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The steamer Chautauqua Belle and the Bemus Point-Stow ferry launched their summer season Saturday.

The steamer started its daily cruises in the upper lake. "With the number of private charters and tour buses coming in, it looks like a good season," said Capt. Jeff Wickmark. The 1 1/2 -hour-long excursions start at 11 a.m. Later trips are at 1:15 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4:45 p.m., with a sunset cruise at 8:30.

The ferry, which has been plying the lake narrows in one form or another since 1811, also began operations Saturday and will run on weekends only through June and daily in July and August.

Winston Bartholomew, director of Chautauqua Lake Historic Vessels, said the company has some new plans for this summer.

One is daily excursion trips by pontoon boat up the Chadakoin River from McCrea Point Park in Jamestown. The hourlong trips will leave the boat landing every half-hour.

"It's a joint venture between our company and the Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce," Bartholomew said. "Nobody gets to see that 3 1/2 -mile river except those who have their own boats. We're offering an opportunity for people to come down and see the nature trail being preserved by the city and the park they are putting in."

There is no firm starting date.

In addition, the tugboat known as "Herself" will serve as an on-the-lake bus, carrying passengers from Mayville to Midway Park, to Bemus Point, Chautauqua, and back to Mayville. It will also ferry passengers to Chautauqua Institution for evening programs.

The tug "will operate from Mayville to Bemus Point and back to Chautauqua Institution for the theater crowd who live on the east side of the lake," Bartholomew said. "They can pick up 'Herself' at the dock at the Lenhart Hotel and be transported to Chautauqua for the evening show. Then 'Herself' will be back after the show to return them to Bemus Point."

The "Sea Lion," the replica of a 16th-century English sailing ship, should be ready to sail by mid-July. The ship has a new captain, Jackson Smith of Jamestown, who served as first mate on the Sea Lion in 1986.

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