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Author Topic:   Lake Erie to Lake Huron Cruise
Royboy posted 02-28-2005 10:44 AM ET (US)   Profile for Royboy   Send Email to Royboy  
I've been looking at what it would take to cruise from Lake Erie to Lake Huron this Spring. I plotted a course from Sterling State Park to Port Huron, and it's 110 miles. Basically, it's cruising up the Detroit River, across Lake St. Clair, and up the St. Clair River to Port Huron (and back unless we can figure out how to ferry trailers). I'm not so sure about accomodations along the way, but there is camping at Algonac State Park, and there are likely hotels along the route as well, although I'm pretty clueless as to where would be feasable for a fleet of Whalers.

I'm reasonably sure this would best be a two day (or more) outing. So I'm interested to know:

1) If there is any interest in this.

2) Has anyone cruised this route before who would know approximately how long it takes?

3) Where are good stopping points for meals/overnight stays?

4) A reasonable time frame after ice-out when we might not freeze to death during the cruise.


dfmcintyre posted 02-28-2005 03:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for dfmcintyre  Send Email to dfmcintyre     
Regarding Algonac docks or anchorages there.

How many days are you planning on?, and are you considering camping (boat or tent) or motel?

Once answered, I can give you some pointers.

Port Huron

Royboy posted 02-28-2005 03:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for Royboy  Send Email to Royboy     
It's wide open at this point. Any grist you can provide would be well appreciated, Don. As for myself, it's shore camping or motel. I'm pretty open on number of days. I figure at least two, but since I've never navigated this whole route, I'm not real sure how long it takes.


K Albus posted 02-28-2005 03:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
I have cruised just about every part of your suggested route, but never as part of one long trip. Most of it would not be considered scenic by any stretch of the imagination, especially the run up or down the Detroit River, where there is a lot of industrial blight.

If you decide to do this trip, and to spend two days doing it, there are hotels/motels in Port Huron, as well as a number of restaurants within easy walking distance of the Black River.

You'll want to avoid warm summer weekends if there will be any small boats involved. If it's nice out, and all the boaters are out, Lake St. Clair can be a nightmare. Also, cabin cruiser traffic on nice days can make the St. Clair River very choppy.

As far as how long the trip would take, I would estimate that you could easily get from Lake Erie to Lake St. Clair in an hour. The trip across Lake St. Clair I would estimate at about one to two hours, depending on boat traffic and weather conditions. Lake St. Clair to Lake Huron should take anywhere from two to four hours.

If you have a couple of days to spend, a better trip might be to trailer your boat to Port Huron and get a hotel room and a boat slip for a couple of days. You could then spend one day going down the St. Clair River to Lake St. Clair and back, and then spend one day cruising up the western shore of Lake Huron to Lexington, Port Sanilac, and Harbor Beach. That way, you won't be wasting your time looking at vacant factories along the Detroit River, and you won't have to deal with the chaos of Lake St. Clair.

Royboy posted 02-28-2005 08:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for Royboy  Send Email to Royboy     
Thanks for the advice. Believe it or not, I picked this route on purpose. I understand that the Detroit River is no Shangra-La (neither is the St. Clair River for that matter), but it has it's own charm just the same. I am thinking that if we do this in the Early Spring, before the Summmer Insanity is in full swing on St. Clair, this should be a fine trip for small Whalers, as long as the weather cooperates.

So by one estimate, it's a seven hour cruise. That would make it possible to navigate in one day, stay over night, then go back the following day. I suppose the start could be on either end. I am guessing there are more acommodations in Port Huron than at the other end, although there are a couple of State Parks on Lake Erie.


home Aside posted 02-28-2005 09:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for home Aside  Send Email to home Aside     
I'd be game for that trip....I would say put in at Lake Erie Metro Park leave early, there are marina's and gas accomodations along the way on the west side of Lake St. Clair if needed, and I'm sure there are some along the St. Clair River There is a municipal marina on the Black River in Port Huron, we stayed at it last July 4th at the impromtu "New Whaler Coming Out Party" There are motels within walking distance of the Marina, but I'd probably sleep on board.


