Behind-the-scenes of the Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. -- Grand Haven continues to be a popular destination this week with the Coast Guard Festival in full swing.

Ship tours are a huge draw for families to experience what the Coast Guard does.  When you get on the Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw, you will tour through five levels of the ship. The Mackinaw is 240 feet long and 58 feet wide and carries 114,000 gallons of fuel.

First, visitors see work boats that smaller crews use to service buoys and fix buoy navigation tools out on the water. The crew's primary work, however, is during the winter, breaking ice to clear paths for lake freighters navigating the Great Lakes.

Every room has a different purpose to aid the entire ship's navigation. Each navigation station shows different parameters for where things are around the ship. Even weather conditions are checked and logged every hour or every 4 hours.

After working through all the navigation rooms, visitors work back down to one last spot, the engineering room.  But, as a special treat, we saw some spots the public won’t see, such as the fly bridge, which gives a bird’s eye view from the top deck almost 96 feet above the water.

Another spot visitors won't see: the engines! Three engines generate 9,000 horsepower.

The Mackinaw is a must-see during the Coast Guard Festival. You still have time to get out and experience the CGC Mackinaw, as tours run through Saturday.

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