From an early age, Captain “Bill” Hoey had an avid interest in and devoted his life to Great Lakes shipping and vessels of all types.
In 1964, he formed the Inland Marine Navigation Company and bought his first tugboat, naming her the “Tipperary”, the first of 27 tugs that he would own and name after Irish counties or family members. In 1965, he founded the Gaelic Tugboat Company now celebrating 50 years of tugboat and barge service. The Gaelic fleet has varied in size over the years, peaking in the 1970’s with 15 tugboats.
In 1991, Captain Hoey folfiUed his lifelong dream of operating passenger vessels on the Lakes with his purchase of the “Emerald Isle”, a former Arnold Transit Company ferry at Mackinac Island. He renamed her the “Diamond Jack”, the first vessel in his newly established Detroit River tour company. Diamond Jack’s River Tours is now in its 24th year of operation with a fleet of three vessels.
Captain Hoey was a veteran tugboat captain, also knowledgeable in aH aspects of engineering and was captain at various times of every vessel he owned. He had a deep interest in ship history and had amassed a large collection of maritime photographs, thousands which he had taken personally, and an and artifacts. He was known for his generosity, including donating services for salvage of an anchor from the “Edmund Fitzgerald” for display at the Dossin Great Lakes Museum in Detroit.
Captain Hoey was a member of numerous professional maritime organizations, including the International Shipmasters Association Detroit Lodge #7 for 49 years. He was elected President of the Grand Lodge of that organization in 1983. He was also a lifelong member of numerous marine historical groups.