Greenport BID not thrilled with cruise boat idea

The excursion boat that failed to find a home in Riverhead appears to have struck a reef in Greenport as well.

Ed Graham, a businessman behind the Cabana, what he called a “cocktail boat,” during a recent Village Board meeting, received a less than enthusiastic response from the village Business Improvement District during it’s meeting last Thursday, where he found it a challenge to come up with answers to some of the members’ questions.

He explained to BID members that he’s just trying to secure dock space. A full business plan, while not yet available, would be provided if a deal could be struck with the village. While assuring the group that the boat would be properly insured, he could offer no specifics as to liability coverages other than to say it would be Coast Guard-certified.

“I’m just a guy looking to bring a boat out here and make everybody happy,” Mr. Graham said after being asked whether he would have county Department of Health approval to serve food on board.

While Mr. Graham said at the Village Board meeting that he might be open to ponying up $10,000 to $15,000 for dock space plus $1 a head for passengers, he wouldn’t quote an amount to BID members.

Janice Claudio of Claudio’s Restaurant suggested that he should be paying about $40,000 to $50,000 for dockage, similar to what she said it costs a restaurant to operate in Greenport. She scoffed at the idea that the Cabana could assist restaurants by making the boat available for large parties they might not have room to accommodate, as Mr. Graham claimed.

Mr. Graham, who said the group would serve drinks and light snacks and appetizers on the boat, said last week he would need at least 100 passengers per trip to make it worthwhile for it to leave the dock.

That’s a weekend business, BID president Mike Acebo said, insisting there wouldn’t be that number of people signing up for the cruises during the week.

When asked where passengers would park, Mr. Graham suggested the Greenport School or the Long Island Rail Road station, saying passengers could walk to the boat. But he grew vague again when Ms. Claudio questioned his running cruises between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. because it could be disturbing to residents to have a boat coming in that late.

Mr. Graham said he would look into other docking spaces for the return trip, but then shrugged when Ms. Claudio asked how he would get the passengers back to their vehicles if they didn’t return to dock in Greenport.

Mr. Graham had told the Village Board the boat was part of the Marco Polo Cruise Fleet and referred them to its website to see the kinds of excursions it runs, leaving village trustees thinking he was an agent for Marco Polo. But at the BID event, he made it clear that he and others were planning to rent the Cabana from Marco Polo, and wouldn’t be under the auspices of Marco Polo.

Mr. Graham and others, including a ship’s captain, tried to gain a foothold in Riverhead this year, only to be turned down by town officials — led by Supervisor Sean Walter — who weren’t convinced the boat plans were bona fide.

Mr. Walter and others took a trip to NYC, only to learn that the men who had presented to the Riverhead Town Board did not own or lease the boat, the supervisor had said.

From then on, town officials said they wouldn’t entertain the proposal.

[email protected]