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Author Topic:   Late summer long weekend in Door County
Cicada posted 03-05-2006 10:32 PM ET (US)   Profile for Cicada   Send Email to Cicada  
Anybody interested?

Thinking about a short vacation this summer. I've heard a number of good things about the Door County area. Don't know much about the area but thought it would be a good place for a long week-end and a get together.

Door County's within a long day's drive of Detroit. Probably take the Ludington ferry across Lake Michigan and break up the drive a bit.

Any suggestions on an area to launch that would provide a beginning point for a day or two cruise?


David Pendleton posted 03-06-2006 03:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
Hello Paul.

Patricia and I make the trip every year. We stay/launch/play in Sister Bay.

I'll be in touch.


bdb posted 03-06-2006 04:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for bdb  Send Email to bdb     
Hello Paul,

As a resident I'd be happy to help you with local knowledge. You should visit rendezvous or not. We've had some great rendevous here, but the past couple of years attendance has been somewhat sparce. And I'm the guiltiest party. Work has kept me away. Although last year I did sneak out in the afternoon and tried to find the crew but to no avail.

Harpoon Harry sayin' "We'd love to have you...and your money!" E-mail me and I'll get you any information I can.

Plotman posted 03-06-2006 04:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for Plotman  Send Email to Plotman     
I have a kid with "origins" at the Thorp House in Sister Bay. Ok, sorry, TMI. But it is a great place. A run to Chambers Island is fun, Rock Island SP is great too.


Cicada posted 03-07-2006 01:39 AM ET (US)     Profile for Cicada  Send Email to Cicada     
Thanks for the information. I did a quick search on the net for Sister Bay. Looks like Sister Bay has a pretty nice marina and a variety of accomodations. I'd assume they have some pretty good restaurants and other opportunities to donate some money to the local community.

Looking at the charts, I'd think Green Bay and the area has pretty well protected waters where weather conditions wouldn't be as big of a consideration as on the open water.

We'd probably have a room at a hotel or B&B that we'd use as a base. Doesn't rule out an overnight trip if the opportunity is there.

How's the fishing?


skred posted 03-07-2006 02:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for skred  Send Email to skred     
Good to see a thread for Door County again this year. Anyone planning a get-together yet? I'm planning a lot of time up there this summer. BTW, last year, the fishing was great off Gills Rock. Unfortunately, I lost about $100 worth of tackle - and I was using 40-lb. Spiderwire! two 18-lb Chinooks came home with me, though...
Cicada: Dave P. is spon-on: Sister Bay is an ideal middle-point for accommodations and launching, etc. I'd recommend making reservations early, however, as it gets REALLY busy as the season goes on... If you are a camper, contact Peninsula State Park: they have great campsites and also a launch area. If I can be of help, let me know, but Harpoon Harry is the real guru.....
Plotman posted 03-07-2006 04:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for Plotman  Send Email to Plotman     
The real fishing hotspots are more on the lake side than on the bay side...

But the west side of lake michigan is a phenominal salmon fishery, and you should be able to do well in Green Bay as well.

prj posted 03-08-2006 10:36 AM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
My wife, Alex, and I did a long weekend in Door Co. last summer.

We met up with and shared a beverage or two with skred,
both out on the water and in the tavern.

I've got to say, it was an absolutely spectacular weekend,
with fine dining, fine boating, fine weather
and wistful marina walking included.

We stayed at the Fish Creek Motel (website, connect those words),
situated across the street from the private marina in Fish Creek.
Spartan motel style place with a wonderful continuous balcony
overlooking the marina, perfect for morning coffee outside,
and evening scotch after dinner. Actually, I think we walked
the docks with scotch...

Fish Creek seemed to be a little bit denser, with more clustered
services including restaurants, taverns, groceries, coffee shops
and knick knacks. Very nicely planned town, tiny urban, if you will.

