They Bought the Boat

Text and photos by contributor Tim Sweet

The Friends of Plum and Pilot Islands (FOPPI) group has accepted a $100,000 donation to purchase The Shoreline, an excursion boat that has been operating in Death’s Door for the past 27 years. The donor will remain anonymous until the transaction is finalized. 

The boat’s current owners, Jim and Ronnie Robinson of Gills Rock, are retiring from operating the 16-passenger vessel from May to October. They’re also moving from their Gills Rock home to a new house in Ellison Bay within the next two months.

Capt. Jim Robertson

“I thought of all the possibilities of selling the boat, and the one that appealed to me the most was seeing it stay in the area and be put to a good use,” said Jim Robinson. “With FOPPI taking her over, both those wishes came true.”

FOPPI plans to use The Shoreline to take visitors, volunteers and contractors out to Plum Island to continue its historic preservation efforts.

“The boat will not affect historic preservation fundraising,” said FOPPI president Mary Beth Volmer. “Also, we are beginning this venture with $0 in the boat account and will be sending out a fundraising plea.”

The Robinsons have offered to donate $1,000 toward the boat’s operating and maintenance expenses. 

FOPPI members hope to raise money through excursions such as the Door County Lighthouse Festival and The Ridges Sanctuary’s Festival of Nature, and by offering private charters in the Death’s Door region of Northern Door. The boat’s new port of call will be somewhere on Washington Island.

Learn more about FOPPI, which partners with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, at