Docks are at or below the level of Lake St. Clair at Mike’s on the Water.

Docks are at or below the level of Lake St. Clair at Mike’s on the Water.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske


High water levels in St. Clair Shores changes boating plans for summer

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published June 27, 2019

 High water levels even close to shore, like at this gas dock east of the restaurant, are causing boaters to make different plans for spending time on the lake.

High water levels even close to shore, like at this gas dock east of the restaurant, are causing boaters to make different plans for spending time on the lake.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — John Craven practically lives on his boat.

The Sterling Heights resident can be found hanging out on his boat at Michigan Harbor most days of the week.

And he says that this year, the places for boaters to get into the water are going to be different.

“We’re probably going to end up being right off on shore if you want it shallow,” he said. “I’m born and raised on this lake — 50 years — I’ve never seen it that deep.”

With concerns that local island hangouts on Lake St. Clair have sunk deeper into the lake, local boaters say they’re making changes to their usual plans.

Though there were some reports that Gull Island is underwater, it is actually still above water, just less than before, Craven said. But other, smaller islands may be nearly submerged with the high water levels.

“There’s going to be a lot of people (damaging) outdrives when they go over Grass Island,” he theorized. “They’re going to have to buoy it off.”

Darla Rossini, fleet captain at Jefferson Yacht Club, 24504 Jefferson Ave., said that Goose Bay may end up being a very popular spot for boaters this year because it was typically very shallow.

“It’s out right off the Middle Channel,” she said. “If you walk all the way into Goose Bay, it used to be up to your knees and now that’s probably one of the only areas that I can think of that’s going to be over your waist.”

Rossini is responsible for scheduling all of the meetups for members of the yacht club.

“Some of the locations that we are going to, even some of their docks are underwater. They’re trying to do a makeshift fix for the high water right now. Some of them are putting risers on their docks,” she said. “They’re trying to work around it.”

Craven said the water is right up to the dock at the marina.

“I’ve had to adjust my lines twice,” he said, referring to the length of the lines holding his boat to the dock.

Rossini said the club is looking for locations that have floating docks where members can meet, since they adjust to the high water. And crossing the lake could be more hazardous for those who don’t know where land used to rise above water.

“There’s so much stuff in the water, like trees ... over by the Mac Ray area,” she said. “There used to be an island right in the middle of the lake. Now you’ve really got to watch for it, because now all you can see is the top of what was a tree. You have to be really careful to look for things that were above water that are now below water. You could blow out your prop.”

Not everyone is disappointed about the higher water levels, though.

Larry Delargy, commodore of the Great Lakes Yacht Club, 23900 Jefferson Ave., said that some of their lower docks are underwater, but “once you’re on the boat, it’s really no different.”

“It’s a plus for sailors because some of those sailboats draw 6-7 feet of water, and when we had low water a few years ago, they were running aground,” he said.

With about 60% of the club’s members using sailboats, “the water levels really don’t affect us any,” he said.

“Some of the areas that are quite shallow out on the lake are now deep enough ... unless you have a really deep keel boat,” he said.

It’s important to read boating charts accurately, he said.

“As of the first of June, lake levels are 5 feet over chart data. So when you look at your chart and it says 3 feet, it’s now 8 feet,” Delargy said.

But that could change if the weather warms into a typical summer.

“Usually, what happens (as) you get later into the summer, lake levels typically start dropping,” he said. “If we have sunny days, you get more evaporation.”

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