Kayak Rentals, Merrimack Riverboat Among New Haverhill Merrimack River Activities

The new ticket office was recently delivered to Riverfront Park, behind Washington Street. (Courtesy photograph.)

Part 2 of 2 (Read Part 1 here.)

Haverhill’s downtown waterfront welcomes kayak rentals beginning next week and—possibly not too far off—an expansive riverboat taking passengers up and down the Merrimack.

Next Wednesday, July 1, Plum Island Kayak launches boat rentals with a ticket office near the gazebo at Riverfront Park, behind Washington Street. Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce President Dougan Sherwood says ceremonies begin at 11 a.m.

“We hopefully have a ribbon cutting and christen the new business on the docks, and I think he’s going to have a dozen or two dozen boats down there for people to jump into,” Sherwood says.

Plum Island Kayak’s Ken Taylor expects to be joined by officials, businesses and the first customers. Besides the new ticket office, the city’s Harbor Commission, headed by Chairman Sam Amari, authorized the purchase of additional docks.

“The plans for this year would be to get that kayak business under way and see what that brings. That guy has done a great job in Newburyport with that business,” he tells WHAV.

Tim Slavit, whose legendary father, Capt. William J. “Red” Slavit, served many years as harbormaster, is readying a new riverboat attraction. “It’s built by the Blount shipyard in Warren, R.I. It’s 65 feet long and its 27 feet wide,” he says.

Slavit notes the ship is diesel powered, was built in 1962 and is currently being overhauled. Besides regular excursions up and down the Merrimack River, the vessel will be available for special events such as weddings. Just in time to introduce another generation to the water, Slavit’s son, Ryan, just passed his 100-ton master’s license, allowing him to captain the ship.

As WHAV reported this week, Slavit, his sons Tim Jr. and Ryan along with Bob Brandolini, resolved a long-running navigation problem that discouraged some boaters from taking advantage of the downtown. Last Friday, they put in six numbered buoys—three red and three green—from the Basiliere Bridge to the Boston and Maine train bridge.

On the other side of river, Slavit blans to refurbish two boat ramps on Ferry Street which were abandoned and loaded with debris.

“The Haverhill people can have access to the river. They can launch jet skis and boats,” he explains.

Slavit says he is on his way to West Dennis to collect four, 20-foot long docks, with a gangway. The Bradford improvements will also include a new parking lot and signs.

Amari says the waterfront developments come just when the improvements are a welcome and needed boost.

“We’ll get something moving in Haverhill this year. Especially this year when it’s been bad with the coronavirus. It kind of gives people a little hope and some new goals,” Amari says.

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