The boating was obviously spectacular with the lowlight being
a ride south to Egg Harbor. Cottage Row, between our bay and theirs,
seemed best viewed from the road as a pedestrian.
Don't boat to Egg Harbor.

The highlight was a 75 mile or so round trip to Rock Island S.P.
starting in some lumpy seas that required breaks at regular intervals,
including a lunch stop at Gill's Rock in Garret Bay.
The Island is a must see with some buildings you'll appreciate,
wonderful sand beaches with refreshing water, and nice hiking trails.
Ride back was flat and quick, probably ran about 30-35 average,
with a couple respites to sip beer and cogitate on the day.

I've sent a picture via email.

Cicada posted 03-08-2006 11:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for Cicada  Send Email to Cicada     
Door County is sounding better all of the time. I'm getting the impression that there are opportunities for most any kind of activity or boating that one may desire. Have to look at some dates and make some plans.

We'd probably arrive on a Thursday night, stay for three days and leave on a Monday Morning. Maybe an extra day in there depending on scheduling.

I think it'd be fun to at least do a day run with some people for lunch or dinner.

Thanks for the photos. Is the stone building Gill's Rock restaurant? Neat place.


prj posted 03-09-2006 09:47 AM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     

That stone building is one of several left behind to the State
by the heirs of Chester Thoradson, a Chicago inventor/patent holder
of some sort of electrical device at the start of the 20th century.

That boathouse, and the Great Hall upstairs, is a real site to behold,
and only the first of several buildings planned for his island.

And a quick clip from a Parks Directory:

This 906-acre island has a colorful history. French explorer Jean Nicolet first stepped ashore here in 1634. The area's first lighthouse, Pottawatomie Lighthouse, was built on it in 1836 and is still in use. Chicago and Detroit gangsters used the island for a transfer point for bootleg whiskey during Prohibition. Icelandic native Chester Thoradson once owned the island and built an impressive stone boathouse that stands today. In 1962, Thoradson's heirs sold the island to the state of Wisconsin which made it a state park. Today, the island offers 10 miles of hiking trails and a small number of backpack campsites. For camping reservations call the State's new reservations system toll-free at 1 (888) 947-2757. It can be reached by the Karfi ferry from Jackson Harbor on Washington Island. For more information about the ferry, call (920) 847-3322.

skred posted 03-10-2006 10:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for skred  Send Email to skred     
Paul, when you have a firm date, let us know. I, for one, would certainly love to zip up to D.C. (125 mi. for me) and spend a long weekend. Maybe PRJ will be unable to resist, also..

BTW, the stone building is on Rock Island... There's a nice restaurant in Gill's Rock at the tip of the mainland, however...

Wiscbw posted 03-10-2006 11:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for Wiscbw  Send Email to Wiscbw     
Please keep me posted on the dates as well. I bought a Whaler this winter and I would enjoy a trip to Door County. I am in Madison, WI, which is about 240 miles away. If the dates work, I will try to take the cruise.
fourdfish posted 03-11-2006 02:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for fourdfish  Send Email to fourdfish     
I have been spending the summer(July-October) in Door County for last 20years. It is one of the finest areas for boating and fishing on the great lakes. Salmon fishing is one of the best, always catch a lot of large Kings. I fish most of the Pennisula. Good places to play golf. Smallmouth fishing is good. Sunsets terrific and lots of things to see. Some great people up there. Andy (SIM) Shipyard Island Marina is on Washinton Island. I met Harpoon Harry. prj is right, Fish Creek is very crowded and touresty but some places are good to eat there also. Sometimes just great to pull up in Niclote Bay, or Horshoe Island and drop anchor for the day. I met JimH at Sister Bay marina last summer, just by coincedence. The Rock Island trip is a good one. You will all love it up there.
If anyone needs any info, email me!
LHG posted 03-11-2006 07:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for LHG    
Boy, that was a close call for me, just barely escaping having to listen to a FOURDFISH-O-MERCIAL.
fourdfish posted 03-11-2006 08:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for fourdfish  Send Email to fourdfish     
And here I was being gracious. I guess we both lucked out Larry! Your loss!
Cicada posted 03-14-2006 08:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for Cicada  Send Email to Cicada     
Pretty windy here with the wind chill at 19. Realized that I haven't thought much about boating for the past couple of months. Good time to reorganize the priorities and plan some time on the water.

