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Old 06-06-2023, 07:31   #1
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Location: Georgian Bay, Ontario, Canada
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Lake Michigan/Chicago

This summer we decided to take a break from our beautiful home cruising grounds in Georgian Bay and the North Channel, and head for the cities and sandy beaches of Lake Michigan. The plan is for me to depart our home port in Southern Georgian Bay around June 15 and make my way to Chicago, where my wife would join me on June 30th for a few days in the city. Then we would take about 3 weeks cruising up the Michigan shore, finishing with a few days in the North Channel, time and weather permitting.

Lake Michigan is the only Great Lake we still have not visited by boat, and we are looking for some sugestions, local knowledge and practical information. Some of the places high on our list are Mackinac island, Charlevoix, Sleeping Bear dunes and Ludington, and we would like to add to the list! We prefer anchoring but don't mind a few nights in a nice marina.

Speaking of marinas, I find the Michigan DNR reservation site completely useless for high demand places like Mackinac island or Charlevoix - is this normal? Can you just call and reserve a few days ahead, or are they really booked up for the season?

On Mackinac island, the Active Captain shows that you can now stay on the main dock (I assume where the ferries are) without reservations for $2.50/ft. Anyone tried that?

In Chicago, is Monroe mooring field the (second) best place to be? I am not having any luck with DuSable marina so far. Tried to book as soon as they opened on May 1st and was put on the waiting list...

Is it fun/possible to tour the Chicago river by dinghy? Any other tips for Chicago?
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Old 06-06-2023, 10:04   #2
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Re: Lake Michigan/Chicago

I donít have a whole lot to add, but Iíd suggest going down the west arm of Grand traverse bay. Thereís a little island about halfway down that provides good protection and that entire area is awesome. Also lots of wineries on the peninsula to visit and Traverse City has a lot to do.

Also thereís a Marina on the northern side of Drummond Island that would be a great spot.

Iíll be following along on this post as we plan to bring our boat to the Great Lakes as well in a few years.
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Old 06-06-2023, 11:56   #3
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Re: Lake Michigan/Chicago

Thanks, will check out that area if we have time for a detour.
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Old 19-06-2023, 15:23   #4
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Re: Lake Michigan/Chicago

Charlevoix books out 6 months and us indeed full all summer.
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Old 19-06-2023, 15:34   #5
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Re: Lake Michigan/Chicago

Funny I just passed Charlevoix a few hours ago and did not stop as the wind was right to keep going, but will definitely stop on our way back. Will not be very upset if we have to anchor.
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Old 18-08-2023, 14:04   #6
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Re: Lake Michigan/Chicago

Quote:
Originally Posted by skalashn View Post
This summer we decided to take a break from our beautiful home cruising grounds in Georgian Bay and the North Channel, and head for the cities and sandy beaches of Lake Michigan. The plan is for me to depart our home port in Southern Georgian Bay around June 15 and make my way to Chicago, where my wife would join me on June 30th for a few days in the city. Then we would take about 3 weeks cruising up the Michigan shore, finishing with a few days in the North Channel, time and weather permitting.

Lake Michigan is the only Great Lake we still have not visited by boat, and we are looking for some sugestions, local knowledge and practical information. Some of the places high on our list are Mackinac island, Charlevoix, Sleeping Bear dunes and Ludington, and we would like to add to the list! We prefer anchoring but don't mind a few nights in a nice marina.

Speaking of marinas, I find the Michigan DNR reservation site completely useless for high demand places like Mackinac island or Charlevoix - is this normal? Can you just call and reserve a few days ahead, or are they really booked up for the season?

On Mackinac island, the Active Captain shows that you can now stay on the main dock (I assume where the ferries are) without reservations for $2.50/ft. Anyone tried that?

In Chicago, is Monroe mooring field the (second) best place to be? I am not having any luck with DuSable marina so far. Tried to book as soon as they opened on May 1st and was put on the waiting list...

Is it fun/possible to tour the Chicago river by dinghy? Any other tips for Chicago?
Sorry this reply is so late, but I just saw it. Hopefully, it will help future cruisers.
There are many great harbors along both the east and west shores of Lake Michigan. Keewanee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan, Port Washington, Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha are all worth a visit in Wisconsin.

On the Michigan side, the northern harbors are less developed but plentiful Frankfurt, Arcadia, Portage Lake, Manistee, Ludington, Pentwater. As you get further south the harbors are more developed, starting with Muskegon, Grand Haven, Holland, Saugatuck, South Haven, St Joseph/Benton Harbor, New Buffalo, and Michigan City. Be careful south of New Buffalo, the depth starts getting shallow due to currents shifting sand.

Indiana offers a few harbors that I have never visited, including: Burns International Harbor, Gary Harbor, and Buffington Harbor,

In Illinois, Winthrop Harbor is the northern most facility. Be careful entering, there is a sandbar at the left side of the entrance. Waukegan is the next harbor that offers both free and paid berthing. Free berthing is in the North harbor north of the Yacht Club. The wall has electricity with 30-amp hook ups. You can take refuge in Lake Forest or Wilmette a little further south of Waukegan, but the harbors are small and shallow. Montrose harbor is the first harbor in Chicago. It's a nice secure harbor with slips you can rent on Dockwa. There are also places on the wall in several locations you can tie up to for free, but you are exposed to all the people walking through the park. The park closes at 11pm.

Belmont harbor also has paid docking. Montrose and Belmont are a short walk away from great dining and access to public transportation. DuSable and Monroe harbors are in the heart of downtown. DuSable is one of the newest harbors and offers limited paid transient slips. The south half of Monroe harbor was cleared of mooring buoys a few years ago, so now it is open for anchoring. Monroe harbor is directly across from Lake Shore Drive so it can be quite noisy all day and night. If you anchor, you will need a dinghy to access the shore. There is a water taxi for people who have a mooring ball. It stops at 11pm, I believe and starts up at 8am.

There are several harbors for sailboat south of downtown. I don't know much about them. Most of the Chicago harbors can be accessed via Dockwa for transient rentals.
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