Thanks to Mlive for this:
HOUGHTON, MI – After a couple decades spent driving ships, being a lifeboat operator and working search and rescue in the U.S. Coast Guard, Jason Swain found that a certain gorgeous piece of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula really captured his imagination.
When he retired from military service recently, he knew the Keweenaw Peninsula was where he wanted to create his Keweenaw Boat Tours business. His goal: Show off the area’s raw beauty to both first-time visitors and people who love it just as much as he does.
Because when you’re talking about the huge curve of the Keweenaw Waterway, the best way to see it is comfortably settled into a boat – and with someone who can highlight the history and bits of wildness that still exist here.
“The Keweenaw is a totally different experience,” Swain said of the 25-mile long waterway which bisects Michigan’s northernmost peninsula, creating what some call “Copper Island” at the end of that land form. The waterway’s northwestern end meets the open water of Lake Superior, while its southeastern end touches the more sheltered waters of Keweenaw Bay. “We are the western U.P., and the scenery of the waterway is a one-of-a-kind thing.”
Swain launched Keweenaw Boat Tours this year and has already shown passengers the magic of spring waterfalls and the soaring sandstone cliffs this area of the Upper Peninsula is known for.
His 24-foot long pontoon boat can carry up to six passengers, which makes for smaller, more intimate trips for families or friend groups.
A few of the current tour options include:
Lighthouse Tour: Motor into Keweenaw Bay to see the Jacobsville Lighthouse, built in 1869. Passengers will also get to view this area’s glacier-carved sandstone cliffs up close, as the tour boat can travel through shallow water.
Sunset Cruise: Passengers will head northwest through the waterway toward “The Breakers” area near Lake Superior. The sunsets here have a wow factor for locals and visitors alike.
Custom Tour: Have someplace special in mind? Talk to Swain about what you’d like to see or where you’d like to explore and he’ll build a custom itinerary for everything from a bachelorette party to an anniversary or friends group cruise.
On all these cruises, Swain will give passengers some information on the area’s history, the wildlife along the shore and tidbits about the waterway. All tours leave from the City Dock in downtown Houghton. The pontoon has a shaded top for those who want to stay out of the sun.
Swain provides an ice-filled cooler on board so passengers can bring their own food and drinks. There’s also a Bluetooth speaker system available so guests can play their favorite music.
During Swain’s time with the Coast Guard, he not only operated ships, but worked the law enforcement side. Some of his Great Lakes posts included Tawas, Charlevoix and Station Portage along the Keweenaw Waterway. After he retired from active duty, Swain, a Plymouth, Michigan native, said he and his wife decided they wanted to stay connected to this place.
“We love the area for obvious reasons,” he said, talking about the natural beauty and the pull of being on the water. “I love the history behind Lake Superior and the Great Lakes. And you can’t see this stuff unless you are on a boat.”
Swain has also been a full-time captain for a research vessel for Michigan Technological University that makes trips out to Isle Royale. With his pontoon tour boat, he’s also signed on to handle some shore excursions for the new Viking Octantis ship that is cruising the Great Lakes.