Right now we're looking at August 10th through the 14th. with the 10th and 14th as travel days. The Sister Bay and Fish Creek area sounds like a great location with the most variety of overnight accomodations from camping to hotels, motels, etc. Friday or Saturday run up to Rock Island. Stop at Gill's Rock for something to eat and maybe a little fishing, a nice cook out and anchor out for the night at Rock Island.

The Rock Island State Park website notes a $1 per foot per night for boats moored at the island. Does this encompass the whole island or is it for developed moorings? Any restrictions on the consumption of adult beverages up there?

I'm pretty comfortable with the 18' Outrage for the trip but with an eye to bringing a few people with the 15 what kind of water can we expect that time of year?

Thanks for the historical notes and the link to the State Park. Suggest you post the picture of the Outrage at the boat house. Nice photo for people that are interested. Definitely a place I'd like to visit. Looks like it'd make a pretty interesting home.

I'm looking forward to making the trip and would enjoy meeting a few more people from the site.


prj posted 03-15-2006 10:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
I re-read and see that, indeed, the website uses the phrase
"...all boats mooring overnight at Rock Island."
While I'm not positive, I doubt that there are any moorings
other than within the boat house or along the tiny seawall.
If camping on the island, I would expect reservations are needed
well in advance. I also expect that in several locations,
if sheltered from the prevailing SW, you could anchor just offshore.

We were there last August, 12-14, and found conditions variable.
The day we boated to Rock Island, I would NOT have wanted to be on
my 15' for the trip UP in the late morning, until just after lunch at Gill's Rock. It was pert lumpy and difficult keeping the Outrage in the water,
even at a slow 18 MPH plane.
From then on, the water flattened and it would have been fine.

Perhaps resident fourdfish can fill in more about TYPICAL conditions.

Here in Wisconsin, if you DON'T have adult beverages on board,
you WILL be considered suspicious and should expect
to be thoroughly inspected for some other nefarious behavior.

As noted earlier, we stayed at Fish Creek, immediately south of
Peninsula State Park, berthed the Outrage in the Marina next to
Kevin Harlan's new 170 (complained the 90 was sluggish),
a 20' Temptation with Whaler Drive, fairly unique and a stunning
20-22' Hacker Craft woody, immaculate.

On our evening Marina strolls, we came to the conclusion that
Marina life was analogous to camping for the wealthy.
They sit around in chairs on the docks sipping drinks,
much as my crew sits around a campfire.

fourdfish posted 03-15-2006 09:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for fourdfish  Send Email to fourdfish     
Cicada, August 10-14 is a very good time as the weather is usually very cooperative at that time. The Bay of Green bay is usually good at that time and only kicks up once in awhile.
Never a major problem like Lakeside.

prj is correct, the boathouse is the only mooring on Rock Island and you need to get a spot inside the wall as a periodic ferry has a space on the end outside. I have seen the Park Ranger there several times to collect money and info. Only rough camping allowed, as no vehicles on island.
I don't see a problem getting a spot as I have never seen it crowded. Maybe a check with Wisconsin DNR would help there.

Pennsula Park between Fish Creek and Ephrum is a great place.
My kids almost grew up there! It has a great bay(Nicolet Bay)
and an Island sheltering it. (Horseshoe which also has a bay).
The Park is a must see. 4 Campgrounds, trails of all kinds, Lighthouse, beach. I will probably be moored out in Nicolet bay for the day on several of those days you will be there.

I guess I sound like a Door Co commercial but I love the place
and I have seen and done a lot of boating and fishing all over Lake Mich. Like I said, need any info feel free to email me!

