Can I be a beach bum on Lake Huron?
December 30, 2010 1:11 PM   Subscribe

What's the pleasure boating like on Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron?

My husband and I are considering a move to Midland, Michigan. We own a 31 foot cruiser and like to spend our summers bumming around on the water. Lake Huron (or more specifically Saginaw Bay) would be the closest body of water suitable for our boat. Is it a nice area for boating? Does anyone have any experience with the marinas in the area and any words of wisdom about them? We currently slip on the St. Croix River in Minnesota and there are lots of little towns along it to visit, sandy beaches for swimming, and many harbors to anchor in for the afternoon. We're hoping Lake Huron or the bay has a similar area.

The other thing is that we've heard grumbles about the pollution on the Saginaw River but no one has said how that impacts the boating on the bay. I can google pollution data but I'm looking for a more nuanced perspective. Does anyone have personal insight?

posted by supercapitalist to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total)
Best answer: It would be tough to be a beach bum on the western shore of Huron. It's mostly rocky. There are little towns peppered up and down the coast and they are fine, but nothing like the epic coziness of places across the state on Lake Michigan.

From long ago I recall a marina right in or near Tawas that was pretty nice. Also I remember a decent one in Linwood. Some of the towns along the top of the thumb are good too - Port Austin for example - but that may be far for you.

Wherever you go, you won't have any trouble finidng a marina or boating buddies. Folks all around the Michgian coasts live for boats in the summer.
posted by dzot at 1:36 PM on December 30, 2010

Best answer: As someone who boats on the Ontario side of Lake Huron, I can say it's amazing and beautiful. It's also far cleaner than my youth (the 70s) when I drank half the lake swimming and windsurfing. I can't speak to Saginaw Bay, but with a boat that size you'll have a blast and can go on nice long trips to the beautiful beaches (there are many on our side), stopping at the cute harbor towns that dot the lakes all around.

Seriously, the Great Lakes in the summer are treat, and any time I hear someone saying something like, "yeah, but aren't they really polluted?" I nod along and tell them they should avoid them and that they wouldn't like it at all just so we can try to keep them a secret. I think you'll be able to find a marina you like.
posted by ldthomps at 1:50 PM on December 30, 2010

I've been on the carferry from the Bruce Peninsula to Manitoulin a couple of times and although I'm not a boater, I'm related to boat owners (in Chicago marinas) so I pay attention to boats and Huron has always struck me as a boaters paradise.
Think about going up to Little Current. There is an amazing boat culture in this tiny town with boats in the marina from all over the great lakes and down the eastern seaboard.
posted by readery at 2:36 PM on December 30, 2010

Best answer: Saginaw Bay is a large body of water that is shallow and storms come-up quite quickly. Good sailing, known for the great fishing, but not very picturesque towns or bays for anchoring; someplaces you can walk quite aways out. Eastside of Lake Huron the Canadian side is where its at--alot like the Maine coast with wonderful towns and islands to anchor at; plenty of places of refuge. I had a berth on Lake Michigan at Whitehall and Muskegon; I was surprised and the number of people from the eastside of the state (including Midland and the Lansing) that had their boats on Lake Michigan. Look at an atlas for a map of the region--Note the miles across Lake Huron from Port Austin,MI (tip of the thumb) to Georgian Bay--not a weekend jaunt in a cruiser. They don't call them the "inland seas" for nothing; short chop, waves with short distances between peaks when the lakes get a bit worked up--8-10footers a few miles off shore. There are a number of good books about crusing the Great Lakes; it aint river boating. Secondily, come over to Michigan and poke around the boatyards and observe what kind of boats you see; could easily compare Michigan to Huron. Hope you find this helpful and not too scarey
posted by broadmargins at 7:45 PM on December 30, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses guys-looks like we'll try out Lake Huron for this summer and if we don't like it, move the boat to Lake Michigan. Fingers crossed that we like it.
posted by supercapitalist at 2:03 PM on January 15, 2011

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