City looks to limit mooring along channel

The days of boaters freely tying to the seawall along the Grand Haven boardwalk for days on end may be numbered.
Alex Doty
Oct 3, 2012


City officials are looking at changing the mooring policy to place limits on how long a boat can be docked there, as well as a possible fee structure.

“We’ve had a considerable amount of vessels that would take advantage of it,” City Manager Pat McGinnis said.

Mayor Geri McCaleb said there are places for boaters who want to stay longer than a day in Grand Haven’s downtown.

“If you want to moor your boat for a long period, we have docks (at the Municipal Marina),” McCaleb said.

The city currently has no teeth to restrict boaters from docking along the wall for lengthy stays.

“There is no policy — so we can’t say, ‘You can’t do that,'" McCaleb said. "It’s free and you just park your boat there. "

McCaleb said she is hopeful the city's Harbor Board recommends a policy to City Council that would permit short-term boat mooring, but discourages long-term use.

"It’d be good to have a policy in place, and I am looking forward to what the board will do,” she said.

Local boater Bruce Williams said that if the city were going to change its policy and start charging fees to dock along the wall, he would like to see them provide amenities such as power outlets.

Williams also said that there are many times when conditions don’t allow for tying off along the wall.

“There’re so many times that it’s rough out here that it’s rare there’s times like this that you can pull up,” he said on a recent calm day. ”You’re rocking too much to do anything.”

The Williamses said they try to frequent the wall with their boat whenever possible.

“It’s just fun to sit and people watch,” Karen Williams said.

Both McCaleb and McGinnis noted that the boardwalk seawall is something that should be available for people who are visiting Grand Haven.

“That’s the kind of thing we are trying to encourage,” McCaleb said.

According to McGinnis, one of the options being considered is a fee that would be charged to overnight boaters.

“Talking about it with the Harbor Board is the first step,” he said.

The final step would involve including a nightly fee in the 2013-14 city budget for overnight seawall parking, along with discussing who would enforce the policy.

McGinnis said the Harbor Board is planning some investments to the seawall designed to protect boats from being damaged while they are tied along it. He said a docking fee could help the city recoup costs for installing the protection.



i don't think there is an issue with the current situation, so why change it? Does the city have nothing better/constructive to do with its time? we do not need more frivolous rules, modification to the wall, power hook ups, whatever else.


City greed for power and money.

They HATE the boaters on the wall. For YEARS, we could pay to use the city marina's bathrooms. I went to pay for that service a few weeks ago and the kid in the marina said they had some carnival workers trash the bathrooms, so they are no longer allowing the wall boats to use the bathrooms.

I pleaded that I never worked for the carnival! But, obviously, this shows that the manager Mike, his boss Sandra and the city manager Pat HATE the middle class boaters of Grand Haven, and though we spend plenty of money in the city, they still don't want us around.

Sad. It shows perfectly why we need to take control of our out-of-control governmental bodies. The power and greed is too much for most men to handle.

And shame on those people. Middle class folks crapping on fellow middle class folks all to cater to the exclusive people of GH. Pawns.


Thanks alot to the junky blue houseboat that didn't want to pay for a slip for the last two years. I knew this was going to happen because of him. Only takes one person to wreck it for everyone. Thanks alot Pete!


BTW...Someone correct me if I am wrong but, I believe that blue houseboat gets chartered out with out the proper inspections, charter license, and captain's license. I'm just sayin'


I kind of know the guy, through the years I have spent out there.
No, he has NEVER chartered for profit. His friend owns a pizza joint and he takes them out a few times a year and that is it. But, way to add to the propaganda! Always good to throw lies out there, because you "cannot unring a bell." (in other words, once you state a lie, it is always out there)

Go get a job with the national enquirer or MSNBC.
They love your type of facts! You know, accusations-with-no-proof facts.


I stand corrected if that is true. Although, I have personaly seen him drop anchor with dozens of passengers aboard in a bayou and leave for the day in his whaler. He then came back in the early evening to retrieve them. A couple other boaters pointed out to me that they have seen this happen on numerous occasions. My observation was (and is) that I am sure he's not doing this out of the kindness of his heart. My other observation that day was that he must be nuts to take on that kind of liability. I only pointed out this possibility, because if true, and if there is ever a tragedy related to an unlicensed charter operation from a vessel squating on the wall, I believe we will all be then fighting to keep cleats on the wall. BTW, I absolutely will not pay for a spot on the wall without services, but I would be in favor of a ten day rule (with four days off) & that should be plenty of time.

