By DEBORAH GERTZ HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
NAUVOO, Ill. -- An excursion boat planned to serve Nauvoo and Montrose, Iowa, won't hit the water until next spring.
Randy Douglas, the Nauvoo man who proposed the ferry with business partner Don Faulkner of Hamilton, had hoped to have the boat on the Mississippi River by this June, but delays in getting Coast Guard approval pushed back the launch date.
"We plan on having the boat completely finished by about January, and on about the 15th of April, (we will) have an inaugural voyage," Douglas said.
Oquawka Boats is building the ferry, which will be 40 feet long and 12 feet wide, with room for 64 passengers.
"The builder told us they only needed to get certain parts of the design approved by the Coast Guard," Douglas said. "As it turned out, they needed more details than had been prepared. We're expecting by the end of the month to have full Coast Guard approval.
"With the delays, it didn't make sense to start it (at) the end of August."
Plans call for the boat to offer evening wine-and-cheese cruises, as well as sightseeing cruises with recorded narration and cruises for special events such as reunions and weddings. However, its primary purpose will be six trips a day back and forth between Nauvoo and Montrose, Iowa.
In March, the Nauvoo City Council unanimously approved an exclusive five-year lease for a dock site at the end of Parley Street for loading and unloading passengers. The lease is renewable at the end of five years.
The boat, powered by two 15-horsepower engines, is designed to ferry people, not vehicles. Wheelchair tiedowns and storage space for bicycles and strollers will be available.
The mile-long river crossing will take between 17 and 20 minutes -- a shorter trip than driving south to Hamilton or north to Niota to cross the river into Iowa.
The project has received positive reviews from the community, which has a long history of riverboat travel but hasn't had an excursion boat in decades.