Drummond Island forms the southwestern end of the North Channel. It is separated from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan by the De Tour Passage and the St. Marys River. Here your transition into cruising in the North Channel will begin.
As you travel up the De Tour Passage along the island's western flank, you'll have lots of company. Freighter traffic between Lake Superior and all the lower lakes must pass this way. That makes this one of the busiest spots for shipping on the entire Great Lakes. To also made things interesting, the mixing of the cold Superior water with warmer lower lakes produces two effects: sportfishing and fog. It is not uncommon for 1000-foot freighters to have to go to anchor to sit out a day of fog or to find hundreds of small boats fishing for Salmon and other big game fish at the mouth of the river.
Development of the island has been slowed by its boat-only access. A ferry brings cars and trucks across from De Tour Village to the island. But you are still in the United States, and in comparison with the rest of the North Channel, Drummond Island is much more inhabited and developed. There are marinas, cottages, and even year-round inhabitants, along with a huge influx of summer-only resorters.
If you bypass the Municipal Mariana at De Tour Village, you can find good anchorages in the many bays and islands of the western end of Drummond. The northeast corner of Whitney Bay is an excellent spot to overnight, although your shoreline view will contain mostly cottages. Larger Potagannissing Bay on the NW side of Drummond Island has many islands and shoals. If you prefer to stay at a marina, Drummond Island Yacht Haven is located on the southern shore of the bay and has many facilities.
On a misty evening in early August, we found ourselves spending a quiet night anchored in the complete protection of the inner harbor at Harbor Island. The U-shaped island forms a protective horseshoe with only the narrow opening shown in the photograph. You're looking northward from just outside the entrance. The almost setting sun is just visible as it sinks behind some distant clouds. Four boats ride at anchor, while delightful birdsong entertains their occupants. The next day, this evening mist developed into a dense fog that closed navigation on the St. Mary's River. (If you are interested in more details, you can read the narrative of this cruise in the Sail-Logs section of this site.)
Harbor Island is now a U.S. Federal Wildlife Refuge and the home to many birds, including the Great Blue Heron--always fun to see in these northern summer nesting grounds.
This article first appeared in 1994.
Copyright © 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 by James W. Hebert. All rights reserved.
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Author: James W. Hebert