Up the St. Clair River


The river I knew the least is the one that made itself known most dramatically…by almost stopping us in our tracks. (Um, wake. πŸ˜„)

At 6:30 this morning, Many Moons slowed to trolling speed (3 mph) in the St. Clair River as we neared its northern end on the U.S./Canada border in lower Michigan. We had fought its current for 40+ miles already, but this was a whole new level…the most dramatic “current impact” of our 5,600-mile cruise on The Great Loop. Good thing it was short-lived; soon after passing the river entrance and entering Lake Huron, we were up to 8.5 mph. (For this slow boat, that’s almost speedin’ along. πŸ˜‰)

To think I didn’t know anything about this river until last week. It sure made itself known!

What caused this brief drama? The funnel effect of a lot of water getting squeezed into a narrow space. The mouth of the St. Clair takes into account the drainage of Lakes Huron, Michigan, and Superior. No wonder we almost came to full-stop.

It reminded me of the various changes in water that we’ve seen while under way…visible and hidden, brief or long-lasting, expected and not. That’s how it is with change in general, and our forward progress is measured by our response to it. A boat doesn’t have a choice; it moves where the water pushes it. The human driving it does, though; increase throttle to push against it, or “go with the flow.” Going with the flow sounds good, but could leave you dashed against the rocks. Or grounded. Sometimes an action is called for when faced with change…maybe even a little push-back.

We pushed against two rivers on the cruise northward from Detroit to Port Huron, and crossed one lake in between, as I continue to learn new things about my home state. We left Detroit at 0600, knowing it would be a long push. It was, taking 9.5 hours to travel 62 miles.

My geography lesson for today: The Detroit River leads to Lake St. Clair, which leads to the St. Clair River, which leads to Lake Huron. At least that’s the way it happens when traveling north, as we are. Photos and captions follow.

Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River were new to me even though I grew up in this state and visited Detroit. Most of us are ignorant of some “closer-to-home” attractions, don’t you think? We travel away for vacation, or don’t have time for it when home, or visit the same places repeatedly.
Leaving the Detroit skyline behind at sunrise.
Passing under the bridge to Belle Isle, the busiest park in the country according to a state park ranger.
Sunrise lights up the bridges spanning the Detroit River from the U.S. into Canada.
As we moved north, we saw the commercial shipping traffic we were expecting in these waterways.
The St. Clair River is bordered on the Michigan side by a lot of nice homes, usually with sea walls…
….and a few nice beaches.
We passed through a sailboat race…
…and by mid-afternoon, arrived at Port Huron on the St. Clair River/Black River. The narrow Black River is a kind of tributary of the St. Clair and runs directly through town. Boats using it to go in and out must navigate two low lift bridges.
We “bought” a spot on the riverside wall, looking toward the St. Clair. An abandoned RR lift bridge was in front of us.
A view of Many Moons from across the Black River.
We were transient guests of the Port Huron Yacht Club, which is 100 years old. (Some of its members were almost that old. ☺️) They were very welcoming and the price was right…just $1/foot.
Port Huron is a city of 30,000. It was another very hot day and we didn’t explore much of it.
From our wall on the river, we watched a constant parade of boats go by on this sunny Saturday. We were not rocked much by their wakes since the lift bridges force all boats to slow down and wait.
Clouds arrive on the Black River in Port Huron.
The view through our life ring.
Sunset was at 9:15 p.m. here. The boats kept going by us until midnight.
Ah. I always relax after the sun goes down. I think it’s an introvert thing.
We got underway this morning at 0600 again – how I love these early mornings! πŸ˜‰ — and entered Lake Huron. Our gauges tell us the water temperature is 60 degrees. Br-r-r. I guess I won’t be swimming here until the wind shifts and brings the warm water back to the surface. Such “lake turnover” is common in summer months on the Great Lakes.

4 thoughts on “Up the St. Clair River

  1. John & Rachel are now following. I remember Port Huron, quite well. My family (dad) put his 32’ boat in & out of there, for over 30 yrs. Safe travels you two.

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  2. I grew up on Harsens Island in the lowers St Clair river. River, bays & Lake St Clair were my watery world. My brother lives on the river in St Clair, not far from big power plant.
    Most beautiful place in the world, imho 😎

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