Getting To The Lights

Questions about how to get to the island and where to stay near points of departure.

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CHUCKX53
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Getting To The Lights

Post by CHUCKX53 » Sun Aug 29, 2010 3:02 am

Greetings, Ye Adventurers of Isle Royale.....

I came across this site by accident while looking for information on the the area. I should explain.....

My wife and I are lighthouse photographers (I do most of the shots, she does most of the scheduling). For the past decade, we have been on a mission to photograph all of the U.S. Great Lakes Lighthouses. Currently, we have done 282 of those lights out of 286. The last 4 are in Lake Superior, 3 of them in and around the Isle Royale area.....Rock Harbor, Menagerie Island, and Passage Island.

We have been to the west side of Isle Royale, back in September, 2004 aboard the Wenonah out of Grand Portage, where we passed by the Rock Of Ages light and photographed it at that time. We went on to Windigo and passed some time there, even got to see a moose taking a bath. We had thought we would return at some point, perhaps on one of the many GLLKA cruises that are done yearly. However, we missed one due to being scheduled elsewhere a couple-three years ago. We had hoped that the Keweenaw Star would make a return trip, but it seems they have moved their base of operations to Charlevoix from Houghton this past year, and have had nothing scheduled to Isle Royale in the foreseeable future.

Now, we don't have our own boat capable of sailing the Great Lakes, as we live 120 miles south of Lake Michigan in land-locked West-Central Indiana. So, we tagged on to Lighthouse cruises, sponsored by Shepler's out of Mackinaw City, then GLLKA (Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association) sponsored cruises, and also WILD (Wisconsin Lighthouse District) sponsored cruises. Along the way, we also were able to do some local cruises in Lake Michigan, Erie, Huron, and Superior as well, up until early 2007. After that, we hired private charters, mostly fishing charters, for the more obscure and hard to access lights that were off the beaten track. In this way, we were able to finish the offshore lights in Lake Huron (2007), Lake Michigan (2008), Lake Erie (2009), and Lake Ontario (2010), leaving only the Lake Superior lights of Grand Isle Old North and the three at Isle Royale to do.

This year, it came down to finishing up Lake Ontario or Lake Superior, and we elected to go with the ones up in Lake Ontario, as they we close together grouped in the NE part of the lake, and were easy to schedule. Both destinations are about equal in distance from us, about 700 miles driving distance. This cost us about $1500 for the 10 days we were gone, in gas, eats, lodging, and charter fees (Which came to about $400). Add into that a couple of shorter trips for retakes in Michigan and Wisconsin in July and August (about $600-$700 apiece), and we have reached our budget limit for this year. So, our planning is now being set for an assault on the remaining lighthouses in 2011.

So, I guess my question to you here would be....Is there any charters for hire, either on or off the island, that would take us to those 3 lights ? I am aware of the Ranger-led excursions to Passage Island and the Edisen Fishery / Rock Harbor light tours that are offered, but there is nothing out to the Menagerie Island Light. Getting to Rock Harbor Lodge seems easy enough, but how would we proceed from there to be able to access a pass-by of Menagerie ?

Any suggestions or information would be highly welcome. I'm looking forward to my second trip out to the island, and I'm looking to get just as great a shot as Moss13 did over in the Picture Gallery...... :mrgreen:
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Tom
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Re: Getting To The Lights

Post by Tom » Sun Aug 29, 2010 6:38 am

Hmmm. Interesting question. The biggest issue I think you might find is that I think anyone who's running such a service would probably need to be licensed as a concessionnaire with the National Park Service.

If you're planning on staying at Rock Harbor, then one option is to hire their fishing guide service. (http://www.isleroyaleresort.com/) - Details: http://foreverlodging.com/foreverinfo.c ... ntKey=3204

If you want to stay on the mainland (Minnesota) and just run a day trip, then hiring a local fishing charter is probably your way to go. I'd recommend contacting All Out Charters (http://www.alloutcharters.com/) and inquire. It's based out of Grand Portage, MN, and is operated by none-other than Capt Don, who also runs the Isle Royale Transportation Lines service. (Wenonah and Voyageur II.)


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Re: Getting To The Lights

Post by LeftOvers » Sun Aug 29, 2010 6:57 am

Voyager II out of Grand Portage (http://www.isleroyaleboats.com/default.asp) circumnavigates IR with a one night layover in Rock Harbor. If the weather is good and they don't have a stop at Malone Bay, they may go right past Menagerie Island. You might be able to talk them into a small diversion that way even if they are going to Malone Bay.

Rock Harbor Lodge (http://www.isleroyaleresort.com/) has their "water taxi" service, but I'm not sure they go beyond Chippewa Harbor and with the small boats they have (as far as I've seen), I'm not sure I'd want to take one on that much open lake.

The third suggestion would be to check out the seaplane (http://www.royaleairservice.com/). I don't think they'd try to set down on the open lake next to the lighthouse, but they'd probably do a few fly-overs for you.

