This Thursday, July 20, 2023, is a chance you don’t often get – a chance to cruise Lake Michigan and get a close-up view of the ongoing efforts to restore the North Manitou Shoal Light (the offshore lighthouse known as the “Crib”).
The day is hosted in Leland by The North Manitou Light Keepers (NMLK). The event begins with the annual Lightkeeper Rally at 4-6 p.m. and gives way to the Crib Cruise at 6:30 p.m. The Rally is free, although an RSVP is requested, while the cruise is $50 a person.
“These events are a fun highlight, and this year we are making them even better,” said NMLK President Daniel Oginsky.
This two-part event begins with an elegant catered gathering on the Leland River behind Main Street Gallery, where the NMLK team will discuss efforts to restore the Crib and open it in the future for overnight stays.
“We get to tell people more about starting Phase 2 of the restoration, focusing on the interior now, which is exciting,” said NMLK Board Member Jake Kaberle.
Following the rally, NMLK will host its annual Crib Cruise, an evening cruise on board the Mishe-Mokwa (operated by Manitou Island Transit).
The Crib Cruise leaves from Historic Fishtown at 6:30 p.m. and ventures into the Manitou Passage, where it then will gently circle the lighthouse while NMLK members discuss the Crib, its history, and its future.
Dave McWilliam, NMLK’s Chief of Restoration and Operations, added that “I love to share the unique and fascinating history of the lighthouse, and the fact that it is located in one of America’s most beautiful places makes this a special day for me and our guests.”
Last summer, the group's restoration efforts included cleaning and painting the lighthouse, restoring windows, and starting tours for the first time in its 85-year history. This year, they opened the sea doors for the first time since 1980 and replaced the badly deteriorated roof over the living quarters.
The opening of the sea doors was a huge step toward their goals – the new “ground floor” access offers a way for all ages and stages to visit the lighthouse with ease. The new authentically reproduced door weighs over 400 lbs. and has allowed guests as young as 9 months and as old as 80 years a chance to go aboard the Crib.
The next phase of restoration will include some structural restoration, installation of mechanical systems, and adding furnishings to the kitchen, radio room, bathrooms, guest quarters, and other spaces. This will enable members to stay overnight or for a weekend at the Crib! The group’s vision, however, goes much further than that. In the future, they see the Crib being a place for special social events, retreats, and team-building activities, a platform for education, and taking a place in Leelanau County’s beautiful historical sites. Events like this Thursday help fund their ongoing efforts.
The North Manitou Light Keepers is a non-profit organization founded in 2016. Its mission is to restore the North Manitou Shoal Light Station, make it and its history available to the public for education and appreciation, and cultivate an active community of stewardship for this piece of Michigan maritime history that stands amidst one of America’s most beautiful locations.
The Lightkeeper Rally will be from 4-6 p.m. at Main Street Gallery (307 South Main Street in Leland). There is no registration or cost to attend the Lightkeeper Rally, but an RSVP is appreciated. Please RSVP by email to email@example.com.
The cost of the Crib Cruise is $50 per person, with any net proceeds going to support the restoration of the Crib. To attend the Crib Cruise, visit www.northmanitoulightkeepers.org/cribcruise.
For more information about North Manitou Light Keepers, visit: