Green Bay is attached to Lake Michigan, with many ways to get there via the Fox River, Sturgeon River and Porte des Mortes (Death’s Door). How do you get to these Islands? By boat, of course. There are a ton of lighthouses here too. Which is why you need to get a boat and go sailing in order to explore these gems. On the West side of the bay is Wisconsin to the South, and Michigan to the North. On the East Side is the famous Door County. Adventures galore.
Green Bay offers incredible cruising territory. Whoda thunk that one needed to go to the Caribbean or Mediterranean to enjoy island hopping? You do need to be a great navigator, there are plenty of reefs made of rock in Green Bay. Navigation errors are not allowed for your safety.
In this close up of Green Bay, some of the Isles are easily seen, the large one all by itself in the middle of the bay is Chambers Island.
On a recent visit to Green Bay, we saw Bald Eagles and White Pelicans amongst the treasures. “Pelicans” I say? We all grew up thinking Pelicans lived in the Everglades in Florida. It ends up they are migratory birds that fly from the Everglades through the middle waters of the U.S. to the Canadian border, hook a hard left and fly out to the Pacific Northwest for the summer, and then return to Florida for the winter. Their migration was killed off in the 1960’s with the use of DDT on the country’s farms. With the effects of DDT now diminished, the White Pelicans have returned to their migration and are flourishing in the waters of the Midwest once again.
Green Bay is 120 miles long, average 23 miles wide, 186 square miles, the extreme lower end of the bay is 6.5′ to 9.8′ depth, the mean depth of the rest of the bay is 65′ and the deepest point is 176′. The seas are generally calm due do the narrowness of the bay. It was created by the glacier period 10,000 years ago. Seiches occur with passing weather systems (akin to jumping into one end of a bathtub and having the water slosh back and forth from end to end), the most extreme measured so far was a height variance of 4.7′ over a 17 hour period in 1957 in the Fox River on the South end of Green Bay. Currents in the lower part of Green Bay tend to be counter-clockwise.
See the companion piece on Green Bay Harbor Hopping.
Besides the fertile cruising grounds of Islands in Green Bay, there are a number of quaint harbors with great accommodations, restaurants within walking distance, including one harbor that is a mining ghost town. It appears someone could spend a few months cruising and enjoying these waters.
Stay off of the Private Islands, entry is trespassing, but feel free to hike the publicly owned islands.
Range Lights are an interesting navigation tool. There are two light towers, the front (lower) and the back (elevated higher). They are used where there are treacherous waters. Commonly they are lit 24/7. When coming in if you have the two lights lined up, you are in safe water depth. But if the lights are misaligned, you need to slow down or stop, change course to get the two lights aligned and then continue to proceed forward. There are a few Range Light sets in Green Bay.
UPPER GREEN BAY
- St. Martin Island – becoming a bird sanctuary, St. Martin Lighthouse
- Gull Island
- Gravelly Island
- Little Gull Island
- Minneapolis Shoal Light Station
- Summer Island 1/2 Federally Owned, 2/3 Privately Owned
- St. Vital Island
- Round Island
- Little Summer Island
- Poverty Island – Federally Owned, Poverty Island Lighthouse
MID GREEN BAY
- Washington Island – 660 Year ‘Round Residents, Boyer Bluff Lighthouse
- Rock Island – Mostly Owned by Wisconsin, Pottawatomie Lighthouse
- Detroit Island – Privately Owned
- Pilot Island – Wildlife Refuge, Pilot Island Lighthouse
- Plum Island – Bird Sanctuary, Plum Island Range
- Hog Island – Bird Sanctuary
- Sister Islands – Bird Sanctuary
- Hat Island Wildlife Refuge
- Pilot Island – Wildlife Refuge, Pilot Island Light
- Green Island – Wisconsin Owned, Green Island Lighthouse
- Chambers Island – Privately Owned, Chambers Island Lighthouse
Chamber Island Lighthouse
- Strawberry Islands – Adventure (Privately Owned), Jack (Privately Owned), and Little Strawberry (Privately Owned), Pirate (Publicly Owned)
- Horseshoe Island – State of Wisconsin Owned
LOWER GREEN BAY
Whiskey or Whisky Island – Part of the Beaver Island Chain 96 acres, the island had its trees forested in the early 1900s.
Butlers Island – North End of Green Bay 2,400ft X 200ft, a meer spit of land.
Four Foot Shoal – Door County Coast
Spider Island – Door County Coast
Cana Island – Door County Coast W/ Lighthouse
Summer Island – Green Bay Opening
SandIsland Escanaba Delta
Fish Island – Green Bay Opening
Fisherman Shoal – Green Bay Opening
Poverty Island – Green Bay Opening has abandoned lighthouse.
St. Martin Island – Green Bay Opening
Little Gull Island – Green Bay Opening
Snake Island – Green Bay Opening
Gravel Island – Door County Coast
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