Community day to feature free boat tours

ALPENA – The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Alpena Shipwreck Tours will be having a community appreciation day Sept. 6. The day will include several free glass-bottom boat cruises aboard the Lady Michigan, along with special exhibits, face painting, an interactive discovery cart and many other special activities in the Maritime Heritage Center.

“We will have all kinds of special programs running in our Science on a Sphere theater, along with several different films in the sanctuary theater,” Media and Outreach Coordinator Stephanie Gandulla said. “There will also be a (remotely opearted vehicle) simulator there, along with ROV demonstrations in the tank outside, and tours of the conservation lab will be open.”

Tickets for the free glass-bottom boat cruises will be available that day at the Maritime Heritage Center, starting at 8 a.m. Times for the cruises are 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

“We are proud of the accessibility that’s availabe for people to get out and experience these shipwrecks,” Gandulla said. “It’s important for people to experience the wrecks and connect them with a shared history and culture. The more connected people are to their history and heritage, the more people value what these wrecks have to offer.”

One of the goals of the sanctuary is to get people out on the wrecks and viewing them with their own eyes, and the glass-bottom boat is a great means to accomplish that goal.

“People get to take a cruise through shipwreck alley and get a great look at some of the maritime landscape of Thunder Bay,” Gandulla said. “It’s a nice cruise along the river under the second avenue bridge, and we have volunteers and sanctuary ambassadors on every cruise to answer questions and provide information about the wrecks and Thunder Bay.”

The free cruises are weather permitting, and tickets will be available the morning of community appreciation day when the Maritime Hertiage Center opens at 8 a.m. Events and special exhibits at the center are open all day during its regular hours from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. For more information, call the sanctuary at 356-8805.

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at ngrulke@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.