When you cruise down the east coast of Lake Michigan, the myriad of harbors offer plenty of sites to explore, but if you’re searching for a one-stop shop, Anchor’s Way Marina should be your next stop.
Anchor’s Way Marina, ideally located in St. Joseph, Mich., is the first stop for many boaters on a quest to harbor hop the beautiful destinations of Lake Michigan. Just a short walk to downtown, the marina offers endless options for dining and entertainment. The rich history of the town and marina is sure to surprise you.
With so much to offer in just one harbor, this marina is truly a boater’s paradise.
The First Stop On Your Harbor Hop
St. Joseph is the first in a series of resort towns that people like to harbor hop. From South Haven, Holland, Grand Haven and all the way up to Mackinaw, harbor hopping is a fun way for boaters to experience new places.
The city is also one of the last ports before boaters have to decide whether they’re traveling all the way down to New Buffalo, a 16-mile trip, or to Michigan City, a 26-mile trip. So no matter where you’re traveling, people tend to stop in St. Joseph because of its convenient location.
Amenities & More
Although the marina owns 110 slips and houses another 100 privately-owned slips, boaters never compete for space. Anchor’s Way gives you room to spread out over their 13 acres so your boat never feels crammed in.
Once docked, boaters can enjoy the beautiful swimming pool, take a short bike ride or stroll into town. You have two towns to choose from since Anchor’s Way is close to both St. Joseph and Benton Harbor. Shopping, entertainment and beaches await you in these growing towns.
In the summer the towns are full of events. Craft beer in southwest Michigan has taken off, so chances are a brewery may pop up and sponsor a special event.
Of course, boating is the main activity, but when that Great Lakes’ weather decides to act up, Anchor’s Way sits on the St. Joseph River. This means smaller-sized boats can head up the river for hours, looking at the stunning scenery while waiting out the lake’s choppy waves.
A Rich History
Anchor’s Way was always built to be a marina. In the 1940s, the Robinson Boat Company built wooden boats in the marina. These wooden boats were sold for pleasure, but also had a bigger purpose. In WWII the navy used these wood vessels to skate into harbors, as their wooden hauls weren’t detectable by radar.
From there, the 1970s saw huge industrial development on the island of St. Joseph, and by the early 1990s another man bought the marina. The second owner brought dealerships with him and attempted to develop the land into condominiums.
“Which sounds like a nice idea,” shared Eric Johnstone, managing partner of Anchor’s Way. “St. Joe was a rising town, but their only fault was that they were trying to do this ramping up to 2008.”
With the economic crash in 2008, the secondary home industry was hit hard, and the development group went under. A lender took over and it looked like the marina was going to out of business.
When Johnstone showed up in 2014 from Chicago with a real estate background and a familiarity with southwest Michigan, he decided this would not only be a good real estate play, but an exciting project as well.
“I like putting things back together and I’ve always liked doing massive building renovations and taking things that were in disrepair and making them nice again,” Johnstone said.
He didn’t have a background in running a marina, but he knew what Anchor’s Way needed most was good customer service. Now going into year five, Johnstone brought the boating population at this marina back a little bit each year
“I’ve done a lot of heavy lifting and pushing a snowball up a hill for nearly five years and now it’s really ready to take a quantum leap, so to speak,” Johnstone shared. “When I inherited it, it had 85 customers and now we’re well on our way to 300.”
A Dock Dealership
Not only does Anchor’s Way dock boats, but they sell them as well. As of the beginning of 2018, Anchor’s Way is affiliated with Larson Marine out of Waukegan, Ill. As a dealership they sell Crownline models as well as a good selection of used boats.
“We’re hoping to build that into something that’s more consistent and that will grow,” Johnstone expressed.
All of the boats in the marina, in the dealership or privately owned, are handled with great care. The marina’s knowledgeable and highly experienced staff take customer service seriously.
“We try to treat their boats as if they’re our own,” Johnson said.
Whether you’re docking your boat, renting or buying from their excellent selection, Anchor’s Way has plenty to offer to make your summer weekends a blast.
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Anchor’s Way Marina