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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Grand Haven, Michigan / Municipal marina and area

June 2015, Saturday - Sunday

View behind slip 46
Grand Haven Municipal Marina floating dock #46 

Arrival and check-in experience
We arrived in Grand Haven by boat around 11:00 a.m. We called the marina on the radio to inquire about a boat slip for the night, and we were told that slip 44 would be available around 1:00 p.m., which is checkout time. Slip 44 is on the floating docks at the east end of the marina. The floating docks are barely long enough to accommodate a 30' boat unless you back in. We like to bow in because we prefer watching the water activity to the folks on shore. We have a 28' boat, with an overall length of over 30', so we asked about a slip at the west end of the marina. The female who had answered our call said that there was not anything available at the west end.

We idled past the length of the marina and saw that every slip had an "occupied" sign in the post. We made note of the boat in slip 44, and then departed to tie our boat up on the channel wall where we could see the boats coming and going.   

The boat in slip 44 was still there when we walked by around 12:30 p.m. After this, we stopped in the office to register for the slip and pay. The computer system was not working, so they were not accepting credit cards. We had to pay in cash or by check. Before we completed check-in, we asked again about the open slips with numbers in the 20s because there were still four of them open.

Last stationary docks #s 27 & 28

The lowest numbered slips in this marina are the largest ones, and the stationary docks numbered in the 20s are the smallest ones before the floating docks. The floating docks are located on the other side of the charter fishing area. The harbor employee told us that the only stationary docks open were slip numbers 13 and 18, and we would have to pay $20 more, if we wanted one of those. She then told us that slip 46 was available, too. We had not noticed whether that slip was already empty, and since it was almost 1:00 p.m., we decided to go ahead with slip 44.

There was still a boat in slip 44 at 1:00 p.m., and we did not see anyone on the boat. Slip 46 was empty, so we returned to the office. The employee re-assigned us slip 46. When we had gotten settled into slip 46, we observed the boaters from slip 44 return after 2:00 p.m. From the conversation we overheard, it sounded like they stay at Grand Haven Municipal Marina almost every weekend, and that they knew the other boaters nearby. We did not see a municipal employee walk the docks like they usually do after checkout time, and the people in that boat did not prepare to leave. We initially thought they must have decided to stay an extra night, and had not taken care of it until after 1:00 p.m. Later that evening, however, our assumption changed because they packed up and left the marina before dark.

Burned bathhouse
There was a fire in the bathhouse at the east end of the marina April 2015, and it was not open or under repair yet at the time of our stay. Online news stories report that things have been delayed by insurance factors. Porta-Johns had been placed near the burned building, and boaters at this end of the marina had to hike to the other end to use a flush toilet or the shower. We needed a code for the restrooms/shower building connected to the marina office; however, neither of the doors (Men's nor Women's) closed properly, so most of the time we did not need the code to use the restrooms or showers.

Free wi-fi is available in the marina; however, there is no signal at the east end of the marina. When we checked in, I inquired about an Internet code because the employee had not provided any information. The last two times we stayed in this marina we were in slips 25 and 26 where we had good Internet reception. She told me the signal would not come in at the floating docks, and we had to sit up by the stationary docks to receive a signal.

There is not a very good view of the musical fountain from slip 46, although it is visible, and we could hear the music. There was minimal activity across the channel behind slip 46, and the view was nice. There is a picture posted at the top of this post. 

We were not too happy about a few things this visit. Three of the slips that we had inquired about were never used: numbers 25, 27, and 28. We never observed a boat in any of those slips, and there were no lines on the docks. It appeared that the standard procedure now is to put "occupied" signs on all of the dock posts, even if the slips are not rented. I do not know what the criteria is for assigning one of the slips we wanted. The only difference between this arrival and our two prior stays, is that we had arrived on a Friday afternoon before, and the Harbor Master checked us in, rather than a Harbor Worker. Since the nightly rate of $42 is the same for boats 17' - 32', I plan to tell them our boat is 32', if we decide to visit Grand Haven again. Neither my husband nor I are too keen about visiting there again anytime soon. We also did not understand why we had not been told that slip 46 was available when we first arrived.

Downtown Grand Haven

There are several restaurants, ice cream shops, and retail stores within walking distance from the marina. The walk from our slip to the end of the channel was just under two miles one-way.

Porto Bello 
Our son treated us to dinner at Porto Bello for my birthday and for Father's Day. We had not planned to dine there, and none of us had been to the restaurant before. It happened to be right in front of us with outside seating available when we walked up from the marina, so we decided to go in.

We had the Appetizer Trio, Lobster & Crab Ravioli, Fettuccini Alfredo, and the chef's recommendation (this item is not on the online menu, and I do not recall the name). 

I was slightly worried about our entree quality and flavor after we received our appetizer and salad. The appetizer was merely "okay," and not worth the money, in my opinion. The calamari was flash-fried, although it had quite a bit of breading on it. The ravioli in the appetizer was breaded, and I had ordered the Lobster and Crab Ravioli for my entree. Neither item was described as breaded on the menu, so I hoped that my ravioli was not going to be breaded. The salad looked like Dole Iceberg Classic mix, with olives, cherry tomatoes, and banana peppers added. The dressing was extremely thick on top, and the bottom was dry - we should have mixed it up first!
Lobster and Crab Ravioli

When our entrees were served, they were all delicious! The flavor and quality was excellent. The portion sizes were large, so we all had leftovers. Even though the entrees were excellent, we thought it was expensive to dine here. The menu is available on their website, and I provided the link above, if you want to see the menu.

12 Corners Vineyards
We had seen a wine tasting sign for 12 Corners Vineyards near the restaurant entrance, so we stopped in there after dinner. I have been to many wine tastings, and this is the worst one I ever experienced. The experience was like purchasing a sampler in a bar. I am used to winery visits, which include a brief description and information about the wine. Furthermore, I did not like the taste of any of the wines I sampled. The salted dark chocolate piece from local store, Chocolates by Grimaldi, that we received with the cherry wine was excellent. The wine tasting cost was $6 for five samples, which included the sample wine glass.

Grand Haven channel and lake fog
view from slip 46
It was extremely foggy the day we left Grand Haven. The fog rolled in and out of the channel and on Lake Michigan all day. Here are a couple of photos showing the calm lake and thick air.

view of Lake Michigan from the pier
before we departed