2021 GLBWCC Cruise

Accounts of trips taken in Boston Whaler boats; organization of rendezvous for Boston Whaler boats
jimh
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Location: Michigan, Lower Peninsula
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2021 GLBWCC Cruise

Postby jimh » Sun Aug 15, 2021 9:17 am

The Great Lakes Boston Whaler Cruising Club trip for 2021 was a bit shorter and more local than our usual adventures, due to the inability to plan a visit to the North Channel of Lake Huron. The pandemic made entry into Canada by boat for non-essential travel just about non-existent. Instead, we organized a shorter cruise in northern Lake Michigan. After discussions with about ten boats, only three survived to actually join the cruise. The rally point was Beaver Island. The three participanting boats: MANIC MOMENT, LUCKY TWO, and CONTINUOUSWAVE.

MANIC MOMENT trailered to St. Ignance and launched there, only a short distance from its home port of Barbeau. LUCKY TWO embarked from Cheboygan, its home port. CONTINUOUSWAVE departed from the launch ramp at Northport, its home port.

Day One: Monday, August 9,2021
CONTINUOUSWAVE departs Northport's marina at 12:25 p.m. with a full tank of fuel, under cloudy skies with the threat of rain. Winds are from the south, so a following sea is expected for the approximately 48-mile run due north into Lake Michigan to Beaver Island. Visibility offshore in Lake Michigan is limited to about a mile or less due to mist and fog. We spend the first half-hour of the trip resetting gauges, trip logs, starting a track, and also eating lunch. A light rain begins to fall.

Due to the clouds and rain, all the weather canvas is up. This is also something unusual. I don't think we have used the windshield and side curtains since our trip in 2019. We maintain a lookout ahead through the isinglass of the weather canvas, and every minute or two we peek around the weather canvas from the aft cockpit to check for other boats without having to look through the rain-streaked windows.

It has been a long time since we ran the boat this heavily loaded. We have all our cruising gear aboard and a full-tank of fuel. Generally we avoid filling the fuel tank to the FULL mark, to save weight and to keep gasoline out of the fuel inlet filler hose as much as possible. For this trip 16-ounces of Evinrude Fuel System Cleaner had been added. The engine hours are 518:49 at departure, and this is the first use of a high-detergent fuel additive on the boat since I have owned it. We also set the fuel tank level to "full" or 70-gallons. The tank is actually a 77-gallon tank. By setting "full" as 70-gallons we allow for about ten-percent of the fuel to be possibly unusable due to the fuel pick-up tube being exposed to air during fuel sloshing.

The propeller in use is a four-blade CYCLONE 17-pitch, which we have been using for about a year or more, but mostly for local boat trips with the boat in a very light configuration. This propeller gives the best fuel economy at higher boat speeds, peaking at about 29 to 31-MPH. With the limited visibility and a 1-foot swell, those boat speeds seem too fast. We settle into a cruising speed of about 25-MPH, with the fuel economy a rather poor 2.2-MPG. Experimenting with throttle and trim, we optimize at an engine speed of 4,300-RPM, LOAD of 41-percent, boat speed 28-MPH, and MPG at 2.5.

As we make our way farther offshore the swell increases to 2-feet. We observe a big rain squall ahead. Rather than drive right into the rain, we slow to 6-MPH to let the rain pass ahead of us. When we resume our cruising speed, we eventually do sail into a short period of very heavy rain, and again come to a stop to let it get past our course line.

At 2:15 p.m. we are running along the eastern coast of Beaver Island, heading north to the harbor entrance, when the AIS target for LUCKY TWO appears on the chart plotter. What a unanticipated coincidence: we will arrive almost simultaneously at Beaver Island, and a mile or two behind is MANIC MOMENT.

We have made reservations for three slips at Beaver Island's south dock. This year with restriction on travel to Canada, every cruising boat is staying close to home, and the marinas in northern Lake Michigan are typically at full capacity every night. Getting a slip was something taken for granted for years, but now it has become a major part of trip planning. You cannot expect to find open transient slips at a marina any longer in mid-August.

The fixed-hight docks at Beaver Island are, with the current high-water level, a very good match for the gunwale height on our boat. We have only about a 1-foot step up to the dock from the boat gunwales.

