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Old 08-08-2011, 21:39   #1
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Bay City, MI to Cleveland, OH

Hi everyone, I've been around lurking for a bit. We are buying a new to us sailboat up in MI and plan to sail her home. Looking at the charts for that trip I don't see any mast height issues (49') unless we deviate into a channel. My biggest concern is finding places to tie up for the night. We'll need 6' with a draft of 5'6". I don't want to hear the depth gauge alarm go off!

We'll be traveling with passports so either Canadian or US ports are fine. Our first stop is tentatively Port Austin. In other threads from a few years back folks said to avoid Harbor Beach and Lexington. Is this still the case? How about Sarnia? I am a member of an ILYA club. We'll want to stop before we hit the St. Clair river. The following day is planned to stop before we enter the Detroit river. Then down and into Lake Erie somewhere. I don't want to fight currents with a boat I'm not comfortable on so I'm shooting through the rivers without stopping (barring an emergency or atrocious weather). Our goal is about 60NM a day or more if absolutely necessary.

I have been an Erie sailor for several years so I'm familiar with chop and unpredictable weather and for this trip I will err on the side of caution just because I don't know the boat.

Any recommended stops, places to see or eat?
Thanks and fair winds!
SC
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Old 09-08-2011, 17:55   #2
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Re: Bay City, MI to Cleveland OH

Avoid Harbor beach only 4' deep, Travel down to Port Sanilac or Lexington. Both have enough water. From there you can make St. Clair or Algonac Then one day across lake St Clair and out of the Detroit River into Lake Erie. Port Austin to Port Sanilac about 50 Miles, Port sanilac to St Clair again about 50 miles. If you need more information PM me at claskey1954@yahoo.com
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Old 09-08-2011, 18:40   #3
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Re: Bay City, MI to Cleveland OH

That is great info thank you. Being our first long cruise it's a little overwhelming to stare at charts, activecaptain and such to try and decide.

I'm open to all advice and suggestions. Are there harbors to duck in if the weather turns sour?
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Old 09-08-2011, 19:02   #4
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Re: Bay City, MI to Cleveland OH

Once you are in Lake Erie I would head to the islands (lots of moorings, harbors,etc). 40 miles from there to Lorain, and its plenty deep - 10 foot at min(we're at Spitzer Marina there and they have lots of room for docking) and its about 40 miles to downtown cleveland from there..staying on the south side once you are in Lake Erie gives you lots of harbors, etc to duck into- not sure about the Canadian side

If you stop around Lorain- let me know- we'll meet you for a drink!! and i must add the Jackalope restaurant/bar at the marina is great!!
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Old 09-08-2011, 19:52   #5
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Re: Bay City, MI to Cleveland, OH

Hi RicknSue, if we do stop around Lorain I most certainly will. It will depend on my crew on what they want to do. I'll feel much better getting into Lake Erie. We're east of Cleveland but I knew if I got into that far I'd be in good shape. Does Spitzer have any obstacles? (power lines, bridges, current) I'm bringing home a new to us boat and I'm trying to keep things simple until I get to know her a bit better. I'm a big fan of having places to duck into since Erie can get cranky quickly.
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Old 09-08-2011, 20:04   #6
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Re: Bay City, MI to Cleveland, OH

No issues coming in - the bridges are all up the river- clear the breakwall, the marina is on the left of the river entrance - visitors dock is closest to the shore- but there is always open slips at the end the first docks you come too if its rough that day (or the very end- we had a great experience getting towed in one night with my buddies newly bought Ericsson) in fact there was a schooner sitting at the end of our dock this weekend that the marina didn't even know why it was there.... We actually live east too, thats just where the boat is..
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Old 10-08-2011, 07:18   #7
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Re: Bay City, MI to Cleveland, OH

Awesome! I'm going to call the gentleman above in this thread today since he has made this same trip multiple times. If anyone else has anything to add please feel free. Information is always appreciated!

Fair winds,
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Old 19-08-2011, 08:53   #8
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Re: Bay City, MI to Cleveland, OH

I second the Islands in Erie. Put in Bay on South Bass, Seaway Marina or Portside Marina on Kelley's Island are deep and good spots. You can also go into Port Clinton.

