When winter hits the Straits of Mackinac, we don’t go into hibernation.  We take advantage of the “down-time” to make improvements to our fleet. One of our main projects over the winter has been the repowering of the Felicity.

When you change the engines on a boat, it’s not a simple job.  The fact that the process is called a repower is evidence of that fact.  It’s more than taking out the old engines and dropping in the new ones.  There are many moving parts to the process and it makes us feel secure that we have one of the best marine mechanic teams in the country to complete this complicated task.

The Felicity has been running on two Detroit Diesel V-12, 71, 2-stroke engines with 821 Horsepower since 1976.  That is amazing.  We’ve rebuilt the engines several times over the last 40 years, but over time, rebuilding becomes more difficult.  The main part of an engine rebuild is replacing bearings and pistons.  The pistons grind away the inside of the cylinders and larger pistons are needed. Over time, the space between the cylinders gets smaller, eventually to the point where there is no choice but to replace the engines.

That’s where we are today.  In February, our Marine Service started the long repowering process.  The new engines are Detroit Diesel Series 60, inline 6 cylinders, producing 850 Horsepower.  While these engines have more horsepower, they have 15% less fuel consumption, making them more economical and more environmentally friendly.  Each new engine is 1200 pounds lighter than the old.  Along with the new engines, we installed new V-Drives (transmissions for those of us who are not “gear heads”) and new propeller shafts.

What will the repower do for us?

The hope is that we will see more speed out of the Felicity and have better fuel economy.  There will be fewer oil changes and less rebuilds, which will make the new engines last longer.

This project is scheduled to be complete in the middle of April and she should be on the water by the time we open on April 21st.  The Felicity is typically docked in St. Ignace, so if you want to feel the power of the new engines, you’ll have to make the trek to our dock in the U.P.

If you think that the Felicity project is cool, just wait until you see what we’re doing to The Hope.  Watch for our blog next week about the additional improvements that we are making to our fleet.