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Catamaran tours of Niagara River, Erie Canal could come this summer

BY: Metro Source Staff | April 26, 2012

TONAWANDA - There may be a new buzz on the waters of the Niagara River this summer.

If approved by the Tonawanda Common Council May 1, CraigCat Boats of Niagara will offer self-guided tours on their E2 Elite catamarans. The two-person craft would travel up and down the Niagara River and Erie Canal, stopping at various historical points and places of interest over a two-hour journey.

Kenneth Knight and his brother John came up with the idea after spending time on a similar tour in Mt. Dora, Fla., near Orlando. So impressed with the crafts and the tours, the brothers became CraigCat dealers, with an outlet in Grand Island.

“We had gone to Florida last year. We saw them, and we fell in love with them,” John said.

Having grown up on the waters of Western New York, Kenneth thought the idea of similar tours along the river and canal would be a perfect summertime plan for those who don’t own boats and rarely get out onto the water.

“You don’t need any special license. It’s considered an open boat. You’re not required by law to have a life jacket,” he said. I’m really hoping to get people excited in Western New York about this.”

The 250-pound catamaran would top out at around 30 mph, and can be easily maneuvered by those on board. The craft includes a throttle and a handle that controls turns. The Knight’s pitched their idea to the Tonawanda Common Council last week, and Mayor Ronald Pilozzi said he and the rest of the officials were impressed with the idea. If approved, Pilozzi said the tours will be a nice addition to what is planned for the waterfront.

“We are currently in the process of building the new Niawanda Park pavilion, a kayak launch at Eastern Park and some electrical upgrades along Gateway Park. The CraigCat project will be a welcomed addition to what our city has to offer its residents and visitors,” he said. “It also has the added incentive to bring people to our downtown business district. I look forward to working with the Knight brothers… to make this a success.”

We’re anxiously awaiting the vote of the common council on May 1 in order to move the project forward,” Kenneth added.

While they wait for the final approval of the council, the Knight’s continue to plan for a possible mid-June launch date. Between four and five crafts would be on hand for two daily tours during the week, with a possible early Saturday morning tour as well.

“We don’t want people who are new to boats getting scared. The boats are very safe,” John said.

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