Frankfort readies for boaters; new ownership at Jacobson’s and renovations at MacDonald Marine

BENZIE CO. – There aren't many Lake Michigan towns quite like the deep water port of Frankfort. Long a haven for boaters of all kinds, and a summer destination for many, the local marinas are gearing up for another season.

Jacobson's Marina Resort, which sits just behind the downtown city block, is opening under new ownership and with added amenities. John Sarya is living out his childhood dream of wanting to be on the water and offering a full-service marina for those traveling up the coast.

"This is my life-long passion. I grew up spending summers on our family boat at Clinch Park in Traverse City and have been a seasonal boater here in Frankfort for the past eight years. I hated it whenever I had to leave, so now I am here for good!" he said. "When the marina became available, it was close to being snatched up by developers, we made an offer, put a lot of time and money in to it, and closed in February. I plan on keeping it for at least 20 years."

With 49 boat slips, Jacobson's is the only large boat marina between Ludington and Mackinaw that can accommodate larger yachts in the 60 – 100' range.

"There are a lot of people traveling out there by boat, making the Great Lakes loop around the state. There is definitely a market for it," Sarya said.

The new owners have added an outdoor pool and hot tub, a deli, a newly renovated ship's store with a full line of Costa Del Mar sunglasses, updated restrooms, a family recreation room with home theatre – all of which will be open daily all summer and open to the public as well as boaters.

With accommodations available to both seasonal and traveling boaters, Sarya is optimistic about his first summer as a harbormaster.

"Last year was one of the better years for boat traffic. We are expecting even better this year and are preparing for it."

Just up the road with a sweeping view of the Betsie Bay and the big lake, MacDonald Marine is continuing with the transformation that began last year when Jason and Jared MacDonald became the new owners. MacDonald Marine specializes in fishing and pontoon boats and personal watercrafts. This year, customers will be pleasantly surprised with changes that include a newly-renovated showroom, two new product lines that include Chaparral and Harris Flote-Bote, and expanded lines of boating products and accessories.

Young, energetic and ambitious, the brothers are also proud to be bringing five-star service to the northern Michigan boating industry by being the first Marine Industry Certified Dealership in the country. The program is a series of rigorous industry standards developed by boat manufacturers, dealers and engine builders as part of an effort to develop processes for meeting and exceeding customer expectations.

"Our staff works incredibly hard to make sure that all of our customers get the best experience possible. This certification proves how dedicated we are at being the best boat dealership in the area from purchase to service and beyond," Jason MacDonald said. BN

Open from Memorial to Labor Day, MacDonald Marine will be kicking off the boating season at their Memorial Weekend Boat Show, Sale & BBQ set for May 23-26. Check them out online at or call 231-352-7970.

Jacobson's is taking summer reservations; half of the slips are available to traveling boaters and half to seasonal renters. Call 231-620-0474, or visit the web site at