Also FYI from the coast guard: Passenger for hire means a passenger for whom consideration is contributed as a condition of carriage on the vessel, whether directly or indirectly flowing to the owner, charterer, operator, agent or any other person having an interest in the vessel (46 U.S.C. 2101(21a)).
Consideration means an economic benefit, inducement, right, or profit including monetary payment going to an individual, person, or entity. It does not include a voluntary sharing of the actual expenses of the voyage, by monetary contribution or donation of fuel food, beverage, or other supplies (46 U.S.C. 2101(5a)).


Actually, this was being bantered about long before the Houseboat parked on the wall.


I agree with there really an issue? It certainly doesn't seem like it. How do you charge for someone that wants to tie up for a couple hours to shop and grab lunch... I don't think there is an easy way, so if I am not coming down to tie up for the entire night, I shouldn't come down at all. Great way to discourage the use of something that has been available for free forever. Great way to discourage boaters from spending money downtown.... Maybe we should charge kids to play in the new splash park, maybe we should charge addmittance to the city beach, maybe we should charge for use of the skate park or the play area at mulligans hollow, maybe we should charge for parking in the city lots....Or better yet, let's NOT and keep our community fun and inviting for everyone!


If some people are taking advantage of free dockage, put a three day limit on mooring. There is no power or water to charge people for. That waterfront was developed 30 years ago with a lot of money donated by local business and families. It's there for everybody to use. Why are boaters being singled out to pay . If it's all about the money, then fence off the waterfront and charge everybody that walks there.


business and private money has been used for the waterfront... Most of the property is city or government owned. I would think that US Coast Guard could control the parking on the federal waterways. Maybe we should get some money from the business owners who are benefiting from all these boaters parked along the wall... If you want to talk about history... Who paid for the damaged seawall from the ship that struck the seawall while our City Manager Larry Deetjen stood out on the wall yelling stop, stop, stop..... A lot of the money for that project came from the city of grand haven's retirement fund and federal grants.....


We would rather get a slip at the municipal marina, however it's not as easy as they say. So often the marina is full. Each time we tie up on the wall or rent a slip at the municipal, we end up spending a lot of money usually dining and shopping. It costs the city nothing to have us tie up on the wall, IF they are going to charge for a wall tie, then they should provide electricity and water. What the city needs to do is get rid of the huge grandstands that block the view of the river from the downtown area, make a large park-like area where people can relax, add more slips to the municipal where they can charge $70 a night, add a larger dinghy dock for boaters who want to dine in town. Most of all, fix the ugly seawall that lines the north shore of the river, it has rusted old barges with large pieces of cement stack on top. Looks terrible and not a welcoming sight for those who come to our area to visit.


That houseboat does not get chartered out..he is a squatter. You are thinking of the wind dancer (also blue) that gets chartered out.


Here we go, with the Elitists in Grand Haven, ruining what was once a good thing.
The Municipal Marina is great, but VERY expensive. In fact, it is THE MOST expensive marina in the Tri-City Area. The well-to-do use it all the time and God bless 'em. Funny, though, I never see those people spending money in the city. Their boats have huge refrigerators and they have huge boats, so they can bring all the provisions they want. The people that hang out on the sea wall - and I am one of them - are the middle class boaters, who have middle class jobs and middle class wages. We stay on the wall and use that as a "Staycation." We frequent all the bars and restaurants and stores in Grand Haven each weekend. My kids have shoes from Borr's Bootery, clothes from Buffalo Bobs and toys from the Mackinac Kite Co. Our comforter on our boat is from Calico Cat and we all have Reef flip flops from the Frog shop by the fishing boats. My favorite place in GH is Hostetters, as they have every magazine known to man. We also eat in EVERY SINGLE RESTAURANT IN THE CITY.

