2011-04-09 / News

Crunching Through Ice To Open Ferry Season


Pictured are (from left) St. Ignace Mayor Paul Grondin, Mackinac Island Mayor Margaret Doud, Bob Brown of Arnold Line, St. Ignace City Manager Eric Dodson, and Captain Keith Duffton following the Huron’s first trip of the season. Pictured are (from left) St. Ignace Mayor Paul Grondin, Mackinac Island Mayor Margaret Doud, Bob Brown of Arnold Line, St. Ignace City Manager Eric Dodson, and Captain Keith Duffton following the Huron’s first trip of the season. Arnold Transit began operations for the season Wednesday, March 30, with a 45-minute boat trip that took passengers around the northern side of the Island to St. Ignace to avoid packed ice near Round Island Passage.

“It’s a sign that spring is really here,” said passenger Mackinac Island Mayor Margaret Doud upon departing the Huron.

“It’s great to see this link back after a long winter,” added St. Ignace City Manager Eric Dodson, who greeted Mayor Doud on the mainland, along with St. Ignace Mayor Paul Grondin.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to welcome Mayor Doud to the mainland and talk to her for awhile,” said Mayor Grondin.


The heavy plate ice is no deterrent for the 55-year-old Huron as she crushes through the frozen surface nearing the Arnold Transit dock in St. Ignace Wednesday morning, March 30. The Mill Slip is visible in the background. The steel-hulled vessel passes a lone Christmas tree stuck in the ice, a remnant of this winter’s ice bridge, on her way to completing the first trip of the season, arriving from Mackinac Island at 9:25 a.m. The heavy plate ice is no deterrent for the 55-year-old Huron as she crushes through the frozen surface nearing the Arnold Transit dock in St. Ignace Wednesday morning, March 30. The Mill Slip is visible in the background. The steel-hulled vessel passes a lone Christmas tree stuck in the ice, a remnant of this winter’s ice bridge, on her way to completing the first trip of the season, arriving from Mackinac Island at 9:25 a.m. Prior to tying up at the Arnold dock, Bob Brown, Arnold general manager, watched the vessel cut through the harbor ice as it neared the dock. The path the boat followed was carved Tuesday afternoon, yet the crunching sound of the ice still filling the passageway was audible as boat’s steel hull pushed the chunks to the side. The Huron’s captain, Keith Duffton, said the trip was smooth sailing except for the St. Ignace harbor and he’s glad to be out on the water again.

“It feels good to be back,” he added.

Late afternoon Tuesday, the Huron, piloted by Jim Brown, cut a path through the ice near St. Ignace in preparation for the season, said Bob Brown.

“It was a real challenge breaking our way out,” he said. “We had to back up and go forward. We could only get about a quarter of a boat length every time into the ice. It took us about two hours, but we finally got out to the open water. It’s tough going. It’s probably a little bit early, but we can make her.”

Until more of the ice clears, Mr. Brown said passengers should call and check the schedule, which could change due to conditions. Up-to-date information can be obtained from the Arnold Transit office at (906) 847-3351. For now, the ferry company is running four trips a day from St. Ignace at 7:30 a.m., 9 a.m., noon, and 4:15 p.m. From Mackinac Island, the Huron leaves at 8:15 a.m., 10 a.m., 1 p.m., and 5 p.m. The first boat does not run on Sundays and beginning Monday, April 11, the schedule will change to five trips daily. Star Line tickets can be used to travel on Arnold Transit boats.

Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry began St. Ignace service Tuesday, April 5. Travel to Mackinac Island is at 7:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 4:15 p.m. Travel from Mackinac Island is at 8 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., and 5 p.m.

Star Line will begin offering ferry service from St. Ignace Monday, April 25. Arnold Line tickets can then also be used for Star Line travel.

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