By Dianna Stampfler
In recent memory, cruising the crystal blue waters of Little Traverse Bay – hugged by the shoreline communities of Bay Harbor, Petoskey and Harbor Springs – has been limited to those who have access to a boat. Now, thanks to the community vision and historical reflection of the Little Traverse Bay Ferry Company, a new water taxi is bringing service back to the region.
Christened the Ami Lynn in late June, the 56-foot vessel operates under a 501c non-profit foundation with a simple mission: to get people out on the water. Locals who live and work in the area find it a more relaxed, scenic and affordable 25-mile commute across the bay, while it allows day trippers the chance to explore the shopping and dining options in each of the three port communities.
“This was the year’s first ‘official girls’ trip’ and we simply loved it,” says Jessica Coleman, from Oxford, Michigan, who visited with her Traverse City friends within days of the ferry’s launch. “Our crew was phenomenal: mature, young adults looking to make the most of their summer experiences and sharing what they knew of the shoreline’s landscape.”
A highlight of the trip comes when the boat passes by Harbor Point where the Little Traverse Lighthouse has been standing proudly since 1884. Given its location at the end of a private, gated peninsula, it is one of the hardest of Michigan’s 125-plus lights to view.
As for the name, the Ami Lynn honors Harbor Springs native Ami Tank Klykken, who also serves as an advisory board member for the foundation and is a vocal advocate for company.
“Ami has been such strong supporter of what we are doing since the very beginning, we knew that we needed to name the boat after her,” says Evan Blanc, company CEO. And, naming a boat after a woman is, after all, a tradition – an idea anchored in safety and protection, like a mother watching over her children.
The Ami Lynn will run into the early fall season, on a weather-dependent schedule, with a capacity of about 30 passengers (expanding to nearly 50 in the future). Multiple trips are offered each day, starting as early as 9am and continuing until after sunset. Fares are $10 per person, round trip, plus $3 for bikes. An all-day pass is $20 per person and offers unlimited rides. Leashed dogs are also welcome.
For the schedule or to make reservations, visit LittleTraverseBayFerry.com.
While in the area, stop by the Harbor Springs History Museum where the current exhibit, “Don’t Miss the Boat,” focuses on the various ships that have operated in the area over the past century or more. In addition to historical images featured, the museum commissioned artist William Hall to create more than a dozen watercolor paintings and several large-scale drawings of select vessels which are available for purchase. This display is expected to be up through the summer of 2021.