This is a TYPICAL action of government - they are CROWDING OUT businesses and middle class people - trying to gain MORE MONEY, while TAKING IT FROM THE BUSINESSES (by eliminating us from the wall). The City of Grand Haven HATES the middle class boaters and always has.

What we need to do is organize a boycott of the entire city and send letters of complaints to the Chamber of Commerce. City leaders have done more damage to the businesses in town than ANY recession has. Those businesses have 3 months to make 12 months of profit. Changing the policy on the wall will have a DIRECT IMPACT on their bottom lines, thus affecting the people who live there. But, this is why that disgraceful city council has started this. As boaters, we cannot vote or complain at the city meetings. Will the people who are financially impacted by this complain? We would hope so.

Well - time to start organizing.

PLEASE contact Mike Cramer on the Harbor Board.
Also, contact Jerry McAleb who is the Mayor.
You can try talking to Pat McGinnis, but I think that is where this crap is coming from.

Once again - it is government kicking the middle class and the small businessman in the teeth all for their own financial gain and for POWER. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.


Actually, the Grand Haven Municipal Marina is less expensive than many marinas along the West coast of Michigan. I can also say that our shopping/dining habits do not vary whether we are on the wall or at the marina. However, we will not put our boat on the wall if the water is rolling down the channel, large fenders for not, we don't want to damage the boat.


I love seeing all the boats tied up and enjoying our waterfront. I does not bother me that they spend the night either. I walk the boardwalk daily and their was one boat, a houseboat that I referred to as the POS. It was tied up on our beautiful waterfront for the entire summer. It had large windows with junk and garbage visible for all to see. It was obvious during the week that no one had even stepped foot on that boat. That is what I object to and is clearly taking advantage of the system. I never voiced my opinion to officials about that boat but I felt like it every day when I looked at it. What's wrong with a fee after three days? Honestly, that's more than fair!


I don't own a boat so I don't really have a dog in this fight, although I would be against charging fees without offering services...(Water, electricity, etc..)....However I am curious about this so called POS blue houseboat. I spent many a day this past summer walking the length of the boardwalk and for the life of me I don't recall seeing this boat. Was it parked along the channel wall by Bicentennial Park or somewhere else less in the public's eye? It bothers me that I never noticed it, or don't recall it being there for long periods of time, as I'm usually pretty observant of these types of things. Seems to me the guardians of the city gate missed a golden opportunity to make an example of this guy to further their own self-serving agenda. The thought occurs to me just now that if the city were to start charging and offering services they'd just end up with a bigger problem then they have now and if they start charging without offering services then it's hard to see it as anything other than another money grab and an overreach of power, again.


I've been boating in GH for over 10 years and as far as I'm concerned the wall should be free for anyone and everyone that wishes to tie up. It's not like it costs the city a dime to allow this and I agree with others who point out that the folks that utilize the wall probably spend a minimum of $100 a day (per person on board) to eat and drink in downtown and that should be sufficient to allow them to moor on the wall for free. All of us boaters are part of what makes the city a beautiful place... If you begin to charge for this I'm pretty sure you'd be biting the hand that feeds the city and that makes no sense at all!!

Seems that the real issue is Pete parking his river boat there all season caused an eye sore and brought this issue to a head. Why not just make a law limiting the time for a boat to be moored on the wall rather than punish us all for this?

I can promise you that I will NEVER pay to tie up to the wall... And I'm not sure many other people will either. So please don't pass this silly new tax on the boaters that bring so much life and joy, not to mention REVENUE to the city or you may end up with the short end of the stick city hall!!


It is the same free loading boaters week after week who leave there garbage laying next to a trash can.. If you think by saying you spend x- number of dollars here then what is the problem with paying for you to dock your boat?




They buy beer and ice ,,,big deal ...they are blocking views and leaving garbage for the city to clean up and use very little common sense when they tie up to the wall. Why would the harbor board install "padding" to protect the boats that camp all summer long on the wall? Pay the few bucks to dock your boat at the marina 500 yards up the channel like the rest of the boaters.


