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Badger Dry Dock 2021

a large ship in the water

The BADGER safely transports thousands of passengers, cargo, and much more across Lake Michigan every season. Per US Coast Guard regulations, all maritime vessels are required to be inspected every five years to make sure they are in good shape. The BADGER Dry Dock inspections take place at Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Just like it sounds, this is a dock that they park vessels in and pump all of the water out, so they are able to safely and effectively inspect underneath.

a boat is docked next to a body of waterThe BADGER was towed by two tugs from Sarter Marine as her engines had since been shut off when her season ended on October 10th. Being that she is a coal-fired steamship, it takes a lot of time and manpower to keep her engines running and routine maintenance on the engines began once the season ended. The BADGER departed Ludington, Michigan on the evening of November 3rd for Dry Dock and it took approximately 14 hours to tow the BADGER across Lake Michigan. She deliberately departed in the evening so that she would arrive at the shipyard in the morning hours.

a blue boat docked next to a body of waterWhen departing Ludington, many local residents watched from the Lake Michigan Carferry parking lot, Loomis Street Boat Launch, and Stearns Park Beach as many were eager to signal her off with their car horns.

The BADGER returned to her roots as she was built by the Christy Corporation, now Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding in 1953. She arrived about 10 am CST on the morning of November 4th to a very warm welcome from Door County. Sam Perlman, Door County Maritime Museum Deputy Director, was quoted in the Door County Pulse saying “It’s a cool opportunity to see the BADGER in its home port.”

a boat that is lit up at night“The SS BADGER received her standard 5-year periodic inspection, which included a visual and ultrasound inspection of her hull and underwater equipment. Anything that needed attention was addressed and corrected by the shipyard,” said Chuck Cart, Director of Operations for the BADGER. The entire exterior of the BADGER was sandblasted down to her steel and given a fresh layer of paint. Under her waterline, the paint includes epoxy that will help protect the hull for years to come. It took 800 gallons of paint to make the BADGER look shiny and new again.

With assistance from tugboats, the BADGER floated into the dock where blocks waited for her. The blocks are placed, and a bobber is used to help locate where they lay and assist the crew with positioning. Once in position, the water is pumped out of the dock and the crew gets to work.

a boat is docked in a harborThe BADGER departed Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding at 3 pm Eastern time on January 12th with the help of the tugs from Sarter Marine Towing again. The tow took about 15 hours as she entered the Ludington Harbor just before 6 am Eastern time on January 13th. The tugs were able to safely and efficiently turn the BADGER around in Pere Marquette Lake and get her docked back into her slip. She was welcomed home by the Ludington Fire Department and many locals who braved the cold.

The BADGER looks as beautiful as ever and has a bright future ahead of her. We sincerely appreciate the hardworking and dedicated crew at Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding for their time and care spent on her during this dry dock period. We would also like to thank our loyal fans who followed along with the process and showed their appreciation.

The BADGER begins her 2022 season on May 12th, 2022, and runs through October 16th. In 2022 overnight sailings will return from June 10th to September 5th.

Dry Dock Video from November 19th, 2021 here.

Dry Dock Video from December 27th, 2021 here.

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