Ches. City in­tro­duces new ferry, water tour ser­vice

Aims to open in April

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By JA­COB OWENS

jowens@ce­cil­whig.com

— Re­turn­ing to the wa­ters where he first sailed has al­ways been a dream for DJ Fa­sick.

Now his dream will come true, after the Ch­e­sa­peake City Town Coun­cil unan­i­mously ap­proved a five-year agree­ment with him Mon­day night to be­come the canal town’s next ferry and water tour ser­vice.

The 24-year-old Ox­ford, Pa., man spends many of his days to­day sail­ing the north­ern At­lantic Ocean or Gulf of Mex­ico on com­mer­cial tug­boats, but he has never for­got­ten about the life and look of the north­ern Ch­e­sa­peake Bay. Fa­sick’s un­cle has a home at Hack’s Point on the Bo­hemia River, and he spent many days

CH­E­SA­PEAKE CITY

in his youth boat­ing with his par­ents and un­cles.

“I grew up on the water right here and my fam­ily and I spent a lot of time at the restau­rants here since I was lit­tle,” he said. “I’d watch the boats go by on the canal and I al­ways thought, ‘Man, it would be nice to work on one of those boats one day.’”

Fa­sick did just that after grad­u­at­ing from St. Mark’s High School, in Ne­wark, Del., at­tend­ing and grad­u­at­ing from SUNY Mar­itime Col­lege in Bronx, N.Y., with a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in ma­rine busi­ness and com­merce, and a third mate’s li­cense from the U.S. Coast Guard for un­lim­ited ton­nage. Since then he’s worked on tug­boats that move fuel barges be­tween ports, of­ten spend­ing weeks at sea.

Mean­while, Ch­e­sa­peake City had been with­out a ferry ser­vice for the first time in years after the re­tire­ment of Ralph and Clare Hazel, the op­er­a­tors of the Miss Clare ferry and tour boat, last win­ter.

The town has been fer­vently seek­ing a new ferry ser­vice in or­der to get users from the trail­head on the north side to the shops and restau­rants on the south side. Other­wise, bi­cy­clists have to ride up and over the Ch­e­sa­peake City Bridge.

This past sum­mer, the town was in ne­go­ti­a­tions with a po­ten­tial provider out of North East and of­fi­cials be­lieved it could be up and run­ning by Au­gust. Those plans dis­solved, how­ever, and they went back to the draw­ing board.

A few weeks later, Fa­sick con­tacted the town about fill­ing its needs and ne­go­ti­a­tions have been on­go­ing as the sailor has come in and out of port. At Mon­day night’s town meet­ing, the par­ties agreed to a con­tract that gives Fa­sick’s busi­ness space at the town’s south side dock in ex­change for op­er­at­ing the ferry ser­vice.

Mayor Dean Geraci­mos has been prais­ing Fa­sick’s am­bi­tion and vi­sion for the past few weeks, and said Mon­day that he saw the young man as a long-term so­lu­tion for the town.

“We were all dis­cour­aged when our ferry plan fell apart a few months ago, but some­times it’s true that things hap­pen for a rea­son,” he said. “This is it. We think this is our so­lu­tion for the next 20 years or so.”

Fa­sick said he never rode on the Miss Clare, but he’s stud­ied up on what the for­mer ferry and tour ser­vice of­fered and plans to in­cor­po­rate those ex­pec­ta­tions into his busi­ness, to be called Ch­e­sa­peake City Water Tours.

“I love be­ing out on the water, so when I found out that the Miss Clare was no longer around I thought it was a great op­por­tu­nity to put what I know into a busi­ness,” he said. “Both my mother and fa­ther have small busi­nesses, so I know that drive and de­ter­mi­na­tion can go a long way.”

Fa­sick has yet to ob­tain the two ves­sels he plans use for the ferry and tour ser­vice as he awaited the signed agree­ment, but he plans to open by mid-April. He pro­poses to of­fer a bi­cy­cle-friendly ferry boat with a fre­quent sched­ule for a nom­i­nal fee and a larger tour boat that would of­fer sched­uled sun­set cruises and Sun­day brunches as well as pri­vate char­ters for par­ties, wed­dings, cor­po­rate events and ed­u­ca­tional classes. A fee sched­ule will be de­vel­oped closer to the start date and Fa­sick pro­poses to build a kiosk, which would be re­mov­able at the end of the sea­son, to pro­mote the busi­ness and fa­cil­i­tate trans­ac­tions.

“This is a level even be­yond what we were look­ing for,” said Geraci­mos, nam­ing off the dif­fer­ent groups that could uti­lize the ser­vice be­yond users of the trail. “This is just an­other big plus for the town all around.”

Fa­sick said he ex­pects the tour busi­ness to be pop­u­lar with fu­ture users.

“This is a very in­ter­est­ing area around here; it’s dif­fer­ent be­cause it’s a ship­ping canal that’s cru­cial to in­dus­tries,” he said. “I want to give ev­ery­one the op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence a day out on the Ch­e­sa­peake.”

So far, Fa­sick has been very en­cour­aged by the sup­port ex­tended to him from town hall to get the new busi­ness up and run­ning.

“It’s very help­ful when the com­mu­nity is ex­cited for this as well,” he said.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JA­COB OWENS

Ch­e­sa­peake City Mayor Dean Geraci­mos, left, poses with DJ Fa­sick, the town’s fu­ture ferry and water tour ser­vice op­er­a­tor, and Fa­sick’s un­cle, Tom Hawkesworth, fol­low­ing the town’s ap­proval of the ferry ser­vice con­tract Mon­day night.

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