Pedal-powered party boat coming to Buffalo's waterfront - The Buffalo News
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Pedal-powered party boat coming to Buffalo's waterfront

A Buffalo company will combine partying with pedaling this summer and put them both on the water near Canalside.

Buffalo CycleBoats will introduce a pedal-powered watercraft where up to 14 patrons can drink in the sights while sipping their favorite beverages.

The "floating pedal pub" is similar to the Buffalo Pedal Tours' Pedal Bus Party Bike that can be spotted around town in summer, propelled by boisterous revelers.

"I saw one of these boats when I was in Seattle and everyone was having so much fun," said Brandon Bova, owner of Buffalo CycleBoats. "I wanted to bring one to Buffalo."

In the boat version, partiers will sit at a bar on stools equipped with pedals, which can be adjusted for resistance. The designated driver will be a U.S. Coast Guard-certified master captain provided by the company. The captain will give a 15-minute primer on water safety, then pilot the ship while another employee narrates a tour, quizzes guests about trivia and answers questions. Safety vests will be provided but not required.

CycleBoaters will bring their own beverages and their own food on board, which will be kept cold in four coolers built into the bar. Buffalo CycleBoats will provide ice and plastic cups.

The tour will travel through the Buffalo River, the Canalside channel and Erie Basin, stopping short of the lake beyond the break wall. The craft fits a total of 16 people – some at barstools, some on benches. That will include 14 guests and the two crew members. Solar panels on top of the boat will power a motor that's used to aid in docking and other situations. The boats are built in Oregon by a company called Cascade Cycleboats.

Bova is aware that some critics might find alcohol and boating a dangerous mix, but he said he has taken precautions to put together a pleasant, safe excursion. Guests will be asked to bring and consume no more than three drinks apiece.

"Our boat is certified by the U.S. Coast Guard, and we're Coast Guard regulated," said Bova, who also owns textbook resale company Bucks 4 Books on Elmwood Avenue. "It's a good way to get out on the water."

Tours will begin departing on May 21 from Erie Basin Marina, where the boat will be docked. Buffalo CycleBoats has a contract with the City of Buffalo, which owns the marina, and with Smith Boys, which runs it.

The company will take a total of 400 trips this summer, 20 percent of which have already sold out. A second boat is in the works, scheduled to arrive sometime this season depending on how long it takes the manufacturer to produce it.

"They're selling out and the boat's not even on the water yet," Bova said. "We've had a tremendous response."

Single tickets cost $35 to $40, depending on the day of the week. Per-person ticket prices are discounted when booking the entire craft. Tours last two hours.

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