Great Lakes Marina, MI.


IMG_8816When we left Ludington, MI Monday morning the sun was shinning and Lake Michigan was so calm.  This had to be the calmest Lake Michigan could ever get.   I don’t know if we’ll ever see it this calm again.  Our day will consist of navigating 55 miles to Great Lakes Marina on Lake Muskegon off Michigan Lake.  We picked this marina as the kids are coming across Friday on the Lake Express High-Speed ferry and their terminal is just before the marina.

Muskegon is located on Muskegon Lake which is about five miles long and relatively deep.  It joins Lake Michigan via a long channel, one of the widest on the Great Lakes and the basin inside the seawall is generous.  As we entered the inlet we could see the Muskegon Breakwater Light or South Breakwater light on starboard (right) side, which  was constructed in 1871 and has been in service since 1879.  Muskegon founded in the 1800s is the largest deepwater port in West Michigan.  At the end of the 19th century Muskegon at one time had 40 sawmills that worked the floating log rafts.  Much of the wood bath built (or rebuilt) Americas’s largest cities floated down the Muskegon River to the lake where it was sorted, sawn, stacked, and shipped across the country by clipper ships.  With time the lumber business burned itself out and heavy industry dotted the shoreline, with large lake freighters and ferries using Muskegon as a port of call.  During World War II Muskegon’s founders received designation as an “Arsenal of Democracy” for their production of armaments and engines for tanks and planes.  Today the ferries are gone and only a few lake freighters call on Lake Muskegon.

IMG_8831This is the Muskegon Pier Light located in the harbor of Muskegon with the first lighthouse built-in 1851 a wooden tower atop the Keeper’s Quarters and situated on land.  The Pier light was relocated to the south pier-head and constructed of metalwork and steel plates in 1903.  The cast iron octagonal lantern room from the 1870 lighthouse was transferred.

IMG_8838As we navigated through the channel we passed the USS Silversides SS-236 submarine a Gato-class submarine.  This is the first ship of the U.S. to be named for the silversides a small fish marked with a silvery strip along each of its body.

Her keel was laid down on Nov 4, 1940 by the Mare Island Navy Yard in Vallejo, CA.  She was launched on Aug 4, 1941, commissioned on Dec 15, 1941 with Lieutenant Commander Creed. C. Burlingame in command and decommissioned in April 17, 1946.  USS Silversides is 312 feet long, 27 feet wide and outfitted with 24 torpedoes, one 50 caliber deck gun, and a 40 & 20mm cannon.  The crew consisted of 8 officers, 72 enlisted men of which two were cooks, one baker, and a pharmacist.   The Silverside was diesel-electric and could make 21 knots with its twin propellers when surfaced and 9 knots submerged.  The submarine is propelled by four Fairbanks and Morse 9 cylinder diesel engines which are fully operational today.  USS Silverside is the most famous surviving submarine of WWII.  She sunk more ships (30 Japanese vessels and damaged 14) and took down more tonnage than any other surviving WWII submarine.  She rescued 2 American pilots, and laid 16 mines on separate patrols.  The very first appendectomy ever performed on a submarine by a pharmacist Thomas Moore was performed on George Patter in the ward room on the Silversides.  She was put into action in the Pacific eight-days after Japan attacked Peral Harbor and roamed the waters of enemy shipping lanes on the East China Sea.  USS Silversides received Presidential Unit Citation four times, and twelve battle stars.

She earned the nickname “The Lucky Boat” with only one person (Harbin) a torpedo man killed in action and he was buried at sea.  When the war ended the submarine was shifted to New London, Connecticut where she was decommissioned and placed in reserve.  Then on Oct 15, 1947  USS Silversides was placed in services as a training ship for Naval Reservist in Chicago, Il until June 30,1967.  In 1973 Silversides was restored and the engines were brought back to life which had not been started since 1947.  She was then moved to Navy Pier.  The USS Silverside has been in Muskegon since 1987 where you can tour it and stay overnight if you wish.  We toured the submarine with Rod as our very informative tour guide.  He said when the USS Silveside takes her last dive she will not come up.  This is information that Rod gave us, there were never more than 15 men on deck at one time as when the sub was going down the men had 22 seconds to get below and it submerged in 33 seconds.  Water was an issue as the submarine two water evaporators (a machine used to change salt water into fresh water) made 450 gallons per day and the batteries used 300 gallons of it only leaving 150 left for bathing, cooking and consumption.  Men were only allowed to bathe every 15 days except for the two cooks and baker who bathed every night.   Nine water tight compartments exist onboard the Silversides.  Each compartment is isolated from the next by a water tight hatch.


