Lat: 42°59.401 Long: 082°25.128
Sarnia Ontario is an important point along the Great Lakes system as it and its sister city of Port Huron, Michigan serve as 'jump off' points for cruises both south down the St. Clair River to the 'lower lakes' and north up into Lake Huron and the 'upper lakes'. It is a natural choke point for commercial traffic. Sarnia is the Latin form of the name 'Guernsey' one of the channel islands lying off the French coast and subject to the English crown (not the country). It was named by Sir John Colborne, Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada in 1836. His previous posting was as Lieutenant Governor of Guernsey.
The arrival of the railroad and the discovery of oil in 1858 drove Sarnia's growth. In time, Sarnia developed a huge petrochemical industry, spawning the famous (or infamous, depending how you look at it) 'Chemical Valley'.
Sarnia has several fine marinas and yacht club. The city offers all of the services a cruising sailor could need including maintenance and repair facilities, provisioning, medical and equipment sales outlets. Sarnia Ontario is also home to the Canadian Coast Guard Sarnia Marine Communications and Traffic Services Centre which provides marine communications and traffic control services.
From the SOUTH
Follow the St Clair River north until you have the RED marker buoy "AH2" on your starboard beam. Change course to approximately 40o and follow the shoreline keeping the RED/GREEN bifurcation buoy "AHB" and the GREEN marker buoy "AH3" to your port. Continue to GREEN marker buoy "AH5" and turn hard to port on a course of approximately 290o. Note the charted wreck at "AH5" that lies between you and the buoy. Do NOT close with the marker.
Once you have changed course, leave the bifurcation marker "ASB" and the RED marker "AS2" on your starboard and proceed to the entrance to the harbour. There is a Fl GREEN light on the end of the harbour breakwater.
To continue to the Bridgewater Marine, instead of turning at "AHB", continue up the channel to RED marker "A64". This marker lies just south of Bay Point. Bear to starboard, leaving it on your port beam. (Remember that "A64" marks the upbound channel and not the marina entrance.) Once inside the basin, follow the channel around to the marina.
If you plan to go to the Sarnia Yacht Club, follow the St Clair River to where it opens into Lake Huron. Once past the water treatment plant, bear to starboard and follow the coastline. Once past the water plant, you will see a Fixed RED light marking the entrance to the basin - approximately .25 nm on your starboard bow. Just beyond it, you will see a Q GREEN light marking the end of the eastern breakwall. Make your turn at the light and, once inside the basin, bear to the starboard. The Sarnia Yacht Club is on the western side of the basin. Lake Huron Yachts marina is on the southern side of the basin.
From the NORTH
Approching Sarnia, the first harbour you will come to when you come to the southern end of Lake Huron will be the basin for the Sarnia Yacht Club and Lake Huron Yachts marina. This is located on the north coast of Point Edward and immediately east of the entrance to the St Clair River.
You will see a Q GREEN light at the end of the outer seawall. As you approach the entrance, you will see a F RED light mid-channel. At the light, make your course approximately 180o. Follow the channel into the basin. The Sarnia Yacht Club is on the western side of the basin. Lake Huron Yachts Ltd marina is on the southern side of the basin.
If you choose to go down the St Clair River, you will come at length to the RED marker buoy "A64", just off the tip of Bay Point. Rounding that marker, leaving it to your port, you proceed up the channel and into Bridgewater Marina basin.
Continuing further south, you will come to the RED/GREEN bifurcation buoy "AHB". Come around it, leaving it to port. Keeping the RED/GREEN bifurcation buoy "AHB" and the GREEN marker buoy "AH3" to your port, continue to GREEN marker buoy "AH5" and turn hard to port on a course of approximately 290o. Note the charted wreck at "AH5" that lies between you and the buoy. Do NOT close with the marker. Once you have changed course, leave the bifurcation marker "ASB" and the RED marker "AS2" on your starboard and proceed to the entrance to the harbour. There is a Fl GREEN light on the end of the harbour breakwater.
MARINAS, YACHT CLUBS, MOORINGS, ANCHORAGES
We will look at these from the south to the north.
