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Old 18-03-2015, 03:06   #1
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New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

My husband and I just moved to Northern Mi last August. With all of the house moving and getting our Meridian 368 transported to Cheboygan we had no time to experience boating on the Great Lakes. We bought a slip at Duncan Bay and plan to get into our slip as soon as the ice melts at the marina....We plan to take it very slow learning about our new surroundings. We are as green as grass since we have previously only boated on an inland lake in Pa which was an Army Corp of Engineers Lake at Raystown. It was 28 miles long with 2 marinas and barely wide enough to turn the boat around...LOL


Needless to say we are very nervous and excited about ultimately being close enough to travel up to the North Channel some day. I spend countless hours on Active Captain looking at anchorages and dreaming of what the passage across big water will be like. I have ordered the book Ports and also another smaller book to give us some info about the area. I am a bit concerned that it doesn't appear that we can get internet many places in the North Channel. I understand we need paper charts in addition to our GPS on the boat. We prefer to not stay at marinas and would rather be on the hook. Can some of you that already have your sea legs in our area give us some insight? I know the importance of watching weather and wind so we will not venture out until we take baby steps. We are planning on riding along when Walstroms takes the boat out of storage in Cheboygan and moves it to our marina in Duncan Bay just to get a "feel" for the area. We have so much to learn and really need good advice!!! Help!
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Old 18-03-2015, 03:59   #2
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, MicHome.
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Old 18-03-2015, 05:55   #3
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

Thank you! Any advice for us?
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Old 18-03-2015, 06:21   #4
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

Hi MicHome, I'm familiar with the North Channel, and have cruised most of the other Great Lakes. Unfortunately I don't know your home port area, but if you head north to the North Channel, Lake Huron or (highly recommend) Lake Superior, I'd be happy to share what I know.

And just a word of advice; you'll get more focused responses here if you ask specific questions. It's hard to offer general advice without knowing a lot more about you, your experience, your plans, your boat, your time out, etc. There is a wealth of experience and knowledge here. Ask...
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Old 18-03-2015, 06:52   #5
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

We are at the Duncan Bay Boat Club in Cheboygan. We know nothing of being on the lakes so that is why I didn't ask any specific questions. (We are so green I don't think I even know enough to know what to ask)
We have owned the boat since 2010, it is a twin diesel with forward and aft thrusters. I guess if you all can put your new-b hat on and remember your first cruises on big water what advice would you give? I referred to our previous port in Pa of Lake Raystown, a very tiny freshwater inland lake which was very deep and no fear of going aground. I have been reading and am aware that there are many areas of the North Channel where the depth changes FAST with rock formations. Believe me, we will crawl through with me probably on the bow when we head through there. Needless to say we haven't encountered anything rougher than another boats wake so 3+ foot waves is a little unnerving. We have read to cross them perpendicular not parallel....I doubt we will get to Lake Superior for a long time when there is so much North Channel to explore right in our back yard less than 30 miles from our home port of Duncan Bay. We are really just wanna bees at this point. We need to get charts in case our GPS goes down but not sure how to pick or what is best. We just need to know anything and are happy for any info about the area and boating in our size boat from anyone who is kind enough to share....
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Old 18-03-2015, 07:47   #6
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

It sounds like you've already got a good handle on your known unknowns. Go cautiously, go slow. Respect the Big Lakes. They will kill you if you treat them with arrogance, but you already know this.

All the Great Lakes can produce large, steep seas. It's not uncommon to have 3+ meter (10+ feet) waves, but luckily during prime cruising months they are mostly in the 1/2 to 2 meter range. Your boat will manage most sea states well, but do listen to forecasts. As waves get bigger and steeper it's usually better to take the at a slight angle off the bow or stern, as opposed to being dead perpendicular. Surfing may be an issue as well when running with large seas. Each boat behaves different. You'll learn what yours likes.

With regard to forecasts, take them as one source of information, but use your own eyes and skills. Weather on the Great Lakes can change fast, and local conditions can be significantly different compared to the general forecasts. Learn to read the sky. In the summer months fast moving fronts and thunder storms (both frontal and localized) will pose the greatest dangers. Fog is an issue, especially in May/June.

The North Channel is a wonderful cruising ground. Yes, watch your depths. Have a good sounder, and carry good charts; both digital and paper. In addition to the Ports book you can also get the Huron Richardson's chart book.

