Perhaps the most talked-about amenity of the Encore casino – outside the gaming floor – was the premium water shuttle that ferried passengers from the Seaport and Long Wharf across the Harbor and up the Lower Mystic River to the casino.
However, on that course, those three water shuttles could not avoid passing by their birthplace in Charlestown – Boston Boat Works.
Owner/Founder Scott Smith said it was a tremendous opportunity for Boston Boat Works to be able to manufacture the water shuttles, and he said he believes they will be the spark for major investment in water transportation on Boston’s Inner Harbor.
“It really turns the Harbor from an obstacle into a conveyance and we’re extremely proud to be a part of this new transportation system that is unfolding in Boston,” he said. “We’ve been trying to do this 20 years and our hope is this will spur other water transportation solutions.”
He said they have high hopes that more water shuttles will come after other companies see how Encore works.
“This is the beginning of something big,” said Smith. “We’re right at the water’s edge.”
Certainly, those heading to Encore were not shy about getting on the luxury shuttles, which Smith said cost nearly $1 million each and have several custom features – like a gyro-stabilizing system that keeps the boat from rocking side to side during choppy seas. They are Coast Guard approved vessels and are made of very light materials, and can handle about 35 passengers with luggage storage.
They are 40-feet tall, and have a very low profile so that they can fit under the Alford Street Bridge without it having to go up or down. They are powered with diesel and are allowed to travel about 7 knots on the Harbor, and then around 20 knots on the Mystic River.
Smith said his company has 140 employees and has been manufacturing boats in Charlestown for 24 years – having a spot right under the Mystic/Tobin Bridge that empties out onto the water.
“We have had enough business to support 140 manufacturing jobs in Boston – more than 20 years – but this is an influx of energy that helps us solidify our business ,” he said. “We’re grateful for that.”