Lots of good advice above.
here is a great reference to Great Lakes ice and surface water temperatures.
Great Lakes Ice Page | Watts Up With That?
Many people spend their entire summer in the North Channel. It is rated in the top 10 cruising destinations on Earth. I can't over-recommend it. Recently, formerly un-sounded areas in the far north of the NC have been added to the electronics charts
. This, and your small vessel size will get you into places where nobody goes.
Note that you can dock
all day in Little Current
at the public docks, connect to power, water & use the facilities free until about 9:00PM. This is to encourage you to spend money
in town, restaurants, movies, provisions. Be sure to spend time in Baei Fine. Get any of the charter
guides and a Great Lakes Waterway Guide. Spend time on Google Earth
the photos. If you dive, there are many underwater dive sites in Georgian Bay.
Note that all of the Great Lakes are zero discharge zones. You will need to plan for this. We added an Air Head
so that we could be free of the pump-outs.
Last season, we sailed to Marquette & Houghton/Hancock. You will find great micro-brews in almost every Michigan port. I recommed Lake Superior
Brewing in Grand Marais. Marquett has at least 3. In Houghton, you can tie up to the parkway by the parking garage at the SE approach tothe swing bridge. This is free for as long as you want to stay. Up hill through the parking garage to the main street is a coffee shop with free internet
, toilets & good food
. As you enter the canal through the Keewanaw there are massive tie-up bollards in the concrete along the banks - more free tie-ups. You could cruise the lakes in the Keewanaw canal for at least a week. There are tours of the Iron & copper mines. If you choose to go far enough west you could see the Apostle Islands. As you head
east from Marquette be sure to check out Grand Isle by Munising. There is a hiking trail around the island and up over the high bluffs facing west. Munising is a good provisioning
point & safe harbor as is the southern bay of Grand Isle. Head east form here and plan to enjoy the sights of Pictured Rocks. Stay in Grand Marais as the next safe harbor. Your charts
will show possible harbor at Little Lake. Unless it is recently dredged, it is normally silted in. If you have time and a passport, consider Batchawana Bay on the Canadian side. I don't know where to check in other than the Soo. You might investigate CanPass as a way to bypass the customs
office. The Soo Locks are FREE. You woll probably be direced to the narrow locks on the US side. Your GL Waterway Guide is very helpful here. I might suggest that a Superior put-in is easier since you will be down-bound on the St Mary River. This is 50 miles of mostly motoring. A few places may have flow up to 2.5 knots in your favor. We went both ways & worked hard. In the SOO, spend the day for cheap
at the marina adjacent to the museum ship, Valley Camp. See the musuem & the town. Go up the great big tower. On the Canadian side there is a bush plane museum. As you exit the St Mary, you will naturally be in the North Channel. A cruise here may take the remainder of the summer or you could run Georgian Bay and the Trent Severn (70 locks & a Marine
Other points of interest might be Lake Charlevoix. Check out cruising on Indian River entering at Cheboygan
You should also check the events
calender for the summer. There are local festivals and there may be a tall ships circuit.
Many of the harbors have wave ponds set by outer harbor arms & walls. (Muskegon & Ludington). These are great anchorages in all but terrible weather
. Beware of parallel arm harbor entries facing into the wind
(such as Grand Haven). If the seas are high, these entries are extremely dangerous and you will not be able to motor
out. (PHOTO). This wave travels up to 2.5 miles up-river, making things very difficult.
If you choose to run into Grand Traverse Bay you will find many marinas but few transient boat accomdations. Northport is one, Clinch Park city marina in Traverse city is good bun not in a north blow. (rare) IF you got caught in this condition head for Bowers Harbor (protected from the north) The marina there is private but they will often accomodate you. Anchoring
is tough in Bowers (rocky & deep) except in the NE corner you can find sand.