Sailing charter businesses offering new way to explore Bainbridge Island

Ben Doerr created Sail Bainbridge for visitors to experience the island not just from ferry. KOMO Photo

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, Wash. -- When Ben Doerr of Bainbridge Island bought a sailboat recently it wasn't just for his own enjoyment- he also saw it as an opportunity to share the sailing experience with others.

"I find a lot of sort of fulfillment in getting people on the water and seeing them just light up with the enjoyment," said Ben Doerr.

In May, Doerr launched 'Sail Bainbridge,' a sailing charter company. He's working with fellow Bainbridge Island sailor Harry Pattison, who owns Dreamboat Adventure Sailing, and together they're offering all kinds of trips to Islanders and visitors that don't require lengthy advance reservations.

"There's a lot of people, I think, that would be interested in doing this and there really just wasn't- it just wasn't here. It's not that we're doing anything unique in the sailing charter world it's just that we're here and doing it," said Doerr. "It's finally becoming more and more available to people."

Some say the charters are filling a void in business on the island. Doerr sees it as an opportunity for visitors to learn more about the Island's maritime history and a way for them to see more of the area during their visits.

On Friday, Doerr hosted a group on his classic sailing yacht that took the ferry over from Seattle. Many of the people were visiting the area from Canada and came to Bainbridge Island for the day.

"It's pretty fantastic. The beautiful weather and beautiful scenery. You can't beat it," said visitor Margie Lockwood of Saskatchewan, Canada.

The tours on water launched around the same time changes are happening along the waterfront. Next week, Waterfront Park will be closed for improvements.

"The idea is to bring more people from Winslow Way to the waterfront and enjoy the water because it's a big part of the Island," said Mark Epstein who is the Engineering Project Manager for the Department of Public Works.

The city is renovating the pathways, building a plaza and performance area, and eventually improving the dock.

"I think the more people you get to the waterfront the more waterfront culture you have," said Doerr who added that about 50% of his business so far has been from Islanders arranging trips for family members who are visiting.

"It's been really fulfilling to see people really engage in it and enjoy it a lot," Doerr said.

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