Launch Project


Mission of the Launch Project:

The Launch Project relates to the Inland Water Route Historical Society’s mission and strategic goals. The launch will facilitate the broadening of educating the general public in a very desirable way. An important mission is the historical education of youth of the Inland Water Route. The IWRHS is excited to implement this important educational tool for the local population and visitors to Northern Michigan.

Need for Launch Project:

While a tour on our proposed launch can be perceived as a pleasure ride only, we seek to educate the public about the local history, utilizing a method unique to Northern Michigan. The US National Park system, and the Michigan Maritime Museum, has realized success using this exact method. The ability to “see” the locations of the historical events that we have documented in our museum while cruising at 3-4 knots in a luanch replica will add to the experience of learning.

The Benefit to the Community of This Project:

We have received many, many compliments about the displays of our successful museum. Many visitors (including youth) have stated that the museum enriches their life with facts and images that they never knew existed. We expect the experience of learning while cruising along the Inland Water Route in a replica launch, will be a significant event for many to experience. We have received many comments of support for our project.

Launch Objectives and Outcomes:


Place a US Coast Guard approved vessel to carry paying passengers on the waters of the Northern Michigan Inland Water Route by the Summer of 2015, and, conduct paid tours thereafter.


Since the Summer of 2010, the IWRHS Launch Project Group has been meeting and gathering information as to what parameters need to be set to accomplish the state objective. It should be stated here that “one does not simply go out and purchase a launch replica to meet our objective”. The planning, discussions, and end decisions have been many and serious as to proper implementation of the project. Experts in various fields have been contacted to provide accurate information and specifications. During the Summer of 2013, the final decision was made to go with Beckman Boatshop Limited. Upon selecting Mr. Lloyd Beckman’s design, the purchase order was placed November 2013. We are now in possession of that hull, engine and drivetrain.

Project Objective Measure of Success:

   Phase I        Has been completed

   Phase II     The seaworthiness certificate issued by the US Coast Guard will be the ultimate measure of success for phase II.

   Phase III and IV 

Upon implementation of touring activity during the first year of operation (2015) the IWRHS will complete the following                                               objectives:

1. Create and implement an evaluation survey for touring passengers, and react accordingly.

2. Create and implement a Maintenance Plan.

 Project Phases:

Phase I (Completed winter 2013-4):

Phase I of the project was the commissioning of a turn of the century fantail replica launch, hull, engine, drive train, and trailer. Phase I has been successfully completed. A total sum of $35,689 (private donors) was raised by the “IWRHS Launch Project Group” for Phase I. An order was placed to with Beckman Boatshop Limited of Kingstown, Rhode Island, November 2013. The society is now in possession of that hardware.

Phase II:

Phase II will be the completion of the hull to a US Coast Guard Approved passenger carrying vessel. Completion includes, among other features; frame members, seating, cockpit covers, head, helm, flooring, trim, marine hardware, etc. Completion will include the hiring of a naval architect, and contracting with Great Lakes Boat Building School (GLBBS). Our current quote for $65,000 will enable the IWRHS to complete the vessel. Phase II includes the construction of a suitable Boathouse on the Crooked River. The IWRHS has been in discussions with the Village of Alanson concerning a footprint for a boathouse on Village owned property on the Crooked River. The Village of Alanson has expressed a willingness to facilitate building a boathouse that will be leased to the IWRHS.

Phase III:

Phase III of the Launch Project is the actual use of the vessel projected for the Summer of 2015.  The Summer of 2015 will be used to develop the on- water operations (routes, timings, costs, personnel, maintenance, etc.) We have commitments from members to implement this phase. We also have aligned with and will receive assistance from the Michigan Maritime Museum for consultations as needed.

Phase IV:

Phase IV will be the go public phase, no later than 2016. This will be the public historical and ecological, general public, and youth tours.

Qualifications for Completion:

Minimally, the qualifications of the IWRHS to complete this project are as follows:

1. “IWRHS Launch Project Group” has been meeting for over 4 (four) years to determine a best method of making this project a realization. Their travels have included trips to: The Michigan Maritime Museum (they are acting as informal consultants), two boat building schools. The group has created many contacts, and thusly has made countless phone calls to obtain pertinent information.

2. Within our society are two marina owners/ operators. Their expertise includes all inland boating maritime operations, including but not limited to: Boat specifications, maintenance, operations, safety, insurance, and storage.

3. Eight members have handbuilt a wooden boat(s).

4. Many IWRHS members are multiple boat owners, and know the waters of the IWR.

5. Several members are business owners.

Who Will Be Involved in Project:

Phase II is approximately 95% contracted (Great Lakes Boat Building School) and 5% volunteer labor to complete the launch.

Phase III and IV


The IWRHS museum is a 100% volunteer operation. The “IWRHS Launch Project Group” will be the core group to start the launch operations and it too will be 100% volunteer operated. Approximately, 8 members are planning to become “Six-Pak” Captains,  certified by the US Coast Guard and plan to volunteer their time as captain of our launch. Full implementation of the projecft requires captains with a “100 ton passenger” rating. While we have received interest for volunteer 100 ton rated captains, we expect to be hiring these staff. The timing of this stage is for public usage in 2017.


Maintenance scheduling and performance will be supervised by IWRHS member marina owner/operators.


Ticketing will be done via web and will be outsourced.


Marketing will be done by members and service providers.

Alternative Plans:

The IWRHS is committed to placing the launch on the waters of the IWR. To that end, if monies from grants do not meet expectations, the Inland Water Route Historical Society is committed to finishing the hull by the skills, monies, and donations of materials of the “IWRHS Launch Project Group”. This was in fact, our original plan. The only compromise would be time to completion (due to volunteer labor) and historical correctness (as some materials would be donated and not accurate to the time period and styling).

The Inland Water Route Historical Society invites you to become involved with this truly extraordinary project. Please feel free to call us with any questions or concerns.

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