Catch the boat
Naples Bay Water Shuttle begins running Oct. 23 here are some fast facts about the service
Pick up and drop-off locations:
■ City Dock at the end of the main dock
■ Naples Bay Resort, in front of Olios
■ Bayfront Inn, dock below the patio bar
■ Boathouse Restaurant, at main dock
Cost: $5 a day, includes unlimited access
Hours: 5 to 10 p.m. Fridays; 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m. Saturdays; 11 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. Sundays
Information: (239) 206-0160 or Naplesbaywatershuttle.com
Andy Nottidge has a wave of an idea.
Later this month, he’ll start a water shuttle that will make four stops along Naples Bay. At first, the service will run only on weekends. Nottidge hopes it will grow as big as his love for water.
“I’ve never owned my own business before,” he said. “I have been in health care administration for about 20 years.”
For now, he’ll keep his day job. But he’ll captain the boat Friday to Sunday.
If his Naples Bay Water Shuttle business catches on, he plans to hire a second captain to operate the boat on weekdays.
The charge for the service is $5 a day. Passengers will be able to get on and off as much as they want while the
boat is running and making its loop around the bay. In that way, it will operate more like a bus than a taxi.
“I came up with the idea back in May of this year. I investigated it with the city. It really took on a life of its own,” Nottidge said.
The home base will be the scenic City Dock at Crayton Cove. From there the boat will cruise to the Naples Bay Resort, a luxury hotel, where passengers will find waterfront shops and two popular restaurants — Olios and Bone Fish Grill. The next stop is Bayfront Inn, a boutique hotel, where riders can get a drink at a patio bar, visit the Bayfront shops and restaurants or head across the street to Tin City/Riverwalk, where they’ll find more shopping and dining options. The last stop — before the shuttle heads back to the City Dock — is the Boathouse Restaurant, a historical landmark.
“I tried to pick places that had shops, restaurants and points of interest so that at any stop someone could get off and take an hour or so to just browse around and take advantage of the waterfront,” Nottidge said.
The entire loop takes about 45 minutes.
“There is no service of its kind,” Nottidge said. “So this will be the first.”
Nottidge, 43, moved to North Naples about two years ago for his job in health care administration. He was glad
to escape the “eight-month winters up North,” he said.
“I come from upstate New York and for about 13 years up there I took advantage of all the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River,” he said. “The water is my favorite place to be.”
The new shuttle is designed to offer a cost-friendly alternative for people to get out on the water. Renting or riding on a recreational boat for just a few hours can cost hundreds of dollars. It can be quite costly for families, especially. Nottidge knows that for himself with three kids of his own.
He sold a 26-foot Boston Whaler to raise the money needed to start up his business.
“The target really is both visitors and residents of Naples,” he said.
He leases the service boat, a 26-foot Mid-Harbor Launch designed in Massachusetts.
“It’s designed for short haul passenger travel. It’s modified with a nice suncover. It’s perfect,” he said.
If business takes off, he plans to buy the boat. After spending three months researching his options, he chose this boat because it’s both safe and classy.
“I wanted to find a boat that fit with the feel of Naples,” he said. “I wanted the boat to really be something that stood out so people would recognize the shuttle when it went by.”
Though Coast Guard rules allow a boat of this kind to carry up to 24 people, a city law restricts water taxis to 12 passengers. Nottidge hopes to win City Council approval Wednesday to double his allowable capacity.
“The service will still start if I don’t get approval,” he said. “But I will be limited to 12 passengers per trip.”
He plans to start the service Oct. 23.
Initially, the shuttle will run from 5 to 10 p.m. on Fridays.
On Saturdays, service will operate from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 5 to 10 p.m. On Sundays, the shuttle will run on a similar schedule, except service will end an hour earlier, at 9 p.m.
Water taxis have been tried before in the city, but they didn’t last. Nottidge said his service is different because there are scheduled stops. He’s not on call.
“That kind of service is just not economical,” he said. “You are picking up people and burning a lot of gas.”
His boat has been at the City Dock for a few weeks. He said the reaction from those who have seen it has been great. It’s named the Blue Pelican.
Business owners on the bayfront are eager to see the service start. At Bayfront Inn and Naples Bay Resort, it will offer guests an easy way to get out on the water.
Restaurants and shops along the bay expect the shuttle to bring them more customers, giving them a needed boost in a bad economy. Some waterfront businesses will offer discounts to riders.
“I think it will be good for business,” said Dennis Hosier, general manager for Tin City in Naples. “Any new business is good.”
Jack Wert, executive director of the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he’s certain it will help the two hotels it will stop at on the bay.
“I would think it would be popular among visitors,” he said. “We would certainly welcome that kind of addition to what we have. We are such a water-based community that any of those kinds of things helps.”