Around 3 p.m. the skies clear up and the sun appears. It is now a warm and sunny day in the harbor. I break out the scrub bush, hose, and bucket. I mix up a gallon of boat soap and begin trying to scrub off a nasty coat of mildew that has begun to take hold on the foredeck of the boat. When it sits on the trailer, this part of the boat remains uncovered. We have morning dew almost every morning, and those little droplets of freshwater are turning into mildew.

For dinner we take a taxi to the CIRCLE-M restaurant, located in the old rectory of an old church parish, about "a mile and half" south. That is the advertised distance, but we are very glad we did not try to walk there. I think the restaurant is quite a bit farther away than that, based on the cab ride.

With a reservation for a table for six--made about a week earlier--we get seated immediately. Most reviews indicated this is the "best restaurant" on Beaver Island. The food was decent, but not spectacular. We are, after all, on an island in northern Lake Michigan that is about 35 to 50-miles offshore from the nearest cities.

Getting six into the taxis is also a bit of a challenge. Two or three passengers must be nimble enough to get into the third row seats in the back.

At the marina, there is no break wall, and the harbor opens to the East. Just about bed time, a breeze comes up from East, so we retire to the cabin for the night with the boat gently rocking fore-and-aft to the small waves coming into the harbor. Around 3 a.m. the breeze veers back to the North, creating a new set of waves on the beam. Now we gently roll the rest of the night.

DAY ONE TRIP LOG
Underway time: 2-hours 28-minutes
Distance: 47.6-miles
Average speed: 19.3-MPH
Maximum speed: 33.3-MPH
Engine hours: 521:17
Trip Fuel: 18.2-gallons
Fuel economy this leg: 2.6-MPG
Fuel Remaining: 51.3-gallons

Added 27.4-gallons at $4.43-per-gallon before departure. Stopped when boat tank level gauge hit "FULL."
[To be continued]

jimh
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Re: 2021 GLBWCC Cruise

Postby jimh » Sun Aug 15, 2021 9:48 am

Day Two, Tuesday, August 10, 2021
We awake at 7:20 a.m. to find the harbor enveloped in fog, with very light winds, and no sign of the sun. We had initially made reservations for two nights at Beaver Island. We planned to explore the archipelago of smaller islands, find an anchorage for lunch, and generally enjoy a day of boating in the area. However, plans change when several wind predictions for Wednesday indicate that departing from Beaver Island to the southeast, our intended course, will have us encountering 3-foot head seas for the 30-miles of open water we must cross to get back to the Michigan shoreline.

The marina graciously lets us cancel our second-night reservations, forfeiting only an $8 cancellation charge. We will leave Beaver Island and surrounding unexplored today, and head southeast in very light wind and almost no waves for our jump back to shore. We depart at 11 a.m. with the fog lifting and visibility on the open lake rather decent.

We head for Charlevoix, enter the inlet there without difficulty, pass under the highway bascule bridge without needing it open (LUCKY TWO and MANIC MOMENT have to lower the antennas on their hardtops), transit Round Lake, and go to anchor in a small cove on the north shore of Lake Charlevoix. The other two boats raft up with us, and we enjoy a lunch together.

Eventually we haul anchor and proceed farther inland on Lake Charlevoix, arriving at Boyne City on the very eastern end of the North Arm of Lake Charlevoix. Here we have made reservations for two slips at the Harborage Marina. CONTINUOUSWAVE and MANIC MOMENT will share a 60-feet slip, and LUCKY TWO will have a 30-foot slip to her own. These arrangements were made the afternoon before, while still on Beaver Island. Thanks to very good cellular telephone service on the island, Chris was able to find these berths were available and made the reservations yesterday afternoon, once we decided not to stay on Beaver Island a second night.

For dinner we walk about a half-mile to downtown Boyne City, and dine at the RED MESA GRILL, a very popular spot. We also made dinner reservations there the day before. We have a very nice meal of Mexican-themed food at decent prices.

The harbor is very well protected from the open lake, so when a series of intense thunder storms and high winds come through about 11 p.m. until 2 a.m., we are quite secure and stable at our dock.