Now these hatch doorways are very small how those men could jump through them so fast is amazing after we climbed through all of them from one end of the sub to the other.


The first compartment the forward torpedo room contains six polished brass torpedo tubes located in the forward end.  Behind the tubes are racks for the 22 foot long Mark XIV torpedoes.  This compartment housed 16 men and included the officer’s head (toilet) and shower.  The men ate very well aboard the USS Silversides they even had a soft serve ice-cream machine aboard.  The mess hall could hold 24 men at one time and this room was also used for entertaining the men with movies, cards, and socializing.  The crew’s major berthing area providing accommodations for 36 men is located aft of the mess area.  We were told the cross bars on the right torpedo tube was just added.  One of the overnight guest decided to climb into the tube and got stuck.  The fire department was called to free the person.  The bars were added to avoid anyone else that would be stupid enough to climb in one.


The tour was very interesting and we were actually under water the whole time.  Can you image what it was like to live in a confined area with temperatures in the 90s with over 70 men who only bathed every 15 days and were allowed to smoke.

On Tuesday we took the trolley to downtown Muskegon stopping at the Old Railroad depot and then having lunch on the roof top of Tipsy Toad Tavern.  After lunch we toured the USS LST 393 an LST-1 class tank land ship built for the United States Navy during World War II.

She is one of only two to survive in original configuration of the 1,051 built.  The LST is 328 ft long, 50 ft wide, and powered by two General Motors 12-567 diesel engines.  It  navigates at 12 knots (14mph) and carried 140 officers and enlisted men.  She was launched on Nov 11, 1942 with Lieutenant John H. Halifax in command.   LST 393 earned three battle stars during WWII for the invasions of Sicily, Italy, and Omaha Beach at Normandy, France on D-Day in 1944.  After 30 trips between England and France following the war she was returned to the United States and decommissioned on March 1, 1946.  On March 28 1948 the tank landing ship was sold to the Sand Products Corporation of Detroit, Michigan for conversion to merchant service and renamed Highway 16.  The converted LST with its distinctive bow doors welded shut and the tank deck adapted to carry new cars served to span lake Michigan to Milwaukie where US16 began again.  Muskegon also berths the S.S. Milwaukee Clipper a former car ferry that traveled the same route as Lake Express does today.

We are docked at the Great Lakes Marina in Muskegon, Mi where the Lake Express High Speed Ferry terminal is located. The marina offered a heated swimming pool, laundry and great hospitality.   Look how beautiful this sunset is,  life is great and getting better when our kids arrive.

Anita, Patrick, Ella, Lucy, and Amy took the Lake Express across from Milwaukee very early Friday morning so they could spend three-day with us at the marina.  The weather was very windy that morning and we were glad that the ferry still ran.  There they are on top waving to us as the ferry docked.  We were so excited to see them and the little girls.

These are pictures that the kids took coming into Muskegon inlet off Lake Michigan.   They had five foot waves.

This is how Amy handled the rough ride.  This is a priceless picture of the little girls, love them so much.  We were so excited to see them the only thing better is if everybody could have come.  We have not been together since February when we came home.  The Lake Express Ferry made history as the first high-speed auto passenger ferry in the United States on June 1, 2004 when it reestablished the historic Lake Michigan ferry route between Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Muskegon, Michigan.  It travels 80 miles, at 35 m/ph with a capacity of 250 passengers and 46 vehicles in 2 1/2 hrs.


Camber our oldest granddaughter requested a picture of us with Amy as soon as she saw us.  We sure miss Camber our oldest granddaughter.

Pictures of the kids on the dock, and at the pool.  The kids had a great time visiting us and swimming in the pool especially Lucy and Ella.  They are a couple of little fish, I can’t believe how good they can swim since last summer.

Friday Anita, Patrick, and Kent walk over to Ghezzis a small grocery and liquor store for some adult beverages.  When they came back they were laughing and said it has  more liquor with a few grocerys.  Now it only takes five minutes to walk to the store but somehow it took them way over an hr. to make it back to the boat.  They said they had to check out the local bar on the way.  Glad were not back home in Kieler as we have six bars.

