Monday, February 12, 2007

Part VII: The Isle Royale Queen IV

And so we come to the latest (last?) ferryboat to sail between Copper Harbor and Isle Royale National Park: the Isle Royale Queen IV.

She was purchased in Cape Canaveral, Florida, and sailed to the Harbor via the Tom Bigbee Waterway , Mississippi River, Illinois River, and Lake Michgan. She made her maiden voyage to Isle Royale on June 20, 2005.

Fabricated of aluminum and powered by three 12v71 Detroit Diesels, she makes the trip in 3 hours flat and at 100-feet by 20-feet she is roomy, warm, and comfortable. The picture was taken as she left on a sunset cruise, somnething we do every evening after returning from the island. Inasmuch as I am retired from sailing, we alternate the responsibility of captain among our three sons, Captains Don, Ben and John. This year, 2007, starts the 37th year since we bought the business. None of us ever looked back.

We like to remind everyone that, "more people visit Yellowstone Natonal park in one day than visit Isle Royale National Park in a whole summer. alone with us."

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Part VI: The Isle Royale Queen III

In 1989, the Isle Royale Queen II was returned to the Vinette Boat Company to be lengthened to 81-feet simply by adding 24 feet to the stern.
The design was done by Naval Architect Timothy Graul of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. who also guided the Coast Guard testing and approval process. The vessel was re-christened the Isle Royale Queen III. The lengthening great improved the Queen's ability to take on high seas without diving and cork-screwing, a plunging motion which brough on a lot of seasickness resulkting in a variety of names: Barf Barge, Chuck Wagon, etc. The following year, the Queen III was repowered with twin Caterpillar engines.

The picture above shows her with a substantial "bone in her teeth." a phrase used by Great Lakes Captains to describe steamboats under full power. Like the Queen II before her, the Queen III was seaworthy; she handled everything Lake Superior dished up.

Part V: Isle Royale Queen II

In 1955, after a successful career as a miner, commercial fisherman, and ferryboat owner and operator, Charlie Kauppi died. The Kauppi family sold the Copper Queen to the Sievertson family of Grand Portage, Minnesota, where she was re-christened Voyageur and put into service from Grand Portage to Isle Royale. The family also sold the Isle Royale Queen I to Capt. Ward Grosnick, a commercial fisherman out of Ripley, Michigan. Ward continued to sail the Queen I from Copper Harbor to Isle Royale from 1955 to 1959 when he had the T. D. Vinette Boat Company of Escanaba, Michigan, build the Isle Royale Queen II. The picture above is the Queen II being hauled down the main street of Escanaba on her way to the marina for launching. I am told by T.D. that the schoolchildren were excused so that they could watch her going by. When the Queen II was put into service, Ward sold the Queen I to a private party.

The Isle Royale Queen II was designed by Naval Architect Walter Haertel of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. She was 57-feet in length with an 18-foot beam, fabricated of steel, and powered by three Gray Marine engines (later re-powered with twin Cummins). Marine Surveyor Capt. F. Manzzutti described her as follows: "...she was specially designed, staunch, graceful, open water long-voyage, heavy weather ferry...with a gracefully raked stem; streamline, contour, elliptical after-splay; tumble-home transom; rounded forefoot; slightly flared , raised bow; straight sides; vee bow merging to semi-modest vee bottom to midship thence to a near-flat bottom to the reinforced transom area."

Ward and his sons ran the Queen II until May, 1971, when he sold both the boat and business to the Donald Kilpela family of Livonia, Michigan. Pictured below is the Isle Royale Queen II taken in 1975 as she lay aside the Rock Harbor dock on Isle Royale National Park.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Part IV: Charlie's 2nd and 3rd Boat

Pictured here are Kauppi's next two ferryboats, the Copper Queen and the Isle Royale Queen I.

After several years operating the Water Lily to Isle Royale, Kauppi determined that he needed to expand. Accordingly, in about 1936, he contracted with a local boat builder to fabricate the wooden hulled, 48-foot Copper Queen, a handsome yacht-like craft with a straight stem and a slightly rounded transom. Her fairing was exceptionally graceful from stem to stern. There is a nice picture of her in my first post. In the meantime, he sold the Water Lily to Ed Olson of Eagle Harbor (see my last post).

Unfortunately, the U.S.Coast Guard was beginning to enforce construction standards for ferryboats of the Great Lakes and Kauppi's beautiful new boat, because it lacked watertight bulkheads below the weatherdeck, was not certified to carry passengers for hire. Not to be stopped, Kauppi just continued carrying passengers as though they were on a private charter, with the "charter" consisting of the passengers who arrived each morning prior to sailing. The Copper Queen took 6-1/2 hours to sail the 56 statute miles to the island where he would stay overnight and return the next morning. In addition to Rock Harbor (see the NPS web site,, he would make stops at Belle Isle, where there was a lodge, and other coves and ports on the island. In addition, he would on occasion make a trip to Canada to what is now called Thunder Bay. The price for a round trip at that time was $5.00.

The increasing demand to go to the island convinced Charlie to add to his fleet. Within two years, he acquired the 52-foot, wooden hulled combination fishing and passenger boat and christened her the Isle Royale Queen I. This boat was certified by the USCG and Charlie could now legally operate a set schedule to the island and back. He ran both boats as well as his commercial fishing business until his death in 1955 at which time the Copper Queen was sold to the Grand Portage-Isle Royale Transportation Service and was re-christened the Voyageur where she served the island from Grand Portage, Minnesota. The Isle Royale Queen I was sold to Capt. Ward Grosnick of Copper Harbor who continued to run scheduled passenger service to the island.