HOUGHTON, MI – After a few decades of driving ships, being a lifeboat operator and working in search and rescue for the United States Coast Guard, Jason Swain discovered that a certain beautiful piece of the Upper Peninsula of the Michigan had really captured his imagination. When he recently retired from military service, he knew the Keweenaw Peninsula was where he wanted to start his Keweenaw Boat Tours business. His goal: to show the raw beauty of the region to new visitors and people who love it as much as he does.
Because when it comes to the huge curve of the Keweenaw Waterway, the best way to see it is from the comfort of a boat – and with someone who can point out the history and wild elements that still exist. here.
“The Keweenaw is a totally different experience,” Swain said of the 25-mile waterway that bisects Michigan’s northernmost peninsula, creating what some call “Copper Island” at the end of that landform. . The northwest end of the waterway meets the open waters of Lake Superior, while its southeast end touches the more sheltered waters of Keweenaw Bay. “We’re the UP of the west, and the waterway landscape is a one-of-a-kind thing.”
Swain launched Keweenaw Boat Tours this year and has already shown passengers the magic of spring waterfalls and soaring sandstone cliffs for which this region of the Upper Peninsula is known. Her 24-foot pontoon boat can carry up to six passengers, allowing for smaller, more intimate trips for families or groups of friends.
Some of the current tour options include:
Lighthouse visit: Drive to Keweenaw Bay to see the Jacobsville Lighthouse, built in 1869. Passengers will also get to see the glacier-carved sandstone cliffs up close in this area, as the tour boat can cross waters shallow.
Sunset Cruise: Passengers will head northwest across the waterway to “The Breakers” area near Lake Superior. The sunsets here have a breathtaking effect for locals and visitors alike.
Personalized visit: Do you have a special place in mind? Talk to Swain about what you’d like to see or what you’d like to explore and he’ll build a custom itinerary for everything from a bachelorette party to a birthday party or a group of friends cruise.
On all of these cruises, Swain will give passengers information about the history of the area, the wildlife along the shore, and tidbits about the waterway. All tours depart from downtown Houghton. The pontoon has a shaded roof for those who want to stay out of the sun. Swain provides a cooler filled with ice on board so passengers can bring their own food and drinks. A Bluetooth speaker system is also available for guests to listen to their favorite music.
During Swain’s time with the Coast Guard, he not only operated ships, but worked on the law enforcement side. Some of his Great Lakes posts included Tawas, Charlevoix and Station Portage along the Keweenaw Waterway. After retiring from active duty, Swain, a Plymouth native, said he and his wife decided to stay connected there.
“We love the area for obvious reasons,” he said, speaking of the natural beauty and the allure of being on the water. “I love the history of Lake Superior and the Great Lakes. And you can’t see that stuff unless you’re on a boat.
Swain also served as a full-time captain of a Michigan Technological University research vessel that makes voyages to Isle Royale. Along with his excursion pontoon boat, he has also contracted to manage some shore excursions for the new ship Viking Octantis which sails the Great Lakes.
For more details on Keweenaw boat tours, prices and how to book an adventure, see the website here.