leapin lunker posted 03-01-2005 09:10 AM ET (US)     Profile for leapin lunker  Send Email to leapin lunker     
We travel this route a lot in our 33 Chris. If we were Whalering the route I would consider the following: Leave Metro Park at say 10:00 AM come up the river and stop at Sinbads for lunch(Detroit west side of River past Belle Isle bridge in no wake zone), plenty of dockage and good chow. Then proceed into LSC and cruise the Canadian side. Not much boat traffic cause the "earring wearing, gold chain dangling, go fast crowd" is too afraid to venture into their waters. Besides the water is nice and clear and the shoreline while uninteresting is not developed like the western shoreline. Say, by 2 PM you should be to the confluence of the St. Clair River and the channels of LSC. Another hour gets you to the town of St. Clair which is a nice place to stop and refuel. Then head on up to Port Huron. Call Blackwater Marina, formerly the state park marina and book a slip for the night. There are, to my knowledge, no close motels, so sleeping in your boat is a distinct possibility. There are plenty of night spots/restaurants along the boardwalk near the marina. Then next day reverse the trip stopping at the River Crab for lunch which is just south of St. Clair. Another possibility is to stay at the River Crab on the way up and by pass Pt. Huron, as they have a motel and dockage.

There are plenty of places to buy fuel on the way. Get your charts together and plan the trip. Have fun. It is a great two day journey. I would be willing to join the fun by meeting up with you guys as you travel thru LSC. Will use my 24 Outrage.

If you want I can get you phone numbers for various stops.

Royboy posted 03-01-2005 09:39 AM ET (US)     Profile for Royboy  Send Email to Royboy     
Now that's the spirit, Pat! I just checked the Metro Park website and was pleasently surprised to find that it's just North of where I usually put in at the Huron River Mouth. Didn't even know it was there. It looks like they might even allow overnight parking there? At any rate, they've got plenty of ramps and 190 parking spaces.

I'm thinking May would be a good month to shoot for, since the weather should improve by then (I hope), but I'm flexible.


Royboy posted 03-01-2005 09:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for Royboy  Send Email to Royboy     
Won't the Water Mounties think we're invading Canada if we cross that red dotted line on the chart without notifying someone?

At any rate, that sounds like a wonderful itinereary, although sleeping on my boat is not in the cards, unless I can talk my buddy into bringing his Conquest. A distinct possibility since he keeps it on a lift in Anchor bay. Sounds like I'll have to start working on him to come along.

Lunker, is Blackwater Marina the same place as Pat )Home Aside) referred to in his post?

Well, this seems to be shaping up. Anyone care to throw a date out there for us to chew on?


leapin lunker posted 03-01-2005 01:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for leapin lunker  Send Email to leapin lunker     
The following web site will give you information where you can not only see the state operated facilities, but also make reservations. As you will see, there is a state facility in St. Clair and Port Huron. The River Street and Water Street facilities in Port Huron are the ones I referred to in my previous post.

I will do some further research on motels along the St. Clair River that have overnight facilities for boats. I run up and down the highway there at least once a week. So, I'll stop in and get some brochures and such.

Check this site out

leapin lunker posted 03-01-2005 01:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for leapin lunker  Send Email to leapin lunker     
Sorry, this should make it easier.
dfmcintyre posted 03-02-2005 06:16 AM ET (US)     Profile for dfmcintyre  Send Email to dfmcintyre     
There is a city/state owned marina located on Black River, just up from the St. Clair River in the downtown area. Walking distance to food, and one downtown motel that some may consider a hike to get to.

Up river another 1.5 miles there are two marinas, another goverment owned and one private. Those two have three motels w/in walking distance and a Bob Evans. We've held a small Whaler get togeather at the goverment owned one.

Let me know if you need more info on the area.

Roy -

Canada Customs does not care what side of the line you travel. They _do_ want to be notified if your stepping out on the land though. To compound matters, the US Customs wants to know about the trip when you come back. And there are no staffed ports of entry (aside from the ferry dock in Algonac and Marine City) for US boaters re-entering the US. Many of the locals who do travel by boat between the countries have gone the extra step and obtained specialized documentation to allow for "remote" re-entry via a phone call. But it's a hassle to obtain for just a one shot visit.

Don McIntyre
Port Huron

Cicada posted 03-03-2005 09:43 AM ET (US)     Profile for Cicada  Send Email to Cicada     
Sounds like a nice trip. I'm interested but have to hold off for now. Maybe catch up to you around Algonac / Gull Island.

I enjoy the river trips. You can learn alot about an area by looking at the waterfronts.