DAY TWO TRIP LOG
Underway time: 2-hours 46-minutes
Distance: 48.6-miles
Average speed: 17.6-MPH
Maximum speed: 34.3-MPH
Engine hours: 524:32
Trip Fuel (this leg): 18-gallons
Trip Fuel economy (this leg): 2.7-MPG

Trip Fuel: 36.2-gallons
Trip Distance: 96.2
Trip Fuel economy: 2.66-MPG

Fuel Remaining: 33.3-gallons

jimh
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Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2015 12:25 pm
Location: Michigan, Lower Peninsula
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Re: 2021 GLBWCC Cruise

Postby jimh » Sun Aug 15, 2021 10:44 am

Day Three, Wednesday, August 11, 2021
We awake at 6:15 a.m. following rain overnight. The boat interior is dry; no leaks in the cabin roof, hatches, or the weather canvas. The sun rises at 7 a.m. without a reddish cast. The weather maps show a high-pressure system is near our location. The engine barometer reads 992 millibars. Correcting that for our elevation of approximately 600-feet (that is, Lake Michigan at 576-feet above sea level), gives a corrected pressure of 1008 millibars. Another table of conversions suggests even more compensation, for a corrected pressure of 1014 millibars.

We are compiling a list of missing items that should have been aboard the boat. On later review, several items on the missing list were actually on the boat, but we just had not found them yet. This is what a year off from boat cruising will do.

We depart Harborage Marine at 10:10 a.m., intending to head south to Elk Rapids. We want an early departure because the weather forecast shows increasing wind strength from the South today, with accompanying building seas. According to predictions we should at this time encounter 2-foot seas in open Lake Michigan after we depart Charlevoix, but as we head south into Grand Traverse Bay the seas should reduce to 1-foot.

At 11 a.m. we pass under the highway bridge at the entrance channel, just as it is opening on the hour. We find Lake Michigan seas as predicted, a two-foot swell with some wind waves building. But we can manage these conditions with a slow planing speed and high bow trim. We set off towards Elk Rapids at about 12 to 15-MPH depending on waves. The fuel economy at his speed is about 1.8 to 2.0-MPG.

We are making reasonably good progress upwind and into these seas, and after about two hours underway we are inside Grand Traverse Bay. Here our expectation was for the wave height to reduce to 1-foot, but we are very disappointed. Rather than decreasing, the waves are building. Soon we are down to about 8 to 10-MPH and having a rough ride into 2-footers with an occasional 3-footer--and a little too occasionally for our preferences. The fuel economy is also getting worse. At these slow plowing speeds, fuel is being consumed at an alarming rate, about 1.5 to 1.7-MPG.

About three hours into the trip my focus is now on the fuel gauge. Not the electronic fuel gauges that show tank level based on data I have input to them, but the real, mechanical tank level gauge on the fuel tank itself. The dial pointer is now swinging in a arc between E and 1/4-FULL. Assuming about 1/8-FULL and a 77-gallon tank, that means perhaps less than 10-gallons remain

The distance to Elk Rapids according to the chart plotter is about 15-miles. My electronic fuel manager shows more fuel, perhaps 14-gallons remain. I begin to seriously worry about running out of fuel before we make Elk Rapids. There is no other port in this storm, and the head seas continue to build.

With about 10-miles to go, the other two boats continue at their slow planing speed, but I cut back to about 7 to 8-MPH of just miserable slogging into the waves. Fuel economy improves to 2.0 to 2.5-MPG. I feel better about the fuel remaining.

The waves keep building. They are now mostly 3-footers and occasionally larger. Actually, these seas are perhaps the worst head seas I can remember in a very long time. I try to steer around the really big rollers coming up to meet us. The boat is making some hard landings. The thought occurs: this boat was made in 1990, and it is now 31-years old. Thank you, Boston Whaler, for the excellent craftsmanship in molding this hull.

The two other boats eventually go out of sight in the white caps ahead. We lumber onward at 5 to 6-MPH, but we are now getting about 2.5-MPG. I am certain we will make the entrance channel without a fuel problem.

Nearly four hours and almost 49-miles into this leg, we are at the Elk River Marina entrance. It is a narrow buoyed channel, and our course into it will be abeam these seas and a very strong cross wind. But we seem to have plenty of fuel left, so I push the throttle forward, get the boat on plane, and run at about 22-MPH toward the inlet.

