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, the businessman behind what he called a “cocktail boat” during a recent Village Board meeting, April 25 a “cocktail boat” that would offer excursions on which passengers could purchase drinks, hors d’oeuvres and light snacks, received a less than enthusiastic response from the village Business Improvement District during it’s gathering last Thursday.

Part of the problem was there had been no communication from Village Board members about Mayor David Nyce’s suggestion that Mr. Graham meet with the BID. And BID member Amy Martin said it’s not up to the group to vet proposals for the village.

Mr. Graham told the Village Board that the boat was part of the Marco Polo Cruise Fleet and referred them to its website to see the kinds of excursions it runs. But he revised his story for the BID, saying he and others were planning to rent the Cabana from Marco Polo, but wouldn’t be under the auspices of Marco Polo.

He said he’s simply trying to secure dock space and a full business plan, while not yet available, would be provided if a deal could be struck with the village. While assuring that the boat would be properly insured, he could offer no specifics other than to say it would be Coast Guard-certified.

Nor could he offer any indication of whether he would have Suffolk County Department of Health approval to sell food.

“I’m just a guy looking to bring a boat out here and make everybody happy,” Mr. Graham said.

While Mr. Graham let slip at the meeting with the Village Board 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.

Mr. Graham did say he would need at least 100 passengers per trip to make it worthwhile for the boat 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 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. cruises, because it could be disturbing to have a boat coming in that late.

Mr. Graham said he would look into other docking spaces for the return trip, 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.