FAIRPORT, N.Y. (WROC) — The captain of Fairport tour cruise the Colonial Belle is worried about the company’s future if it can’t find a place to dock this winter.
Captain Tammee Poinan Grimes said they are due for an inspection with the U.S. Coast Guard and the usual spot they dock isn’t available this year. She said if they can’t find a place to dry dock, they could be in danger of going out of business.
The Colonial Belle usually stays in a dry dock in Lyons during the winter. While there’s been issues in the past couple of years with docking there, Captain Poinan Grimes said they had no indication they couldn’t dock there this year until five weeks ago.
“The Colonial Belle is due for a dry dock inspection of our hull by the Coast Guard that has to be done every five years. If we can’t get out of the water and we can’t have that inspection done we can’t operate with passengers next season,” she said.
A spokesperson for the New York State Canal Corporation said they have been advising the Colonial Belle since 2018 to find a new location to store the boat during the winter. In a statement they also said:
“We are actively trying to assist them this year in locating a private storage facility and we know of at least one in the state that can accommodate the Colonial Belle.”
Captain Poinan Grimes said the docks they are suggesting are in Buffalo and Albany and adds traveling this time of year on the boat isn’t a good idea.
“They have offered to let us stay in the water somewhere out of the canal system and then they would allow us in the dry dock in the spring however the problem with that is that if the Coast Guard wants us to do some work on our hull we’ll lose part of next season as well,” she said. “We had a short season last year, short season with limited passengers this year, and so a third season like that would just destroy our business.”
She said she still isn’t sure what they’re going to do.
“If they don’t let us in the dry dock, there is a good option we could go out of business.”
She also said the canal corporation denied their request to extend the season an extra weekend. Captain Poinan Grimes said the Colonial Belle, and other tourist vessels in the state, have always been able to extend in the past. The Colonial Belle had three private charters booked that weekend, which they will have to cancel.
The spokesperson from the Canal Corporation said they need to close on time this year to continue working on canal maintenance that was put off due to COVID-19. He also said the Canal Corporation announced the closing date would be October 14 back at the end of June. He said this in a statement:
“The October 14th closure allows Canal Corporation employees and its contractors the ability to begin working on a backlog of maintenance projects that were deferred earlier this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic while the weather is favorable, and will ensure projects will be completed ahead of the 2021 season, which is currently scheduled to begin in May barring any unforeseen circumstances.”
This petition has been posted to extend the season.