June 21 2016
Imagine putting on a boat show in a small community of highly qualified residents already predisposed to boating. Sounds much like that upscale resort in the Florida Keys. But then take away all but the mildest forms of security retaining only such things as road directional signs, pedestrian only walkaways, curb your dog sign. Next, eliminate gate keepers and admission tickey entry. Further, open the show to the unwashed public and only charge the boats that enter the minimal amount, that is dockage only for three days at $4/ft/day with no additional charge for electric. Now provide ample free parking to comers and surround the venue with upscale restaurants, bars, coffee and bakery shops, take-out deli, apparel and souvenir shops. Add a collection of exotic cars on the lawn as well as other neat vendor booths all staffed by courteous and undemanding staff. Sounds too good to be true but Bay Harbor, just south of Petoskey, Michigan has been doing it for several years and it's growing nicely.
An upscale resort fronting on the clear cool waters of Lake Michigan, the Bay Harbor Lakes Marina is a man-made basin with a sturdy breakwall protecting from the prevailing Northwest surge. Just 22 years ago the five mile frontage of the property with over 1200 acres of land was occupied by a century old cement plant and quarry. Today, the Bay Harbor complex includes a world class golf course, equestrian center, hotel and shops, along with many tastefully designed single family homes and condos. The marina itself was created with a bang in March, 1995, an explosion that blasted away the barrier between Lake Michigan and the quarry letting water rush in at one million gallons per minute. Within 24 hours, over 2.5 billion gallons would form the new "Nautical Center of the Great Lakes" in Bay Harbor Lake. One of the largest land reclamation projects in North America, Bay Harbor was 'created' by the same group involved in the Oil Nut Bay development in the Caribbean.
The Bay Harbor Boat Show is in its 14th year of existence and takes place in mid-June (this year June 17-19), conveniently before the season has entered its peak. Come 4th of July and there will be no empty slips for a boat show. Fitting for its relaxed approach, this year's show began at 12 noon on a Friday closing a 8pm (even though daylight remains well past 9:30pm.) My wife and I were able to close up our boat in time to go find a window table at a local Bistro and watch a stunning sunset over the lake complimented with a great meal and a glass of wine.
Saturday began bright and early at 10 am and Friday's mild weather continued, with temperatures in the high 70's to low 80's under sunny skies. A light wind made things comfortable and the steady flow of visitors kept us busy throughout the long day (10am-8pm). Sunday hours were 10am - 3pm and again the weather was ideal. Throughout the show there was an ultra-friendly atmosphere amongst brokers and customers alike. The weather and scenery were spectacular to say the least. The fact that we were sitting in what was once an industrial site was nowhere in evidence other than a bit of the architecture of some of the homes included some exquisite stone work in the chimney and foundation work. All in all, it was a great place to spend a weekend amongst like-minded people. Bay Harbor Yacht Club
For more information on Bay Harbor please visit their website: BayHarbor.com. Or contact Bay Harbor Lake Marina dockmaster, Martin Leemaster at 231 439 2544.