Shepler's Ferry 'Miss Margy' Makes First Land Voyage
The newest addition to the Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry fleet, the $3.8 million, 85-foot Miss Margy, will hit the road today for her maiden voyage aboard a semi-trailer moving between Moran Iron Works in Onaway to Rogers City.
The all-aluminum ferry, constructed at Moran, will be carefully transported across 21 miles of backroads where utility wires have been erected high enough to allow passage to Moran’s deep-water Port Calcite Collaborative.
“The entire crew has been relentless during the process of constructing Miss Margy,” said Tom Moran, CEO and founder of Moran Iron Works. “A mixture of determination, excitement and attention to last-minute details has been mounting as we approached this day. We all knew what this ferry would look like when we started construction, but no one imagined just how magnificent she would look when completed."
Over the next few days, a crane will lift Miss Margy into the water and Shepler’s CEO Bill Shepler will pilot the ferry, named after his mother, to the Shepler’s dock in Mackinaw City. He’ll be accompanied on the 50-mile journey by his son, Billy, the company’s fleet captain.
Once at the dock on Friday, she’ll be decked out in an eye-catching banner so that the hundreds of attendees at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference can see her on their return trip to the mainland. Shepler’s is providing ferry service for the annual conference, which attracts the state’s leading political leaders, including Gov. Rick Snyder and legislators from across the state.
“We’re eager for our guests to see this state-of-the-art ferry, which will be at their service later this summer, once she’s painted and outfitted for passenger comfort,” said Bill Shepler. “I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Shepler’s 70th year in operation and our pride in being a third-generation Michigan business.”
The ferry will be christened by Gov. Snyder and Bill Shepler during a special ceremony in Mackinaw City on July 12. She will carry her first passengers a few weeks later.
The 281-passenger ferry includes an air-conditioned cabin, as well as a ventilation system to remove interior condensation from windows – important amenities for passengers during extremely warm or inclement weather. The ferry, Shepler’s largest, will have a top speed of about 40 mph. Shepler’s currently has a fleet of five passenger ferries and one cargo vessel.
Although ferries are usually constructed in ship-building centers such as Louisiana and Wisconsin, Shepler’s wanted to keep the work in Michigan and partnered with Moran to get the job done.
“Construction has required some 12,000 man hours on the shop floor over the last four months, keeping a crew of 13 plenty busy,” said Jason Willis, project manager at Moran. “Both Moran and Shepler’s have an amazing amount of local talent to have completed such an incredible project.”
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