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Wednesday, June 19, 2024 at 6:20 AM

Navigating THE STRAITS

Freighters, from 600-footers to 1,000-footers, are always a sight to see as they pass through the Straits. These vessels carry loads of iron ore, coal, grain, and other cargo, and some can carry over 70,000 tons. As they navigate among ports on the Great Lakes, they use the Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie, 45 miles north of St. Ignace. The Locks offer tours and make a great day trip. A common sight in the waters, ferries make hourly trips to and from Mackinac Island. Check their schedules for special lighthouse cruises or rides under the Mackinac Bridge. The Straits host several sailing races each year. One of the most popular is the Chicago to Mackinac Yacht Race. From multiple day races, races around Mackinac Island, or pleasure trips, sails adorn the Straits throughout the summer.
Navigating THE STRAITS

The general definition of a “Mackinaw Boat” refers to small, open sailboats used in the Straits of Mackinac. These boats are designed with rather flat bottoms and shallow drafts, allowing them to be pulled up easily onto shore. Remarkably steady, they made the perfect vessel for transporting people and goods. As the standard work boat in this area during the early 18th century, the “Mackinaw Boat” made its mark in history.


“Edith Jane”

Built in St. Ignace about 1899, the “Edith Jane” is a typical “Mackinaw Boat” made with pine planks with an oak frame. Her dimensions are 19’8” long, has a 6’4” beam and has a 1’6” draft. Later converted to power, she was originally built by the Chenier family, who settled in the area around 1830. Michilimackinac Historical Society donated Edith Jane to the City of St. Ignace, and she now rests on display in a viewing building downtown next to B.C. Pizza.


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