The popular tourist boat, on its maiden voyage of the season, developed engine trouble before hitting a sandbar.
A popular tourist ferry that crosses Lake Michigan ran aground Thursday afternoon just as it was arriving in northeastern Wisconsin, stranding passengers and crew for about 4 1/2 hours.
The S.S. Badger was making its maiden four-hour voyage for the season from Ludington, Mich., to Manitowoc when it "got stuck on the sandbar" just as it approached the pier about noon, passenger Bill Gavzy of St. Paul said in a telephone interview. Once a tug boat arrived, it took about an hour to maneuver the ship off the sandbar and into its slip, he said.
Terri Brown, spokeswoman for the ship's owner, said a tug boat brought the ship to the pier about 4:30 p.m.
Brown blamed the problem on an engine piston ring failing and high winds forcing the ship to "come in too shallow."
She didn't know whether repairs would be done in time for the Badger to make its return trip Thursday night to Ludington.
While stuck onboard, Gavzy said, the ship's crew offered the 362 passengers -- among them Miss Ludington Jodi Beckman -- a complimentary buffet and beverages.
"The line is long," said Gavzy, 61, who is an attorney. "The tonic water is complimentary. They're still charging for the gin."
Although passengers were definitely inconvenienced the "mood was a little festive," he said. "No one thought we were in any danger."
Gavzy was on his way back from his native New Jersey and had a car along with him on the ferry.
He said passengers were "pretty laid back" about their predicament. "Back in New Jersey, people would be screaming."