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353travelMNThe Wenonah, formerly used for scenic cruises to Isle Royale National Park, will now give North Shore tours with the new North Shore Scenic Cruises, based at Silver Bay Marina.
Sightseeing tours on Minnesota’s North Shore will return this summer after a hiatus of about seven years. A new tour boat service, North Shore Scenic Cruises, will take up the niche left when the Grampa Woo III was sold in 2006.
Partners Jay Hanson, Dan Goyen and Rich Rezanka are offering daily cruises on the 64-foot Wenonah. Moored at Silver Bay Marina off Highway 61, the boat has “got a lot of history to it,” Jay says.
The Wenonah, built in 1960, was formerly used for scenic cruises from Grand Portage to Isle Royale National Park. Recently North Shore Scenic Cruises purchased the boat from a private party who had acquired it from the Grand Portage-Isle Royale Transportation Line.
When it comes to the Wenonah, many people have fond memories of riding it to Isle Royale, Jay says. “There’s something about boats. People have a romantic relationship with them.”
North Shore Scenic Cruises offers two interpretive cruises: one covers 6.5 nautical miles from the marina northeast to Shovel Point, the other travels southwest about the same distance from the marina to Split Rock Lighthouse.
Each features a two-hour narrated audio/visual presentation that uses two 42-inch TVs to show professional footage of shipwrecks and video telling how the well-known landmarks such as Palisade Head and Shovel Point were formed.
One shipwreck on the tour is the schooner barge Madeira, a casualty of the November 27-28, 1905, storm known as the Mataafa Blow. The wreck rests at Gold Rock near Split Rock Lighthouse. Tours also include the iron ore loading dock in Silver Bay.
A season pass for $150 allows unlimited boat rides. Basic rates are $25 for adults and teens, $18 for children 12 and younger, $20 for seniors and military personnel and kids younger than 3 are free. Tours will have about 65 to 75 passengers.
The three owners know the Lake Superior region well and are experienced divers. Jay is a diving guide and owner of Superior Scuba Center in Duluth, Dan works in mine safety, and Richard is with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The scenic cruises, Jay says, “are more of an extension of our love of the Lake than just the everyday boat tour.”
North Shore Scenic Cruises, mid-May through late October, Silver Bay Marina. 218-464-6162. www.ScenicSuperior.com.