Wiscbw posted 03-16-2006 07:50 AM ET (US)     Profile for Wiscbw  Send Email to Wiscbw     
As a new boater with a Whaler, how big of an adventure are these trips? Although I know Lake Michigan is not predictable, what wave heights are typical.
How far out into the lake are the islands? If I have some boating time this spring and summer will I be very surprised on Michigan?
prj posted 03-16-2006 09:52 AM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
If I recall correctly, Wiscbw, you have a post classic 20 or 21' Outrage, no?

You'll have no problems at either Door Co. or Lake Michigan proper,
assuming that you've reviewed the weather.
Our side of the Lake tends to be relatively calm due to the
prevailing summer winds blowing OFFshore.
Conversely, Michigan has both the waves AND the warm surface water.

I highly recommend a long weekend trip to Door Co. with your boat.

Engineer in Madison? We do quite a bit of work over there,
perhaps our shops have teamed up?

wwbach posted 03-16-2006 10:02 AM ET (US)     Profile for wwbach  Send Email to wwbach     
WiscBW, Here is the area generally being discussed:,-86.965714&spn=0.249637,0.556183

What Whaler do you have?

I haven’t been to Washington Island or Rock Island personally but as you can see, it is all very close together, near the door county peninsula and not really "offshore". It might be a bit more than Lake Mendota, but not really that much more. It really depends on the wind though.

-- Bud

Wiscbw posted 03-16-2006 10:57 AM ET (US)     Profile for Wiscbw  Send Email to Wiscbw     
Thanks for the comments on the lake conditions. I bought a Whaler kit. A 1996 Outrage 19 hull from Michigan and a 225 Yamaha from a marina out east. Hope to get these to Madison and put together in April. If the parts are as describe and get to Madison, I will have a boat and not another project. If everything works as planned, and I have the weekend open, I am sure I would enjoy an outing to Door County.
Cicada posted 03-18-2006 12:09 AM ET (US)     Profile for Cicada  Send Email to Cicada     
It looks like it's about a 5 mile run from the mainland to Rock Island. The most open exposure to the Southeast. If the weather pattern is the same on Lake Michigan as on Lake Huron a Southeast wind of any intensity is pretty rare. A link to the area's weather buoys and stations that provides historical data with some searching:

There's a Porte des Mortes on the (Garmin) charts off the tip of the peninsula. That sounds a bit ominous doesn't it? Probably an interesting story behind that one.

Found Horshoe Island on the chart that shows a green light but no mention of Nicolet Bay. I'm Assuming that Ephrum shows as spires on the chart to the Southeast? Also appears to be some dockage there?

What are good base references for navigation?


fourdfish posted 03-18-2006 08:39 AM ET (US)     Profile for fourdfish  Send Email to fourdfish     
Cicada-If you launch at Gills Rock, I think it is actually around 8 or more mi going around the west side of Washington Island to Rock Island. Actually the parking and ramp are better down south at Ellison Bay but it is a longer ride.
Porte de Mortes meaning "Deaths Door" is the passage between the Penninsula and Wash Island. Many ships went down there in the old days. Really not a problem for todays boaters. The ferrys are going back and forth all day.
Nicolete Bay is the small Bay just opposite Horseshoe
Island. Pennisula Park is very large, goes from Ephrum to Fish Creek.
Eagle Harbor is Ephrums large Bay. I sometimes use Ephrums launch ramp but the parking lot is small. They have limited transit dock space.
Going from Fish Creek north along the shore you have the four Strawberry Islands, Horseshoe Island then up to Sister Bay which has the 2 Sister Islands offshore and then up to Ellison Bay. I have a NOAA jpeg map on my other computer, If you want, I'll look for it later and can email it to you!
bdb posted 03-18-2006 10:26 AM ET (US)     Profile for bdb  Send Email to bdb     
Harpoon Harry here, sayin' fourdfish I'm surprised. It's Ephraim.

