Page 10 - Mid America Boating - January 2022 issue
P. 10

Boat Smart

       Discover and explore
      JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2022     [     MID-AMERICA BOATING     ]     10
       northern Michigan’s

       Inland Waterway

       By Capt. Fred Davis

       Captain Fred Davis, who dedicated himself to decades of continously promoting boating safety
       and traveling through the region by boat, wrote hundreds of boating columns for Mid-America
       Boating and other publications that were published during his lifetime. Captain Fred passed
       away in 2019, but many of his observations about boating safety and attractions remain time-
       less. Here is one of his columns pertaining to discovering and exploring Midwest destinations.

       Cheboygan is an Indian name, which means “through passage.” It refers to Mich-
       igan’s longest navigable inland waterway comprised of four lakes with rivers that
       run through them. Besides marking the beginning of a scenic inland waterway
       route, Cheboygan provides quick access to nearby attraction destinations, Mack-
       inac Island, the Straits of Mackinac and the Mackinac Bridge. Bois Blanc Island,
       Les Cheneaux Islands and the North Channel are other desirable destinations.
         The length of the inland passage is variable depending upon what graphic you
       are viewing and how navigable the waterway is at the extreme inland point along
       the Crooked River leading into Crooked and Pickerel Lakes. Most agree the route
       is about 40 miles with the longest distance between fuel stops being 10 miles; it
       is dredged to 5 feet with a width of 30 feet by the U.S. Corps of Engineers (subject
       to shoaling). There are channel markers and all river entries are marked with
       flashing lights. Ramps are available all along the route and currently boats up to   Some of the bends are a little tight but the wildlife along the river; Swans, ducks, and geese distract you
       65 feet can travel as far as the Crooked River than the size drops to 25 foot. There   from any concern. Navigating with a fly bridge is a good choice because of the extended view of what lays
       are two locks, a 12-foot gate lock in Cheboygan (fee) and 2-foot clam lock near   ahead. Sophisticated electronics have improved navigating the rivers and inland lakes but there is still a need
       Alanson (free).                                                 to maintain a constant lookout and carry current charts.
         Current inland waterway flip charts should be carried aboard that list indicated   Smaller craft can explore some of the shallower areas along the Crooked River. You will come to Alanson
       depths of 5’ along most of the route. After one enters from Lake Huron, passage   and enjoy a swinging bridge (which is still operating today.) There is also a clamshell locks with a drop of 2’ at
       may be made all the way to Burt Lake in one day. Accommodations along the   Oden which takes you right to the routes end in Conway. As you head back north, you will marvel at the fact
       rivers could turn your passage into a leisurely trip that would take several days.  the waterway actually runs north. Geologists find this fascinating as well.

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