St. Clair River and the Detroit River Southbound

sproption - August 1, 2019


Hello Fellow Cruisers.

I am seeking advice for navigating the St. Clair River and the Detroit River, southbound.  I am sailing an Ericson 29 sailboat, so my air draft is about 40 feet.  I am Michigan/Huron Sailor.  I have never been iin these waters.  Any advice to any of these questions will be appreciated.

1.  Where are the current issues on this route?

2.  Which channel do most recreational boaters take near Algonac, to get into Lake St. Clair?

3,  Are there any bridges that I need to concern myself with?

Thank you for your input


mark.gagyi's picture

When it comes to fuel, places to tie up and places to eat you'll have lots more choices in the north end of the Detroit River. If we need to top off we stop there before proceding south. With the current in your favor the trip from Port Huron to Lake Erie can be done comfortably by most sailboats (not so much going north). We like to stop at Boblo Island and take the free ferry to Amherstburg - several great restaruants. To see what's in store in Lake Erie you can look H.R.s E-00 & E-0.

KColborne's picture

I don't think you should have any major issues traversing this area.

In St Clair river, pay attention to the charts in the Courtright area south of Stag Island.
There is a shoal in the middle that sailboats can ground on.
It is sand/mud, so minor issue if you make contact but better to avoid.
You have to choose the Canadian or US side of river before this shoal and stay on the chosen side until you are past it.

When traveling to Lake St Clair, I usually either use the Freighter Cut or the channel on the north side of Seaway Island (which is more scenic)
You can't use the middle channel shown on charts. The channel is fine, but the depths at the outlet to Lake St Clair are prohibitive.
You can use the north channel that exits into Anchor Bay, but it is longer and has lots of power boat traffic so we typically don't use it.

No bridges in St Clair river to be concerned with.
In Detroit river, stay south of Belle Isle as you won't fit under the bridge to the island.