For the first time since 1996, a large riverboat will begin taking passengers this spring along the Merrimack River for sightseeing trips, weddings and other cruises.
Keeping his promise to secure a ship for Haverhill, Tim Slavit, son of Haverhill’s legendary harbormaster, Capt. William J. “Red” Slavit, told WHAV he and his sons took possession of the 400-passenger New Boston Monday morning.
“What a boat for the downtown! This is the key that is going to unlock the waterfront for the City of Haverhill. A 400-passenger boat, 105-feet long, 28-feet wide, taking passengers up and down the River,” he said.
Slavit and his two sons Tim Jr. and Ryan took the ship through icy conditions out of Boston Harbor to Gloucester Monday morning. It will remain there, secured for the winter, until spring. If the New Boston sounds familiar, Slavit explains why.
“It has been in Boston Harbor since 1964. It was built by the Blount Marine Corporation of Rhode Island, and Mass Bay Lines—the Spence family—has run the boat since it was brand new,” Slavit noted.
The New Boston, which will be renamed, is set to be anchored in downtown Haverhill this spring and begin accepting passengers May 1. The ship will appropriately be kept at the Capt. Red Slavit Memorial Dock off Washington Street in downtown Haverhill.
Slavit, a storyteller invested in history like his dad, said the ship is the biggest to operate on the Merrimack in Haverhill since 1915. That’s when the steamer Merrimack stopped running. He adds the new ship is also bigger than his father’s Merrimack Queen, which operated from 1986 to 1996. Even before the Merrimack Queen, his father operated a 250-passenger boat called the Viking up until 1973.
Slavit predicts the new waterfront venue will make Haverhill a destination and attract downtown patrons from a large area. He said he is already working on co-promotion with Salvatore N. Lupoli, developer of the Heights project on Merrimack Street and its restaurant and rooftop bar.