On Saturday Kent, Anita, Patrick, and Amy took the trolley downtown for the afternoon. I got the best deal spending time with the little girls at the pool.  They had a great time checking out the local brewers and bars.  Glad the girls had bonding time with their dad.

Lucy and Amy had fun playing with Kent’s long hair. Amy put his hair in what they call a mans bun and Lucy decided to put two pig tails in grandpa’s hair.  One time Kent had to show his ID and the person looked twice to make sure it was really him.  He told her that he hadn’t cut his hair in over a yr.

IMG_5665Amy finally got to enjoy her gluten-free cookies I had bought at Byrd’s in Savannah Georgia.  I had vacuum sealed them and they were still fresh.  What we don’t do for our wonderful kids.

IMG_5712The marina had an appreciation dinner and nice of Heidi, the harbor master, to invite us to join them.  They had barbecued pork, buns, beer, a bouncy house and all the boaters brought a dish to pass.  We had a great time meeting some of the local boaters and of course they were very interested in our journey.

Saturday night the McDonough family had fun with their spinners.  Kent and I enjoyed watching them.  Amy had a long day and decided to put herself to bed.

20915507_1752712708091539_6554823278541378596_nThen of course all good times have to come to and end and the kids had to leave.  We said a tearful goodby to them and then Kent and I went back to the boat and discounted.  We left the dock and idled out into the lake and waited for them.

IMG_8939There were so many boat coming into Lake Muskegon on Sunday when we were leaving that we really had to watch for other boats.


We took pictures of the kids leaving on the ferry and they took pictures of us waving to them.  I was told by Anita that seeing us waving to them from our boat on Lake Michigan was the best part of the trip.  We watched as the ferry went straight across and then we turned left and headed for Grand Haven Marina.  There was very little wind so the kids had a smooth ride back to Milwaukee.  We on the other hand had lots of waves, not due to wind but to all the boat traffic.   That is why you’re not suppose to travel on weekends.


We only had 15 miles to navigate to Grand Haven located on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Grand River for which it’s named.  The boat traffic was so heavy when we entered Grand Haven we waited for most of the boats to pass us.

When we entered the inlet to Grand Haven we passed the first Grand Haven outer  lighthouse built-in 1875 that resembles a small barn in appearance.  At one time it was equipped with a fog horn which could warn ships in harm’s way when the light could not be seen.  South pier-head Inner light is the second light of two lighthouses first lit there in 1839 and rebuilt in 1905 is a typical style round tower that looks elegant in its vivid red color with light stringing out on both side.

The Potawatomi and Ottawa Indians lived in the area for centuries.  After the war of 1812 this area became settled by Americans.  The first permanent resident was Presbyterian Minister William Montague Ferry who in 1834 founded the first area church.  Residents named the town as “Grand Haven” in 1835.  In the mid to late 19th century Grand Haven developed as a logging lumber mill and shipping town as well as a shipbuilding center.  The Story and Clark Piano Company built pianos in the city from 1900-1984.  The smokestack at the piano factory collapsed during the South Great Lakes Derecho of 1998.

There was a lot of activity near the marina when we docked.  They have a summer concert every Sunday night, Worship on the Waterfront, sponsored by the First Reformed Church for the past 60 years.  Bill the harbor master was so nice to help us with our lines and we docked right in front of the office.  When the concert was over and the crowed had dispersed Kent and I went for a walk to the Dairy Cream I got a chocolate malt and Kent got a butterscotch sunday.  While we were eating our ice-cream over a loudspeaker was announced the start of the light show.   We walked back to our boat and the view off the back of the boat of the light show straight across from us was spectacular.

The Grand Haven Musical fountain is a synchronized display of water and lights located on Dewey Hill on the north shore of Grand river.  Designed by a local engineer William Booth II and built-in 1962 by volunteers at an estimated cost of $250,000, this fountain was based on a Przystawic musical fountain show see in Germany.  The original show used punched paper cards though computers control the new system.  The nozzles and pumps have never been changed only cleaned and cared for.  It was built in 1969 on the opposite bank of the grand river from the city center, and played nightly during the summer.  The fountain, when it was built, was the world’s largest, however today the overall largest fountain is in Las Vegas.

Our stay at Grand Haven was short only one night but the area was very beautiful and the light show ended the great weekend we had with our kids.

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