Sightseeing in Northern Michigan: 19 Years On The Drummond Island Ferry

It’s 6 p.m. on July 12, 2016. Rockie Taghon is showing up for his last shift working on the Drummond Island Ferry.

“The ferry is unique, but it’s also what I’d call one of the drawbacks to the island in that you’re whole life revolves around the schedule of the ferry. But when you move to Drummond Island you know that, so all you can do is just make the best of it. It’s a hurry and wait game,” says Rockie.

It’s a game he’s loved for 19 years.

“Pretty much what we’re going to do next is go that direction, and then when we get done over there, we’re going to go that direction over here. Then as soon as were done with that, we’re going to go back over there. It’s rather repetitious,” says Rockie.  

With his infectious laugh and humor, he takes care of every passenger like family.

Even the four-legged passengers will miss him.

“He is probably one of the most compassionate, caring men that we’ve ever met,” says Mary Ann Donakowski.

Hug after hug the islanders say happy retirement.

“Everybody that works on the boat cares about the people of Drummond Island. People don’t even realize how much we protect Drummond Island working on this boat. If we see something we think is not quite right, that we don’t think should be going on in the island, we’ll let the authorities know it. We’re not to be messed with over here, we’re good people we want to keep Drummond Island a nice place to come and visit, and everybody on this boat works on that point,” explains Rockie.

Even freighter captains salute Rockie.

“This is my last night by the way. I’m done, retired and out of here. At 6 o’clock in the morning I’m done, see ya later,” says Rockie.

It’s now 5:40 a.m. July 13, 2016.

“This is officially my last trip across the river as captain,” says Rockie. “Sure have done this a lot of times, no question about that.”

A lot has happened in this one mile stretch of water between De Tour Village and Drummond Island.  Rockie decides to carry on a tradition started by another retired captain, Alex Fisher.

Out of respect for 19 years on the Drummond Islander 4, he gives the ships bell one last polish.

Then it’s time for a new chapter in his life.

“I just want to say thank you to the people of Drummond Island for taking me in, taking my wife and I in, when we came here we didn’t know very many people. Now we know just about everybody, and thanks Drummond, it’s been a real ride,” says Rockie.

Categories: Northern Michigan In Focus