Ferries cut through ice on winter trips to Mackinac Island
ST. IGNACE, Mich. (WPBN/WGTU) -- Have you ever wondered how people get to Mackinac Island when the water around it is starting to freeze?
With temperatures well below freezing this week, there is a good amount of ice in the Straits of Mackinac.
Luckily the Star Line ferries have steel hulls strong enough to break though it.
Dozens of people ranging from locals, tourists and people working on the construction projects on Mackinac Island lined up for one of the fours daily trips from St. Ignace on Friday.
The cargo ranged from snowmobiles to bales of hay.
The ferry cuts its path between large plates of ice on its way out into the straits.
“I love it," said Steve Grimm, who was visiting the island. "I’m a boater so that’s why I’m up on the top watching this, because I think this is great."
“You don’t get to do this all the time," said Bil Myotte, another visitor.
On cold weeks, the ice can be a challenge for the ferry's captain and crew.
“The biggest thing is just the changing conditions," said Starline Ferry Mike North. "You can sometimes go every trip to the island all four trips a different route every time, sometimes we even have to go around the back side of the island.”
Passengers sitting outside were treated to a view of the islands snow-coated homes along the coast.
Some of the visitors plan to ring in the new year on Mackinac, and some just plan to relax and enjoy the island.
“My wife an I thought it would be cool, kind of a bucket list to come over to Mackinac Island in the winter,” Myotte said.
"My wife and I both own our own businesses and stress all the time and we found this three years ago and it’s going to be an annual thing,” Grimm said.
On arrival, cargo was whisked away on snowmobiles and some of the few remaining horses on the island.
If conditions permit, the ferry will run all winter long.
The ferry isn't the only way to get to Mackinac Island in the winter, there are also flights from St. Ignace.