Monday, July 03, 2006

Dillon/Frisco Water Taxi in Operation

Captain Mike Russo of the Silver Queen pilots the first water taxi between the Dillon and Frisco marinas.

From now until the end of the summer, the water taxi will be available to shuttle individuals, groups, bikes and dogs between Frisco and Dillon. For $8 one-way and $15 round-trip, riders can enjoy the water and the views and avoid driving on the Dam Road.

The idea for a water taxi on Dillon Reservoir occurred to Russo soon after he moved to Summit County from New England last summer.

"I came up with it while I was having a rum runner at the Tiki Bar," he said.

Commonly seen around East Coast harbors, a marina-to-marina shuttle service seemed perfect for Summit County. Russo, 33, worked on the docks last summer at the Frisco marina. In January, he started to think more seriously about the taxi idea. Although he'd spent time on the water throughout his whole life, including eight years as a river guide in Maine, Russo decided to get his Coast Guard-approved captain's license. Once he passed the rigorous test, his next step was to find the right vessel.Most of the water taxi-type boats he found on the internet were outrageously expensive and none were located anywhere near Colorado. Luckily, he stumbled across a custom boat manufacturing company in Ohio and was able to design exactly what he needed. The basic components of the Silver Queen were built in Ohio and Russo himself finished the construction.

The boat is rated to carry 15 to 20 people, depending on their weight, and custom railings are tall enough that riders are not required to wear life-jackets.

Russo is optimistic about the potential demand for his services. The Summit Cove resident said he's committed to giving it a go for a minimum of five seasons. An agreement with the town of Frisco allows Russo to store the Silver Queen overnight at the town marina.

Frisco marina manager Phil Hofer expressed his enthusiasm about the taxi."I think it's a great idea," he said. "It's going to benefit both towns and both marinas." Hofer pointed out that, with the water taxi, visitors in Dillon will now have the option of eating out in either Frisco or Dillon.

Russo plans to start the shuttle every day around 11 a.m., and his license allows him to run it until late in the evening.

Booking the Silver QueenShuttle hours: 11 a.m. until lateFare: $8 one-way, $15 round-trip, $1 extra for bikesAvailable for breakfast charters: Two-hour minimum, call for pricing.

Call the on-board phone: (970) 486-0250

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