Marine News from the Great Lakes

Classic Corner: We’re Living In High Cotton Water!

Published: Tuesday, July 9, 2019
By: Captain Dennis J. Mykols

Well, this summer will be a trying one for those of us living on bodies of water attached to a Great Lake. As I write this article in early June, ALL FIVE Great Lakes are now above their record high water levels for the month of May and are forecasted to stay at this level or even rise some, over the summer boating season.

This will be affecting the classic boating world – and others – in many ways this summer.

Boat Ramp Issues

Creating havoc already, for us trailer-boaters, is the high water effect at the boat ramps - they are either underwater or the ramp angles are so different this year, that ramp time will be greatly affected! Classic inboard boat owners generally sit their boats a little higher on the trailers due to the inboard prop and rudder. Thus, the tow vehicle has to be driven further back into the high water to allow the trailer to reach the ramp drop off to launch the boat. Retrieval will present a whole other set of issues.

Then, add to that the slime buildup happening on the ramp and parking lot surfaces, and there will be a lot of slippin’ and a-slidin’ going on, as well as the general mess caused from guests and crew unavoidably having wet, dirty feet when they climb into your boat or car.

Classic Boat Show Issues

The Spring Lake Classic Boat Show (Spring Lake, MI) was supposed to happen June 1 but had to be canceled due to the boat ramp at the show site being underwater, as well as the docks and parking lot. The always-busy Grand Haven Harbor Island ramp area had been closed off and on, due to the island being flooded from three sides.

While even inland lakes will be very high, those shows with waters adjacent to a Great Lake body of water will have to deal with fixed docks underwater, wet grass issues for land displays, and a variety of other issues.

No Wake Zones

If you are like me, I love to cruise around 17 to 22 m.p.h. I mean, if I wanted to go at a no wake speed, I’d buy a sailboat. Problem is, that speed throws up a pretty good size wake and the high water means there will be a lot of special no wake zones with heavy water-patrol enforcement this summer.

The Harsens Islands area has already issued warnings and charts outlining what speeds you can cruise and how far from shore is a no wake area. I understand the 1000 Islands area will be enforcing a no wake zone all up and down the St. Lawrence until the water recedes, hopefully by mid-September for the A.C.B.S. International Boat Show in Alexandria Bay, N.Y.

It seems just like only yesterday I recall visiting my customers in the late fall and the water was so low that even small runabouts were stuck in the mud in the bottom of their slips. It was hampering the winter haul out schedules and everyone was scrambling to get dredging permits that winter! And so, the unpredictable weather cycles continue…

This summer of classic boating will be a trying one, for sure, with new kinds of issues to deal with, so plan ahead and be careful out there.

This article first appeared in the Summer Issue (Jul/Aug) 2019 of Great Lakes Scuttlebutt magazine.

tags: Antique & Classic Boats, Safety

Oct. 2019

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