourced wiki, so best to confirm the info in other ways if you can, but we used it a lot coming down the Lakes.

Another thing is the exchange rate. Assuming you are American, your dollar is now 25% more valuable than our Canadian loonie. This makes our marina rates even better for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Mike, many thanks for your anchorage tips, this sounds great and with Active Captain I was able to follow along where you went. Planning a trip is half the fun, and you gave me plenty pointers.
I went up to the North Channel a few years ago, and cruised between Thessalon and The Benjamin Islands, and enjoyed that a lot. I'm temped to go through there and Georgian Bay, but I'd need more time. I wish I could take a few months off...
I'm actually German, a permanent resident of the US though, and will surely benefit from the current good (for me) exchange rates.
 

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I Went for a lake cruise this spring with Blount small Ship cruises. I have never sailed across a lake. But I can tell you that the lake cruises are truly magical. It was a voyage through magical Lake Michigan.We started from Chicago.We went to pier park and enjoyed the city’s skyline from ship deck.We traveled through lake Michigan,macatawa,straits of mackinac,huron,sturgeon bay,manitowoc river and ended in Milwaukee harbor.
 

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Depending on your draft I know of a marina where you could probably stay for free in Lake St.Clair. My son's CS 30 draws 4' & my Fisher catamaran draws 3.5. We plan on sailing the North Channel in next year or so. Good luck.
 

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I spent a summer sailing all the Great Lakes except Superior on an 80' twin screw motorsailer. I found the weather up there to be immensely changeable and extremely violent at times, even on a big boat like that. I would suggest you have a couple of safe ports and/or anchorages all planned out for each leg in case you get hit by some bad weather. Definitely pay attention to local weather forecasting, but remember they are not always correct, so keep a 'weather eye' on the weather.
Have a good cruise.
 

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Capta gave great advice regarding the weather. I was nearly killed on Lake Erie in weather that was not forecasted. Ok, maybe a slight exaggeration, but it was scary and not fun.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Weather on the Great Lakes is hard to predict due to it being continental. By contrast, ocean weather is far simpler to understand and predict, which is something that spooks some sailors first visiting the Lakes. Add to this the fact that the Lakes, especially the smaller ones, can kick up some serious steep waves in a very short time, means they are not to be taken lightly.

All that said, during the peak summer sailing months you are more apt to encounter light airs than stormy seas. Just watch out for the late afternoon/early evening thunderstorms.
 
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