Before You Go

  • Check the weather. Forecasts are available through the National Weather Service. You can also get real-time weather and water conditions from the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant buoys.
  • Confirm the area is open to the public. There are many public access boat ramps along southern Lake Michigan. Explore the coastal areas of Illinois and Indiana at Southern Lake Michigan Outdoors.
  • Dress for safety. Dressing in thin layers will allow you to shield yourself from wind and sun exposure whatever the conditions.
  • Know your equipment. Be sure all equipment is in working order and you know how to properly use them.
  • Be prepared. Pack plenty of sunscreen, insect repellent, drinking water, and fuel. Be sure to also have your medical insurance card, cell phone or maritime radio, and emergency contact information handy. And don’t forget life jackets, flashlights, paddles, and a first aid kit.
  • Don’t overload the boat. Know how much weight your boat can safely carry and evenly distribute the load across the boat.
  • Check marina website(s). The Clean Marina Illinois and Indiana Initiative websites regarding Lake Michigan’s marinas.

For more boater operation and safety information, check out these courses offered in Lake Michigan states. (Make sure to check your state’s department of natural resources for up to date information on boating fees.)