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Tips From The Great Lakes Cruising Club: The Detroit River To Saginaw Bay

By Mark Lifter, GLCC Rear Commodore for Region 47
Published: April/May 2013

Leaving the Detroit River, you'll enter Lake St. Clair, not a Great Lake, but a sizeable one nonetheless. Bearing to the east, you pass the stately mansions of the Grosse Pointe communities, and come upon another great place for boating, the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club. GPYC will host the Great Lakes Cruising Club's annual regional dinner and meeting on April 26, 2013. The topic is scheduled to be water levels in the Great Lakes, a growing concern for boaters and home owners alongside the lakeshores.

After 15 miles across Lake St. Clair, you'll enter the St. Clair delta (also known as the St. Clair Flats), the only major river delta in the Great Lakes. Over the millennia, dirt and silt have been carried downstream to form a large delta with multiple channels and islands, such as Harsen's Island. During warm summer weekends, hundreds of boats anchor near these islands and in accessible shallow bays and coves.

Coming out of the delta, you arrive at Algonac, MI, once the home of the Christopher Smith's legendary Chris Craft boat factory. The factory is now converted to a boat storage building the Algonac Harbor Club Marina, which welcomes transient boaters. From there, you enter one of the most beautiful rivers on the Great Lakes. The very blue 40 mile-long St. Clair River rolls past numerous small towns on both the U.S. and Canadian sides. A particularly pleasant harbor is located in the city of St. Clair. A golf course and several good restaurants and stores are with an easy walk of the harbor. The St. Clair Boat Harbor can be contacted at 810 329-4125 or can be reserved online at

Approaching the northern end of the St. Clair River, you'll cruise to the twin cities of Port Huron and Sarnia. Both have much to offer both sailors and power boaters with numerous harbors and yacht clubs. Port Huron provides the starting line for long-standing Bayview Yacht Club Port Huron to Mackinac Island sailing race. A night in Port Huron on the eve of the race is always a festive time, but book a spot early for this year's race starting on July 20, 2013.

Port Huron hosts one of the region's many Antique & Classic Boat Show on September 6–7, 2013. The city is also the home of the Great Lakes Cruising Club's office. Stop in to learn more about this unique club of sailors and power boaters whose members span a wide range of U.S. states and Canadian Provinces. The GLCC's office overlooks Port Huron's Black River at 405 Water Street, Suite 101.

Passing under the impressive twin-spanned Blue Water Bridge takes you into the big waters of Lake Huron. On the Michigan side, the towns of Lexington, Port Sanilac, Harbor Beach and, at the tip of Michigan's Thumb, Port Austin. All offer dockage and variety of summertime amenities and festivals. They are part of Michigan's Harbors of Refuge system, providing safe harbor when lake waters kick up a bit too much.

Rounding the tip of the Thumb, Saginaw Bay opens up to the southwest. At the bottom of the bay, a few miles up the Saginaw River, lies Bay City. Bay City is home to several marinas and yacht clubs, a good place to visit. A highlight will be the city's Tall Ship Celebration starting July 11, a four day festival of ships, music, art and fun along the riverfront. This will be the only Michigan port hosting the tall ships in 2013.End of story marker

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