Crazy Times on Torch Lake

Crazy Times on Torch Lake, photo by Drew Shaffer

Here’s another photo from that cool mLive feature on jaw-dropping Michigan locations. Wikipedia’s Torch Lake entry says in part:

Torch Lake at 19 miles (31 km) long is Michigan’s longest inland lake and at approximately 18,770 acres (76 km²) is Michigan’s second largest inland lake.

The name of the lake is not due to its shape, rather, is derived from translation from the Ojibwa name Was-wa-gon-ong meaning “Place of the Torches”, referring to the practice of the local Native American population who once used torches at night to attract fish for harvesting with spears and nets. For a time it was referred to by local European settlers as “Torch Light Lake”, which eventually was shortened to its current name.

Torch Lake is part of a watershed that begins in northern Antrim County with Six Mile Lake, which is connected by the Intermediate River with Lake Bellaire. The Grass River flows from Lake Bellaire into Clam Lake, which in turn drains into Torch Lake via the short Clam River. Torch Lake itself is drained by the Torch River, which flows into Lake Skegemog, which opens into Elk Lake. Elk Lake flows into the east arm of Grand Traverse Bay at Elk Rapids. This watershed is popularly known as the Chain of Lakes.

View the photo bigger and follow Drew on Instagram for more!

Great Lakes on the line: It’s time to act on Asian carp

Doing it again this summer, photo by Kevin Povenz

If Asian carp ever get into the Great Lakes, fun in boats as shown above could well be a thing of the past. These invasive fish jump out of the water when disturbed by noise and vibrations. With an average weight of 30-40 pounds and some weighing in over 100 pounds, they can cause injury or death to boaters.

The Freep reports that a plan tentatively recommended by the Army Corps of Engineers to keep Asian carp from the Great Lakes would cost $275 million plus annual costs for maintaining and operating it of nearly $20 million a year:

Of all the options considered by the Army Corps for blocking the advance of Asian carp at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet, Ill., the tentatively selected plan was the most expensive. It would use noise to block the fish, along with an electric dispersal barrier, water jets, a flushing navigation lock and more.

…The plan, however, doesn’t guarantee success: The Army Corps estimated the species known as Asian carp would still have a 10%-17% probability of becoming established in the Great Lakes, down from 22%-36% if no action was taken.

The Corps estimated that closing the navigation lock altogether would have the greatest likelihood of stopping bighead carp and silver carp — the two invasive species that are known as Asian carp — from reaching Lake Michigan, bringing the probability down to 1%-3%. But the cost to inland shippers and the companies they serve would be in the hundreds of millions of dollars with some shippers going out of business.

I hate to be a jerk, but PUT THOSE SHIPPERS OUT OF BUSINESS. Asian carp in the Great Lakes would be a disaster* and seriously impact BILLIONS OF DOLLARS in wages tied to the health and recreational value of the Great Lakes.

View the photo bigger and see more in Kevin’s slideshow.

*Don’t take my word for it. Jet skiing or pleasure boating anyone? Note that this video is 3 years old and also is PG-13 for language.

Into the sunrise, into the weekend

Into the Sunrise, photo by Tom Hughes

The sun rose on Lake St. Clair at about 6:30 AMthis morning. If you were there, maybe you were lucky enough to see something like Tom’s photo of the Cuyahoga headed into the sunrise. If not, at least we can be happy that there’s folks like him willing to get up and out for incredible shots like this.

Have a great weekend everyone!

View the photo bigger and see more in Tom’s slideshow.

