Perhaps you relish playing tourist in your own hometown or challenging yourself to find appealing settings for special occasions.
San Diego has a charming new entrant to its tour boat fleet. Forget the loud engines spewing diesel fumes, vessels filled with hundreds of passengers and running kids, even the sails hoisted on sailing cruises.
BayDreamin’ Cruises, which operates from Sunroad Resort Marina at 955 Harbor Island Drive at the east end of Harbor Island, uses an 18-foot Duffy Electric Boat, offering a fresh, green approach to the San Diego Bay tour boat business.
Quiet as a kite, the California-designed and -built Duffy offers guests the experience of sitting low to the water in a protected blue scalloped surrey-topped clear glass-like enclosure, while enjoying the breezes and waves lapping against the hull.
Each narrated BayDreamin’ cruise is limited to six passengers, preserving the intimacy of a personal tour around the bay. Guests can bring their own libations and treats to enjoy while under way.
BayDreamin’ Cruises is the creation of captains Mike and Jackie McNabb. Both “liveaboards” on their own boats — Mike on a sailboat and Jackie on a powerboat — the two met as members at Southwestern Yacht Club, where Jackie kept her boat. They moved aboard Mike’s sailboat, relocated to Southwestern and sold Jackie’s powerboat.
“I didn’t think that lightning could strike twice,” said Jackie, a widow and former Temecula resident who also works part-time as a meeting planner.
They married two years ago under a Shelter Island tree overlooking San Diego Bay and Jackie had the inspiration of starting a tour company.
“I’d seen these Duffys around at Coronado Cays and was intrigued. I was missing my powerboat. I told Mike about my idea of putting together a tour company using Duffys,” Jackie said.
Mike, who owned advertising and marketing agencies in Houston and Las Vegas before easing into consulting and retirement in San Diego, developed their business plan.
Both boaters since childhood, they attended the Maritime Institute in Point Loma for their certification training to become U.S. Coast Guard-licensed captains. As newlyweds enjoying each other’s company, the McNabbs usually operate the tours together and alternate driving.
In addition to the quiet and exhaust-free ride, another factor distinguishing BayDreamin’ from other tour boats is the Duffy’s easy maneuverability.
“When we come into the Embarcadero, we can stop, turn the boat any way guests want and open up the windows. The big boats can’t come in close to get their pictures,” Mike said.
Many groups of family and friends fill the scheduled cruises and the McNabbs gladly tailor tours to passengers’ interests. They also offer “boat limo” service around the bay and develop customized routes and tours by pre-arrangement. Already, they’ve attracted visitors from far and near and locals celebrating anniversaries, birthdays and other special occasions.
After a series of trial runs, BayDreamin’ Cruises recently debuted its public tours, currently running three times daily at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and a sunset cruise throughout the year. Blankets are available on board for cooler weather.
Cruises run $35 per person for a one-and-a-half hour tour around the Embarcadero and harbor, $45 for a two-hour tour to Shelter Island and the yacht clubs and $50 for a two-hour sunset bay and harbor cruise.
Advance reservations are required,but as little as two hours’ notice is sufficient.
For more information, visit www.baydreamincruises.com. For reservations, call (800) 979-3370 or (619) 701-3766.