Despite Friction with City Hall, Slavit Says Residents May Board Former Coast Guard Boat in August

The Slavit family’s restored 1959 U.S. Coast Guard boat with engine doors open. (Courtesy photograph.)

For a time Friday, it appeared the Slavit family’s plans to take small tour groups out on the Merrimack River was in doubt, but boarding begins in August, as planned.

At issue is whether former Assistant Harbormaster Tim Slavit and his sons would take on the daytime job of patrolling the river like their legendary father and grandfather, Capt. William J. “Red” Slavit. Tim Slavit says he spent quite a bit of money getting ready because of a promise he received from Mayor James J. Fiorentini.

“He lied to me. He was going to make me the harbormaster and I want to be the harbormaster for the City of Haverhill. Instead, he made a deal with the firefighters to do it on time and a half during the day—two guys—and Vets will cover at night,” Slavit says.

Responding by text to WHAV’s questions, Fiorentini confirmed the fire department is assisting, but noted, “I am not aware if this is straight time or overtime but the fire chief assures me, he can cover this in his existing budget. We had two assistant harbor masters last year. They are not available this year.”

Slavit says he believes the mayor agreed to use the firefighters to, primarily, watch the new kayak rental business. He explains Vets is not available days because of his out-of-town job. He says the mayor initially liked his idea of providing harbormaster services, while also bringing in a 65-foot excursion boat next season to boost tourism.

“I bought buoys, hardware, moorings. We put together this antique Coast Guard boat to hold us over to bring people out on the river—citizens of Haverhill—until the big passenger boat gets here in nine months,” he says.

Despite feeling let down, Slavit said he paid the city $300 Friday for a permit to give free rides on the 1959, 40-foot, former U.S. Coast Guard boat. He explains, “I’m not going to let Fiorentini ruin it for so many people looking forward to going out.” Those who wish to reserve a tour may email [email protected].

While he did not speak to Slavit this weekend, the mayor said, “we welcome him back with open arms. That is great news for our city! We will work with the Slavit family and the Chamber to better promote the tours and the river.”

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