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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

For our April/May 2013 issue, focusing on the Great Lakes region, we asked our friends at the Great Lakes Cruising Club what their top picks were for things to see and do in their area. Here's what they recommended.

Photo of a man in a small boat fishing in the Detroit RiverPhoto:

Entering the 51 mile-long Detroit River from Lake Erie, you navigate in shallower waters that are well marked with buoys to guide you. Most boaters heading north will take the up-bound Amhurstburg Channel on the east (Canadian) side. The down-bound Livingston Channel is an option, but it is relatively narrow. In this channel, don't be surprised if you'll need to move over near the rocky channel side to leave room for a large lake freighter heading south. These man-made channels are great examples of waterway engineering, with early work dating back to the 1800s.

As you proceed up the Detroit River, you'll soon see evidence of the industrial might of the Detroit area. The Zug Island area is an example with its steel plants, fuel depots, and other heavy industry in evidence. After passing under the Ambassador Bridge, you'll see the Detroit skyline dominated by the Renaissance Center, home of General Motors Corporation.

This winter, the 55th Annual Detroit Boat Show is scheduled from February 16 to 24, 2013.

Boaters navigating this area have several options for a short or overnight stay near downtown, which is enjoying resurgence with new businesses and younger employees relocating to the area. This has led to the opening of many new restaurant and bars. The William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor can be booked by calling (313) 396-0217 or online at This pleasant small harbor is within a stone's throw of downtown and its many attractions. You can walk to, to dine at gourmet restaurants such as Joe Muers, Andiamo or the London Chop House. Ethnic cuisine is available in Greektown and Mexican Town. If you feel lucky, three casinos will welcome you and your wallet. The harbor borders the Detroit Riverwalk, a pleasant place to walk or rent a bike. For more information, go to

If you're lucky enough to be in town for a Detroit Tigers home game, get tickets at Comerica Park or online at Comerica Park is one of baseball's great stadiums. You also can walk the Dequindre Cut, a railroad track transformed into a walkway that will take to Eastern Market, an amazing place to visit and pick up fresh foods of all kinds after breakfast at one of the local restaurants in the Market. Saturday mornings are crowded and fun, and an historic tour of the area can be booked.

The Detroit Institute of Arts houses a renowned collection of masterworks, including the compelling mural of an assembly line by the Mexican artist, Diego Rivera. A taxi ride away is the world class historical attraction, Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum. Take an extra day to see this amazing portrayal of American history.

Another option for transient boaters is a stay at the historic Detroit Yacht Club on Belle Isle, an island park in the Detroit River. Recently named to the National Register of Historic Places, the DYC's 1923 clubhouse is the largest yacht club building in the U.S. Fine dining, swimming pools, tennis and other activities are available at this "resort in the city". Belle Isle also houses the Dossin Great Lakes Museum.

A special event in the Detroit River is the annual Gold Cup Hydroplane Races scheduled for July 12–14, 2013. You'll see these powerful boats approaching 200 mph in the straightaways. From August 23–25, 2012, the Great Lakes Cruising Club will host a regional rally for members at the DYC. Call the club's Harbormaster at 313-824-1200 for more information.

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