New Tour Boat KonTiki Coming To Sebago Lake
January 24, 2011 -
January 20,2011 - NAPLES - With the Songo River Queen set to enjoy one last summer servicing the waterways on both sides of the Naples Causeway, a new tour boat operation has risen to the surface and is scheduled to start ferrying customers this summer.
The KonTiki pontoon boat, 40 feet long and 10 feet wide and capable of carrying 24 passengers, will start operating on the Brandy Pond side of the Causeway starting May 14, company officials said earlier this week.
The KonTiki is owned by Naples resident Dick Dyke. Dyke, who also owns the Naples Country Club, is looking forward to filling the breach created when the Songo River Queen, which is docked on the Long Lake side of the Causeway, can no longer cross through the Chute River due to the fixed bridge currently under construction over the Causeway.
According to the Maine Department of Transportation, "The Queen," which is rated for up to 350 passengers, will sail her last Songo River voyage Sept. 10. On Sept. 11, the bridge will be closed per the construction timetable. That means this summer, the two boat services will overlap.
"Our first season will be sort of a test year," said KonTiki project manager Allen Faraday. "The Songo River Queen will still have access to the Songo River, and we don't think we're much competition. We're offering a very different kind of ride. But when the Queen can't go the next summer, we'll be pushing it a lot harder."
Faraday, a Raymond resident who worked for Dyke at Bushmaster Firearms and currently runs the Naples Country Club for Dyke, says his boss has other pursuits planned for downtown Naples, which he's not at liberty to divulge quite yet.
The KonTiki venture will be a needed enterprise due the Queen's inability to access the Songo River, Faraday said, and he expects the new ship will bring lots of fun to locals and tourists alike.
"I believe with this bridge reconstruction, Naples has a real chance to see a resurgence of tourists coming to the area. We're just trying to take advantage of that," Faraday said.
Dyke, 76, has owned almost 70 businesses in his lifetime and is excited about expanding his Naples ventures. Dyke lives on the Causeway in a building that used to house a restaurant, Charlie's on the Causeway. Operating under the umbrella organization Naples Causeway Development Co., Dyke recently bought the former ERA Today building as well as a mini-golf course in downtown Naples.
Concerning the KonTiki, Dyke is most excited about Faraday's plans to offer narration on the tours down the Songo and possibly into Sebago Lake, something the Queen, due to her size, could not do.
"I'm amazed at how much Allen's collected on the history. Everything from Col. Westbrook and the Indians. Older citizens in the area have been very helpful telling him the history," Dyke said.
Faraday said Dyke purchased the boat, which sports twin 80 horsepower engines, from a marina outside Chicago. Riders will access the boat from property on Brandy Pond behind the old ERA Today building. The plan is to offer two- to three-hour rides across Brandy Pond, through the winding Songo River, through the Songo Lock, and into the northern parts of Sebago Lake, perhaps around the Dingley Islands.
The KonTiki, which was previously used as a tour boat on a lake in Michigan, will feature an island theme, complete with grass skirting. There will be about 24 passenger seats along with a bathroom at the back of the boat. Faraday said he would be offering both individual tickets as well as group ticket sales.
"It'll be a comfortable, lounge-type setting. We'll be open for charters, birthday parties as well. We think this will be a pretty nice addition for the town," Faraday said.
Access to Sebago Lake, which doesn't have a tour boat service, sounds like a great idea to Barbara Clark, executive director of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce.
"It's good to get people down into Sebago, because currently there is no such offering on Sebago Lake. This will definitely add more value into our region," she said.
Rich Cebra, Naples state representative and owner of a mini-golf course close to downtown, is likewise excited about Dyke's ventures.
"I'm in favor of any increase of tourism business. And with the bridge reconstruction, it's the perfect time to people to think entrepreneurially. God bless him," Cebra said. "The whole downtown revitalization is going to be so huge for the entire Lakes Region. Naples is really going to be the crown jewel of the Lakes Region. It's exciting."
By John Balentine , Keep Maine Current, January 20, 2011
Lakes: Brandy Pond, Sebago Lake
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