Free of the dock and out on Lake Michigan

First of All –

  • First day’s cruise on our Loop trip
  • First day out on Lake Michigan
  • First night sleeping on the boat while afloat

Namely Speaking-

  • Lake Macatawa

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: Power: 22; Sail: 3
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 29
  • Hours Underway: 6
  • Fuel: NA
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 13.0
  • Wind Speed: 11mph; Wind Direction: SSW
  • Daily High Temperature: 80
  • Water Temperature: 72

DSCF7579We get up and going at 6:30am, with breakfast and warmly felt goodbyes to our Grand Haven host friends. We drive down to the city marina withDSCF7581 our friend and his brother in law, who will accompany us on the first leg of our journey, down to Holland, around 20 miles distant. Our boat sits prettily in her slip, awaiting my direction to take us whence I steer. We take a dock side photo, uncleat lines, and are off. We cruise down the channel, which is the mouth of the Grand River, past the Coast Guard Station and the light out on the end of the jetty, and onto the vastness of Lake Michigan. I believe Lake Michigan is the 3rd largest lake in the world, and it is indistinguishable from an ocean. The breeze is steady, from the SSW, more or less right on our nose. We punch through 1 to 2 foot chop, and as the morning progresses, it seems to build to 2 to 3 foot, and from our angle, gives the boat something of a corkscrew motion. This proves disagreeable to one of our passengers, who ends up experiencing a very unpleasant passage. By around 1:30pm we enter the breakwater at Holland, which actually leads us onto Lake Macatawa. We take advantage of the lighter winds and calmer seas on the lake to raise sails, shut down the engine, and eat our lunch (all except for our sea sick passenger). I want to tie up at the marina closest to the town proper, which is near the head of the lake, on the south side, and so select Crescent Bay Marina which looks, in my 2012 cruising guide, like it will serve our needs. Their listed phone number proves to be out of service, and when I try hailing them on VHF, someone calls back and informs me that Crescent Bay is no longer a marina. By this time we’re almost to the location of the former Crescent Bay Marina, and thus must come about and head for one of 3 marinas located at the head of a bay on the north side of the lake, about 1/3 of the way from the mouth. I select Yacht Basin Marina, phone them up, and arrange for a slip. They direct us to a tie up near the fuel dock, which is handy because it’s easy to find. That proves to be about the only handy thing about Yacht Basin Marina. The 10 plus mph cross wind is certain to complicate docking, so I request help from one of the attendants at the fuel dock. She walks the short distance over to our slip and takes our bow line as we ease in, wind behind us. She simply stands there as the dying momentum of the boat pushes our anchor into the boat box at the head of the dock. I’m moving slowly enough that no damage is done, but I’m amazed that she didn’t think to simply grab something and kill our motion. Oh well. Next comes tying the boat to the dock. There are all sorts of knarly projections below the walkway, all of which threaten to scrape the hull. I arrange 3 different types of fenders to keep us off those hazards, and finally get satisfactorily tied up. It’s about then that we notice the heavily amped rock music emanating from a floating dock just a short distance across fromDSCF7587 our slip. A large crowd of probably well lubricated party goers are loudly enjoying the music, however it’s the last thing we need after a bounch passage down from Grand Haven. We hope they’ll quit early, but that doesn’t prove to be the case. We go for a short walk and they’re still going strong when we return. Also, the water near the end of our dock is extremely choppy, with about 3 miles of open fetch carrying across the lake. The fenders are holding their position, but the boat is jerking uncomfortably around. With deteriorating weather in the forecast for the next several days, we don’t relish being pinned down here. I study the forecast, and see that thunderstorms are projected to hit tomorrow around midday. Winds are forecast to be slightly stronger than today, so moving is certain to be even more rough than today, but I really would like to get away from this place. The next harbor to the south is Saugatuk, on the Kalamazoo River, just 7 miles downlake. I’d really like to reach South Haven, which is around 27 miles distant. I decide to rise at 4am tomorrow, get free of Yacht Basin Marina’s slip, and make a pre dawn run down lake. If it seems too rough out there I’ll duck in at the Kalamazoo River inlet, and if it seems ok, I’ll press on all the way to South Haven.

I must mention at this point that, coinciding with the starting of our cruise on Lake Michigan, my health takes a hit. I’ve been inconvenienced by a slight cough ever since we left home. Some days it didn’t even trigger. I hope that it is some sort of allergic reaction to dust in the house, from all the last minute cleaning we were doing. For the past few days it has been becoming more of a bother, and I regularly pop cough lozenges in my mouth to sooth the throat. However today it really kicks in, accompanied by a sore throat. I find it hard to talk without going into a coughing fit. Further, Sandy seems to be coming down with something similar. I realize just how important good health is to a venture such as this, and I hope that these symptoms will soon go away.

2 thoughts on “Free of the dock and out on Lake Michigan

  1. I’m having Siri read me these posts as I drive across Wisconsin for work. Really well written. I look forward to hearing about your adventure.

    • Hi Tom,

      It’s been a while since someone replied to one of our Great Loop blog posts. Glad you’re enjoying the account; it was a unique experience. I’m working on plans to circumnavigate Vancouver Island this summer, and I’ll be posting a blog on the trip, if all comes together as planned. Stay tuned.


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