Located at the southern tip of Lake Michigan, Oselka Marina is close enough for weekend visits from neighboring cities, yet far enough you still feel like you’re on vacation. That’s how General Manager Jim Oselka best explains the popularity of the family-owned full-service marina.
“New Buffalo is a great place to visit and to experience Lake Michigan,” says Jim. “People feel like they’re on vacation and appreciate being able to get away from the city and our biggest benefit might just be that we’re really close to Chicago.”
Oselka Marina was started by Jim’s grandfather Paul Oselka back in 1957. Paul owned a construction company and according to his grandson, at that time the area wasn’t much to look at.
“New Buffalo Harbor was really just a swamp if you look at the photos,” says Jim. “With my grandfather’s construction company he was able to bring in equipment and develop it. He saw the vision of what it could be and he developed it into the harbor.”
In 1976 the Federal Government deemed New Buffalo Harbor a refuge and built a break wall that is the current wall still being used today. The family feels the wall really put the marina on the map as far as becoming an official harbor.
Jim enjoyed growing up around the water, but admits he couldn’t appreciate his upbringing until he moved away to go to college. He soon realized how great it was to live close to the water and started to miss it and knew he wanted to return to New Buffalo and be a part of the family business.
“I’ve been involved since I was like knee high,” says Jim with a laugh. “I was pumping gas back when I was in junior high and have been full time since 1992, so 27 years.”
In the 80s, Jim’s dad Ronald Oselka, his uncle Rolland Oselka and some others developed dockominiums, followed by organizing the Moorings Association and through the mid 90s continued to develop the rest of the harbor. In 2006 the Marina Grand Resort was developed, which is a condo hotel where all of the units are owned, but it operates as a full-service hotel right on the water.
The marina has nearly 1,000 slips and it is nestled behind sand dunes, which offer a safe and sheltered area to protect your boat. And with no bridges or trips up a river, you really are just minutes to Lake Michigan.
Part of being a full-service marina includes slips, storage, and marina service, plus there is even a valet program where the marina gets your boat ready for you to go out.
“And we do boat and PWC rentals as well as yacht cruises,” adds Jim. “And then the newest thing we’re just starting this year is we joined Carefree Boat Club, so we’re now operating Carefree Boat Club New Buffalo out of our harbor.”
The Carefree Boat Club is a boat membership club where you pay an initiation fee as well as a monthly fee and then you have all of the benefits of owning a boat, without having to own a boat. You can use the boats that are in the club, which to start off is going to be three boats.
“One is going to be a bow rider, one’s a cruiser, and the other is going to be a triple pontoon,” says Jim. “It’s a ten-to-one ratio in Carefree Boat Club, so for every ten members you have a boat. We have three boats, but once we have more than 31 members we’ll be buying another one.”
What makes the Carefree Boat Club so convenient is you just have to go online or use the phone app to make your reservation then fill it up with gas when you’re done and that’s it. You don’t have to worry about any of the other responsibilities that come with boating and the marina estimates it’s about the third of the cost of buying a boat.
The legacy and vision of Paul Oselka lives on today as the next generation of family members including Taylor Oselka, Jonathan Keller and Andrew Keller, are stepping up to build on the foundation of Oselka Marina and to help make this the best family-owned and operated marina on Lake Michigan.
For More Information
514 West Water Street
New Buffalo, MI 49117
269 469 2600
Carefree Boat Club