Ches. City introduces new ferry, water tour service
Aims to open in April
— 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
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.
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.