JULY 13, 2015 — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder yesterday christened the newest addition to the Shepler's Mackinac Island Ferry fleet, the $3.8 million, 85-foot Miss Margy. It is the first ferry to be built in northern Michigan in recent memory. In the past, a number of ferries were built at now-defunct shipyards in the state.
Final work on Miss Margy is being done in a huge tent that has been attached temporarily to the Shepler's Marine Service building in Mackinaw City, MI, where the christening was held.
The state-of-the-art, 281-passenger ferry was built by Moran Iron Works in Onaway, MI, and construction included the products and services of 20 Michigan companies.
The ferry company's CEO, Bill Shepler, was determined to keep work on the company's sixth and largest passenger ferry in Michigan.
"When my parents - including my mother, Margaret, Miss Margy's namesake - started this business, they never dreamed that 70 years later they would be helping to lead one of the most robust tourism economies in the nation," Mr. Shepler said. "The state and this region have been crucial to the success of our third-generation business, and we wanted to make sure we gave something back.
""The new Miss Margy represents the best of what makes Michigan great - local businesses partnering to achieve a strong economy," Governor Snyder said. "It's great to have a ferry built right here in northern Michigan, and Shepler's new investment will have a great impact on the local economy, helping to continue the job growth in this region for years to come."
The new ferry will make her maiden voyage to Mackinac Island later this summer. It features an air-conditioned cabin, as well as a ventilation system to remove interior condensation from windows during inclement weather. The ferry has a top speed of about 40 mph.
Tom Moran, CEO and founder of Moran Iron Works, said the project had been "a wonderful challenge" for his crew. Construction completed over the first four months of the year required some 12,000 man hours on Moran's shop floor.
"This is a great day for Michigan and a proud accomplishment for the Moran Iron Works family," Mr. Moran said. "We appreciate the trust the Shepler family placed in us to provide them a quality, made-in-Michigan product."
Among the challenges Moran faced was getting the 135,000-pound ferry from the shop in Onaway to Moran's Port Calcite Collaborative, a deep-water port in Rogers City. The ferry was loaded onto a semi-trailer to make the 21-mile journey along back roads in late May.
Miss Margy was then lifted by crane into the water and piloted by Mr. Shepler and his son, Billy, Shepler's fleet captain, the 50 miles to Mackinaw City for final outfitting.