Stuck in Grand Haven

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

Grand Haven Musical Fountain


In 2016, the crew took many weather delay days trying to get down Lake Michigan to Chicago.  The crew had to wait a day or two for each travel day they took.  Consequently, the crew started saying that Lake Michigan was to be endured, not enjoyed.  The small towns are wonderful to visit, but the Lake is a major endurance challenge to the skipper’s patience.

This year, the crew has done well with the weather on Lake Michigan.  They actually travelled 5 days without a single delay.  That has all come to a complete and total halt though this week.  Lake Michigan is up to her old tricks and not being very cooperative this week or next.

Summary of week:

Grand Haven

The crew traveled from Arcadia to Pentwater (1) on Sunday, then managed to move on to Grand Haven (2) on Monday.  However, the rest of the week has seen winds 15-20 knots with waves 5-9 feet out on the Big lake.

Consequently, the crew has stayed tied to the pier in Grand Haven waiting for the weather to change for the better and the Coast Guard to remove the Small Craft Advisory that has been issued for Lake Michigan..


Click here to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, a summary of the day’s experience, and a few pics of the route.

The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:

  1. When did the Grand Haven Musical Fountain become unseated as the World’s Largest Musical Fountain?
  2. So who now holds the title of World’s Largest Musical Fountain?
  3. What is a skidder?
  4. What is a teamster?
  5. What is a River Rat?

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II watching the Grand Haven Musical Fountain.  Her slip was directly across the Grand River from the fountain.  Enjoy!

Bonus Feature, a behind the scene look at the musical fountain.

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Sunday, August 19th

The weather was forecasted to be very calm today so the crew opted to put some miles on the water and head south.  However, before they left they took on fuel.  While fueling, the skipper learned that the dockmaster had completed the Loop back in 1995.  When the skipper asked the dockmaster what his favorite part of the Loop was, a strange answer was returned.  The dockmaster said his favorite part was the 50 cent per foot dock rates and that the further south he got the nicer the people became.

Sure would be nice to get some of that 50 cents per foot action since the going rate seems to be more in line with $1.5 to $2 a foot these days.  The skipper also learned that the dockmaster has a pizza shop in Pentwater, and he said tell the young man at the counter that he sent us in and to give a 10% discount.

Leaving Arcadia

18 Leaving Arcadia

After fueling, the crew set out for Pentwater.  The biggest obstacle out on the water was the number of fishing boats taking advantage of the calm conditions.  After the crew rounded Point Sable, the number of fishing boats began to dwindle.  Maybe they knew something the skipper was unaware of.

The sand dunes are getting smaller


Point Sable Light


About an hour later, the wind abruptly jumped up to about 15-20 miles per hour.  It did not take long for the seas to build to 2-3 feet.  Luckily, there were only 3 miles to go to the breakwater wall at Pentwater.  As they arrived at the harbor entrance, the locals were out in force enjoying the warm summer day.

23 Pentwater Beach

After landing at the Snug Harbor Marina, the crew set out on foot to find Sunshine Pizza.  The pizza place is on the main drag in town about a half mile from the marina.  The young man working the counter said the dockmaster in Arcadia was his Grandpa.  The pizza tasted good, but was especially good since the young man gave the crew a 10% discount.

One funny thing though, the pizza was not sliced so the skipper took it back up to the counter and asked them to slice the pizza.  A second young man immediately began giving the grandson a hard time for not slicing the pizza, calling it a rookie mistake.  Turns out the grandson had been picking on the second young man for about a week for making the same mistake last week.  Pride goes before the fall, because the second guy was certainly serving up some humble pie.

Sunshine Pizza

24 Sunshine Pizza

Another surprise in Pentwater was the Cenzo’s Market.  They carry the Racine Krinkle, the official pastry of the state of Wisconsin. The Admiral bought the Apple Cinnamon Krinkle.  umm umm good!!

26 krinkle

Monday, August 20th

The weather was border line marginal today, but the crew decided to shove off and see what the Big Lake would present them.  Initially the waves were only 1 footers coming from the eastern shore.  The skipper moved in close to try to get the smoothest ride for the crew.

