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Private Boat/Chartering a boat

Posted: Mon Jun 29, 2020 7:51 pm
by maximoose
Are there any individuals or private companies that can take a couple of people by boat to Isle Royale? And would this be cheaper than taking the seaplane?

Re: Private Boat/Chartering a boat

Posted: Mon Jun 29, 2020 7:59 pm
by Ingo
Not that I've ever heard of. They would have to be licensed by the park service to do business in the park (transporting paying passengers) and also be a licensed captain by the Coast Guard (to have paying passengers on a boat, anywhere).

Re: Private Boat/Chartering a boat

Posted: Mon Jun 29, 2020 9:07 pm
by backwoods doc
Might be worth checking with David Williams at Bear Track Outfitters in Grand Marais. I know he runs a charter boat service.

Re: Private Boat/Chartering a boat

Posted: Mon Jun 29, 2020 9:26 pm
by Midwest Ed
There are other charter boats available, licensed and authorized (by the park and the Coast Guard) to carry commercial passengers into park waters but they are for the purposes of fishing. Their rates would actually be more than the seaplane since their entire day is occupied rather than an hour or so with each plane trip. Plus I do not know any offering overnight excursions. Even if you could somehow disembark, good luck trying to get them to pick you back up. They could not knowingly get involved in any such thing without losing their park licensing.

I have a friend with a boat large enough that I was able to talk into a trip 20 years ago. It was a fantastic trip for my son and me. He's talked about going back but not this year. There are plenty of private boaters that make the trip each year but obviously they are somewhat difficult to find. I joined the Coast Guard Auxiliary to (unintentionally) find this friend. Living life has many unexpected rewards.

Re: Private Boat/Chartering a boat

Posted: Mon Jul 06, 2020 6:15 pm
by Capt Don
No commercial use authorizations allow passenger transportation, they are specifically limited to the activity applied for, (fishing, diving, backcounty guide and so on). Dave Williams does not transport people to the park, he uses the ferries, they have had a permit for guiding kayak trips. The airplane is the only park authorized operator to carry passengers to and from the park in 2020 as the ferries have cancelled the season in support of the park's anticipated full closure and are unable to reopen.

Re: Private Boat/Chartering a boat

Posted: Mon Jul 06, 2020 6:52 pm
by Midwest Ed
Capt Don wrote:
Mon Jul 06, 2020 6:15 pm
No commercial use authorizations allow passenger transportation, they are specifically limited to the activity applied for, (fishing, diving, backcounty guide and so on). Dave Williams does not transport people to the park, he uses the ferries, they have had a permit for guiding kayak trips. The airplane is the only park authorized operator to carry passengers to and from the park in 2020 as the ferries have cancelled the season in support of the park's anticipated full closure and are unable to reopen.
Capt. Don,
It may not even be happening, but do you know if normally park authorized fishing charters can still operate? Of course they would not be able to allow passengers to disembark. They would also need to follow whatever the present regulations are in place for their state of registration (Mich or Minn...and maybe Michigan even if from Minnesota since Isle Royale is part of Michigan).

Re: Private Boat/Chartering a boat

Posted: Tue Jul 07, 2020 8:16 pm
by Capt Don
With the exception of Rock Harbor Lodge fishing operation, I was the last charter operation to the island. I quit roughly 10 years ago and have never reapplied for a permit. If there was a charter I am certain it could operate, for fishing only, provided they could put together a satisfactory covid plan for the park. The problem is now the permit is far more expensive and insurance and fuel costs have increased to the point where it is too costly to offer fishing trips. If I recall correctly I was charging $950 a day and basically trading dollars when it was all said and done. Today's cost would need to be at the very least in the $1500 a day range to make it work given the length of the season and number of people.
There are so many 18-19' aluminum outboard boats that do 40mph+ going to the island now that you could never get enough trips to make it pay. Back in the day the cost of a Loran C and later GPS was well over $1500 with no electronic charts (those would set you back over 5 grand) or graphics. Today a state of the art color touch screen GPS with electronic charts and sonar can be had for under $300 if you watch the sales and then came the internet and facebook where all the information on weather, where and how to fish is shared. No one has any fears about jumping in and running out to the island in small boats like they did until the early 2000's, say '03-'04. Of course this all has had an effect on the fishing too, just say it is not what it once was.