At this point we have all the weather canvas up except the drop curtain, so all sounds at the helm appear to come from astern. I get the boat back on plane and the engine up to about 3,800-RPM. Suddenly a very loud and very mechanical noise begins from behind me. It sounds like the engine has suddenly suffered some massive mechanical problem. I don't want to reduce throttle, but this noise tells me I must.

I pull back the throttle handle to idle, but the new noise only gets louder and remains at the same frequency. I am totally puzzled. How can the engine make so much noise and be at idle? Suddenly, the noise changes pitch slightly and gets even louder, and I solve the puzzle. A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter has just flown up and over us, also on its way south toward its airbase in Traverse City. My E-TEC engine is not the source of that noise.

We get back on plane, easily negotiate the four pairs of red and green buoys marking the channel entrance, and then throttle back to the delightful calm of the harbor. We have made it to Elk Rapids and we still have fuel. Now in calm seas, the mechanical fuel tank level gauge settles at 1/8-FULL, and the electronic fuel manager notes 11.6-gallons remain.

I did not take on fuel before departing Elk Rapids, and I probably should have. I had considered going to the fuel dock at the marina, as it was very handy for us--right at the end of the fairway for our slip. But in the overall process of leaving that morning, I neglected to do to.

There are three explanations for the low fuel situation:
  1. I did not really work out the exact distance involved on this leg. It turned out to be 48.9-miles, and I was estimating less, perhaps only 30-miles, based on a seat-of-the-pants notion from having visited Elk Rapids several times before; this time I did not account for the 20-mile run from Boyne City to Lake Michigan;
  2. I was expecting to be able to run on plane and be getting 2.2 to 2.5-MPH for the last 15-miles going south into 1-footers, as the wind prediction indicated; and
  3. I did not want to dilute the effect of the fuel cleaner additive by adding more gasoline to the tank; I wanted to get the benefit of burning as much of the tank of fuel with cleaner added as possible

When we were avid sailors, we used to follow this motto: "The time to reef sails is when you first think about reefing sails." I now adopt this to the fuel situation: "The time to add fuel is when you first think about adding fuel."

The sun comes out again, just as we tie up in our assigned slip. It will be another hot afternoon at the dock after a much cooler morning and early afternoon on the water. Elk Rapids has a very nice public beach adjacent to the marina, so we walk over there and take a delightful swim to cool off. On the walk back to the boat we get warm again from the strong sun, so we stop off in the showers, taking a cool rinse in our swim suits to shed the heat.

Finally back at the boat comes some interesting news: a huge storm front is approaching with rain, thunderstorms, and winds up to 60-knots possible. We button down all the canvas, remove the stern flag, add another fender, and add more dock lines.

We have a dinner reservation at PEARL'S NEW ORLEANS KITCHEN, a Cajun-themed restaurant about a mile away. The marina provides a free shuttle service to take us there, but since they close now at 6 p.m., they won't be able to give us a free ride back. Just as the shuttle arrives at the main pavilion to take us to dinner, the storm arrives. By the time we get to the restaurant, there is heavy rain. The shuttle driver gives us her own cellular number and offers to give us a ride back after 7 p.m. if the weather is still bad in her own car.

We have a very nice dinner at PEARL'S NEW ORLEANS KITCHEN, and by about 7:30 find we are in a lull from the storm. We elect to walk back, a pleasant one-mile trip to work off some of that delicious Cajun-style fried food we ate.

Back at the marina, all of our boats survived the wind and rain without harm. But there is enough breeze that very small waves have formed in the marina. With our Boston Whaler boat with central V-hull and vestigial runners, little waves carry into the air space between the center hull and runners, then make a popping sound when they run out of air space. We go to sleep to a song of hull noises. But the rough ride to get here and the big dinner make it easy to fall asleep, even with the random musical accompaniment from the hull.

DAY THREE TRIP LOG
Underway time: 4-hours 3-minutes (with 3-hours 15-minutes into rough head seas)
Distance: 48.9-miles
Engine hours: 528:40
Today's Fuel: 20-gallons (deduced later)
Fuel Remaining: 11.3-gallons (seems optimistic; tank gauge shows 1/8-FULL or about 8-gallons or less)
Fuel Economy (this leg): 2.4-MPG

Now for a bit of irony: the big thunderstorm last night has knocked out power at the Elk Rapids Marina fuel dock: no fuel is available there at this moment.

jimh
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Re: 2021 GLBWCC Cruise

Postby jimh » Sun Aug 15, 2021 12:27 pm

Day Four, Thursday, August 12, 2012
We awake to a beautiful morning, with sunny skies, some clouds, and more wind than anticipated. There is a strong breeze again from the South to Southwest, and seas are already building.

