Friday, August 10, 2012
New service takes lakers where they want to go by water
SML Water Taxi will provide tours and sunset cruises in addition to transporting clients from one place to another.
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Smith Mountain Lake Water Taxi is "not just a cab ride," owner Brian Stinnette said of the lake's newest alternative to boating transportation.
"I'm trying to custom tailor each charter for each individual's needs."
The taxi service, based out of Crystal Shores Marina in Moneta, will benefit various demographics, Stinnette said.
From April until Nov. 31, lake visitors or residents who lack a boat, boaters insecure in their navigational skills, as well as those who need a "safe and responsible alternative to boating and drinking" can charter the taxi service's 20-foot hurricane deck boat, Ripple, to take them to their desired destination. The service will also offer tours and sunset cruises.
"The lake's a busy area, and some people feel intimidated at times with the volume of boats on a busy weekend," Stinnette said.
SML Water Taxi is available by reservation only and is limited to six passengers per voyage.
Fees will be determined "at a personalized rate to suit each customer's needs," Stinnette said. Hours are yet to be determined.
The 39-year-old Forest resident is no stranger to the water or to entrepreneurship. Stinnette has 25 years of boating experience in addition to holding U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner credentials. Growing up, he spent a significant amount of time in the 1970s and '80s at the Smith Mountain Lake home of his grandfather, Curtis Shannon.
In addition to the water taxi service, Stinnette is the owner of Forest Contractors Services, a company that specializes in residential and "light commercial" buildings.
The captain said future plans for the business include the expansion of the taxi service into a multi-boat fleet. Until then, Stinnette said he is content to offer a special service to the lake community.
"What better way to make a living than to be able to offer a really cool activity for people to enjoy?" he said.
Smith Mountain Lake Water Taxi will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Waller's Waterfront on Aug. 16 at 4 p.m.