Harbor Commission Endorses Plan to Bring Merrimack River Tour Boat to Downtown Haverhill

A Yankee Clipper tour vessel. (Courtesy photograph.)

The Haverhill Harbor Commission gave unanimous approval Tuesday to plans to operate a tour boat service on the Merrimack River.

Captain Paul Aziz, owner of Newburyport-based Yankee Clipper Tours is looking to dock a passenger cruise vessel in downtown Haverhill and offer day and nighttime river cruises. Aziz explained his vision.

“The boat is a 30-foot, aluminum catamaran deck boat, and the model I’ll follow is basically the same as I do in Newburyport, which is one-hour public trips, 90-minute sunset cruises and private charters and some pro bono work for nonprofits and environmental groups,” he said.

Aziz said the vessel is currently authorized to carry up to 44 passengers, but he expects the U.S. Coast Guard to drop that number to about 35 because of some seating changes he is planning. He told commissioners he seeks to operate at least five days per week, offering passengers food an alcohol while on board.

Aziz and commissioners discussed issues to be resolved, including 40-feet of dedicated docking area, availability of water and electricity, a sewer pump, trashcans, signage and security cameras. Haverhill Harbormaster Michael Vets said those issues should be able to be worked out, but may take a little time.

“So, this year, we agreed with him, it will be a trial thing to see how things go, and there’s going to be a lot of little things to work out,” Vets said.

Although where the vessel will dock is still to be determined, it will share a dock and ticket booth with Plum Island Kayak, which already operates downtown. Ken Taylor, owner of Plum Island Kayak, said he understands the captain’s concern over security, but, so far, the kayak rental service has had no problems.

“I was pleasantly surprised when I came to Haverhill from Newburyport. My big concern was vandalism and I have had no vandalism. I’ve left boats there weeks on end, zero vandalism,” he said.

Commissioners said they are pleased to note the passenger boat would not require any bridge openings and voted 6-0 to approve the plan. Assuming other required approvals fall into place, the service could began in June.

Comments are closed.