7. Detroit River


(1) Chart Datum, Detroit River.- Depths and vertical clearances under overhead cables and bridges given in this chapter are referred to the sloping surface of the river corresponding to a Lake St. Clair stage of 572.3 (174.4 meters) and a Lake Erie stage of 569.2 feet (173.5 meters) above mean water level at Rimouski, Quebec, on International Great Lakes Datum 1985 (IGLD 1985), which elevations are the planes of Low Water Datum for the two lakes. (See Chart Datum, Great Lakes System, indexed as such, chapter 1.)

(2) General description.-Detroit River is about 32 miles long from Detroit River Light at its mouth in Lake Erie to Windmill Point Light at the head of the river at Lake St. Clair.
(3) The lower part of the river is broad and is filled by many islands and shallow expanses. The river banks in this part are more flatly sloping than those in the upper river. The river bottom is generally earth and boulders, except for a section of bedrock and boulders about 6 miles N of the lower end of Bois Blanc Island. Extensive rock excavation and dredging have been necessary to provide channels for deep-draft vessels.
(4) The upper 13 miles of the river is a single deep cannel, except at its head where it is divided by Peach Island and Belle Isle. The river banks in this stretch are quite steep, and the bottom is earth.

(5) Channels.-Two dredged channels lead from Lake Erie to the mouth of Detroit River. East Outer Channel, a two-way passage, extends NNW from the lake to the Detroit River Light. West Outer Cannel passes W of the light and provides a passage for vessels of moderate draft bound for Monroe or Toledo.
(6) Above Detroit River Light, lower Livingstone Channel is a two-way passage to the junction with Amherstburg Channel. From the junction, the two channels extend N to the junction with Ballards Reef Channel, Amherstburg Channel for upbound traffic and Livingstone Channel for downbound traffic. Ballards Reef and Fighting Island Channels lead from the upper junction of Amherstburg and Livingstone Channels to the N end of Fighting Island. From here, natural deep water can be carried to the upper end of Belle Isle, thence a dredged channel leads to Lake St. Clair.
(7) The Channels through the river are well marked by lights and buoys.

(8) Anchorage.-Numerous submerged pipelines and cables are in the Detroit River. Vessel masters are advised to exercise caution when coming to anchor in the river.

(9) Fluctuations of water level.- Each year the normal seasonal fluctuations produce a difference of about 2 feet between the highest and lowest monthly mean levels in the river. However, strong E or W winds can raise or lower, respectively, the water levels in the W end of lake Erie and in the lower Detroit River by as much as 6 feet within 8 hours. The atmospheric pressure changes may cause temporary water level fluctuations of 1 foot or more.
(10) On the 5th and 12th of each month the District Engineer, Corps of Engineers, Detroit, publishes a bulletin of the predicted range of water levels. (See Appendix for address.)
(11) Water level information for the Gibralter area may be obtained by contacting Detroit Guard Group on VHF-FM channel 16. The information is given in whole inches above or below chart datum. In addition, Detroit Group at the beginning of the scheduled radio broadcast notice to mariners (see schedule in the appendix) includes this information.

(12) Currents, Detroit River.- The following currents are based on the averages of water flow through the entire cross section of the river, that is, from bank to bank and from the surface to the bottom during normal water flow conditions. Normal water flow conditions are encountered when there is no wind, Lake St. Clair is at a stage of 573.9 feet (174.9 meters) and the lower Detroit River (Lake Erie) stage is 571.0 (174.0 meters) above mean water level at Rimouski, Quebec, on International Great Lakes Datum 1985 (IGLD 1985), that is 1.6 feet (.05 meters) and 1.8 feet (.05 meters) above their respective Low Water Datums. The current encountered at mid stream is usually about 1.5 times the average velocity. Greater velocities may be expected when the difference between lake levels is greater, or when lake stages are higher.
(13) Currents for the following locations on the Detroit River are given at high water flow of 210,000 cubic feet per second (cfs), medium water flow of 184,00 cfs, and low water flow of 170,000 cfs, respectively.
(14) Livingstone Channel Upper Entrance Light: 0.8 mph (0.7 knots), 0.7 mph (0.6 knots), and 0.7 mph
(15) Fighting Island North Light: 1.5 mph (1.3 knots), 1.5mph, (1.3 knots), and 1.4 mph (1.2 knots)
(16) 1.7 miles below the Ambassador Bridge: 1.6 mph (1.4 knots), 1.4 mph (1.3 knots), and 1.3mph (1.2 knots)
(17) Lower end of Belle Isle: 1.4 mph, 1.3 mph, and 1.2 mph
(18) Peche Island Light: 1.5 mph, 1.4 mph, 1.2 mph.

(19) Weather.- Strong winds are most likely during fall and early spring. However, extremes often occur in squall lines or thunderstorms. Detroit has recorded a SW wind at 75 knots and an 83 knot wind from the NW; both occurred in June. At Windsor, the maximum sustained wind was 49 knots in March; an 81 knot gust was once recorded. Winds along the river blow mainly out of the SW and W, but others are common. In spring and summer, N through E wind are frequently encountered as are northwesterlies and southerlies in fall and winter.

(20) Ice.- The lower part of the Detroit River, below Fighting Island, is generally the shallow and has the same freezing characteristics as the W end of Lake Erie, forming an average thickness of 7 inches and an average maximum thickness of 11 inches. This ice generally starts to clear by mid-March because of the temperatures and the prevailing W winds. The upper part of the river is generally ice free except for shore ice and occasional drift ice. However, as a track is opened through Lake St. Clair, the broken ice will accumulate in the river above the natural ice cover in the lower part of the river. (See winter navigation chapter 3.)

(21) Navigation Regulations.- A vessel traffic reporting system and related navigation regulations have been established for the connecting waters from Lake Erie to Lake Huron. (see 33 CFR 162.130 through 162.140, chapter 2 for regulations.)

(22) Vessel Traffic Services.- The Canadian Coast Guard operates a vessel traffic service in Canadian waters from Long Point in Lake Erie through The Detroit and St. Clair Rivers to Detour Reef Light in Lake Huron. (See chapter 3 and the Annual Edition of Canadian Notices to Mariners for complete information.)

(23) Pilotage.- The waters of the Detroit River are Great Lakes designated waters; registered vessels of the United States and foreign vessels are required to have in their service a U.S. or Canadian registered pilot. Registered pilots for the Detroit River are supplied by The Lakes Pilots Association.

(24) Principal Ports.- The principal ports on the Detroit River are at Trenton, Wyandotte, and Detroit, Mich., and Windsor Ont. Deep draft facilities have been developed throughout the length of the river.

(sections 25 - 207 omitted)


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