Little Sable Light

27 Little Sable Light

When the crew rounded Little Point Sable the waves picked up to two feet. The further south the crew traveled the more intense the waves became.  By the time they passed by Muskegon, the waves had built to 3 feet.

White River Light

28 White River Light

With only a few miles to go, they were sure glad to pull into the breakwater wall at Grand Haven.

Entrance to Grand Haven

29 Entry to Grand Haven

Grand Haven is known for their Musical Fountain, a synchronized water and light show with music.  The fountain was based on a similar model in Germany that a local citizen saw during his tour of duty in Germany.

When the fountain opened in 1962, it was the largest musical fountain in the world.  The Grand Haven fountain held this title until 1998, but fell to second after the fountain at the Bellagio Casino and Resort opened in Las Vegas.

A three minute song takes about ten hours of programming, with as many as 6,000 lighting and or water commands in a single song.  If you have a gift of programming and choreography skills maybe you could program a song.  In 2018, the software was made available to the public so that individuals can program their own song for display to the public.  Click the link to learn how to Create A Song for the Grand Haven Musical Fountain.

A few pics from the Grand Haven website


The crowds have not been as large as in the pic above, but the crew has front row seats at the marina on the bow of Still Waters II.  The marina is next to the seating area, and the crew is only 5 slips down.

Tuesday, August 21st

The weather has completely deteriorated.  The Coast Guard has issued a small craft advisory that expires Wednesday evening, which means that winds or waves are expected to produce hazardous conditions for small craft……..and should avoid navigating in these conditions.

A check of the weather sights show that winds will be 15-20 knots, with gusts to 30.   The waves are expected to build to 7-9 feet.

Flags flying at Grand Haven

31 Town

The conditions were so bad that the locals have closed the beaches in the area.  There were two drownings in Chicago over the weekend when this storm passed through the area.

The crew will sit this out and wait for more favorable conditions before heading further south.  The skipper spent most of the day tending to the boat, lines, and fenders.  Even a mile up the breakwater channel the boat is still experiencing 1 foot swells that are rocking the boat pretty good.  On the up side, they will see another performance of the Musical Fountain.  Tonight’s playlist:

  1. Heartbeat Song – Kelly Clarkson
  2. Waka Waka – Shakira
  3. Shutup and Dance – Walk the Moon
  4. Dare You – Hardwell
  5. Ain’t it Fun – Paramore
  6. Holy – Florida Georgia Line

Wednesday, August 22nd

The night was very rolly.  The skipper said it was like being a hotdog in a boiling pot of water.  The small craft advisory is still in effect.  Looks like the winds should fall off in the late afternoon.  The small craft advisory is scheduled to end at 2000.

Sailboat art in Connector Park


Another night of the Grand Haven Musical Fountain.  The playlist:

  1. How Far I’ll Go – Alessia Cara
  2. I Really Like You – Carly Rae Jepson
  3. Under The Boardwalk – John Cougar Mellencamp
  4. Say Your Name – Plumb
  5. Pompei – American Authors
  6. Love Alone is Worth the Fight – Switchfoot

Thursday, August 23rd

The Small Craft Advisory was lifted but the Admiral was not comfortable going out in the marginal conditions on the Big Lake.  The forecast calls for winds 10 – 15 mph with waves 2-3 feet.  The crew has a rule that if one person does not want to go, then they stay put.

The winds are supposed to pick back up on Friday and not subside until Saturday afternoon.  Next opportunity to leave may be on Sunday.

Connector Park Boardwalk

33 Boardwalk

Another night of the Grand Haven Musical Fountain, tonight’s playlist:

  1. Soarin – Jerry Goldsmith
  2. Viva La Vida – Coldplay
  3. This is Me – Keala Settle
  4. Happy – Pharrel Williams
  5. Home – Philip Philips
  6. Calling on Angels – Tiesto

Friday, August 24th

As predicted the winds are blowing again and the Coast Guard has issued another Small Craft Advisory.  The bigger problem now for the crew is trying to protect the boat from the dock.  The surge from the wind came straight down the opening of the breakwater and caused the boats in the marina to bounce around all day.

