Two homecomings are providing new ways to get around Casco Bay this summer.

Portland resident Ben Graffius has made his living as the captain of an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. This summer, he will ply home waters aboard the Elizabeth Grace, providing Portland Harbor Water Taxi service between the Old Port and South Portland.

And Neil Kinner, a Peaks Island native who spent the summer of 2015 in the “other” Portland, has launched Maine BayCycle, which provides pedal-powered paddle-boat tours of the harbor.

Each service will dock in the area of Bell Buoy Park on Commercial Street in Portland.

On the five-stop, point-to-point, hour-long Portland Harbor Water Taxi service, customers can buy all-day tickets so they can get off, have a meal or shop, and get back on when the Elizabeth Grace returns.

“This is what I want to do. This is fun for me,” Graffius said of the boat he bought in South Carolina and renamed for his daughters.

Portland Harbor Water Taxi departs for South Portland from the public water taxi berth in Portland on the hour from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. The first stop is across the Fore River at Bug Light Park, and then it is on to the Salt Water Grille at Sunset Marina, The Snow Squall Restaurant near South Port Marine, and then Thomas Knight Park, below the Casco Bay Bridge.

The Elizabeth Grace has been operating on weekends, and Graffius said service will be expanded to weekdays June 24 through Labor Day.

The boat has room for 38, and customers can expect Graffius’s golden retriever, Riley, to be along for the cruise. They are also welcome to bring their own dogs.

“I want to help people connect to places on the waterfront,” Graffius said.

And he means in both cities. He is making an effort to promote places in Knightville his customers will enjoy, while providing a way for people in South Portland and Cape Elizabeth to get to the Old Port without worrying about in-town parking or traffic.

Graffius said he is will to provide charters. Two star-gazing cruises with Ed Gleason, astronomer and manager of the Southworth Planetarium at the University of Southern Maine, have already sold out.

Graffius will hold a 5-7 p.m. open house Saturday, June 17, at Thomas Knight Park, where he and other volunteers will also help clean up the park.

Throughout the season, he said, his passengers can expect him to be a hands-on captain.

“It is a business you really can’t do part time,” he said. “You can’t do it offshore and be successful.”

Maine BayCycle is a charter service that allows passengers to bring beer and wine aboard for 90-minute cruises.

Boats and ships come and go in Portland Harbor, but Kinner’s 14- passenger Bridget K is likely the city’s first-ever tour boat powered by its passengers’ feet. The boat has 10 bicycle seats and pedal sets connected to a retractable paddle wheel.

“It is very leisurely,” Kinner said. “You don’t really have to go anywhere, it is your trip.”

Kinner captained a pedal boat on the Willamette River in Oregon last summer.

“I thought it was a great idea and wanted to bring it back to Maine,” he said.

He hauled his boat cross-country early this spring.

“It was grueling. It took two weeks,” he said.

The Fore River and Casco Bay present unique challenges for the service.

“The weather is more of a concern, the season is shorter and the saltwater adds to the upkeep of the boat,” Kinner said.

The pedals on the Bridget K connect to a retractable paddle wheel, and, just in case, there is a backup motor. Kinner or another licensed captain will always be on board to steer the boat.

“I’ve enjoyed everything from the business plan to financing, and I love running the boat,” Kinner said, adding he hopes to remain in the water through Columbus Day in October.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Passengers aboard Portland Harbor Water Taxi, serving Portland and South Portland, will often be greeted by Riley, a golden retriever owned by proprietor Ben Graffius, seen June 11 on the Fore River.

Neil Kinner, at the helm of the Bridget K on June 10, brought the boat to Portland from Oregon after piloting last summer on the Willamette River in the “other” Portland. Passengers do the paddling.


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