Sailboats Out on the Hard on Saginaw Bay

Historic Great Lakes Low Water Levels In 2012

I had been monitoring the Great Lakes low water levels and knew we had a good chance of seeing a record low last seen in 1964. I got a voicemail early one early October morning from Hoy’s Saginaw Bay Marina in Caseville, “Mike, the wind was blowing last night, and we would like to get your sailboat out. It’s bouncing on the bottom.”  It was the last week in September, and we usually try to squeeze one or two of the last day-sails in early October.

Low Lake Huron Evident in Caseville Harbor
Low Lake Huron Evident in Caseville Harbor

The Great Lakes low water levels in 2012 started to appear in late summer. We had already settled in the thick muck in our slip in August with a four-foot draft. I imagined our Catalina 27 hung fast and listing in the shallows. We called back, and Pete told me they were looking to get all the sailboats out. I told him to go ahead and pull her out. I will see him at the weekend.

Low Lake Levels Impact Caseville Harbor

Caseville Harbor Low Water 2013

Pulling into the marina, Melissa and I was shocked to see the boatyard full of boats on the hard dock in late September.

Caseville Harbor Breakwall Shows Trees Growing were Lake Was - Great Lakes Low Water Levels
Caseville Harbor Breakwall Shows Trees Growing Where Lake Was

Over the week, the Hoy’s crew managed to get all of the big Trawlers out and most of the “Sticks.” (Sailboats)  When we rolled in, two boats were idling in what was left of the narrow channel waiting to be hauled out.

Entrance to Caseville Harbor - Great Lakes Low Water Levels
Entrance to Caseville Harbor

We walked up toward the break wall of Caseville harbor and noticed the innermost red can channel buoy hard aground just outside the Huron Yacht Club.

Low Water Leaves Docks High in Caseville Harbor - Great Lakes Low Water Levels
Low Water Leaves Docks High in Caseville Harbor

This is where I drop our speed so as not to make a wake as we enter the inner harbor. We took shots around the break wall and back just outside the HYC, which you can see here.

Official Account of Great Lakes Water Levels

In October of 2012, the US Army Corps of Engineers noted that Lake Michigan-Huron was 12 inches lower than its level a year ago. Lakes St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario are down 14, 15, and 10 inches, respectively, lower than their levels of a year ago. Over the next month, Lake Superior is forecasted to drop another 1 inch from its current level. Lake Michigan-Huron is expected to fall another 2 inches. The Corps noted that, as of now, Lake Superior and Lake Michigan-Huron are below the chart datum. They are in the record-low territory. At this point, we are wondering if we will be able to get “Trillium” back into the water next Spring.

Lake Huron Water Levels Approach Historic Lows. – The 2012 Lake Huron water levels approached measurements not seen in over 50 years. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reports Great Lakes water level cycle in Lakes, Michigan, and Huron are 11 inches below their level of a year ago. Lakes St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario are 11, 13, and 12 inches, respectively, lower than their levels of a year ago.

Georgian Bay loses water while International Joint Commission does nothing – Georgian Bay is has experienced a record 13-year stretch of lower-than-average water levels, and there’s no hope in sight. The Great Lakes water levels forecast in 2012.

Sunken Ship Revealed in Low Great Lake Levels – There are an estimated 6,000 sunken ships across all of the Great Lakes, with about 1,500 Michigan shipwrecks located in local waters. With so many wrecks, it’s no wonder that in 1980 Michigan started establishing Underwater Preserve Sites.

The Wreck of the Iron Chief – The picture posted on our sister site about the huge dock in Forrestville gives rise to the question. Why did they name the boathouse the Iron Chief? A little exploring showed that there indeed was a Lake Huron shipwreck with this unusual name, but she was not made out of iron. Today, she lays in over a hundred feet of water off the shore of Grindstone City in the Thumb Area Bottomland Preserve

Michigan Climate Change Measurable in Huron County – A groundbreaking analysis of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration temperature data by the Washington Post shows major areas of the United States near or have already crossed the 2-degree Celsius mark. Michigan Climate Change is here in our state too. 

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Michael Hardy

Michael Hardy is the owner of Thumbwind Publications LLC. Michael was born in Michigan and grew up near Caseville. In 2009 he started this fun-loving site covering Michigan's Upper Thumb. Since then, he has authored a vast range of content and established a loyal base of 60,000 visitors per month.

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