Boating anywhere in Northern Door is made for a skiff. All kinds of jaunts to fill a few hours or days. Don't be too concerned at this point about the need to "navigate." Everything is within sight. 'Course it's always a good to have an idea where you're going. From where you are now the best thing is to go to a satelite sight like terra or google maps. Use the hybred to see landmarks and photos. Those will help you preview the waters of Green Bay and the county. Each little village has its own identity and you can choose the one that fits your style. Fish Creek: bustling, crowded and partytime. Ephraim: quiet, dry, great for strolling. Sister Bay: a combination of the previous two.

Nicolet beach (or Shanty Bay to the old timers) is directly across from Horseshoe Island in Penninsula State Park. The island is part of the park. Worst weather is when northwesters strike. And honestly, after the first of August those become more frequent.

Got a nice day? Shoot over to Marinette/Menominee for lunch. Stop on the south or north side of Chambers Island on the way back (depending on wind direction) and beach the boat for awhile. Finish up slowly cruising the Door shoreline. Or as suggested, run to Washington and/or Rock Island. Rock Island is more of a commitment trip than mentioned anywhere in this thread.

All in all there is much to see and do on and off the water. No matter the weather you'll find lots to fill your stay. Please remember to bring, and leave, lots of money!

fourdfish posted 03-18-2006 10:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for fourdfish  Send Email to fourdfish     
You got me Harry! My spelling is the pits. Just lazy I guess! By the way Harry, Maybe you can recommend a spot for lunch in Marinette/Menominee. Never made that trip!
OutrageMan posted 03-24-2006 12:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for OutrageMan  Send Email to OutrageMan     
I started out life sleeping in a drawer of a 57' Roamer at the Alibi Dock in Fish Creek and have spent about half of my life in northern Door Co. I can not say a bad thing about the boating there (except for the water levels the past few years).

If you are having problems getting transient slippage in Sister Bay Municipal, make sure you check out Yacht Works as well (this is where I keep my boat). It is about 1 mile north of the municipal dock and is a full fledged ship yard with sales, service and a ships store. It also shares parking with JJ's a fun bar/resturaunt.

A run to Menominee is easy and fun. Just start in Fish Creek, point your bow west - southwest and go. The pizza is great at Pirate's Cove.

One place that hasn't been mentioned is the South East side of Chamber's Island. There is a very long sand bar that points east from the island that is just above the surface. If the wind is from the west this is a great place to drop a hook and swim, etc.

I echo The Great Harpoon, re the trip to Rock Island. It can get a bit long (but not bad) especially from Fish Creek. It is worth a look though. Just don't park your boat in the boat house. It is home to 100's of swallows and they will repaint your boat for you.

Ephraim is a nice place but it is dry (no alcohol) and is lacking some of the attractions of Sister Bay. They also have a very large no wake zone along all of the shoreline, and the water can get real skinny real quick.

The ramp at Sister Bay Municipal is very good and even if busy moves along in an organized manner.

Hope this helps,

prj posted 10-18-2006 11:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
A belated response with photograph of our 2005 adventure.
We're looking forward to an early/middle August of 2007
trip to Door County, as missing it this year really hurt.

Cicada posted 10-19-2006 09:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for Cicada  Send Email to Cicada     
I couldn't think of a nicer setting for an Outrage than that boathouse.

This coming summer should be easier to do something with than last.

I'd certainly have an interest in the trip.


jeffs22outrage posted 10-19-2006 10:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for jeffs22outrage  Send Email to jeffs22outrage     
cool picture....I like the house in your photo ablumn better;]

Is the house a "prefab"" I would love to find out more about it. My wife and I are looking at both the flatpak house, glide house, and wee house for our next home. Are you a design professional as well?

Sorry for the misdirection of the the thread...PRJ my email is . Again I would love to find out more about it..

prj posted 10-20-2006 12:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
You've got that right Paul.
We hope to see all the contributors to this article up there next year.

Thanks for that, Jeff. It's not a prefab.
Find an email forthcoming describing it a bit more.

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