Royboy posted 03-03-2005 11:23 AM ET (US)     Profile for Royboy  Send Email to Royboy     
We're still in the early planning stages for this one, and haven't really even nailed down a month yet. Can somebody make a suggestion based on when boating becomes a fun/safe activity on the Great Lakes? I was out on LSC the middle of November fishing for perch, but of course, I'm nuts.

130 Sport

kend posted 03-05-2005 03:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for kend  Send Email to kend     
The weather can warm up into the 70's as early as late April or it could be mid or even late June.Last 4th of July it was in the 60's. Being your going that distance in 17'-24'open boats I would caution you the water on your cource can get rough, especially the Detroit river due to boat traffic or wind. It is not unuasual to have 5-6 footers around the bridge going in all directions. Lake St.Clair can also get 4-5 footers, depending on the wind direction. Your looking at least 1 hour to cross to the flats conection to the St.Clair river you are always at least 5 or more miles from shore until you hit the flats. I have a 17' whaler and would not go near the bridge except on perfect days with no wind or traffic. I have tacken my 38 Carver from Lake Erie to Huron and been beat up several times,it weighs 26,000 lbs. If I would take the trip in a 17" I would not go any earlier than mid June and then watch the weather. Better safe than sorry. Good luck
Royboy posted 03-06-2005 09:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for Royboy  Send Email to Royboy     
At this point I'd like to remain optimistic that a there will be a weekend this Spring where a group of Whalers can navigate this course. I know I'm not alone in plying these waters in a 13 footer, a fact to which the walleye and perch bodies in my freezer can attest.

We generally get some pretty nice days in May. I definatly want to miss the Booze Barges, and June might be pushing it in that regard if we have a nice Spring. We can always get a jump on that lot by leaving early in the a.m., while they're still sleeping off the night before. I don't mean we have to treat this like the Normandy invasion, launching at zero-dark-thirty, but there's not a whole lot wrong with a Lake Erie Sunrise.

That would put us at Sinbad's a bit early for lunch, but we could always jig for a few walleygators while we wait!


home Aside posted 03-06-2005 10:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for home Aside  Send Email to home Aside     
We did the Boston Whaler St. Ignace Season Opener May 15th 2004 Weekend with three boats, Myself, Djanhke, and Buckda. It took some warm clothing, but we had mostly sunny weather, we cruised the Les Cheneau Islands on Saturday and then Mackinac Island for Sunday Brunch. Buckda and DJanhke had canvas.....I went topless in my Montauk....we had a great's all in the attitude...So as I said... I think this one could be a good trip.....


leapin lunker posted 03-07-2005 07:44 AM ET (US)     Profile for leapin lunker  Send Email to leapin lunker     
I second the statment on the condition of the Detroit River between the Ambassador Bridge and Belle Isle. If the wind is out of the south or north that is one treacherous piece of water. Add a few large boats and the wave action will beat you up pretty bad. That being said, I have never been thru there in anything less than a 33 footer. So the smaller whalers may ride those swells and not sustain the pounding of the bigger boats. Regardless, it is something you guys heading up from Erie will want to keep in mind when planning to leave. Get through there early and maybe skip Sinbads and head up to the Clinton River, North Channel or Middle Channel. One in particular is off the Middle Channel called Browns. Good food and spirits. There are lots of alternatives for lunch.

I say set a date and a back up date and lets git r planned. Mid may is iffy, mid June is a more sure bet. For me the first weekend in June is out since I have another rendezvous, other than that I don't have a preference since my boat has full canvas. Start a poll and have a vote.

jimh, does this forum have polling ability?

jeffs22outrage posted 03-07-2005 07:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for jeffs22outrage  Send Email to jeffs22outrage     
I am up for it. I would love to spend some time with other whalers this summer. I am sure my father could be convinced to go as well with his Montauk.

I am for skipping the Detroit River though. And Lake St Clair if possible. Sorry to sound like a snob but I did a couple trips from Grosse Isle (detroit river at mouth of Lake Erie) to strawberry Island (Between Middle and North Channel on Lake St Clair)and Back last Year with the 22. It took just over 2.5 hours one way. And Man did it suck, all the extra boat traffic made it choppy and a hard ride. No fun. The only calm part was from US steel to Grossee Isle there and back.

