Editor’s note: Periodically, the Chestertown Spy checks in with new businesses to see how they are holding up after their first year of business. This time around, we asked Greg Kimmel, one of the owners of the river boat, to give an update.
When the Chester River Packet was first conceived in the spring of 2013, our concerns were many. Chestertown’s deteriorating waterfront was, and remains to this date, of greatest concern. Fortunately, the town of Chestertown, with Mayer Cerino’s enthusiastic support, is making an aggressive push to revise the sins of the past owners and what remains of this once historic colonial port.
Our second concern was if we could generate enough interest from the public to operate a river tour based in Chestertown. Much to our surprise the response has been more than overwhelming.
At the completion of our first season, which started in April 2014 and ended with a New Year’s day cruise we were fortunate enough to have carried just shy of 4,700 guests. Approximately 80 percent were from in and around the Kent Queen Anne’s County area. Delaware and Pennsylvania made up the balance.
The support we received from the Kent Counties Office of Tourism, Economic Development, the county administrator and Office of Public Landings was incredible. That and the help from the town management and encouragement from Downtown Chestertown Association made this endeavor possible and allowed us to continue to operate uninhibited.
As several entities have clearly come to appreciate, Chestertown has become a destination for the traveling public. With venues such as Brittland estates and the incredible array of B & B’s within the surrounding areas, we are attracting more and more people who are enjoying “staycations “. Many of these people are returning to retire here as a result. Our local economy has evolved quickly and quietly to become dependent on tourism and the services that are aligned with the retired and semi-retired population. The Chester River Packet Company is now part of that evolution.
Having been on and around the Chester River for close to 30 years, I assumed everyone was enjoying her beauty. As Captain of the River Packet, I am astounded at the shear number of people who have only driven over and or around the river.
Once we are underway and pass Primrose Point, generally a hush comes over our passengers as they get their first unobstructed, panoramic view of the Chester River in all its splendor. It is as though we have traveled back in time. This, coupled with the breathtaking sunsets and virtually no boat traffic, has allowed us to developed an astonishing number of repeat customers.
Hopefully, we will attract as many passengers as we had done so last year. We intend to expand our routes to include departures, not only from High Street in Chestertown, from Quaker Neck Landing, which will allow us to travel the Langford Bay and Corsica River waterways.
We also intend to expand the availability of the River Packet to allow the viewing of the historic Log Canoe Races held on two separate weekends in July. The races have been held out of the public’s eye for years, and we would like to offer a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness first hand this time honored tradition.
As Captain of the River Packet, I spend a considerable amount of time these days traversing the waters of the Chester River, I never once take for granted the good fortune I have found nor the beauty of the surroundings I am so fortunate to find myself working within. If it was not for the members of the LLC, the county, town and patrons of the River Packet none of this would be possible.
I thank everyone and hope they will join us again this season.