The skipper spent most of the day readjusting lines every hour to prevent the boat from smacking the dock every 3-5 seconds when another 1 foot wave passed under the boat.

Grand Haven is nicknamed Coast Guard City

35 Coast Guard

He did manage to catch a small break in the weather so he visited the local history museum just a few blocks from the marina.  The museum told the story of the early settlers in the area.

The territory was mostly settled with only native Indians and a few fur traders who traded with the Indians and shipped the goods back east.  The men who actually moved the goods were called Voyagers.

When the Erie Canal opened in 1825, people followed the route west and began to settle along the shores of Lake Michigan.  During the spring and summer, these pioneers farmed.  After the harvest was brought in, the men would head out to logging camps where they would work until the next spring thaw arrived.

The men worked six days a week and started their day with a 0430 wake up call followed by breakfast.  As in any industry, new terms were invented to describe the various jobs required to be done to get the white pine trees to market.  Once the lumberjack fell the tree, a group of men would trim the branches off the tree to form a log. A ‘skidder’ would use a team of horses to drag the trimmed tree from the field to the nearest road.

A ‘teamster’ would then load and move a wagon full of logs to the river bank, where the teamster would unload and stack the logs.  When the river thawed out in the spring, ‘river rats’ would push the logs into the river and guide the logs downstream.  The river rats rode the logs down to the sawmill, then hiked back up river to the next pile of waiting logs on the bank.

Another interesting thing learned in the museum was that ox were initially used as the beast of burden to move the logs around.  However, when a recession hit in the 1860’s, the logging camps shifted to horses because they ate less than an ox.  As the skipper says, Always follow the money.

Surfs UP!

37 Surfs Up

The shows at the Grand Haven Musical Fountain continue to get better as the week moves on.  Tonight’s playlist:

  1. Shake It Off – Taylor Swift
  2. Calling on Angels – Tiesto
  3. Brand New – Ben Rector
  4. American Medley – Anthem Lights
  5. Can’t Stop the Feeling =- Justin Timberlake
  6. Believer – Imagine Dragons

Saturday, August 25th

Well, the winds were howling last night.  The surge continued to bounce the boat against the dock.  At about 0300, the skipper woke to the boat smacking the dock.  He spent the next two hours adjusting all the lines and fenders to try to get the bouncing boat under control.  Sadly, by 0330, the skipper noticed that most boaters were up on the docks also adjusting their lines.  The skipper also opened the windows of the helm to cut down on the windage and this seemed to help keep the boat from blowing into the dock.


Unfortunately, the open windows were only a short break because it began to rain and the skipper went back and closed the windows.  Oh well, it was good while it lasted.  The 1400 weather report shows the small craft advisory to be cancelled late this afternoon and the winds to die off to under 5 mph.  The waves are supposed to also calm down and drop to less than 1 foot by the morning.

Wipe Out


Finally things are settling down.  This is calm compared to the last 72 hours.

Last night of the Grand Haven Musical Fountain for the crew.  The playlist was a special themed show based on Beauty and the Beast.  It was the best show of the week.

Being stuck in Grand Haven does have its upside.  There are numerous ice cream, fudge, and comfort food stops all along the water front.  The skipper has been busy in between adjusting lines on the boat to go test the local product; double cheese burgers, ice cream fruit slushies, pronto pups (deep fried hot dog), and shaved ice to name just a few.  He claims he needs the extra calories for the energy to keep adjusting the lines and fenders.

A small Hawaiian Ice


Boat name of the week

Not many boats moving about this week so not much opportunity to catch a good boat name.

Next Week –

The skipper says he has had enough of Lake Michigan, stick a fork in him, I think he is done.  He says he is going to Chicago the next available weather window.

The skipper will continue to monitor the weather overnight.  If conditions improve and allow departure on Sunday, the crew will turn towards Chicago, travel 108 mile to cross Lake Michigan, and pull into the DuSable Marina by the Navy Pier to end the Lake Michigan tour. The crew will hang in Chicago for a few days and then start south on the Illinois River.

If things do not improve, the crew could stay stuck in Grand Haven until the next weather window opens.  The earliest window might not be until Thursday, August 30th.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

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