I believe the city council, is not in touch with who is spending more money in the city. I have boated in the Grand Haven area for over eighteen years, and have moored to the sea wall almost every weekend that the weather permits. From that perspective it seems that the city is more willing to cater to the people who come in to watch the fountain, than the people who spend thousands every year in the Grand Haven area with local businesses, everything from storage and slips, to fuel, parts, and repairs, not to mention entertainment. Yes Grand Haven is a tourist town, but the city needs to look at which of the tourist are spending the most. Someone driving in from out of town may spend money on dinner, ice cream, and maybe a night in a hotel to watch the fountain, but they do not spend nearly what an average boater does in one weekend.
Over the years I have watched as the number of boats spending the night on the seawall decline, as so many were harassed to the point of finding other ports to spend their time and money. In fact do to the changes the city council made with regards to mooring after the fireworks on the fourth of July, my family, as well as many of my friends now enjoy the fireworks on our boats in Muskegon.
“A fee” would only discourage the average boater from using the sea wall. Many would find another port, or spend more time in the marina, in which case the Downtown businesses would suffer. In fact I encourage the city council to ask the Downtown businesses what they think would be the consequences.


I look at parking your boat on the wall, like parking your car on the street. What's next parking meters on Washington (oh snap, they are going to read this) for parking your car? Not a good idea at all. Who actually owns and maintains the wall? The city surely doesn't own the waterway. As others have said, it is only going to take revenue from the merchants and city in the long run.


I'm not currently a boater...but walk the boardwalk many times a moored on the channel create a wonderful atmosphere that is unlike anything else around, and that is a part of why tourists, locals, boaters AND non boaters like the unique experience the free mooring creates. If it aint broke, don't fix it, GH. One day, I hope to be one of those lucky people able to hang out on the channel and chill out!


I don't think anyone would be against setting a time limit on mooring. Three days would be good.
It would allow people to spend the weekend in Grand Haven. I really don't believe that there are
many people that abuse the right to moor for free. Just a few. Charging a fee of any kind is
an extremely bad idea. And how much would it cost the city to implement and enforce charging a
fee for mooring? If the city thinks they want to limit the time a boat can stay tied up. Then limit
the time. If your going to charge for mooring you might as well charge people for parking on city streets. Mooring along the wall is a place for people to park their boats.
Don't drive people away by charging them for something that should be free.
I somewhat agree that there are those in this town, and possibly some on the city council. That are not in touch with who is spending more money in the city. Where those people come from, and how much it benefits the city.


It seems GH must have rules for everything...including just relaxing.
Come on......can't boaters just tie up like they've been doing forever?
Why don't they just ban it like many other things in GH like dogs or parking after 2 a.m.
Hey how about pay meters for walking the boardwalk?

Fed up w/ rules!!!


We need to treat the boaters of this community as an asset ... not as a hassle. It appears the city is attacking boaters.

Tri-cities realist

I would be interested to know who actually controls the sea wall. As a navigable waterway, my hunch is that the Corps of Engineers does, but I could be mistaken. In which case the city would not have jurisdiction to limit mooring there. Either way, as others have said, the municipal marina is usually booked on peak summer weekends. If there is one boat that is causing this issue, people should ignore it and move on with their life. This is just another way for city council to increase their control by charging additional fees. Currently boating is the only mode of motorized travel, that someone can park downtown over night if they've had too much to drink. Don't try parking your car in a city lot overnight, you will be ticketed. Rediculous. I can't believe the merchants havent taken this up with council. Well I'm sure some have tried, but council probably doesn't really like the "bar scene" except for the tax revenue it creates.


This is the direct result of all the complaints about the “POS” houseboat that calls the wall home. I agree it has to go because it truly is a “POS” and detracts from the whole boardwalk experience day after day all summer long. Don’t change the centerpiece of our community because of one boat! Don’t punish everybody that enjoys the wall and boardwalk because of one boat. This is a one boat problem, deal with it, make one person mad and move on! What’s the problem?


The Harbor Board's next meeting is 10/16/12 4pm at the community center. I will be attending, and highly recommend others with interests regarding the Sea Wall do as well.


Council, please leave the boaters be. I agree with so many, that it is a delight to see all the boats lining the wall during the tourists season. You're going to push rules and regulations in this city to the point that it's too much of a hassle for tourists to relax and enjoy a weekend in our fair city. Remember, tourism is what makes Grand Haven a great place.


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