After 25 years of tall ship sailing in Traverse City, it looked like the end of the line for Traverse Tall Ship Company and the schooner Manitou, yet another victim of the wave of foreclosures plaguing the nation. As tenants of the dock and property owned by failed developer Westbay Partners, LLC, the Tall Ship Co. – along with two other commercial tenants – was served with an eviction notice in July 2011. With very limited berthing options for Manitou, the situation looked bleak for one of Northern Michigan’s most popular destination attractions.
Enter Traverse City Light & Power and Discovery Center Great Lakes. Having a space available at its coal dock, TCL&P saw an opportunity to save this sailing icon, which welcomes some 10,000 people each year, many of them school children, for a chance to experience sailing on the waters of Grand Traverse Bay. Earlier this month, TCL&P entered into a license agreement with the Tall Ship Co., allowing them to rent a small portion of the coal dock to conduct operations – just a few hundred yards up M22 from Manitou’s previous dock.
“We are so grateful to all of the parties who have rallied around us to find a solution to this unfortunate and difficult situation,” said Dave McGinnis, owner and Senior Captain of Traverse Tall Ship. “We want to thank Traverse City Light & Power, Discovery Center Great Lakes, Elmwood Township and the Traverse City Commission for recognizing the value the tall ship brings to the citizens of this area and working to secure its future for years to come.”
“Traverse City Light & Power looks forward to having the Traverse Tall Ship Company and its Schooner Manitou, a long standing icon on the Grand Traverse Bay, utilize its coal dock,” said Ed Rice, TCL&P executive director. “We are pleased to be able to support its continued operation for the benefit of community members and visitors.”
Additionally, Discovery Center, which is comprised of several local non-profits including Maritime Heritage Alliance, The Great Lakes Children’s Museum, The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay and Traverse Area Community Sailing, enthusiastically invited the Tall Ship Co. to set up a ticket booth and parking on Discovery Center grounds, directly across the street from Manitou’s new home.
“The Discovery Center’s primary goals include increasing awareness of Great Lakes maritime history and fostering an underlying appreciation of the Lakes themselves,” said Mike Wills, the Chair of the Discovery Center Board. “The schooner Manitou and the Traverse Tall Ship Company will make great partners in helping us meet those goals in new ways.”
Owned by Rotary Camps & Services, the Discovery Center - Great Lakes is a campus of nonprofit organizations whose missions are focused on water and the Great Lakes. The Maritime Heritage Alliance operates a boat-building facility on the west side of M-22 and docks its historic sailing vessels across the state highway on the inboard (west) side of the old TCL&P coal dock. The Schooner Manitou will be docked on the outboard (east) side of that dock, creating an expanded maritime destination and making the Greilickville waterfront corridor a regional waterfront destination.
“The tall ship Manitou is an invaluable community resource, both for its recreational and educational value,” says John Noonan, Executive Director of the Great Lakes Children’s Museum. “We are really pleased that they will be our neighbors here at the Discovery Center and are grateful to Traverse City Light & Power, Elmwood Township, and the City of Traverse City for helping facilitate the transition.”
The schooners of Traverse Tall Ship Co. have been sailing out of Traverse City since 1987. In addition to public day sails and multi-day cruises, the schooner Manitou works with Inland Seas Education Association, providing hands-on environmental education to school kids from throughout the region and state.
As one of the largest sailing ships on the Great Lakes, the Manitou is a replica of an 1800s “coasting” cargo schooner. A traditional two-masted, gaff rigged, topsail schooner, Manitou measures 114 feet in length with more than 3000 square feet of sail.
With a 60 passenger sailing capacity (24 overnight capacity), there is plenty of space for sitting and moving around the decks while under sail. While aboard the Manitou, passengers are free to leave the sailing to the experienced crew or lend a hand and learn the arts of the sailor. An excursion aboard the Manitou allows you to remove yourself from the trappings of modern life: no TV, phone (cell phones are discouraged), beeper, email and definitely no itinerary.
To make reservations for any of the 2012 Manitou sailing adventures, call toll free 800-678-0383. Gift certificates are also available. For additional information about the Manitou, including its corporate charters, log on to www.tallshipsailing.com.