The 2019 season marks the 50th anniversary of vessel the Straits of Mackinac II. A historic fixture of the straits since 1969, the Straits of Mackinac II has led a long, interesting career on the great lakes. Her journey began while she sat as a plain, steel hull dubbed Hull #150. Hull #150 was constructed by Blount Boats of Rhode Island. She was originally built to replace the Straits of Mackinac – a wooden ferry run by Straits Transit, Inc. and used to carry cars across the straits before the construction of the Mackinac Bridge – and thus she was christened “Straits of Mackinac II” to honor her predecessor, but is now commonly abbreviated to the Straits II. She features a fully steel hull measuring 89’11’’ long and 27’ wide with a 7’ draft, this allows her the space to carry up to 350 passengers making her one of the largest ferries Star Line’s fleet and the Straits of Mackinac.
The Straits II was owned and operated by Straits Transit from 1969 until Arnold Line bought out the company in 1977. She made trips from the mainland to the Yoder Dock across from the Island House Hotel and to the Main dock on Mackinac Island now called dock #1 during her time in their care. The Straits II then changed hands once more in 2016 when Star Line, the current operator of the Straits of Mackinac II, purchased her as a part of an acquisition agreement with Arnold Line and now she primarily runs from Mackinaw City to Star Line’s Dock #1 on the Island.
She is primarily piloted by Captain Sean Edwards who became a part of the Star Line family in the 2018 summer season. An avid historian of the vessels of the straits, Captain Sean worked at Arnold Line from 2001 to 2006 earning his license in 2004 when he began to pilot the Ottawa and the Huron – two other vessels of the Classics line. When he was invited to join Star Line in 2018 as a captain of the Classics, he gladly accepted saying recently that “I’ve always enjoyed running her. She has plenty of power and makes the run quickly. … Due to her sharp bow, she slices through a sea and rarely has spray on the bow.” Star Line is happy to welcome Captain Sean back this summer to pilot our Classics line and Captain Sean says he’s “…very glad to see the attention given to the boats by Star Line and [I] look forward to another very enjoyable season this year.”
While she was once considered a speedster of the straits with a travel time to Mackinac Island at 30 minutes, she is now outpaced by Star Line’s Catamaran and Hydro Jet Ferries which make the trip in only 18 minutes. You can find her giving leisurely rides to the island from the Star Line Dock #1 in St. Ignace as a part of Star Line’s Classics boat line – a relaxed, cheaper ferry option perfect for sightseers and photographers. This leisurely ride combined with her deck space and stability makes her perfect for running privately chartered and scheduled cruises throughout the summer. She is a popular option for wedding charters due to her guest capacity. Scheduled cruises this season include a weekly Spirits and Sparklers Cruise running out of St. Ignace every Saturday night starting June 29th and running until August 31st along with the Les Cheneaux Wooden Boat Show cruise in August.
As the Straits of Mackinac II cruises into the summer season for her 50th year, she carries with her the rich history of the straits area. Star Line hopes to continue her legacy for many years to come and they are starting strong by completing multiple updates for the 2019 summer season. These updates include lots of welding, a fresh coat of paint in the colors of red, white, and blue to better represent the Star Line brand and complete rebuilds for both Cummings engines creating a smoother ride through 2019. But a fresh makeover is not the only way the Straits II is celebrating her big 5-0; Star Line will have two Birthday Bash cruises to celebrate this milestone! They will be held on Friday, July 26th and Saturday, July 27th during Star Line’s regular Sunset and Fireworks cruise times. The Birthday Bashes will feature a tap take over with brews by the New Holland Brewing Company located in Grand Rapids, MI., Live music by Pat Springsteen along with other festivities. The Straits of Mackinac II can certainly look forward to a summer of celebration!
Star Line Customer Service Representative