Good luck.

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Re: Getting To The Lights

Post by Ingo » Sun Aug 29, 2010 7:43 am

This pic of Menagerie Island was taken from the Voyageur II which did stop at Malone Bay that day. That's with all or most of an approx 432mm equivalent zoom. Besides being dependent on the weather--some days you won't see it thru the fog--you go by pretty quickly at cruising speed so there's limited chances. But as a last resort, desperate to get a picture for the sake of picture, the Voyageur II would be an option. I would check out the other suggestions first, however. The only other option I know of is to kayak, although I would only suggest that to very experienced paddlers given the location.

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Re: Getting To The Lights

Post by CHUCKX53 » Mon Aug 30, 2010 7:54 pm

Thanks for the replies, fellas.....We're leaning towards a charter as the best way to do this. Our past charters have found the Captains friendly and accommodating, and knowledgeable about their areas. For all but one it was the first time they had taken out any Lighthouse Freaks such as ourselves.....But so far, we have had 100% success with charter boats. I have taken out small V-boats for some of the closer lights (once even a raft), but I'd rather leave the driving to to those who know best.

Looking at the Nav-Charts of the area around Menagerie Island, I'm sure that I could get up fairly close for the photos I have in mind. I also have a 300m zoom and a Tamaron 500m zoom for my cameras, so it shouldn't be much of a problem. The only variable, of course, is the weather, and I'll have to leave that up to providence.....

In looking up All-Out Charters and your very own Captain Don, I was impressed with what I see, and having you guys vouch for him also goes a long ways. We'll contact him to see what can be worked out.

Thanks again for the information. I'd kinda like to hang around the site and get to know Isle Royale better, and you as well. Now, I just need to see if I could dig out some Pics of our Windigo trip....They're around here somewhere.....
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Re: Getting To The Lights

Post by kfinnguy » Thu Sep 09, 2010 6:44 pm

As an lover of all the Great Lakes, the lighthouses, & the ore boats. I wish you well on your photo trip. I live near the Fairport Harbor lighthouses and frequent Conneaut Ohio which also has a lighthouse and a lot ore boats so I enjoy that stuff. Good luck!
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CHUCKX53
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Re: Getting To The Lights

Post by CHUCKX53 » Fri Sep 10, 2010 3:27 am

Stopping by Conneaut late last May, saw that people were accessing once again along the rip-rap breakwall out to the light.......

Since you're from Fairport, maybe you'd like to own one of the lights ? The Fairport Harbor West Breakwall lighthouse is once again up for sale under the terms of NHLPA (National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000). Public auction opened Aug. 16, and according to the GSA site the bid is now at $15,000, although expected to go higher.........

http://www.auctionrp.com/Property_details.cfm?id=1198

Story from The News-Herald, July 20, 2010........
In 2005, the Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Lighthouse, deemed excess by the Coast Guard, was offered at no cost to eligible entities, including federal, state, and local agencies, non-profit corporations, and educational organizations under the provisions of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000. The application period was extended, but no qualified taker was found, so the lighthouse was auctioned off by the General Services Administration. The auction began on September 28, 2009 and closed a month later on October 29, after ten bids were received by six different parties, with the winning bid of $77,000 being submitted by "samsloan." The winner was identified shortly thereafter as 87-year-old Mentor construction magnate Jerome Osborne, who apparently has a reputation for purchasing and restoring historic properties in the area.

In July of 2010, the General Services Administration declared Osborne’s purchase to be in default because he did not obtain a lease to use the federal breakwater adjoining the lighthouse. Osborne will lose his $10,000 deposit, and the lighthouse will be auctioned off again.
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Re: Getting To The Lights

Post by CHUCKX53 » Sun Oct 03, 2010 3:01 pm

Too Late....Bidding is over, that light has gone for $ 85,200 to a fellow in Texas.... :shock:
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Re: Getting To The Lights

Post by MikeT » Thu Nov 04, 2010 7:58 am

The Sandy will go as far as Malone Bay and they are flexible so I am am sure they would purposely swing by the light. It is a bit expensive though. They list prices on their website at: http://www.isleroyaleresort.com/ under "Water Taxi"

I can agree with all and vouch for Don and his charter. That is also going to be expensive. However, he may work with you in conjuction with a trip he already has planned or, he may purposely swing by with the Voyageur for pictures if you talk to him. He is a friendly guy. You may have to buy him a "pop" though.
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Re: Getting To The Lights

Post by kfinnguy » Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:52 pm

CHUCKX53 wrote:Too Late....Bidding is over, that light has gone for $ 85,200 to a fellow in Texas.... :shock:
Shame, but the Great Lakes are loved by many, and maybe he wanted his own piece of them.
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Re: Getting To The Lights

