Detroit River to Ford Yacht Club

We woke up early this morning at North Star Sailing Club intending to leave early this morning to head about 70 miles to Put-in-Bay, OH. However, once we woke up and looked outside, we are fogged in! If we were to make 70 miles today we would have to leave early which would mean leaving and navigating in dense fog on a very shallow Lake St Clair that would require careful navigation and sighting of bouys. We quickly decided that leaving in dense fog was not the best decision.

We called Ford Yacht Club at 7 am and actually had someone answer the phone! And they would have a slip for us tonight they say! If we go to the Ford Yacht Club which is located at the bottom of the Detroit River, we will only have to go about 35 miles today. That means we can wait for the fog to burn off and depart a bit later and still make it to our destination before the evening.

We ended up leaving around 8:30 am with just the remnants of fog remaining. Visibility was good to about a mile so we would easily be able to see the bouys.

We made our way through the shallow parts of Lake St Clair to the mouth of the Detroit River. Entering the Detroit River at first didn’t seem to be so bad current-wise as we had already experienced the St Clair River and it comparison it was no worse. However, we immediately notice that there is a fair bit of motor boat traffic and they all seem to be going full throttle and kicking up a significant wake. We are trying to dodge the waves however, we are getting tossed around like a cork! To make matters worse the sides of the Detroit River are either concrete or metal barriers along the shoreline which does nothing to absorb the wake and does everything to amplify the waves as they bounce off the concrete or metal right back at us. It is as if we are in a washing machine! At one point a 45 – 50 foot boat passed by us within about 25 feet at full throttle that threw up a wake the size of a small house. All we could do was hang on!

We did try to enjoy the scenery along the way, but I have to tell you, I had to straighten all these photos as they all were at some degree of slat due to the waves.

The heart of Detroit’s downtown motor city. The headquarters of General Motors.

In the heart of downtown we pass under the Ambassador Bridge.

Once past the Ambassador Bridge the shoreline turns back to a more natural landscape and the waves begin to dissipate. The area below the bridge is very industrial and not too scenic.

There is a new bridge being constructed across the Detroit River from Windsor Canada to Detroit. It is known as the Gordie Howe International Bridge. For those unfamiliar, Gordie Howe is one of the most famous hockey players in the NHL who came from Canada and played for the Detroit Red Wings. Here is the US side of construction.

And here is the Canadian side:

We arrived at Ford Yacht Club around 4 pm and pulled into our slip that they had assigned. We didn’t have any docking help as this isn’t really a marina with paid dock hands but rather a private yacht club. As Mark expertly guided us into the slip, I stepped of the boat with the bow line and the stern line ready to tie off the boat. Imagine my surprise when I stepped off and there were no cleats on the dock! Surprise! No cleats! What am I supposed to tie the boat to? Mark quickly stepped off the boat to help me and we were able to tie off to a post at our stern, however they only thing to tie off to at the bow was a metal ring that was literally under the dock near the bow. Whew…we got all secure finally.

Ford Yacht Club was a beautiful area, we had an early dinner at their restaurant onsite and sat and enjoyed the views. We could even see our boat from our outdoor table.

After dinner we walked the docks a bit and met another fellow Island Packet owner at the docks. We got to talking to Larry and we ended up having a few beers with him aboard Painkiller and listening to his stories about sailing in Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean. He had a lot of good advice for us about crossing from Florida to the Bahamas and places to stay in Florida.

An update on Mark’s mom: We are still debating about flying home to see his mom and what is happening. We contemplated flying home from Detroit, however marinas are few and far between in the Detroit area and the ones that do exist do not lend themselves to leaving a boat unattended due to security concerns. Still in constant contact with family about how she is doing. Right now our plan would be to get to Cleveland as a place to leave the boat and fly home.

One Comment on “Detroit River to Ford Yacht Club

  1. Hope Marks mom is ok and you get to a place where you can safely leave the boat.

    Sent from my iPhone
    Carole Bloom


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