After two long years, Captain Bill Thomson plans to hit the water again this weekend.
While the Georgian Spirit principal had hoped to begin tours from Midland’s town dock May 21, he says he’s run into a number of sandbars and shoals along his course that have caused delays.
“We’ve had horrible cancellations,” Thomson says, noting that during last weekend’s butter tart festival he had 350 people booked for cruises.
“All we could do was feed them drinks at the dock,” he said, noting seven busloads of visitors were scheduled to travel around the 'Gateway to the 30,000 Islands' and he'd also planned a Saturday night dinner cruise.
“I told them to imagine they’re cruising around the bay. I’ve lost $13,000 in business and I need it.”
For the past little while, Thomson says he’s been dealing with Transport Canada to get them some extra documentation they say they need regarding his insurance.
“Part of the issue was that I changed the name and home port,” he said of the boat formerly known as The Spirit of the Kawarthas.
“There's been difficulty getting the insurance certificate because of rigmarole involving (Transport Canada) inspectors. They wouldn’t accept the policy documents from Lloyd’s of London because they’re 37 pages long and they just want one page. My total liability insurance is $900 million. I’m so damned overinsured.”
But there have also been supply-chain issues linked to COVID-19, according to Thomson, who pointed out that even a new paint job for the boat took longer than expected.
“The boat looks spectacular,” he said, noting, for example, that there aren’t many tour boats around that have high-end dining chairs.
The ongoing issues also forced Thomson to cancel senior citizens day cruises recently. Those cruises have now been rescheduled for next Thursday at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. The cost? Bring a non-perishable food item as a donation for the Southern Georgian Bay Food Network.
But despite the setbacks, the reception from those who’ve boarded the boat has been outstanding, according to Thomson. So far, he’s hosted a 60th wedding anniversary and a 50th wedding anniversary this spring from his town dock berth.
“They all raved about it. They love it and people can’t believe how good the food is.”
Purchased by Thomson in 2018, the 22-metre dinner excursion ship had been dry docked in Kingston before making the journey northwest to Midland last fall.
“We actually moved from the town dock to (the Miss Midland’s old) marine railway on January 1st.”
Thomson and his crew plan to offer a regular schedule of public dining and sightseeing cruises. The boat is also available for private-party charter for weddings, anniversaries, client appreciation, team building, fundraising or “any occasion you can imagine.”
For more information about the Georgian Spirit, click here,