The journey of the Isle Royale Queen III started in the late 1950s when a gentleman by the name of Ward Grosnik, of Copper Harbor, located on Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula contracted with the T.D. Vinette Boat Company in Escanaba, Michigan to build a ferry boat. The Isle Royale Queen II was designed to carry passengers across Lake Superior to Isle Royale National Park, an island thirty miles out from Copper Harbor in Lake Superior. The Isle Royale Queen II was originally 57 feet long with an 18-foot beam. The new ship went into service in 1960. The Queen II was powered by three Gray Marine engines and could carry 57 people and carry 2.5 tons of cargo, typically canoes, camping gear, and Island provisions, on its upper deck.
Bigger and Better
Mr. Grosnik sold his ferry boat business to Donald Kilpela, Sr, who ran the business from 1971 to 1988 ferrying people to the Park, Despite Mr. Kilpela's efforts to find a new vessel to carry his passengers he ultimately hired naval architect, Timothy Graul, from Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin to lengthen the Queen II. The Vinette Boat Company was again contracted to do the modifications to the boat. The Queen was lengthened by adding 24 feet to the stern cabin area. The Queen was now 81 feet long, carried 100 passengers, and could traverse Lake Superior to the Park in 3.5 hours' time. In 1989, the new ship was re-named the Isle Royale Queen III and in 1990 it was re-powered with twin 3306 twin-turbo Caterpillar Diesel engines, with 235 horsepower each. As well as having a new name, length and carrying capacity, the new Queen could handle rough seas much more easily with her longer hull. The former ship was notorious for its rough ride earning it some rather unflattering nicknames that are left to your imagination unless you were privileged to experience one of those tumultuous rides!
A New Direction
The Queen III stayed in Copper Harbor until 2004 when Mr. Kilpela decided to replace it with a larger vessel. The Queen III then spent the next several years as a ferry boat carrying passengers between Menominee, Michigan, and Wisconsin’s Door Peninsula on Lake Michigan. In 2010 new ownership of the Queen III occurred who then refurbished the cabins and added steel truss support for the upper deck to allow passengers to be carried topside. The Queen III spent three years cruising the 'Big Lake' Superior out of Marquette operating as Marquette Harbor Cruises. Since 2015 the Queen III has been used for the very popular Sip n' Sail Cruises off of Mackinac Island. The Isle Royale Queen III is now owned by partners Veronica Dobrowolski, Co-Owner and CEO of Arnold Freight Company and Andrew and Nicole Doud, owners of Doud's Market and Little Luxuries retail stores.