By Sarah Jean Worden
There’s a new way to enjoy Saratoga Lake this summer with the introduction of local entrepreneur Hal Raven’s latest venture, Adirondack Cruise and Charter Co.
“Don’t worry about driving,” said Raven. “Grab a bottle of wine and come out with us.”
Raven runs a boat charter and cruise company that will take people around the local lake. Tours will typically be two-hour rides for up to eight people with a cost starting at $275.
Starting small this season with just one eight-passenger pontoon boat, Raven already has big plans for the future of his business. He anticipated adding a 30-passenger vessel to his lineup to accommodate larger parties. Part of his vision includes early 1900s-style steamboats like ones that used on the lake a century ago.
“It just seems so Saratoga,” he said.
Raven said it's been a seamless process to open his new business. It was as easy as getting his LLC, buying a boat slip, insurance and getting the pontoon inspected by the state.
Raven and his wife operate the vessel, with helps from his two kids.
"I grew up on Lake George and have been on a boat ever since," Raven said.
Boating is in his blood, he said, with an uncle who operated the Dutch Apple, which toured the Hudson River. His father taught him much of what he knows today. At age 16, Raven got his first very own boat.
More recently, Raven was captain of the Horicon, which sails Lake George.
"It's nice to do something you enjoy," he said.
Raven offers full party planning for anyone interested in a nautical-themed event–bachelor and bachelorette parties, celebrations of life and retirement–or those who want to simply enjoy the beautiful scenery of upstate New York.
"Saratoga Lake is really making a come-back," Raven said. He hopes to educate people in the area about the lake's history and be a big part of the community by helping others preserve its natural beauty and keep it clean.
The cruise company is also planning "morning coffee cruises" on weekends, race-themed cruises for racehorse enthusiasts, and "learn the lake" cruises where passengers can hear historical facts about points of interest along the shoreline.
Raven said for an additional fee, the towable pontoon can be relocated to other area bodies of water if someone chooses to have an event away from Saratoga Lake.
Raven said he is excited to welcome his first passengers aboard the vessel for its official maiden voyage set for May 13 at 3 p.m. at a ribbon-cutting event with the Saratoga Chamber of Commerce.
The grand opening is slated for May 14 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Saratoga Boatworks Marina, 549 Union Ave. in Saratoga Springs. They will christen and name the boat, have boat rides, T-shirt and cruise giveaways and more.
Cruises and tours can be booked by calling 956-2626.