You mention anchoring, so make sure your system is up to the task. Your bower should be a large, good quality anchor (I recommend one of the newer spade-style anchors like Rocna, Mantus, Spade, etc.). Carry a spare or two. You should have at least 60' of chain, but you can't go wrong with more. You and your back will appreciate a good windlass. It goes without saying, but learn how to anchor properly. Even in protected anchorages a sudden thunderstorm can wreck havoc on poorly-anchored boats.

Is this what you're looking for? I can tell you about some anchorages and marinas in the North Channel if you like. There's an endless amount to be said... As I say, there's a ton of experienced Great Lakes sailors on CF, including many Lake Michigan folks. Hopefully someone will chime in with direct local knowledge of your area.

Go slow, have fun.
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Old 18-03-2015, 08:32   #7
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

Not only will you not have internet in much of the north channel, but you may not have cell service in much of Northern Lake Huron, although Coast Guard Radio stations can generally be reached on channel 16.

Treat the open water of Northern Lake Huron with caution, it can be very rough and you could very easily be many miles to a safe anchorage if things start to go south.

I had a flooding situation that started to cause me serious concern about 5 or 6 years ago when I discovered my forepeak hatch had failed to keep the seas on the outside of the boat and a bulkhead fitting failed, allowing my galley to flood to as well. I was able to stem the flooding using a mattress over the forpeak hatch and my pumps were more than up to the task- fortunately because I had to continue into the weather for a good few hours. This was on a well maintained 60' boat. Before I started my pumps, I figured there was 5-10 tons of water onboard.

You'll love the North Channel, it's beautiful I spent a summer working on Manitoulin island- fantastic.

Sent from my SGH-I547C using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app
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Old 18-03-2015, 08:50   #8
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

Quote:
Originally Posted by MicHome View Post
My husband and I just moved to Northern Mi last August. With all of the house moving and getting our Meridian 368 transported to Cheboygan we had no time to experience boating on the Great Lakes. We bought a slip at Duncan Bay and plan to get into our slip as soon as the ice melts at the marina....We plan to take it very slow learning about our new surroundings. We are as green as grass since we have previously only boated on an inland lake in Pa which was an Army Corp of Engineers Lake at Raystown. It was 28 miles long with 2 marinas and barely wide enough to turn the boat around...LOL


Needless to say we are very nervous and excited about ultimately being close enough to travel up to the North Channel some day. I spend countless hours on Active Captain looking at anchorages and dreaming of what the passage across big water will be like. I have ordered the book Ports and also another smaller book to give us some info about the area. I am a bit concerned that it doesn't appear that we can get internet many places in the North Channel. I understand we need paper charts in addition to our GPS on the boat. We prefer to not stay at marinas and would rather be on the hook. Can some of you that already have your sea legs in our area give us some insight? I know the importance of watching weather and wind so we will not venture out until we take baby steps. We are planning on riding along when Walstroms takes the boat out of storage in Cheboygan and moves it to our marina in Duncan Bay just to get a "feel" for the area. We have so much to learn and really need good advice!!! Help!
Check out the Great Lakes Cruising Association. Tons of good info.
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Old 18-03-2015, 09:21   #9
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Unhappy Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

Welcome to the Great Lakes State! You guys will have tons of fun and adventures ahead of you. Take safety seriously. As others have said you're in open water now. No cell service in many areas. If you don't already have a DSC VHF get one, and make sure you have it hooked to your GPS properly. Also a good GPS Epirb wouldn't be a bad idea either.

With a home port of Cheboygan you are well suited to experience some of the best cruising the Great Lakes has to offer. Not only the North Channel but also Northern Lake Michigan!

