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New Tall Ship Will Be Coming to Grand Traverse Bay to Sail the Great Lakes

There will be a new tall ship sailing the Great Lakes this year, and it will soon be heading to its new home in Northern Michigan.

made the big announcement to its supporters, they’ve acquired a new vessel. The schooner “Alliance” will be joining the fleet on West Grand Traverse Bay. “It’s a perfect fit for an addition to our fleet, and it’s going to allow us to reach more people throughout the Great Lakes and offer our programs at different ports throughout the Great Lakes,” says ISEA Associate Director Juliana Lisuk.

It’s not a replacement, but an addition to the Schooner “Inland Seas” already in use. “Over the past few years, our programs have been expanding to be over our capacity of what we can offer with a single schooner.  So we’ve kind of been thinking about expanding our fleet for a while and keeping our eye out for the perfect ship. And this ship Alliance became available this past fall,” Lisuk says.

The three masts of the “Alliance” top out at 105-feet tall. The group says they’ll be able to expand their educational offerings.

“We take students and the general public out onto the Great Lakes to teach them about Great Lakes ecology and create a connection with why our Great Lakes are so important and so beautiful. So we’ll be using it to offer our science programing, both for schools around the Great Lakes, public programs in partnership with universities and colleges,” Lisuk says. “One of our goals is that this will allow us to have a bigger presence here in our local community. When we’ve had one ship, when it’s gone, we don’t have a boat here to provide programing for people. And so this will allow us to both be reaching other ports across the Great Lakes, as well as providing more program in the Grand Traverse region.”

The Alliance will be moving from its current home in Virginia to northern Michigan this June.

“This spring, alliance will be making a grand journey home to her new home in the Great Lakes. And we’ll be going through the whole St. Lawrence Seaway and through Lake Ontario and Lake Erie and Lake Huron. And coming back to Suttons Bay by the end of June,” Lisuk says.

Inland Seas has already hired another captain for the vessel and plans to make additional hires for the summer season as they add programs and opportunities.

“We will be expanding our staff to be able to have capacity to run programs on two ships. So we’ve hired a second full time captain and we’ll be hiring a mate and a deckhand and another educator to help us be able to have more programs happening at the same time,” Lisuk adds. “Overnight programing, public sails and some of our other partners with universities, we’re hoping to do those programs on the ship this summer. We’ll be testing out different needs and figuring out what needs to be adjusted for a new boat. And then next summer (2024) we hope to have her fully working for the whole season, but we will be using her in July and August and September (2023).”

From Inland Seas:

Alliance is the perfect ship to allow us to seize the opportunity these partnerships present for us. The fact that the ship already had a name perfectly honoring these partnerships is just a lucky happenstance. Alliance is a safe, perfectly sized, well-cared-for, coast guard-certified vessel. A vessel of this nature is rare and difficult to find and we feel very fortunate that we have been able to secure it to continue to protect the Great Lakes through education.

Alliance is a three-masted, gaff-rigged schooner, measuring 105’ with a Coast Guard license to carry 54 passengers. Originally named Kathryn B., she sailed as a part of a windjammer fleet off the coast of Maine. Sold in 2005, she sailed to Yorktown, Virginia, and was rechristened Alliance in honor of the American-French partnership during the American War of Independence. The Alliance is the vessel built right after Inland Seas at the Treworgy Shipyard in Palm Coast, Florida. Inland Seas was launched in 1994 and Alliance was launched in 1995. While they were designed by different architects, the vessels have many similarities including having the same John Deere engine. 

Alliance will spend the winter in her current home waters of Yorktown, VA. We anticipate we will begin the trip from Virginia to Michigan at the beginning of May. Please hold the date of June 24th for a grand celebration as Alliance is escorted into Suttons Bay by Inland Seas. It will be a day full of activities and celebrations that you won’t want to miss.