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North Channel Cruise

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Old 08-15-2017, 02:17 AM
  #11
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St Ignace

In short, we love St Ignace. The marina is fairly new and in great shape. The walk to the bathhouse is kind of long and twisty as you make your way toward shore. The town seemed less tourist-trappy which we enjoyed. And, on Saturday nights in the summer they launch fireworks over the bay just north of the marina. We ate twice at The Village Inn and it was wonderful each time.

Watch out for the ferries anywhere in the straits area. They go wherever they want whenever they want. Right of way??? Doesn't matter, they are bigger than most pleasure bats and bully their way through.

We ended up back in Mackinac City at Straits State Harbor. A wonderful, under-utilized marina with great docks and clean facilities, but in a too touristy town!


For anyone interested in a North Channel trip, go for it. Take your passport and get your US Customs/Border Patrol sticker and things should go smoothly. Keep an eye on your charts and have a blast.

A general marina note:, Canadian marina's docks do not seem to have the upright 6x6s that most Michigan docks do, so make sure you have sufficient bumpers and lines.

Cheers!
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Old 08-15-2017, 06:45 AM
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Welcome back!

Sounds like a great trip and an awesome summary. I love the logistics and had some questions if you don't mind.

Where did you guys put in - Elk Rapids? Or did you trailer to Mackinaw City?

Did you guys anchor out at all in the North Channel or spend nights at the marinas you listed?

Do you have an idea on total mileage and fuel consumption?

Thanks for sharing your adventures. I like your style and point of view and share the same opinion of ferries and tourist towns....
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Old 08-15-2017, 09:18 AM
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Hi bohmi,

We trailered to Mackinaw City and launched at Straits State Harbor. We had only a short time to do the trip so by trailering we eliminated the possibility of bad weather hampering our transit through Gray's Reef Passage and northern Lake Michigan.

With the 'Recreation Passport' on your license plate they let you leave the truck and trailer at Straits State Harbor. The lot is well lit and seems safe. Just don't park directly UNDER the lights. The gulls park ON the lights.....

We always intend to anchor out but end up in ports anyway. Next trip, we'll anchor out. Really!

Totals are;
Mileage- pretty close to 400
Fuel- 316.5 gallons
Total tach time- 17.5 hours

Keep in mind that, with smooth seas, we can cruise at 3500rpm which gives us about 40mph and we average about 19gph on any given trip.


It was really of neat. We met many wonderful people, including a couple at the dock in Little Current who had bought a boat from some friends of ours from Elk Rapids harbor. Another time in, Hilton Beach, we met a couple from Elk Rapids Yacht Club. And on several occasions we met people whom we had met a few days earlier in other ports. Cruising the North Channel, the world gets small and the circle gets small, too. It was cool.

Yeah, Tourist towns..... Can't blame them for making a living but enough is enough!.

An observation about dock help. We got a good laugh on this. Michigan marina workers Wore fashionable dock shorts [(the girls' seemed shorter ], dock polos, dock shoes and dock sunglasses. In Canada, they wore working pants and shirts, work boots, inflatable PFDs when on the dock and sunglasses only if needed. Different mindsets I guess but we loved them all. They all worked hard to be sure our stay at their marina was good. Even Little Current, where the staff was great but seemed to be lacking some direction!

I am happy to share any other info I can, just let me know!

Cheers.
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Old 08-15-2017, 11:20 AM
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Awesome information!

I didn't even realize the Straits State Harbor was there - we've always launched at Mackinaw City Marina but long term parking requires a shuttle off site. Great to know about that option and easy to scope out with Google maps satellite view. Being able to use the recreation passport is a plus too.

I completely understand the trailering and short trips.... When we've boated around Drummond and St Joseph Island recently, we've trailered to Detour to cut out the big water stretch from the straits to Detour passage. I love that section of boating but it can be stressful trying to manage that with our smaller boat and short vacation schedule.

Any fog to speak of on your trip? It seems like we've usually got some of that excitement while boating in that area.

