Photo Courtesy: Traverse City Tourism
Floating Islands In the Caribbean... in Michigan!
For those who live in the Midwest and have dreamed of swimming and diving in the vodka-clear waters of the Caribbean, look no farther than your own backyard.
Published on September 8th 2020
OWNER SPOTLIGHT: Dave & Trina Kaplan, SPX 230
Grand Traverse Bay, MI - Although Dave Kaplan had never owned a boat before, his wife Trina’s family had a Sea Ray Sundancer 370 they used to explore some of Lake Michigan’s greatest cruising destinations like Mackinac Island and Torch Lake. But living in Traverse City, they knew they had to have a boat of their own to cruise on scenic Grand Traverse Bay. “We were so used to Sea Ray’s quality we didn’t even look at different brands before buying our SPX 230 at Walstrom Marine,” said Dave. “It’s the perfect size boat for this area. We spend most of our time cruising in the Western Arm of Traverse Bay and usually only go as far as the tip of the peninsula, which bisects Grand Traverse Bay so it stays pretty calm, unlike the main body of Lake Michigan.”
“My wife and son, Tanner work together with me in our insurance office,” said Dave, “and after a hard day of work, we often head across the street, hop on the boat and immediately start relaxing. One of our favorite destinations is Power Island. The water surrounding it is really clear and we enjoy snorkeling there. In late June, it’s fun to look at the big smallmouth bass protecting their beds. Another anchorage we like to go to is Bower’s Harbor Cove where conditions are usually calm, making it a great place to spend the afternoon swimming and tubing. Our favorite waterfront restaurant is Harrington’s by the Bay.”
“Because we like to spend a lot of time in the water,” said Dave, “the padded swim platform and submersible swim step are our Sea Ray’s favorite features. When the sun’s out, having lots of shade from the expansive Bimini top keeps us very comfortable when we’re spending the entire day on the water.”
Why Lake Michigan looks like the Caribbean
For those who haven’t visited Lake Michigan in a few decades, it may come as a shock to discover the lake is often as clear as any waters found in the tropics, making it ideal for scuba diving. While some of its increased clarity is the result of reducing runoff from surrounding agriculture, the main reason is the trillions of invasive zebra and quagga mussels than continuously filter the water. While the mussels have taken a toll on the native fish population — since the lack of nutrients in the water reduces the food forage fish eat — the mussel population has also been decreasing for the same reason. Successful restocking efforts have added millions of Chinook, Coho, and steelhead salmon, along with brown trout, giving anglers plenty of action and good eating.
OWNER SPOTLIGHT: Gus & Jennifer Andreasen, SPX 210
Crystal Lake, MI - From high overhead, Crystal Lake looks like an 8-mile long Infinity pool, separated from Lake Michigan by a narrow sliver of land. True to its name, Crystal Lake’s spring-fed waters offer divers and swimmers fantastic visibility. Situated 25 miles southwest of Traverse City, Crystal Lake provides the perfect weekend getaway spot for Gus and Jennifer Andreasen, who are lawyers from Grosse Pointe, near Detroit, who own a cottage on the lake. “Crystal Lake is an ideal place for boating and recreation,” said Gus. “The shoreline is sandy and slopes gently with no vegetation. Where the water drops off, it changes color from turquoise to a deep indigo blue that makes you feel like you are in the Caribbean. Another plus is there aren’t usually too many boats on the lake so it’s very relaxing and we often just drift in the middle and swim in the clear water.”
The Andreasen’s Sea Ray SPX 210 has proved to be the ideal boat for this relatively small lake. “We have four grown kids who like to join us and they are into waterskiing, wakeboarding and tubing,” said Gus. “The large swim platform on our boat makes it easy to get in and out of the water and the rear sunpad has a flip-up backrest, making it our favorite place to relax and watch the sunset while listening to the great sound system. This year, we were out on the water on the Fourth of July and enjoyed watching the fireworks. Being a small lake there aren’t many places to go but we love tying up at the dock in Beulah and eating at L’Chayim Deli.”
Gustav Andreasen JR., Wife Jessica and Daughter Violet
The Accident that made Crystal Lake a Recreational Paradise
Before 1883, Crystal Lake had a rocky shoreline that wasn’t well-suited for recreation but that year, things changed when the Benzie River Improvement Company tried to create two canals that linked it with Platte Lake and Betsie Lake. During construction, a storm washed out a temporary dam, which drained the lake of 25 percent of its water. This lowered the water 20 feet and created a 21-mile sandy beach that circled the entire lake and accidentally transformed it into a recreational paradise.