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‘Get Into Your Sanctuary Weekend’ Kicks Off Saturday At Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

The Lady Michigan sits on the Thunder Bay River Thursday afternoon. Northeast Michiganders will line up early on Saturday morning at the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center to grab a free ticket for the weekend shipwreck tours.

Alpena- Free shipwreck tours, locally-based adventure films, and the great outdoors all can be found at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary this weekend. The nationwide celebration called “Get Into Your Sanctuary” allows people to enjoy some of America’s most iconic and cultural marine resources.

At the Thunder Bay Sanctuary, six free and special cruises aboard the Lady Michigan will be offered on Saturday and Sunday. In addition to the six free community cruises, the Sanctuary will provide free cruises throughout the next few weeks to nonprofits that serve youth, seniors, military personnel, veterans, and first responders. These cruises will focus on one specific shipwreck, The Monohansett, and the role of Thunder Bay Island’s Life Saving Station in the rescue of personnel on the ship.

“We attract over 100,000 tourists here during the summer and throughout the year,” said Friends of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary Director Katie Wolf, “but this is really an opportunity for us to show appreciation for our community and make sure they have an opportunity to get out on the Lady Michigan and explore the shipwrecks and feel apart of everything we do at the sanctuary.”

Folks can also experience a night of free films on Saturday that focus on outdoor adventures within the sanctuary. All three of those films debuted during the week of the Thunder Bay International Film Festival.

This weekend’s events were made possible by a few grants. In November of 2017, Friends of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary was awarded $15,000 from the Michigan Humanities Council to help develop and support special programming. The story of the Monohansett reflects the humanitarian efforts and heroics during the rescue of passengers. The group was also awarded $10,000 by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation to help promote “Get Into Your Sanctuary Weekend” statewide for the 2018 summer tourism season.

“It is the kickoff to the recreational season so before we get into the main thrust of having all the tourist here, this is an opportunity for those who live here to get out and appreciate it first,” said Wolf.

Tickets for the community cruises are first come, first serve. You can pick up a ticket on Saturday, May 19, starting at 8:00am over at the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center. Neiman’s Family Market will be providing donuts for the first 250 people in line. You must be 16 years or older to reserve a ticket. You can be any age to enjoy the cruise. Saturday night’s film screenings will kick off at 7:00pm. Doors open at 6:30pm.

For information and to check out a list of times for each cruise, visit the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary’s Facebook event by clicking here.

A list of the films being screened is provided below…

Crossing Lake Huron (Michigan), 30 min 

 Corey Adkins

Experience the white-knuckle thrill of three men attempting to cross Lake Huron from Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary to Tobermorey, Ontario on nothing but stand up paddle boards. This 90-mile open water crossing travels through Shipwreck Alley and some of the most treacherous waters in the world. This is their story and what makes their charity different from the rest. The film won Michigan Association of Broadcasters 2018 “Best Special Interest Programming” and “Best News Special” awards, and the Associated Press’ “Best Documentary” award.

Michigan Micro Adventures – Vol. 1 Paddle Albany Bay (Michigan), 10 min
Zachary R. Irving

Neighboring the clear freshwater of Lake Huron, Presque Isle is a haven of history and culture that entices outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds. With a variety of trails at the new Albany Bay Nature Preserve and among the harbor and lighthouses, the peninsula screams ADVENTURE! In the inaugural episode of Michigan Micro Adventures, Gary and Ely brave the open water and kayak from Presque Isle Harbor to the southern part of Albany Bay where lies the remains of a shipwreck, preserved since 1853. 

The Big Five Dive (Michigan), 28 min
Elizabeth Kaiser

The Big Five Dive is an adventure documentary about a group of women attempting to dive one historic site in all five Great Lakes in under 24 hours, in an effort to raise awareness of women in SCUBA diving, a historically male-dominated sport and career. Set against the backdrop of some of the Great Lakes estimated 6,000 shipwrecks, this group of women show that there is a place for everyone underwater. Was featured in the Detroit Free Press 2018 FREEP Film Festival.