Lake St. Clair is “Big Water” bordered by the United States and Canada. Nestled between Ontario and Michigan on the north shores of Lake St. Clair is Walpole Island, which is unceded territory occupied by aboriginal people for thousands of years it is known as Bkejwanong, the-place-where-the waters-divide. Walpole Island is so abundant with natural resources that many First Nations citizens still support their families through hunting, fishing, trapping and guiding activities, with recreational tourism as their number one industry.
Starting at Walpole Island, we’ll take a brief tour of Lake St. Clair’s ports and attractions, traveling clockwise from its northeast location…
Mitchell’s Bay, Ontario – Rumored to be pretty much the same now as it was in the 1700’s, this is one of the best fishing locations in the Great Lakes. On the eastern shore is the Marine Park Marina with a nearby restaurant.
The Thames River, Ontario – Located at the mouth of this river are two scenic and full service marinas with restaurants on-site. If you want to venture up the Thames (no wake, about a four hour trip), you’ll get to bustling Chatham, where you can tie up at the sea wall, and enjoy shopping and dining galore.
Belle River, Pike Creek and Puce River – Located along the southern shore of Lake St. Clair, this area is served by no less than six marinas, with several waterfront or water view restaurants nearby.
Detroit and Windsor – Head southwest out of Lake St. Clair into the Detroit River and dozens of recreational opportunities reveal themselves (we’ll save these for another issue).
The Grosse Pointes – Primarily an upscale residential enclave, each of the Grosse Pointes has its own marina which is available to local residents only. As you cruise further north, you’ll pass by the impressive Grosse Pointe Yacht Club, which is private. An interesting side jaunt further north is Ford Cove which is adjacent to the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House. There’s a lot of history here at Gaukler Point; you cannot go ashore here but by land you can arrange for a daily tour of this magnificent 1929 Albert Kahn mansion.
The Nautical Mile – Now were talking Boating with a capital “B.” On this stretch of marinas, boat and yacht dealerships, shops and restaurants running between 9 and 10 Mile Road in St. Clair Shores is one of the highest concentrations of boating and boaters in the world. Marinas and dockage are available for transients and the Nautical Mile is known for its dining and nightlife. And if you find it so exciting you’d like to relocate there, the beautiful Shore Club Apartments are located on the lake at 9 Mile Road. You’ll find the Nautical Mile a veritable Mecca of nautical experiences and flavor.
The Clinton River and Mt. Clemens – Cruise carefully around the shallow waters of Huron Point, and you come to the mouth of the Clinton River, the terminus of a number vast watershed that begins with Paint and Stony Creek, home of a high quality trout and salmon fishery. Further downstream, the deep water Clinton River is lined with marinas, restaurants and homes—and hundreds of boats, many of them sailing yachts thanks to the water depth. Cruise further west up this navigable river and you’ll arrive at the vibrant city of Mt. Clemens, with its vibrant business community and its numerous summer festivals. You’ll find good dockage right downtown. Disembark, stroll around and enjoy the sights.
Harrison Township – Just north of the mouth of the Clinton is Harrison Township, home of two of the largest, full service marinas on Lake St. Clair. Serving as a kind of gateway to Anchor Bay, Belle Maer Harbor and MacRay Harbor are destinations of their own, with each offering a myriad of amenities and services created for the active boating lifestyle, whether they’re staying for a weekend or the summer. On warm days, you’ll see dozens of boats at anchor near each marina, where the water is clear and warm and the bottom is sandy. Both marinas have earned the respected Clean Marina designation by doing their part to improve and maintain our waterways—which is especially important in pristine Anchor Bay.
Chesterfield Township, Salt River and New Baltimore – On the northern shore of Anchor Bay you’ll find the mouth of the Salt River and, nearby, the quaint town of New Baltimore. Take a nautical chart and explore this entire stretch—you won’t regret it.
Fair Haven – Relaxing at times, bustling at others, Fair Haven is one of those villages that hasn’t changed a whole lot over the years and still offers great boating facilities at a good value. There are seven marinas in and around this area, along with a number of great local restaurants you can drive—or boat to.
Algonac – This is the home of Chris Craft and the birthplace of speedboating. Algonac is a short cruise up the scenic North Channel and offers a great deal en route. Like eight marinas, and dozens of restaurants and attractions. Sassy Marine is one of the best known; they offer transient dockage and all the bells and whistles.
Harsen’s Island – Tucked in the northeast part of the lake, between the Middle Channel and the South Channel, is a charming island that offers a lot to do by boat—or by car (take the ferry). It’s dotted with cottages, large and small, along with a number of marinas, shops and restaurants. And Muscamoot Bay is legendary for its sandy anchorages and massive floating weekend parties. Among the most noted facilities is Sunset Harbor, a full service marina also catering to transient boaters. And if you need repairs, think of W.C. Beardslee for years a respected yacht repair and storage facility.