A water taxi linking Lewes and Dewey Beach could be afloat and ferrying passengers before Memorial Day if a local man is able to quickly navigate getting service underway.
“I’d like to get up and running a week or two before Memorial Day just to give locals an opportunity to give it a try before it gets up and running,” said David Green, the man behind the idea.
Green wants to start service by Monday, May 28, meaning he has about six weeks to get everything needed to set sail.
Green, whose fulltime job is general contracting, lives at Joy Beach near Camp Arrowhead.
The water taxi would be a 35-foot pontoon boat capable of carrying up to 26 passengers and two crewmembers.
He estimates it would take about an hour to travel 10.5 miles each way, depending on weather conditions and boat traffic in the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal.
Green said his boat is U.S. Coast Guard inspected and certified, and has a restroom and full canopy. Two, 90-horsepower engines propel the vessel.
Capt. Kevin Flaherty, who holds a U.S. Coast Guard master 100 ton license, would pilot the taxi.
Green said he would have to obtain state and town business licenses and a license from the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.
He would also need to insure the operation. “That’s the biggest cost next to fuel,” Green said.
He said fuel costs are probably the most significant unknown in determining whether there would be sufficient revenue to keep the water taxi running. Green said as the price of gasoline steadily climbs toward $4 a gallon, business viability becomes less clear.
“Right now a round-trip is going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $12 to $15,” he said.
Green also wants to add visual pizzazz to the boat, affixing banners on the deck and full-wrap graphic around the hull.
He hasn’t settled on a name for the service but is considering Delaware Water Taxi or Cape Water Taxi.
He said the first few trips might be free of charge, or if a fee were collected, the money would be donated to charity.
Green is also working out details about where the boat’s arrival and departure docks would be.
“I’m pretty sure I could use Fisherman’s Wharf in Lewes, but I’m still working on where it might be in Dewey,” Green said.
He said he hopes his customers will be everyone. “I’d love to see locals utilize it and summer visitors. I’d like to get both of them interested and using the service,” he said.
“Initially, I’d just run weekends to see what kind of reception we get,” Green said.
Green said he attended a recent Lewes Canalfront Park Marina Committee meeting to find out if it might be possible to dock the boat there.
“It looks like that’s going to be put on the back burner because there’s some repair work that needs to be done for me to get in and out of there safely,” he said.
Green sat in on Lewes-Rehoboth Beach water taxi planning committee meetings. He said he thinks building a dock along the canal in Rehoboth, just north of the bridge, would serve as a perfect hub.
“That would make it possible to run two boats. One could go between Lewes and Rehoboth, and the other could run between Rehoboth and Dewey,” Green said.
The agenda for the Monday, April 9, at 7 p.m. in City Hall shows mayor and council will discuss a Lewes Canalfront Park Marina Committee recommendation to allow commercial operations at the marina and City Dock.