sault ste marie michigan

Sault Ste. Marie, MI

Lat: 46° 30.023   Long: 084° 20.246

Quick Reference:

  • Port Type: City
  • Monitors VHF: 9
  • Charts: NOS 14883 14884 14962
  • Customs: Yes
  • Coast Guard
  • Transient Docking
  • Anchorage
  • Diesel
  • Gasoline
  • Potable Water
  • Pump Out
  • Washrooms
  • Showers
  • Laundry
  • Repair Services
  • Provisions
  • Pharmacy
  • Hospital/Clinic
  • Banks/ATM
  • Restaurants/Pubs
  • Shopping
  • Internet
  • Amenities
  Important Numbers

Area Code906
Police(906) 632-3344
Hospital(906) 635-4460
Pharmacy(906) 632-9661


Port Distance (nm) Port Distance (nm)
Grand Marais, MI, 84 W Michipicoten Hbr, ON 110 W
Marquette, MI, 107 W Marathon, ON 174 NW
Isle Royale, MI 263 W Thunder Bay, ON 241 NW
Duluth, MN 362 W Apostle Islands, WI 299 NW


For centuries, the racing rapids of the St. Mary's River have served as a crossroads for people moving between Lake Superior to the north and Lake Huron and the other Great Lakes to the south. Long the home of the Ojibwe People, the first Europeans here were French explorers. They were soon followed by fur traders and missionaries. This was an ideal location for both a commercial and military base. Settlements were established on both sides of the river and each grew into prosperous communities sharing not only the river but also the name - Sault Ste. Marie (sault pronounced 'soo', comes from an older French word meaning 'rapids' or 'falls'). The cities are an important link in the St. Lawrence Seaway system and the locks on the St. Mary's River are impressive.

For the cruising sailor, heading either north or south, Sault Sainte Marie Michigan is an important port. For north-bound sailors, it is the last full-service port for hundreds of miles on the Canadian side of Lake Superior and nearly so on the American side. For south-bound sailors, Sault Sainte Marie offers an opportunity for full reprovisioning, repairs if necessary and some of the pleasures afforded by a large city.

Both Sault Ste Marie Michigan and Sault Ste Marie Ontario offer generally similar facilities and services. Sault Ste Marie Ontario is the larger of the two cities and in fact is the 3rd largest city in Northern Ontario. As a result, it will have most thing a sailors may need.

If you are a Canadian planning to cruise the American waters of Lake Superior, it makes sense to enter the United States in Sault Ste Marie Michigan to complete customs and immigration proceedures. Likewise, for American sailors who plan to cruise west along the Canadian north coast of Lake Superior, it would make sense to enter Canada via Sault Ste Marie Ontario.


The Soo Locks on the St. Mary's River are the busiest locks in the world! On average, 10,000 commercial ships pass through the locks each year. The locks span the river. The American side is used by commercial ships and to a lesser extent, recreational sailors. The Canadian side is exclusively for recreational/private vessels. The Canadian side is also faster to negotiate and you do not have to share space with a 1,000' behemoth or a hardworking tug.

The approaches are well-marked and straight forward. It is prudent to stay within the marked channels and follow directions carefully.

The preferred locks are the Canadian Locks. Upon approach, you will see a large sign with RED triangle marked with L/A meaning 'Limit of Approach'. Contact the Lock Master on Ch 14 radioing for "VDX 23 Canadian Canal" for locking through instructions. The light signals are straight forward: F RED = wait / stand by; Fl RED = lock being prepared; F GREEN = proceed into lock.

Have fenders deployed as well as long lines ready on deck fore and aft. There are vertical cables inside the lock chamber that you can loop lines around. DO NOT TIE OFF TO THESE CABLES. As the water level changes, your boat will 'ride' up and down these cables, held along side as she moves. Be prepared for turbulence. For safety, all crew should be wearing life jackets.

If instead of the fixed cables inside the locks, you find you have to use your own lines, ensure you have 75-100 ft/23-31 m of line to use with the bollard ashore.

The American Locks are primarily commercial in nature. There are 4: McArthur, Poe, Davis and Sabine. Sabine is not operational. Davis is used infrequently. A cruising sailor has to keep in mind that commercial vessels have priority and therefore wait times can be longer. As well, you will be sharing close quarters with some very large vessels so prudence is the watchword.

On approach, call the Lock Master on Ch14 or 16 radioing for "WUD 31". Identfy yourself, advise direction of passage and await instructions. You will likely be directed into McArthur Lock. Light signals are as follows: RED = wait/stand by; YELLOW = lock being prepared; GREEN = proceed into lock. Have fenders ready plus lines ready (75-100 ft/23-31 m). Lock attendants may have lines available but it is far better to be fully prepared. Be prepared for turbulence. For safety, all crew should be wearing life jackets.


NOTE: Due to the current in the St. Mary's River, regarless of your route, it is best to begin your entry into the marina from downstream. This way, your approach is controlled.

George Kemp Downtown Marina   (906) 635-7670   VHF 9
This is a fairly new municipal marina located immediately downstream from the American Locks. There are 60 slips with 4 dozen available for transient sailors. There is a fuel dock (diesel and gasoline) and a pumpout staion. There is water and power available dockside. There are restrooms, showers and laundry facilities. The marina has BBQ grills and provides bicycles to use to get around downtown - which is also within walking distancm.


R & R Marine is a full-service marine maintenance shop. They can carry out full repairs and maintenance on engines, mechanical systems, electrical systems and electronics.

There are several grocery stores in the downtown Sault Ste Marie Michigan Baldwins Superette and Soo Supervalue are about equi-distant from the marina.

There are several banks and credit unions in Sault Ste. Marie. Federal Employees Credit Union is close to the marina and has both counter service and ATMs.


Chippewa County War Memorial Hospital (906) 635-4460 is a full-service hospital. It is located downtown., within walking distance of the marina.

There are several pharmacies across town. Artstrom Pharmacy (906) 632-9661 is the closest to the marina.


There are a number of restaurant options along Sault Ste Marie's waterfront. Freighters Restaurant offers a great view of the riverfront. If Greek cuisine appeals, try Zorba's


Obviously, a key attraction is the American Lock system. Under the jurisdiction of the US Army Corps of Engineers, there is an excellent visitors centre and lookouts where you can watch ships transiting through. There is a working model of the locks and lots of exhibits detailing their history.

The city is engaged in a multi-year riverfront project that will showcase much of the local history. The Historic Locks Park Walkway is very attractive and is a great way to spend a few hours stretching your legs. The Walk includes Fort Brady, built on the site of earlier British and French forts. The Valley Camp Museum Ship has a marine Hall of Fame on board and its displays include artifacts from the Edmund Fitzgerald. A quick look at this Sault Ste Marie Michigan tourism site will give you some ideas on getting the most of your visit.

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