FAIRPORT, N.Y. (WROC) — The Colonial Belle tour boat on the canal has kicked off a new season. Owners say they’re seeing demand like never before.

Captain Tammee Poinan Grimes has been working behind the scenes, pretty much her whole life.

“My father started the business in 1989, my father started the vessel in 1985,” she said.

For her to see interest like never before, is a good feeling.

“This year we’re seeing unprecedented number of bookings for preseason, and we are expecting that to continue,” Poinan Grimes said. “It’s very exciting, this business was started by my dad who we lost in 2016 so we are keeping the legacy going.”

She says the last few years were very scary. The pandemic, causing changes in capacity, staffing and scheduling. To this day, staffing shortages are persistent.

With a busy season ahead, Poinan Grimes says it’s cause for some stress.

“We are hiring for all of our positions right now, we have office staff that could use some more, because it’s very busy, some more crew as our deck hands,” she said.

She says licensed captains are most in need, and especially challenging to hire.

“For the captain, you definitely need the correct experience and license.”

But she’s confident staffing will work itself out. Right now she’s focused on a busy summer.

She’s smiling because it’s great to see people making plans again: corporate events, school trips, family outings. This moment is what she and many others were missing through the worst of the pandemic.

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