Boating on Lake HuronBy Marty Richardson
Published: April/May 2013
Come and explore Lake Huron's top cruising ground, with a couple who go there every year, for good reason. Here is their "must visit" boating itinerary.
Adjacent Croker Island is a favorite spot, with good holding in clay or mud, and as much as 40 feet of water. We've anchored here many times, taking a long line to tie to a sturdy pine on land. The shore soars upward, with massive, glacier-ground rock formations providing shelter in virtually all winds. In any of these spots, hiking up the stunning cliff formations, swimming, picking blueberries, or taking our dinghy through adjacent anchorages provided us with continuous entertainment.
Proceeding west on the North Channel, you’ll find a blind dogleg passage called Little Detroit. This government-blasted cut is incredibly narrow, but 35 feet deep. At about 50 feet wide, it's the narrowest point of navigable water in the North Channel; you can almost reach out and touch the rock walls as you pass, but keep a keen eye on both fore and aft range markers.
After safely transiting Little Detroit, you'll enter Whalesback Channel, where granite hills, deep blue water, panoramic views, and protected anchorages greet mariners. This seven mile-long, east-to-west stretch provides a nice opportunity to sail, and many gunkholes. Favorite anchorages here include Bear Drop Harbor, with 10 to 15 feet of water and a mud bottom and, directly opposite, John Harbor, with luscious blueberries growing on its granite ridges. We always plan an extra day here, to take the dinghy out the shallow back channel of Bear Drop to explore nearby Moiles Harbor, one of the area's prettiest anchorages.
Heading west, you'll exit Whalesback Channel and follow the clearly marked ranges and marks toward Thessalon, Ontario. Thessalon sports a beautiful municipal marina, with gas, diesel, pumpout, loaner bikes, and a spotless new harbor clubhouse. The dockmaster proudly showed us her beautiful floral plantings, proof of her green thumb. Thessalon marks the western terminus of the North Channel. At this point, cruisers can continue west along the north shore to the St. Marys River, which leads to the twin cities of Sault Ste. Marie (Michigan and Ontario), the gateway to Lake Superior. Or, cross southwest to the snug harbor at Detour, Michigan, the entrance to the main body of Lake Huron. Either way, there will always be more to explore in Lake Huron's North Channel.
Marty Richardson and her husband Jerry have logged nearly 12,000 miles on their 52-foot trawler Monarch since buying it in 2007. Their travels have ranged from southern Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, and they make their home in the Detroit area.
Canadian Yacht Charters, located on the north side of Manitoulin Island, offers sail and powerboats. www.cycnorth.com
Adventurous boaters can find a remote paradise on Michigan's Isle Royale
It may not have always been smooth sailing, but island life finally turned this enthusiast into a real boater
The Great Lakes Cruising Club recommends things to see and do in the Detroit River area