Moran Iron Works (MIW) signed a contract in 2018 with Pictured Rocks Kayaking (PRK) to build a specialized passenger tour vessel. In conjunction with Donald L. Blount & Associates (a division of Gibbs & Cox Inc.), Moran Iron built the 64’x19′ special purpose tour boat that is a first of its kind in the Great Lakes region.
The vessel was constructed of aluminum at Moran Iron in Onaway, Mich. The Kayak Express escorts 72 passengers and 36 kayaks around Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore for guided kayak tours. The boat features a custom-designed kayak launch system that is tailored to meet the specific needs of offshore kayak launching.
The main engines are twin Cummins QSK19, rated at 800 hp each, turning propellers through Twin Disc reduction gears. Twin Seakeeper HD gyro stabilizers are fitted for passenger comfort and safety. The hull form is a double chine, variable deadrise monohull for improved seakeeping and efficiency. The vessel’s hull form, structure, machinery, and electrical systems meet Coast Guard Subchapter T requirements.
Fabrication officially began with the laying of the deck plate on Dec. 6, 2018. “This is a very exciting project for us,” Lee Fayssoux, project manager at MIW, said in a statement announcing the contract. “It is a real privilege to have an ‘Inspired by Michigan’ vessel in our shop. This vessel will not only be capable of carrying passengers but will also be capable of deploying and retrieving guests in kayaks. It’s a revolutionary way of experiencing the beauty that Northern Michigan, particularly Pictured Rocks, has to offer. This vision was recognized by our customer and acted on with development from MIW and our partner architect DLBA. We are ecstatic that they chose MIW for this build, and ecstatic that this vessel will serve tourists who visit the waters of Pictured Rocks.”
The boat was delivered in summer 2019.