Mackinac Island, Michigan

Mackinac Island is a beautiful vacation resort island in Northern Michigan.

There are no motor vehicles allowed on Mackinac. You walk, bike, or take a horse-drawn carriage.

Water ferries shuttle people from the mainland of Mackinaw City out to Mackinac Island, which is about 7 miles out in Lake Huron.

Mackinac Island, Michigan

Thanks to Mlive for this:

ONAWAY, MI – This spring, the newest addition to Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry fleet will be leaving its construction site at Moran Iron Works in Onaway and heading to the deep waters of Port Calcite in Roger’s City.

The $4 million jet-driven boat will then motor north to join its island-hopping family operation.

Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry

Shepler’s recently released some photos of its new ferry under construction. The new ferry’s name, the William Richard, is a hat-tip to Shepler’s CEO Bill Shepler, 87.

While he now leaves the day-to-day business operations to his children, he can still be seen helping passengers on the ferry docks during Shepler’s spring-to-fall season.

Instead of propellers, this boat will be powered by four jet drives for a smoother, faster ride.

Supplied by HamiltonJet of New Zealand, this is the first time the company’s jet products will be used on the U.S. side of the Great Lakes.

Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry

Here are some more Fast Ferry Facts:

  • Capacity: 210 passengers
  • Speed: 30 mph
  • Weight: 60 tons
  • Length: 84 feet
  • Width: 20 feet, 3 inches
Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry

Amenities will include being wheelchair-accessible, having a large aft deck for luggage, bikes and strollers, and enhanced climate control for passenger comfort.

The William Richard’s construction brings the ferry service’s total new investment in Northern Michigan to $12.8 million over the past six years. Part of this investment was its last new ferry, the $3.8 million Miss Margy, which made her debut in 2015. That project was also a Moran Iron Works build job.

Other recent upgrades include a new dock on Mackinac Island, right next to the Waterfront Collection South hotel. There’s also a new ticket office, lighting and upgraded speaker system.

On the mainland bases of Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, Shepler’s added new buses with bigger luggage compartments to service customers during the ferry season. Parking areas also have been recently upgraded.

Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry

For the new ferry, Moran Iron Works was the best fit for the job because it specializes in one-of-a-kind fabrication jobs, Shepler’s staff said.

Construction will require some 13,000 man hours on the shop floor at Moran Iron Works before the ferry is moved to Port Calcite in Roger’s City in mid-March, frost laws permitting,” the ferry service said.

“Traditionally, ferries are built in the shipyards of Wisconsin, the Atlantic seaboard or the Gulf Coast, but Moran Iron Works is changing that with its inland facility and high-wire corridor to Port Calcite in Roger’s City.

Shepler’s Ferry is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.

Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry

Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry


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