TOLEDO, Ohio (13abc Action News) – The Maumee River is of course a centerpiece of downtown Toledo.
There’s a new way to see it and learn about it’s importance to our history. Maritime River Tours is offering boat rides on the waterway.
The vessel was originally built by the United States Navy. It is now being used to give tours up and down the river, giving people an up-close look at the city’s rich maritime history. And there’s a lot to see from the water.
Captain Tim Feasby loves showing people the river’s beauty, “This is a special place. You can see everything from giant freighters to wildlife on our tours. We also have more bridges in the downtown area than many other cities.It’s fun to get a closer look at them too.”
Captain Tim says the best part of the river tours is the unique vantage point that allows you to see things you often don’t see from the road, “You don’t get to see things like the dry docks where they repair ships or the grain mill next door where they often load ships. You also get a different perspective when it comes to all the railroad bridges. You are able to see just how big the freighters are. You really can’t get a feel for their size from the road. A lot of them are more than 700 feet long, and some of the newer vessels are up to 1,000 feet long.”
The tour boat itself has a rich history, “The boat is a 1970 Motor Whale vessel. It is called an MK-10. These were on Navy destroyers and carriers they were used to move sailors from ship to ship.”
It took a lot of work to get the boat ready for its new duty, “It had to be stripped down to the glass hull. It’s fiberglass. These boats weigh about 7,000 pounds each. There are grapples on either end and on the sides. That’s what was used to lift the boats up on to the Navy destroyers.”
The boat also got a new engine,”We hit a maximum speed of 10 knots.” Captain Tim says he usually cruises at about 7 knots or about 8 miles-an-hour, giving people a chance to take in the scenery. If you pay close attention, especially in the morning, you may see a bald eagle swooping down to the water to catch a fish .”
The hour-long tours include an evening look at downtown and ships at port, “People like going out to see the ships, They also seem to enjoy getting out on the water and learning some history.”
Of course one of the highlights of the freighter tour is the Col. James M. Schoonmaker, docked at the National Museum of the Great Lakes.”She was the biggest ship on the lakes when she was built in 1911, and she stayed that way for four years. When they built her, it was with luxury in mind for the captain and the crew. It is wonderful that people are able to tour her at the museum, and she her restored to her former glory.”
While Captain Tim has made his living on the water all over the country in the tourist industry, he’s excited to be back in his home port, “I am a 100 ton coastal master captain so I am able to operate vessels a lot bigger than this, but this is the most fun vessel I have ever operated. I also truly enjoy being back in the area.”
As of right now tours are offered Wednesday-Sunday. Tickets are $15 for ages ten and older. Kids under ten are $12. If you’d like to learn more about Maritime River Tours, you can call (419) 439-6759.