Sea Shuttle Gets Right of Way

A charter service from Sag Harbor

Not in the mood to take the ferry from North Haven to get to Shelter Island, or drive around to get to Greenport? A nautical shuttle service is expected to launch this summer in Sag Harbor, providing a new way to get to popular seaside spots. The Sag Harbor Village Board approved a preliminary plan to operate a six-passenger boat to and from the transient dock on Long Wharf during its meeting on Feb. 14. 

John D. Eicher, a commercially licensed captain and owner of the shuttle, plans to run a charter service from Sag Harbor to such locations as Shelter Island, Greenport, Montauk, and other points in East Hampton. The service, which is called Shore, would operate a 28-foot vessel from May through September. Customers would book travel using a mobile app.   

Mr. Eicher’s proposal received support from Robert Bori, the village harbormaster, and the Harbor Committee. His boat would tie up on the east side of the transient dock near the American Beauty, a boat that offers sightseeing and other tours, and the Surfmaster, a charter fishing boat. 

Mr. Eicher had asked that the shuttle be allowed to run between 8 a.m. and midnight, though Mr. Bori said he was concerned about guests on Long Wharf and would rather the shuttle tie up for the night by 9 p.m. Mr. Eicher asked if the service could begin with a midnight cut off and see if it produced any complaints. “I’d rather err on our side to start. Let’s see how it goes,” Ed Deyermond, a village board member, responded.

Mr. Eicher has been operating a ship-to-shore launch at Crescent Beach on Shelter Island, running customers between anchored vessels and the beach, where the hotspot Sunset Beach is located. He told the board his three small boats ferried 10,000 people last season without incident. Mr. Bori also said he had spoken with the bay constable on Shelter Island, who reported no problems. 

Sag Harbor is still working on a price tag for this type of use of the transient dock. Mr. Bori said he wanted to work out a flat fee instead of a fee per use. “Guys on the dock can’t keep track of everything,” he said of the comings and goings of the shuttle. 

The board approved the shuttle subject to insurance and fees being set, and Mr. Eicher’s abiding by the established hours and location. 

One hitch, however, may be that Mr. Eicher still has to buy the boat, develop the mobile app, and hire captains. He said getting the board’s approval was the first step, and hopes to begin operating on Memorial Day weekend. He also needs approval from locations to which passengers would be ferried to make the shuttle feasible, he said. 

Correction: Mr. Eicher's ship-to-shore launch on Shelter Island ferried 10,000 people during the summer of 2016, not over the past six seasons, as initially reported.