Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
November 7, 2019
On Aug 16, 2019, the City of Fernandina Beach published RFQ #2019-01 for a Water Taxi to connect the City of Fernandina Beach, FL and the City of St. Marys, GA. One submittal was received from Amelia River Excursions, Inc. on September 20, 2019. The Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) unanimously approved awarding RFQ 2019-01 to Amelia River Excursions, Inc. to establish a water taxi service between the Fernandina Harbor Marina and St. Marys, Georgia at the FBCC’s November 5, 2019 Regular Meeting. Pricing has not been finalized for the service, which will not begin until spring 2020 and the reestablishment of fuel services at the Fernandina Harbor Marina.
Funding in the amount of $10,000 (a start up subsidy) has been allocated for the water taxi in the City Commission Contractual account. The City of St. Marys, GA, has agreed to contribute $10,000 as well. Kevin McCarthy, the owner/operator of Amelia River Excursions continues to work with the City of St. Marys to identify a permanent docking area for the water taxi.
McCarthy is well known to islanders and tourists for providing Amelia River tours, including a Cumberland Island tour, beach creek tour, sunset tour, shrimping eco tour, and other special events. McCarthy and his captains are experienced tour narrators and are familiar with local history and nature and can offer tales about the local people with connection to the City of Fernandina Beach, FL, the City of St. Marys, GA, Amelia Island and Cumberland Island. McCarthy and his captains will use this knowledge and experience to provide the optional St. Marys, GA, scenic tours and to provide colorful narration to water taxi passengers as they sail to and from the City of Fernandina Beach and the City of St. Marys, GA.
McCarthy recently entered into a non-exclusive franchise agreement with the City of Fernandina Beach to provide historical land tours as well. The expansion of van tours with Amelia Historic Tours, LLC, was to allow history tours to be given to those who may not want to board a vessel and to allow people to tour Amelia Island. Passengers of the van tours are also regaled with history about Amelia Island and Cumberland Island.
McCarthy’s vessels safely hold and transport bicycles and passengers and can provide a safe connection from St. Marys to Fernandina Beach and vice versa for those traveling along the East Coast Greenway National Trail. The water taxi service will also provide additional access for those who wish to use the Cumberland Island Ferry. The water taxi service will also allow the residents and guests of St. Marys, GA, to come to Fernandina Beach for the day and enjoy the beautiful downtown area, the various restaurants and shops along Centre Street, Egans Creek Park, Fort Clinch park, and other areas of Fernandina Beach either by boat, Uber, taxi or walking. This service will also allow residents and guests of the City of Fernandina Beach to explore the City of St. Marys, GA, for the day.
The water taxi routes will be timed to coincide with ferry service to Cumberland Island from St. Marys.
While City staff recommended awarding RFQ #2019-01 to Amelia River Excursions, Inc., the submitted proposal stipulated additional conditions for one of the three required round trips between Fernandina Beach and St. Marys: for the 7:30 AM trip from Fernandina Beach to St. Marys, a minimum of ten passengers with twenty-four hours notice would be required.
For additional information, contact Amelia River Cruises, Inc. by email [email protected] or phone (904) 261-9972. (904) 261-9972. https://www.ameliarivercruises.com
Editor’s Note: Suanne Z. Thamm is a native of Chautauqua County, NY, who moved to Fernandina Beach from Alexandria,VA, in 1994. As a long time city resident and city watcher, she provides interesting insight into the many issues that impact our city. We are grateful for Suanne’s many contributions to the Fernandina Observer.