2017-12-09 / Top News

Huron To Return to Service

By Jacob A. Ball


A technician from Burger Boat Works in Manitowoc, Wisconsin cuts out a damaged piece of the hull of the Huron to prepare it for a replacement piece. Mackinac Island’s traditional winter ferry is expected to be back in the Straits area by Saturday, December 9. (Photograph provided by Star Line) A technician from Burger Boat Works in Manitowoc, Wisconsin cuts out a damaged piece of the hull of the Huron to prepare it for a replacement piece. Mackinac Island’s traditional winter ferry is expected to be back in the Straits area by Saturday, December 9. (Photograph provided by Star Line) Star Line anticipates the Huron, its winter ferry undergoing repairs at Burger Boat Company in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, will be back in port late Saturday, December 9.

Burger’s crew has remained on schedule with repairs to the Huron’s bow and the stern, according to Star Line Chief Executive Jerry Fetty. Once it returns, the ferry will have to undergo a U.S. Coast Guard inspection before it resumes service between St. Ignace and Mackinac Island.

Star Line will send mechanics and a crew who will prepare the Huron for its Coast Guard inspection during the return trip from Wisconsin, which will take 16 to 18 hours. This, Mr. Fetty said, is hoped to speed up the process. An inspection takes about four days, so the ferry could be back in service around Friday, December 15.

Mr. Fetty said the date by which the Huron resumes its crossings, however, also will be affected by such factors as the weather, unanticipated additional repairs that must be made, and how soon Coast Guard inspectors are available.

In the meantime, Star Line is using the Ottawa, newly equipped with a heated lower deck enclosure, as the Huron’s temporary replacement. The warm retrofit, which has won compliments from passengers, makes the Ottawa a handy replacement should the company ever need to take the Huron out of service again, Mr. Fetty said.

Star Line used its Mackinac Express catamaran for four daily round-trips between the Island and St. Ignace from November 1 until Friday, December 1, when it was retired for the winter. The Express can’t operate in winter because it has an aluminum hull, too light for icy conditions.

The ferry company used a new texting service to announce its switch to the Ottawa for St. Ignace - Mackinac Island service this month. Regular ferry passengers now can stay abreast of schedule changes by subscribing to the service: simply text WINTERSERVICE to 41411 from a mobile phone.

Star Line’s freight boat, Anna May, is undergoing repairs at the mill slip in St. Ignace. While its repairs are comparable to those of Huron – replacing damaged areas of the hull – the work can be done locally because it weighs less that the Huron and could be hoisted out of the water using the company’s travel lift at the mill slip. Star Line also is converting half the Anna May’s lower deck to accommodate a refrigeration unit.

Return to top

Click here for digital edition
2017-12-09 digital edition