The electrical problems at the fuel dock have been repaired, and all three boats head there for refueling. Elk Rapids sells REC 90 pure gasoline, but its price is $4.76 per gallon. (Ironically, fuel was about $0.30 less at Boyne City.) We only need enough fuel to return to Northport, a run of about 20-miles. We take on 20-gallons. The other boats replenish their tanks, preparing for a longer return trip to the Straits of Mackinaw and beyond.

We depart Elk Rapids and aim for the headland of the Old Mission Peninsula, a course that gives a mostly following sea on our stern port quarter. After rounding the shoals at Old Mission Point, we turn more westerly, aiming for just north of Omena. We are now running abeam the seas, which build to 2 to 3-feet. We are pleased we got an early start on this leg.

After reaching the west side of Grand Traverse Bay, we stay near the coast of the Leelanau Peninsula, and take a break in Ingalls Bay, a small shelter north of Omena, where we find almost calm seas. Since this will be the last leg of our cruise, and all the weather canvas is now perfectly dry from the several hours of strong sunlight and no rain, we decide to take down and carefully roll-up the two side curtains and windshield, since we likely won't be using them again this season. This takes about 20-minutes, and while we do that the two other boats depart toward Northport.

By calling last night and leaving a voice mail, the other boats were able to get two slips at the Northport marina. I think the rough weather yesterday probably kept a lot of boats in port that otherwise might have been headed to Northport.

We are just going to the launch ramp to haul out, so no slip needed for us.

TRIP DATA
Time underway: 11-hours 09-minutes
Average Speed: 15-MPH
Maximum Speed: 34.3-MPH
Distance: 167.3-Miles

Trip Fuel: 66-gallons
Fuel Remain: 23.5-gallons

Trip Fuel Economy: 2.5-MPG

Fuel Added:
27.4-gallons at Northport at departure
20.0-gallons at Elk Rapids prior to last leg

For our last night dinner, we host everyone at our cabin near Northport. We added two other GLBWCC members who were in the neighborhood, Con and Martha from Suttons Bay, and Craig and Karen from Chambers Island, Wisconsin (who just happened to be on a road trip in northern Michigan). It was a nice ending to our part of the cruise.

jimh
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Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2015 12:25 pm
Location: Michigan, Lower Peninsula
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Re: 2021 GLBWCC Cruise

Postby jimh » Sun Aug 15, 2021 12:36 pm

Days Five and Six, Friday and Saturday, August 13 and 14, 2021.

Back at the cabin, we awoke to a beautiful morning, sunshine, pure blue sky, very light wind, and no waves. Hey--where was this perfect boating weather for the last four days?

LUCKY TWO and MANIC MOMENT depart Northport very early, and arrive at Beaver Island in less than two hours. They rent a car and toured the island.

On Saturday the weather was similarly cooperative, and the two boats departed Beaver Island and head east towards Mackinaw in fair weather and light winds. In another leg of less than two hours, MANIC MOMENT is back in St. Ignace and hauling out. And LUCKY TWO continues on to Cheboygan, just 20-miles farther East.

We were quite okay with taking a break from boating. The trip had worn us out. We tried to clean up the boat and the house, but only made a small dent in those tasks on Friday. More got done on Saturday. And as I write this on Sunday, there is still cruising gear from the boat to be cleaned, organized, and put away for the next trip.

It was a very fun trip, and a good re-introduction into cruising aboard a small boat on big lakes. I am now working on that list of gear we forgot to bring, making a few improvements to the boat, and planning to get back on the water soon.