Sarnia Bay Marina (519) 332-0533 VHF 68
This is a well-run, squeaky-clean, full service marina. It has over 300 slips with 150 of them set aside for transient sailors. There is a fuel dock (diesel and gasoline) and a pumpout station. There is water and power at the pumps. Through its sister marina, Bridgeview Marina, it offers full repair and maintenance services. [See Bridgeview Marina for details]. There are washrooms, showers and laundry facilities available. An on-site restaurant is available for breakfast and lunch. There is a heated swimming pool and the grounds has a pavillion with BBQ grills. If you need to provision, Sarnia Bay Marina has a free shuttle service which can get you to shopping and other sites quickly. There is wireless internet available throughout the marina.
Bridgeview Marina Services (519) 339-0454 VHF 68
With 700+ slips, this is the 3rd largest marina on the Great Lakes. There are approximately 2 dozen slips available for transients. There is a fuel dock with diesel and gasoline and a pumpout station. There is water and power available at dockside. In addition to being a dealer for many well-known brands, Bridgeview Marina Services operates a full repair facility. They are able to complete work on engines, mechanical systems, electronics, carry out fibreglass repairs, do prop work and painting. There is a fully-stocked chandlery and they maintain an extensive parts inventory. Washrooms, showers and laundry facilities are available. There is a swimming pool and acres of manicured grounds - lots of room for kids to run and play or families to enjoy a BBQ. There is cable TV and internet access.
Lake Huron Yachts (519) 336-5575
Lake Huron Yachts is located on the Lake Huron coastline, just east of the entrance to the St Clair River. It has 64 slips with 10 available for transient sailors. There is no fuel dock. Charts show a pumpout station. Water and power are available dockside. There are washrooms and showers available. The grounds have a swimming pool, picnic and BBQ areas. There is internet access.
Sarnia Yacht Club (519) 332-6779
SYC is located on the west side of the basin just to the east of the entrance to the St Clai River. They have 350 slips with approximately 1/2 dozen available for transient sailors. There is a fuel dock (diesel and gasoline), a pumpout station and water and power are available dockside. There are washrooms and showers at the clubhouse and it also has kitchen facilities and a bar. The grounds have picnic and BBQ areas.
REPAIRS & MAINTENANCE, PROVISIONING, BANKS/ATM's
A wide range of repairs can be carried out at Bridgeview Marina Services. (See above)
T & M Custom Marine can carry out a wide range of hull and fibreglass repairs including painting.
There are a number of grocery stores in Sarnia Ontario including two large supermarkets. These are located a fair distance from the harbourfront so a taxi would be necessary.
All major banks are represented in Sarnia and all have ATM machines. Many are located in and around the Lambton Mall, a large retail shopping complex.
As a small city, Sarnia Ontario has a full range of medical facilities and health services. Bluewater Health (519) 464-4400 is a full-service hospital centrally located in Sarnia.
There are many pharmacies across Sarnia. One of the closest to the harbour is Sarnia Pharmacy (519) 337-3215
Many other medical specialties and health service providers will be found in Sarnia.
PLACES TO EAT
Sarnia has a nice selection of restaurants and pubs.
Bridges Bistro and Freighter Lounge is a full-service dining room located in the Sarnia Holiday Inn adjacent to the harbourfront.
Chipican Restaurant is well-known for the quality of its steaks and ribs.
Cromwell Grill, near the harbour marnina, is a family-owned restaurant that specializes in Greek food.
For something different, you might want to consider Babylon Restaurant and Hookah Lounge which specializes in Mediterranean and Arabic cuisine.
THINGS TO DO/SEE/VISIT
Sarnia Ontario is a natural place to engage in that ages-old sailors' pastime - ship watching. The St Clair River is busier than both the Panama Canal and Suez Canal combined so there is lots to see!
There are art galleries, antique markets and shopping centres to browse, casinos and hore racing venues and great waterfront walkways and parks to explore. A quick look at this Sarnia Ontario tourism site will give you lots of ideas to help you get the most of your visit.
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