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Lake Express Ferry celebrates 15th anniversary with fresh coat of paint; official launch Wednesday

Posted at 8:22 AM, May 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-01 09:22:29-04

MANITOWOC -- The Lake Express Ferry will celebrate its 15th anniversary season when it takes off from Milwaukee for Muskegon, Michigan today.

The high-speed ferry will be sporting a fresh coat of white paint, it's first new paint job since it started making the 78 mile trek in 2004.

The Lake Express Ferry spent part of the off season at Burger Boat Company in Manitowoc, on the Manitowoc River.

Nearly a dozen workers have been painting the Lake Express.

"They are literally using rollers to paint. Little foam rollers. That's an enormous space. Now you know why we've been rolling for days and days", said Aaron Schultz with the Lake Express.

The work actually started in Milwaukee last fall and took place all winter.

The job had to be done outside because Burger didn't have a lift big enough to get the 192 foot ferry out of the water.

The vessel was covered to try and protect crews, due to the complicated process of prepping it for paint. That also meant working through the Polar Vortex.

When asked how the job turned out, Ron Cleveringa with Burger Boat Company said, "so far, so good!"

One of the big differences for visitors will be the outside decks. The Lake Express opted for a lighter, reflective paint color this time, to help keep the temperature consistent for passengers.

"We put a reflective surface on it which we feel will put the ability to keep a comfortable temperature down below. Also the darker color, when it got hot, the ship would actually expand and change shape a little bit," Schultz added.

Shultz said he hopes the whiter white combined with the ferry's unique shape will make the ferry stand out.

He said it's important the ferry have a wow factor because in "a lot of ways, we're representing our port communities with Milwaukee. You see the growth and opportunism here."

Painting a boat has some similarities to how you would paint your home: strip the old paint, primers, and a couple of coats of paint. But it's a whole lot more complicated too because of varying temperatures, rain and snow can throw a monkey wrench into the process, as well.