S.S. Aquamara: The Great Lakes’ Largest Liner

aquarama-unloading-detroit

Aquamara unloading in Detroit, courtesy Marine Historical Society of Detroit

The S.S. Aquarama was the largest passenger ship ever to operate in the Great Lakes. We’ll head to Ohio (gasp) for this article on the Aquamara from Cleveland Historical:

The Aquarama began its life in 1945 as a transoceanic troop carrier called the Marine Star: 520 feet and 12,733 tons. It made only one Atlantic Ocean trip before combat ceased. Eight years later, the ship was purchased by Detroit’s Sand Products Company and taken to Muskegon, Michigan, where it underwent an $8 million, two-year conversion, and was reborn as a nine-deck luxury-class ferry capable of carrying 2,500 passengers and 160 cars. The rechristened Aquarama also touted five bars, four restaurants, two dance floors, a movie theater, a television theater, and a playroom. Special events often were held in conjunction with day or evening cruises. For example, on June 10, 1962, passengers were treated to a style show from Lane Bryant’s Tall Girl Department. The next month, evening cruisers on the Aquarama could watch the Miss World finals. Regular shipboard entertainment included musical performances, dancing, marionette shows, games, and contests.

The cruise portion of the ship’s life actually began in 1955, with tours to various Great Lakes ports and a brief stint as a “floating amusement palace” docked along Chicago’s Navy Pier. Soon after, service began focusing solely on runs between Cleveland and Detroit: six hours “door to door” with Cleveland-based passengers embarking in the morning from (and returning in late evening to) the West 3rd Street pier. For the next six years, the Aquarama was extremely popular but never profitable. Part of the problem may have been frequent “incidents”: One summer, the Aquarama backed into a seawall. A year later, it hit a dock in Cleveland. A week after that, it banged into a Detroit dock, damaging a warehouse. Alcohol issues also were recurrent: Accusations included untaxed booze and liquor sold in Ohio waters on Sunday. Still, the ship’s most likely death knell was simply high operating costs.

The Aquarama made its last trip on September 4, 1962. It then was towed back to where it had been rebuilt–Muskegon, Michigan, ostensibly to continue as cruise vessel. Unfortunately, a prohibitively large dredging investment was needed to accommodate the harbor. The Aquarama thus sat dockside—residing (but not operating) later in Sarnia, Ontario, Windsor, Ontario, and Buffalo, New York, where entrepreneurs hoped in vain to convert it to a floating casino. In 2007 the Aquarama was towed to Aliağa, Turkey, where it was broken up for scrap.

This photo from Boatnerd shows the Aquarama unloading passengers from Cleveland at Detroit’s city park next to the J.W. Westcott Co. dock, 1963. Another view.  Hartland Smith, William Hoey collection. More pics at Boatnerd.com.

Read more about the Aquamara at Wikipedia.

Summertime Fun!

Summertime fun….., photo by Kevin Povenz

Hope you’re having some summertime fun!!

View the photo bigger and see more in Kevin’s Fun/Interesting slideshow.

More Michigan fun on Michigan in Pictures!

Ludington Harbor

Ludington Harbor, photo by Daniel L

View Daniel’s shot of the Ludington Marina (with the SS Badger at the back) bigger and see more in his Ludington slideshow.

2017 Chicago to Mackinac Sailing Race

Absolute Chicago-Mackinac, photo by Jim Sorbie

When I wandered down to Fishtown in Leland yesterday afternoon, the number one topic of conversation was the annual Chicago to Mackinac sailing race. The 333-mile race from Chicago’s Navy Pier to Mackinac Island is kind of a big deal in communities along Michigan’s western coast like mine. I almost always know a couple of people who are racing, and after the race gets underway, you’ll hear a lot of speculation about the time that the boats will enter the Manitou Passage and then what time they’ll finish at Mackinac Island.

One of the things that’s particularly cool to me is that the Chicago to Mac is one of the few events that ties the whole community to the weather and condition of Lake Michigan. People will take boats out to watch them, or climb Pyramid Point or Whaleback for a view of the boats if they stream past when it’s light out. If you’re within distance of a community like Leland, Frankfort, Ludington, Elk Rapids or up near the Mackinac Bridge, consider checking out likely times boats will pass, grab the binoculars and see if you can get a glimpse of the racers.

Jim writes: Summer Flashback – We’re trying desperately to pass an old friend on the run in to the Island – no luck!

View his photo from near the end of the 2013 race photo background bigtacular and see more in his Mac Races (Chicago & Port Huron) slideshow.

PS: Definitely check out their 2016 Race Photo Contest winning photo!