What about leaving from the Algonac area and going up to Lexington and back. That way you get some river running and big lake running as well. And if Huron is to rough you can always head back to the River St Marinia in Port Huron. Very nice and clean place and in walking distance to downtown. if the lake is good, Lexington is just 14 miles for the mouth of the St Clair river. They have a great Marinia there and a nice town with Whimpy's hamburgers! I have done the run for Port Huron to lexington many times with our Montauk and it is a breeze. Even with 1-2 footers.

Royboy posted 03-08-2005 12:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for Royboy  Send Email to Royboy     
I'm sure some of the boats will join up where ever they feel safe/comfortable with. As we get a little further along in the planning stages, we can agree on radio frequecies, exchange phone numbers, plan for boats joining along the way, and etc.

But first things first. I propose shooting for June 11 and 12, with June 18 and 19 as back-up in case of North/South wind, which would pretty much make the whole route suck, depending on the velocity.

I would like to launch out of Lake Erie Metro Park (as long as they allow overnight rigs). Backup to this is the Huron River Mouth, where I believe we can leave rigs. Obviously this would need to be comfirmed, including how many. I think the earlier we start, the better the conditions on the Detroit River and LSC should be. Boats rendezvous at the Detroit Light at 7:00 a.m., which is an hour after sunrise on that date (not much of a moon on that date, so I adjusted accordingly).

If we proceed up Canadian side as Leapin Lunker suggested, will this put us into Anchor Bay by around 10:00 or so?

I'd say we go from there (Anchor Bay) up either the North or Middle Channel stopping for lunch along the way, or rafting up for lunch in Anchor Bay.

From there, cruise up the St. Clair River to Port Huron to one of the marinas Don posted about above.

Day two will basically retrace the route back.

Please post the following:

Yes or No on 6/11 & 6/12
Yes or No on back-up dates (6/18 & 6/19)
Any additional thoughts on the itinerary above.


jeffs22outrage posted 03-08-2005 02:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for jeffs22outrage  Send Email to jeffs22outrage     
Yes on 6/11 & 6/12
Yes on back-up dates (6/18 & 6/19)
A good mid point meet would be gull island area because once you leave the Detroit River you can follow the shipping channel across St CLair (shortest route) and that puts you right at gull island which is at the mouth of the south channel to the St Clair River. Everyone knows where gull island is right? This is porbably where I would meet up with the crowd. I would put in at MertoBeach or South River Road (Clinton River) and run across to gull.
Cicada posted 03-08-2005 09:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for Cicada  Send Email to Cicada     
The dates sound good. Does anybody know if these dates are the same time as the Jobbie Nooner date? I'd rather work around that one. It would certainly rule out Gull Island. Gets very congested.


K Albus posted 03-09-2005 08:04 AM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
The Jobbie Nooner party is usually on the last Friday before the automotive companies' July shutdown.
Royboy posted 03-09-2005 04:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for Royboy  Send Email to Royboy     
The Jobbie Nooner has been the 4th Friday in June for the last couple of years, although I've heard that in years gone by it may have been the 3rd Friday.

Either way, that bunch should be long gone by the time we motor by on Saturday.


Royboy posted 03-13-2005 08:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for Royboy  Send Email to Royboy     
Is Gull Island the one that always has a crowd of drunks on it?


Cicada posted 03-14-2005 10:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for Cicada  Send Email to Cicada     

Not always. Go by about 7:00am. Not much there except the volleyball net.


jeffs22outrage posted 03-15-2005 09:12 AM ET (US)     Profile for jeffs22outrage  Send Email to jeffs22outrage     
If gull is a problem you can always use the back side of seaway island to meet up. That is in the shipping channel and if you guys follow that across the lake it will put you right there. It is just a longer trip up the back of seawy verse going up the channel between gull and seaway.
Royboy posted 03-17-2005 09:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for Royboy  Send Email to Royboy     
I have a preliminary route plotted on Mapsource if anyone is interested. I can email the .gdb file for those with Blue Chart software. As it stands, it basically runs straight up the middle of St. Clair (just West of the Shipping Channel) and into Anchor Bay, then up the North Channel. For those with no Blue Chart, I can send a screen dump.


jeffs22outrage posted 03-23-2005 09:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for jeffs22outrage  Send Email to jeffs22outrage     
Looks like I can for sure do the 6/18 and 6/19.

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