As always when planning trips have a LOOSE itinerary of where you'd like to go. That however will ALWAYS be dependent on weather. Two years ago we tried to cruise from Muskegon MI to Beaver Island. We had two weeks planned for the trip. It should only take about 3 days for us sailboaters to reach it. However we never made it farther than Aracdia that year. Thunderstorms kept rolling in an hindering our progress. The weather was poor and wavy so we made the best of it and hung out in lots of the towns along the way. Remember cruising is about the trip not the destination. If you want wifi stay in the main land Marinas, going cruising to remote areas is fun because of the remote wilderness of it, not because of the streaming netflix at night

Take some navigation courses if you're not comfortable navigating, they will prove invaluable if you plan to do any trips and cruising. It will help with you comfort level when going into strange ports and navigating unfamiliar treacherous areas.
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Old 18-03-2015, 09:46   #10
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

You'll be centrally located to a cruiser's paradise in Cheboygan with quick access to the Straits, Drummond Island, the North Channel, TC, Sleeping Bear Dunes, the Beaver Island archipelago and more. You'll have enough water world to explore to keep you busy for as many summers as you'd like.

As for the North Channel, all of our favorite anchorages, towns, eats and tips can be found here.
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Old 18-03-2015, 09:48   #11
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

Hi MicHome - My wife & I sail out of the Duncan Bay Boat Club and have traveled extensively through the N Channel for quite some time. You'll find that most of your future dockmates are familiar with the NC. When you feel up to the (relatively short) crossing I'm sure you can find some sailboats or trawlers that would be happy to journey across with you or keep tabs on you. There is a large and welcoming cruising community in the area.

Cell phone coverage is spotty (especially in the middle of Lake Huron and in the many inlets of the Georgian Bay/N Channel). IMHO paper charts are a MUST. Even if you have good electronic charts + handheld + tablets, etc it's always good to have a good old fashioned paper set.

You'll find that Little Current is the heart of the NC cruising scene. Once the season starts, be sure to listen to (or at least be aware of) Cruiser's Net that broadcasts on channel 71 every morning at 9AM, hosted by Roy Eaton.

Feel free to private message me if you want to chat. Welcome to Duncan Bay & to CF!
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Old 18-03-2015, 11:04   #12
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

Welcome to Northern Michigan and Great Lakes cruising! Except for weather, navigation will probably be your biggest challenge, so I would start with a navigation course, especially if you've never been in big water or out of sight of land. I'd also get a Coast Guard or Power Squadron vessel safety check. You'll need passports to get back into the States (but not to enter Canada), and you can preregister your boat with Customs at: https://svrs.cbp.dhs.gov. I would start with a couple of mini-cruises to become familiar with your boat and the local waters; Machinac area, the "Snows" etc. Finally, remember that "schedules" and "cruising" are antithetical.
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Old 18-03-2015, 11:33   #13
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

Hello MicHome!

Weve not been to the North Channel, although were planning to go in the next couple of years. Last year we bought a boat in Pentwater, on Lake Michigan, and sailed it back to Detroit. One of the most helpful references I found was the harbor reports by the Great Lakes Cruising Club (The Great Lakes Cruising Club) . Its not a cheap deal. I think it was $110 for initial registration, plus $90/year membership -- $200 total for the first year, $90/year thereafter. But the harbor reports provided FAR more detail than Id ever found elsewhere. They cover the entire great lakes area, but they seem to have a particular fondness for, and information about, the North Channel; details about dozens of anchorages. While the cost is definitely high, you might consider checking them out.

Happy Cruising!
Kim
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Old 18-03-2015, 12:27   #14
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

We spent two weeks in the North Channel last year. To say internet is spotty is generous. It is nearly non existent. Large marinas have it, and a few coffee shop type places here and there. To us that is part of the beauty of the place. It is remote. It is rugged. It is beautiful. Not just beautiful to the eyes, it is beautiful to the soul. The whole experience is fantastic, and rejuvenating. Unless you have a serious addiction, you won't miss the internet.
I grumbled and groaned after having to buy paper charts before our trip. In hindsight it was the best money I spent on the whole trip bar none. Paper charts give you an overview and perspective that my low budget chart plotter can't even approach. The high end chart plotters may be different, but I would not want to be without paper charts.
To be sure the bottom can be rocky, but we almost always found a place for our Danforth type anchor to dig in. At the Benjamins you can tie off to the rocks which is very cool. Very secure, and $0 per night.
It is a wonderful place. We can't wait to get back. Have fun.
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Old 18-03-2015, 12:32   #15
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

SO many options for you. NC fabulous as is Georgian Bay. Going west, straits area(Les Cheneaux Islands), then Beaver Is, Grand and Little Traverse Bays. Beautiful anchorage at South Manitou Island. Just can't say enough about the Great Lakes. Welcome and enjoy!!!!
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