North, Skutt Pull Off Water-ski Feat Behind Island Ferry
Mike North and Craig Skutt rode behind a ferry boat to Mackinac Island Monday, August 31, Mr. North on water skis and Mr. Skutt in a tube. The feat, the first of its kind, raised about $800 for Friends of the Animals in Mackinac County and the St. Ignace Festivals and Fireworks program, through the sale of 48 tickets sold to spectators who rode on the Star Line's Marquette II.
Friends of the Animals runs the Pet-Fix program, which promotes spaying and neutering pets, and the Festivals and Fireworks program provides Saturday fireworks over St. Ignace during the summer.
The two men began their sixmile trip to Mackinac Island holding ropes behind the ferry boat. They rode the choppy Lake Huron waves to the Round Island Passage Light, where Mr. Skutt bounced out of his tube and Mr. North dropped his rope. They rode half way back in their chase boat before finishing the trip on skis and tube behind the ferry again.
Following behind the ferry to offer assistance if needed were Mariah Horn on a wave runner and Bill Robinson, Tom North, and Joe Snowaert in the chase boat.
Mr. Skutt and Mr. North received a hero’s welcome when they arrived at the Star Line dock.
"We were just trying to get to the Island and back," Mr. North said, "and hopefully have fun doing it."
The two had wanted to ski behind a ferry for a long time, he added, and raising money for two causes was a good excuse to do it.
"I'm involved with the Festivals and Fireworks and we're trying to raise money for that," he said. "I thought it would be a cool thing to do."
Besides the signature Star Line rooster tail, which showered both men with water during the trip, Mr. North said crossing the boat's huge wake and weathering the waves were some of the challenges they faced on the trip to Mackinac Island and back.
"It was really rough by the Island," he said. "It was pretty choppy over there. My legs were pretty tired. It took about everything I had just to stay up."
Mr. Skutt, who was hit with water from the rooster tail the whole trip to the Island, said bouncing from wave to wave was the biggest challenge of riding the tube.
"I just had to make sure to grit my teeth so I didn't bite my tongue," he said.
Even without any aches and pains from the stunt, Mr. North said isn't ready for a repeat trip right away, although the pair may do it again next year.
"Maybe next summer," he said. "It was fun. I would do it again."
Star Line volunteered the boat and the Marine Center in St. Ignace provided life jackets and the inflatable tube for the event.
Mr. North is the general manager at Star Line and Mr. Skutt is senior deckhand on the ferries.