MARQUETTE - Anyone who knows Joan Vinette of Munising knows her love of the lake and its boating history. Joan is the daughter of Escanaba boat-builder, the late T.D. Vinette, and his wife, Ruthie Vinette.
For 11 years, Joan has worked as an Extension Educator in Alger Country at MSU coordinating the program, Life of Lake Superior. The nationally acclaimed program is a hands on learning summer camp for grade school children focused on Lake Superior's recreation, scientific research, economics, heritage and art.
She also has a passion for documenting boating history of the Great Lakes, specifically tracking down many of the boats her late father built and their whereabouts today.
Joan Vinette of Munising, daughter of the late T.D. Vinette and Ruthie Vinette of Escanaba, stands onboard the Great Lakes cruiser, Isle Royale Queen III built by her father. She is pictured with her brother, Dan Branson of Vinette Boatworks in Escanaba, and her brother-in-law, Tim Rutkoske of Marquette. The cruiser was carrying four generations of Vinette’s family as they gathered to celebrate Joan’s 70th birthday on Lake Superior.
So, as a great surprise to her, about 100 friends and family gathered at the new Marquette Harbor Cruises in early July to honor her 70th birthday with an evening cruise aboard the Isle Royale Queen III, a Great Lakes cruiser that incidentally was built by Vinette's father.
Vinette Boatworks built the boat in 1960 when Joan was 22 years old. Back then the passenger boat was christened the Isle Royale Queen II. She was a smaller ship of 57 feet built to ferry people to Isle Royal from the Soo.
Then, in 1989, T.D. Vinette & Sons added 24 feet along with a stern cabin to the Queen II and the boat was rechristened as the Isle Royale Queen III.
Fast forward to April 2012, when the vessel found a new home in Marquette to begin a chapter in service as a cruise boat around the lower harbor with the brand new Marquette Harbor Boat Cruises.