MUNISING, Mich. (WLUC) - There's no question winter has overstayed its welcome.
That’s especially true for Pete and Joe Lindquist and the entire staff at Munising Bay Shipwreck Tours.
For them, the past six months have been full of unavoidable obstacles. Elements like heavy autumn rain, repeat heavy snow, pro-longed sub-zero temperatures and biting winds off of Lake Superior have created a huge logistical headache in building the Shipwreck Express.
But this crew is almost as relentless as Mother Nature. They’ve been working six and seven days a week for the past six months building what they're calling the largest glass bottom boat in the world.
"I refer to it as the largest glass bottom boat on the planet because of its unique size. Its 65 feet long and 32 feet wide," boasted Joe Lindquist.
Joe Lindquist is the Vice-President of Operations. He’s also Captain and primary welder. He says there’s nothing else like it on the planet.
It’s still difficult to get an idea of her size because she’s being housed in side a temporary structure for now. Joe Lindquist says there are several features that make the vessel one-of-a-kind.
The framework of the boat is entirely aluminum which makes it extremely lightweight for its size. The viewing areas are also unique because they have a removable railing.
"And we can bring in deck panels and turn the entire space in the middle of the boat into let's say a dance floor for a wedding arrangement. We could bring in a band, have a dance floor or some sort of other space you would need for an event like a wedding," Joe Lindquist calculated.
Another thing that will make the boat unique is passenger access to the bow area on both decks.
"This [boat] also has access to the stern areas. So passengers can go to the back of the boat and look over the rail and watch the wake trail on both decks,” Joe Lindquist declared.
The boat is almost entirely Michigan-made with pride. And according to Joe Lindquist, that means the Shipwreck Express should outlive all of us.
"The biggest question we ask is with whatever we're building, will it last 100 years? And if there's any doubt that it won't last 100 years, then we'll fix it and make it so it will last 100 years," Joe Lindquist reasoned.
Over the next several weeks, they'll finish their welding, install the electrical grid, plumbing, seating, safety gear and other essentials.
"Then we will start the painting process which should go pretty fast. And then we should be able to put this in the water by early June," Joe Lindquist reckoned.
She’ll have to pass a series of tests before she’s ready for service. Meantime, they'll move both their old, fully functioning tour boats from dry dock at Marquette’s Mattson Lower Harbor Park back to their wet dock in Munising in time for their big Memorial Day weekend season opener.
As for the Shipwreck Express, it's slow ahead for now. Both Pete and Joe Lindquist say she'll be ready for service before the end of summer.
"I'm sure that we're going to get it in service this year but I couldn't tell you when. My guess is August. I'm guessing Joe would probably guess June or July," President of Operations, Pete Lindquist figured.
“The experts have told us that there's no way that this boat will see service this year. Our crew is trying to prove them wrong," Joe Lindquist announced.
And once the weather decides to cooperate it may just turn into a memorable season for Munsing.
"You know Munising is really unique right now. We have like five different tours we have Pictured Rocks Cruises, the glass bottom boats, we've got Riptide Ride, kayak rentals, pontoon boat rentals. I'm thinking that this year is going to be a great year,” Pete Lindquist predicted.
Click here to learn more about Munsing Bay Shipwreck Tours