Sandusky Bay has a few good spots to tie up or anchor. Cedar Point Marina, Battery Park Marina are deep and good choices. I understand that the city of Sandusky opened municiple docks this year that are pretty nice. I haven't used them personally.

The Boat Basin in Huron is very nice and has good depth.

One of my favorites is Vermillion. Vermillion Port Authority manages the city docks, or check with Vermillion Yacht Club and see if they have any transient docks open. Very nice facilities and access to a great beach.

West Harbor (west of Marblehead OH) has a channel deep enough for your draft and there are a couple of Marinas for sail boats. Catawba Moorings is the nicest but you can also check NE Port, and Hurls. All three sometimes have transient docks available.

I would suggest not going to Pelee Island. Not much to do there and the docks have not been well maintained (generally speaking).

Leamington Canada is also a good consideration.
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Old 23-08-2011, 11:46   #9
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Re: Bay City, MI to Cleveland, OH

Hi all, thanks for all the suggestions. We completed this trip on Saturday. I wanted to post a follow up in case someone else down the road is considering this trip sharing what we did and the issues if any we had.

The first day we were aiming for Port Austin with a forecast of 8-10kt winds and 1-2' waves. We had 30+ kt waves and 6' waves with a few 8' at random. Had I looked at the fronts coming in I could have seen this coming. We had one sick crew member we needed to get out of this weather so we turned south to Caseville Municipal Marina. I would NEVER do this again coming from the south. The shoals were terrifying to put it mildly with the waves driving the boat toward them. Once there the channel was fine and the harbormaster was fantastic. (Frank) They got us tied up where we waited out the next 2.5 days for the fronts to pass. Nice facility deep enough if you stay in the center and north of a little shoal in the channel. We needed a good 5'9 with the loaded boat.

Our next leg took us to Lexington State Harbor. (Long day!) Upon arrival we were greeted as an annoyance and told to pay in the morning without being left any instructions on how to get into the restrooms. The docks were high from the deck of the boat. The following morning they did make good on this problem but it did leave me with a negative impression. The town rolled up the sidewalks at 8pm. There is a bar that has pretty good food about 4 blocks from the docks. Turn left at BP.

The leg after this was down the St. Clair which was rough with a stiff wind. We achieved 10kts under the Blue Water bridge and I'm told that is the fastest I'll ever go. It was a long boring trip to Algonac Harbor Club. The harbormaster claimed 7' of water and we saw 5' at the channel entrance and 5'6 at the fuel dock. It did appear to be silt but still unwanted. The facilities I saw were fine. We stayed tied at the fuel dock. Water appeared the same the following morning. I won't go back here.

From Algonac we crossed the Lake St. Clair with plenty of freighter traffic and tons of fisherman. There was a lot of traffic entering the Detroit River and leveled out as we went through downtown. Make sure of your points because there was quite a few branches and a wrong turn will yield very shallow water or a fixed bridge. The last half of the Detroit was very quiet and had a few other recreational boaters that didn't want to share the shipping lane. At the bottom we met another member and tried to get into their yard but we apparently missed the 'slot' and got stuck so we turned back for Ford Yacht Club. The water through here is very shallow and being unfamiliar it was a big concern. Ford accepts only members of other ILYA clubs. Nice facilities, narrow fairways and guest docks mostly on the wall to port on entrance.

The following day we planned for home but the forecast was a concern. We turned for Kelly's Island and headed for Seaway Marina. We were tied on the wall and bounced to ferry traffic until after midnight. Definitely use fenderboards on the wall. Nice folks and wifi at the store. I was a little surprised at $1 for a 5 minute shower so if you stay here have a roll of quarters on board. We had about 6-6'5 of water in the channel and at fuel dock then about 5'10 at the wall. There is potential for rafting on weekends but we didn't have to.

We left the following morning for home and took a northerly direction toward the Lake Erie NOAA buoy then turned east toward home. Not much out that far other than tightly packed groups of fisherman once in a while.

SC
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