Post by CHUCKX53 » Thu Nov 25, 2010 8:07 am

An update on that....Looks like it will be up for auction again for a 3rd time next year...Story from the News-Hearld....
Lake County’s iconic lighthouse just can’t seem to attract a permanent owner.
For the second time since the federal government’s General Services Administration first put the Fairport Harbor lighthouse up for public auction, the successful bidder has backed out.
In the process, the most recent successful bidder has lost his registration deposit. This time Scott Monroe of Seabrook, Texas, is being declared in default by the GSA, forfeiting his $12,000 registration deposit.
GSA officials said that Monroe had mentioned financial difficulties that caused him to reassess his successful bid.
The Coast Guard aims to rid itself of all these Lighthouses eventually....Someday, it will be IR's turn......
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Re: Getting To The Lights

Post by johnhens » Thu Nov 25, 2010 1:26 pm

The Coast Guard aims to rid itself of all these Lighthouses eventually....Someday, it will be IR's turn......[/quote]


I'll be happy to take over Passage Island Light for them. Really.

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Re: Getting To The Lights

Post by CHUCKX53 » Mon Dec 20, 2010 4:35 pm

If it goes to public auction, it will probably start at a minimum 10K bid..... :mrgreen:
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Re: Getting To The Lights

Post by Barbieri Buli » Mon Jul 01, 2013 2:00 pm

CHUCKX53 wrote:Greetings, Ye Adventurers of Isle Royale.....

I came across this site by accident while looking for information on the the area. I should explain.....

My wife and I are lighthouse photographers (I do most of the shots, she does most of the scheduling). For the past decade, we have been on a mission to photograph all of the U.S. Great Lakes Lighthouses. Currently, we have done 282 of those lights out of 286. The last 4 are in Lake Superior, 3 of them in and around the Isle Royale area.....Rock Harbor, Menagerie Island, and Passage Island.

We have been to the west side of Isle Royale, back in September, 2004 aboard the Wenonah out of Grand Portage, where we passed by the Rock Of Ages
flashlight and photographed it at that time. We went on to Windigo and passed some time there, even got to see a moose taking a bath. We had thought we would return at some point, perhaps on one of the many GLLKA cruises that are done yearly. However, we missed one due to being scheduled elsewhere a couple-three years ago. We had hoped that the Keweenaw Star would make a return trip, but it seems they have moved their base of operations to Charlevoix from Houghton this past year, and have had nothing scheduled to Isle Royale in the foreseeable future.

Now, we don't have our own boat capable of sailing the Great Lakes, as we live 120 miles south of Lake Michigan in land-locked West-Central Indiana. So, we tagged on to Lighthouse cruises, sponsored by Shepler's out of Mackinaw City, then GLLKA (Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association) sponsored cruises, and also WILD (Wisconsin Lighthouse District) sponsored cruises. Along the way, we also were able to do some local cruises in Lake Michigan, Erie, Huron, and Superior as well, up until early 2007. After that, we hired private charters, mostly fishing charters, for the more obscure and hard to access lights that were off the beaten track. In this way, we were able to finish the offshore lights in Lake Huron (2007), Lake Michigan (2008), Lake Erie (2009), and Lake Ontario (2010), leaving only the Lake Superior lights of Grand Isle Old North and the three at Isle Royale to do.

This year, it came down to finishing up Lake Ontario or Lake Superior, and we elected to go with the ones up in Lake Ontario, as they we close together grouped in the NE part of the lake, and were easy to schedule. Both destinations are about equal in distance from us, about 700 miles driving distance. This cost us about $1500 for the 10 days we were gone, in gas, eats, lodging, and charter fees (Which came to about $400). Add into that a couple of shorter trips for retakes in Michigan and Wisconsin in July and August (about $600-$700 apiece), and we have reached our budget limit for this year. So, our planning is now being set for an assault on the remaining lighthouses in 2011.

So, I guess my question to you here would be....Is there any charters for hire, either on or off the island, that would take us to those 3 lights ? I am aware of the Ranger-led excursions to Passage Island and the Edisen Fishery / Rock Harbor light tours that are offered, but there is nothing out to the Menagerie Island Light. Getting to Rock Harbor Lodge seems easy enough, but how would we proceed from there to be able to access a pass-by of Menagerie ?

Any suggestions or information would be highly welcome. I'm looking forward to my second trip out to the island, and I'm looking to get just as great a shot as Moss13 did over in the Picture Gallery...... :mrgreen:
Exciting query. The greatest problem I think you may discover is that I think anyone who's operating such a assistance would probably need to be certified as a concessionnaire with the Nationwide Recreation area Service.
Last edited by Barbieri Buli on Tue Jul 09, 2013 8:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Getting To The Lights

Post by DonNewcomb » Tue Jul 02, 2013 9:23 am

Just a small segway. I sometimes wonder why people find lighthouses both fascinating and beautiful, even those that are patently ugly, but find oil platforms to be unsightly and repulsive. We have a group around where I live who want to keep any oil/gas production out of sight, "12 miles south" but also want to see decorative, non-functional, lighthouses built to enhance the beauty of our coast. Somehow, I fail to see the difference.

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