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Friday, April 8, 2011

"Where Is the Car Ferry?"


The driver of the BATA bus (Bay Area Transportation Authority) knows there isn’t a car ferry across Grand Traverse Bay from Northport to Eastport, so doubtless he was merely keeping to his schedule, using the few minutes between legs of his trip to enjoy muted morning light on the water. (It was an overcast after a bright dawn earlier.) But just imagine if there were a ferry. I like the sound of Northport to Eastport, but since Eastport doesn’t have a harbor or docks and Charlevoix is more of a boaters’ destination, how about Northport-Charlevoix? If you’re on the east end of my proposed route, you would probably call the route Charlevoix-Northport. I don’t care. The boat would run both ways.

What would it mean to the communities it served? Northport would no longer be at the end of the road. Instead we would be part of an Up North loop. People would no longer have to decide between Leelanau and the Other Side but could do both in one vacation. It would cut the distance from Northport to the Mackinac Bridge. (We wouldn’t avoid Traverse City. No, not at all. I imagine leaving for the U.P. by taking the ferry across and coming home with a drive around the whole beautiful bay.) And ferries are an adventure. Who doesn’t love being out on the water, in the sun and breeze—or bundled up against a chill fog? Kids love it and would remember it all their lives. Parents would say, “Remember when we took the ferry to Northport?”

I’ve been talking about my ferry idea for years, and people laugh and think I’m joking. I’m not joking. Now, where are the investors with vision to make it happen?

10 comments:

Mike and MB said...

I would LOVE to ride that ferry...back and forth...all summer long.

Gerry said...

You know I'd be on it. Maybe we could get a triangular route going. Northport to Elk Rapids and up to Charlevoix and back to Northport . . . three communities to share the investment.

If Eastport had anything resembling a harbor I'd go out and start building the dock myself. It really doesn't, though. That's pretty much what happened to the entrepreneurial dreams of the turn of the last century.

P. J. Grath said...

Elk Rapids, too? I hadn't thought of that. See, Gerry, you always have great ideas!

Dawn said...

I road the ferry from Milkwaukee to Ludington one fall. Was excited to do it. Though it would be one of the best parts of our trip. Ferry was late due to weather. Should have been a clue. Started getting sick as we left the harbor. 5 hours of pure..well you know. Laugh about it now. Not so much at the time. LOL

P. J. Grath said...

You would not get sick on our ferry, Dawn. It would not go out on the Big Lake; it would stay in the Bay.

P. J. Grath said...

Mike & MB, I've finally figured out who you are--I think!

D. Bell said...

Pamela,
I, too, am a ferry advocate. From the perspective of the wineries and the wine public I have thought that a ferry from Peshawbestown (plans for a new marina) to the DNR launch on Old Mission would be ideal to alleve some of the traffic congestion in TC as well as provide an "on the water" experience for the wine trail. Okay, link to Northport...I have researched used car ferries on line and there are lots of them. My thoughts included the involvement of the GT Band because it seems they would be most likely to be able to obtain a grant for the purchase of the ferry. Clearing that hurdle, rider fees could potentially cover operational costs.
Count me in on any exploratory group to get this moving!!

P. J. Grath said...

David, this is a very interesting modification. Of course, I want one end of a ferry line in Northport, my chief concern being Northport, but I too thought about having tribal members, if not the Band, involved. I told tribal friends of mine who fish commercially and who love being on the water that if they get tired of fishing they should consider operating a ferry. Another idea would be the Short Line between Peshawbestown and Old Mission and the Long Line between Northport and Charlevoix. I do think this idea has "legs" and am glad you think so, too.

Susan said...

I'm supportive, too. put me on the committee as well.

P. J. Grath said...

This and more, Susan, on Wednesday, 5/13, 7 p.m. at the Fire Hall. Meet Chris Blessing, who is doing his senior project on the car ferry idea for Northport.