I have put my three-blade MIRAGEplus 17-pitch propeller on the E-TEC 225-HP engine, and I want to get some up-to-date performance data with it powering the boat. Also, when I removed the four-blade CYCLONE 17 propeller, I was very surprised by the amount of soot on the thru-hub exhaust passage, propeller nut, retainer, and cotter pin. That fuel system cleaner had been doing its job removing old carbon deposits.

jimh
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Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2015 12:25 pm
Location: Michigan, Lower Peninsula
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Re: 2021 GLBWCC Cruise

Postby jimh » Wed Aug 18, 2021 10:38 am

Here is information about the three marina facilities we visited during the 2021 GLBWCC Cruise

BEAVER ISLAND
Telephone: 231-448-2252
There is a natural harbor on the northeast end of Beaver Island that opens to the east to Lake Michigan. The public marina there is split into two docks, the north dock and the south dock.

The south dock is located adjacent to the commercial ferry dock and is approached on a direct course after entering the harbor. The dock height is fixed but with high water level is quite appropriate for even small boats, being only about a 1-foot step up from the gunwales. The south dock is well protected for winds from the west and south. Winds from the east can enter the harbor unimpeded. There is enough fetch for winds from the north to create small waves at the south dock.

The north dock is located at the north end of the harbor and is well protected except for winds from the south. Several slips appropriate for small boats there are oriented east-west, and in the event of a strong south wind boat tied there will be subjected to considerable rolling at the dock--I know this from first hand experience of a sleepless night at those docks.

The harbor participates with the Michigan DNR harbor reservation system. Visit

https://midnrreservations.com/

to check for slips available and to make a reservation. The dock fees are by the foot.

The fuel dock is located at the north docks. It can service only one boat at a time. Again, in a strong south wind the fuel dock will not be well sheltered and taking on fuel could be difficult there.

The men's bathhouse at the south docks had one urinal, two toilets, and one shower. Adjacent to the bathhouse is a covered area with two large picnic tables. The marina staff was very accommodating and easy to deal with.

HARBORAGE MARINA ELK RAPIDS
Website: https://harboragemarina.net/
Telephone: 231-582-3340

At the extreme eastern end of the North Arm of Lake Charlevoix the Harborage Marina is located behind a long stone breakwall. In the center of the breakwall there is a diagonally-oriented entrance channel that will be hard to see from seaward. The breakwall appears to be unbroken, but a pair of red-green daymarks indicate the entrance. The breakwall is also open on the northern end.

The entrance channel leads to the fuel dock, which sells REC 90 gasoline, ice, and has a pump-out. The harbormaster can be contacted on VHF 16, however a summer dockhand might respond to your call and not be particularly clear about where your assigned slip will be located. We had to hunt around to find ours. Docks A-B-C-D are south of the fuel dock; the remaining lettered docks are to the north.

The transient boats tend to be put into open slips whose long-term-renter's or owner's boat is absent. For boats up to 36-feet the overnight fee is $45. Our slip on D-Dock was a 60-feet slip, and we put two boats into it; each paid $45. The breakwall protection was excellent, as the night we were there a big thunderstorm front moved through; we had no motion on the boat at all.

The bathhouse facility are first-class. There are three separate private shower suites with toilets. The bathhouse is very well air-conditioned, a most welcome reprieve from the 85-degree air temperatures we experienced the day we were there.

Contact the Harborage by telephone to arrange a transient slip.

ELK RAPIDS
The Grace Memorial Harbor

Website: https://elkrapids.org/harbor/
Telephone: 231-264-9274

On the west shore of the East Arm of Grand Traverse Bay, the Village of Elk Rapids has an excellent marina. A buoyed entrance channel approached on a heading of southeast and marked by four pairs of red-green buoys leads to the harbor which is protected by a large stone breakwall. The fuel dock is the first dock encountered after entering the harbor. The fuel dock can accommodate perhaps four boats at once. The dock attendants know what they are doing and work quickly.

The marina does not participate in the Michigan DNR reservation system. Call them by telephone to arrange for a transient slip in advance. Be sure to speak to the harbormaster directly, if possible, as she will be better able to judge the availability of proper accommodations at the marina than the dock attendants.

The dock are at a fixed height, but the finger piers at slips for smaller boats are sloped downward several feet so that the height to the finger pier to the boat gunwale is more suited for smaller boats. Water and power is available at most every dock.

The staff is very friendly and accommodating. They have a shuttle bus that will take you to nearby restaurants on demand at no cost.

The bathhouse is large with plenty of sinks, toilets, and showers, and is kept very clean. There is a beautiful public beach adjacent to the marina for swimming--a Godsend on a hot day. Facilities in the village are a short walk from the marina.