Capt. John's Travels Up & Down
Lake Michigan's Gold Coast

The page is under construction and will only be finished when I have all port entrance photos of Lake Michigan.  This page contains navigational tips & landmarks to go by when traveling to the southern part of Lake Michigan.  This is a major journey of about 150 miles by water between Manistee and South Haven.  Moved the boat south for the improved fishing Salmon in the southern end of Lake Michigan.  The main body of Lake Michigan over 60 foot water depths and deeper was 38 in Manistee to 42 degrees in South Haven, except off Saugatuck where I had 44 degree water off the Kalamazoo River.  On the water marina gas prices were $1.87 in Manistee, $1.89 in Muskegon and $1.99 in Grand Haven on May 3, 2003.

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Leaving Manistee heading south in May of 2003

Heading west out of Leland, MI on 8/30/07

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Leland, MI
N. tip of North Manitou Island
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Arcadia, MI 8/11/07

Manistee's Lighthouse

Manistee's South Pier
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Big Point Sable Light

Ludington Lighthouse
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Little Point Sable Light
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Muskegon Lighthouse

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Grand Haven

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Port Sheldon
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Saugatuck Piers

South Haven Lighthouse

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St. Joe 

New Buffalo

Saginaw Bay's "Spark  Plug"

Saginaw River  Bay City, MI

Au Gres, MI Lake Huron

The last 3 photos are from Lake Huron.  Ports I fished that are missing on Lake Huron are Lexington, Port Sanilac, Caseville Harbor Beach, Port Hope, Grindstone City, Port Austin, Oscoda Alpena-Thunder Bay and Harrisville.  Marysville to Decker's Landing on the St. Clair River

Missing Lake Michigan ports are Glen Arbor, Onekama, Traverse City, Charlevoix, Pentwater and Petoskey.  I've fished all these ports, or waters adjacent to these ports in a career that dates back to 10/1/1968.

Non mentioned Lake Erie Ports are Port Clinton, OH. LaSalle and Monroe/Raison River, MI

Line of Sight Navigation

Traveling north and south on Lake Michigan's eastern shoreline is a piece of cake.  There's no shoals, or reefs to hinder traveling.  As long as you stay in 50 feet of water and travel sort of parallel with coast, there's not much to worry about, except the trap nets in the Muskegon area.  The trap nets are marked with flags about 6 above the water.  Beware and keep a constant vigil when in the Muskegon area.

The trip I made south on 5/3/03 from Manistee to South Haven was fairly simple, with clear skies and visibility to the horizon.  It has been told to me, due curvature of our planet.....the horizon is about 17 miles at about 5 feet off the water.  The higher up you are the further you can see, but I'm no geometry expert.

When I leave and head south the first thing I want to do is maintain a straight course to Big Point Sable.  Straight lines save fuel and when you have a vessel that gets a little over a mile to a gallon, saving bucks looms large in your mind.  I generally pass the big point's lighthouse in 15 feet of water, because I'm very familiar with the water there.

My next major landmark is Little Point Sable, south of Pentwater.  You can't really see the little point, but tiny lumps of shore will appear once you pass in front of Ludington.  I give the little point plenty of room and stay in at least 30 feet of water.

The smoke stacks from the electric power plants in Muskegon is my next clue, as I'm passing in front of the White Lake Harbors channel.  I stopped to fuel in Muskegon and was on a semi-sight seeing tour too.  The WW II submarine, the USS Silversides is docked on the south part of the channel by the Coast Guard Station pretty close to the harbor's entrance.  Furthermore, Muskegon has a old passenger ship called the "Milwaukee Clipper."  Keeping in mind, that passenger travel on the Great Lakes during times up to the later forties was highly in vogue.  So, Muskegon was not a dull port and visiting there by water was a wonderful experience.

Once again the tall smoke stacks off Port Sheldon is my hint I'm getting close to Holland.  When passing the Port of Holland you'll notice a major clusters condos both north and south of Holland.
Saugatuck's landmark is a large round radar ball that used to house a early radar warning system, built during the height of the Cold War.  The unique dome, or ball is high a top a large hill, just south of the piers in Saugatuck.

Now, if the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant is running, finding South Haven is a piece of cake.  Just look for the large steam clouds that can be observable from the Holland area.  If the plant isn't going?
South Haven is about 20 miles south of Saugatuck.  Unless you have the nearsightedness vision of Mr. Magoo, can't miss it.

All of the above mentioned landmarks are on any nautical chart along with the lat-lons of every port.  You will have to do some math and use a little bit of windage, but you can come close enough.  And of course, there's always the new fangled GPS's with the C-maps the shows you exactly where are.  If you were traveling in restricted visibility the C-maps would be a wonderful asset.

As luck would have it, I replaced several switches on my Cherokee the evening before the trip and the GPS wouldn't power up.  I keep track of my progress with a Loran-C, once the state of the art navigational system, which has been made obsolete by GPS.  Incidentally, I was on the 8970 Loran-C grid.  As a side note, if you purchased a Loran in the early 1980s, a decent one could have pushed the 3 grand range.  3 G's was a reel-healthy chunk of change back then.

Not to neglect Lake Huron, port pictures are needed from all the ports from Lexington to Rogers City.  If you can help me out with the Lake Huron images, I will do a separate page.  I've fished all the Lk. Huron ports from Harrisville to Lexington in the 70's, 80's and early 90's, I just don't have the pictures.  I know the site seems weighted towards Lk. Michigan, cuz I'm not fishing Lake Huron now.  I have a sneaky suspicion Lk. Huron might have a more stable and better balanced overall fishery.  Written prior to the Lk. Huron Salmon Crash. 

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