Lake Michigan’s Eastern Shore: Manistee to Grand Haven

There was a small window of fine weather which allowed us to move on before the next storm hit us, so we left Manistee and travelled down to Pentwater, where we arrived just as the heavy clouds were gathering.

Big Sable Point 

The next day, we were able to nip out to the local supermarket a couple of blocks from the marina,  in between the downpours. By evening, the sky had started to clear a little with the promise of a better day ahead.

Sunset at Pentwater


Morning at Pentwater

Manistee to Grand Haven

Dunes near White River

White River Light Station

We turned into White River which leads into White  Lake, and stayed at Crosswinds Marina at Whitehall.

We’ve found that after bad weather, the next most common cause of delay on the trip is mechanical breakdown. It had been a particularly hot day, so it was doubly annoying that it should be at this moment that Carina’s air-conditioning system stopped functioning. However, Paul from Crosswinds was able to sort this out for us the next day.

But things got worse. Ian noticed while checking the engine that the fresh-water pump wasn’t working. A new one was fedexed up from Virginia and arrived the next day, a Saturday,  but couldn’t be fitted by Paul till Monday.

The new one turned out to be faulty, so another one had to be sent. This time Ian fitted it himself, having watched Paul do it the previous day.

But Whitehall wasn’t a bad place to be held up. There was a cycle track which followed the route of an old railway line, and which led to the supermarket, a mile away  in adjacent Montague, so shopping was quite pleasant. Across the road from the marina, a footpath had been laid which wound up the slope to Whitehall downtown amid a sea of wild flowers.

The wild flower path, Whitehall

Montague was celebrating its 150th anniversary and on the Friday evening we went to watch the Cruz-in vintage car parade, when about 400 old cars slowly drove from Whitehall downtown along the lake shore to Montague. The town had thoughtfully provided folding chairs for spectators. Anyone who doesn’t like old cars, scroll down now.

After 400 cars, I was beginning to feel a little overwhelmed with gasoline exhaust fumes, but it was still quite an occasion.

The next day I persuaded Ian that cycling 7 miles to Montague beach, and 7 miles back, was a good idea. About half the distance was on a cycle track through woodland, and more pleasant than the other half, which was a fairly busy road. When we got to the beach, and saw the lake, we were quite glad we weren’t boating. We watched with interest as several boats had a rocky experience passing through the channel.

Big waves at Montague beach

Big waves in the channel, White River

Our departure was planned for late afternoon, and the idea was to anchor a few miles away in White Lake, near the channel, ready for an early start onto Lake Michigan the next morning.  I was slightly surprised when we seemed to be heading out of White Lake, and into the channel. It seemed there had been a unilateral change of plan. The waves on Lake Michigan apparently weren’t too bad after all, and we were going to Muskegon, 13 miles down the coast. Was that alright? As long as you’re not expecting dinner any time before 9.30, I said.

On the way to Muskegon

From the mooring at Muskegon

IMG_0013Muskegon Light tower

Muskegon Light tower

IMG_0015Grand Haven Lighthouse

Grand Haven Lighthouse

At Grand Haven we stopped on the dock wall on the Grand River for a couple of hours, before going through to Spring Lake, where John and Kim had very kindly invited us to stay on their dock for the night. The town dock was very busy and we were lucky to be able to tie up there – the town was preparing for the annual  Coastguard Festival the following weekend.

IMG_0019USCG Mackinaw eady for the festival

USCG Mackinaw ready for the festival

IMG_0022Ready for the Festival

Ready for the festival

IMG_0004Fast food

Fast food

IMG_0005Coastguard City

Coastguard City

Later, we went out for dinner with John and Kim and their neighbours Rick and Sue – it was lovely to have some company and we had a great time with them.

The next day we set off in light rain for Saugatuck. There was a large vessel, the Wilfred Sykes, occupying the channel, but fortunately she was busy unloading something at the wharf and was stationary, so the problem of not getting in her way didn’t arise. According to Duluth Shipping News, “The Wilfred Sykes was built by Inland Steel in 1949 in Lorain, Ohio. At 678 feet long, she was, when launched, the longest boat on the Great Lakes, setting many cargo records in her first year of operation. She received a new paint job just before the 2016 season, hopefully a good sign for her continued work on the Great Lakes.”

IMG_0014Wilfred Sykes

Wilfred Sykes

The sky had a pink glow, perhaps a portent of the bad weather to come, but we got to Saugatuck and safely docked in the marina before the storm.

IMG_0015Pink cloud on the way to Saugatuck

Pink Cloud on the way to Saugatuck