What is your setup for navigation? We've been using Navionics on our phones with good success but I'm curious to hear how you're setup. I imagine some fixed GPS display of some sort. Do you have smartcraft/vessel view to get your mileage and fuel burn info? It is interesting to see how our RPM, cruise speed and fuel burn stack up. Ours is an older boat, so the pencil and napkin come out on occasion.

I had to laugh about your American/Canadian dock attire comparison.... that is the truth. Not to mention the completely different regulations regarding boating and alcohol - but that is a completely different topic.

I love reading about and taking boat trips like these. I wonder how many people use their boats like this? The best thing I like about the style of boats on this site is their ability to go places in relative comfort.... I realize a lot of this site's content is about people going fast, but to me it is more about just being able to go "offshore" (2 miles, 20 miles or 200 miles) and have some adventure. The North Channel (and the entire Great Lakes region) gives us that opportunity close to home. Thanks for sharing!

Also, as a side note, we visited the Grand Traverse Bay area (a stop in Elk Rapids included) for the first time this summer and really loved that area too.

Best regards and enjoy the rest of your summer.
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Old 08-15-2017, 08:08 PM
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Hi bohmi,

We have had fog around Drummond, St Joseph Island and the N/W part of the North Channel. We got lucky this time, though!

For navigation, we use iPads. We have attached keyboards rom Zagg folios that make it so we can stand the iPad up. I downloaded charts from Garmin, Skipper and Aquamaps as they all support data from the activecaptain.com website.

We don't have the smartcraft but we keep alog of hours and fuel so we track that. I got the miles travelled by using the Garmin chart feature and plotting where we had gone. It makes it pretty easy, and I like easy!

When we got the boat we logged data for rpm v mph so even when the speedo is not working we can make good estimates. And it is nice to know.

Glad you liked E.R. And the Traverse area. Sleeping Bear dunes are beautiful from a few hundred offshore, too.

And I agree. Ours is not a fast boat (60mph max, on gps) but it is cool to head off on trips and see new places.
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Old 08-16-2017, 02:22 PM
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If you want a simple replacement for your speedo, I installed a Faria GPS speedo that nearly matches the Formula gauges, swapped the light out to match color too. Now the speedo works from 0-50, no more pitot tube BS.

Elk Rapids, Harbor Springs, Ironton, Leland are in the plans starting tomorrow from Holland.

N Channel next year.
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Old 08-16-2017, 02:46 PM
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Hi From the Helm,

Sounds like a great cruise. Be sure to hit The Landing at Ironton for chow. Any restaurant where you tie right up near the tables has got to be good! Be sure to have bumpers ready, though. In Leland, I love the smoked whitefish from Carlson's. And in Harbor Springs we always try to get a burger at Bar Harbor.

I actually added the Faria GPS antenna-less speedo a few years ago. I find it works about 75% of the time. The other times it gets stuck with a display, "Faria E" and never locks in the GPS.

My light on the GPS doesn't work either. I think the guy putting it in might have missed some things but I haven't gotten into the dash yet to look. Not that I'd be able to tell, though!

Have a safe journey.
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Old 08-16-2017, 02:51 PM
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From The Helm, I'd leave today!

The weather is gorgeous in SW Michigan and the lake is FLAT.... The spyglass webcam looks fantastic !

Have a great trip and post some of your highlights when you can.
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Old 08-16-2017, 02:59 PM
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GL - thanks again for the all info from your trip - really cool. We made a trip to South Manitou and you're right - that area is stunning. The views were spectacular until the fog rolled in. Thankfully it cleared up quickly and we didn't have to worry about dodging freighters going back to Leland.... Seems like we usually get some excitement from fog on almost every boat trip

Also, I just recently learned about active captain and that site has lots of good info - definitely worth signing up and checking out.
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Old 08-16-2017, 03:04 PM
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GL, sounds like you had a great trip, good to hear! I hope to see you again in Elk Rapids when we are done boat shopping
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