Oujournalist’s Blog

The blog of a freelancing journalist in Arizona

Sail on Dolly Steamboat for fun and sun December 17, 2011

Filed under: travel — Candace Hughes @ 3:55 am
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Sail on Dolly Steamboat for fun and sun

Just about anyone can go on Dolly Steamboat. From wheelchair users to hikers – all can see the petrified wood and other wonders of Canyon Lake from the shaded boat.

And don’t let the captain’s most favorite tune – the theme from “Titanic” – bother you. The boat has a backup generator and plenty of life jackets.

There also is a double deck with some shaded tables and a snack bar. Bring binoculars since there are occasional sightings of bighorn sheep and bald eagles.

“The boat provides access to anyone from a baby to age 105,” says

Jeff Grimh of Apache Junction. He operates the business with his sister Cindi Busboom of Mesa.

They are celebrating 21 years of running the business they are continuing for their father, Roger Grimh.

“People who are handicapped can come on and we provide awesome views of the canyon and wildlife. Just the other day we saw bald eagles and on occasion we see them scooping fish. We see bighorn sheep on a routine basis.

“That’s what we do. We take people and out there and our goal is to come and experience nature and by the time we’re finished they’re awestruck,” he adds.

The boat takes visitors close to petrified wood deposits on the secluded inner waterways where close-up photos of nature are encouraged. Part of the fun is looking for rock formations that may resemble ET or elephants.

Cruisers look for stars while dining

The dinner cruises extend the usual 90-minute time period to about two and one-half hours on a 14-mile roundtrip. Monthly star nights feature an astronomer to narrate the cruise.

“We have a slow ride and we see more going at that speed than anybody else on the lake. You can relax and take the hustle and bustle out of life.

Jeff, whose children are graduates of Desert Vista Elementary School’s Ridgewalkers hiking club, continues to help hot and tired walkers celebrate by giving them a boat ride as they arrive from a 10-mile hike starting at First Water trailhead near the Apache Trail.

The boat features double diesel John Deere engines and is a replica of a 103-foot sternwheeler from America’s riverboat days.

“Our business dropped a little in 2000, but since then it’s steady. I get to pilot a boat on the most beautiful lake in the state instead of driving to Mesa or Phoenix for work,” he quipped.

Canyon Lake activities

Fun fact:

Songs played during a typical Dolly Steamboat ride: “Theme from Titanic,”  “Hello Dolly” and “Sail Away.” There is a 12.5 KW generator for auxiliary power.

Who: Owned by Capt. Jeff Grimh of Apache Junction and Cindi Busboom of Mesa

What: 40-ton 103-foot long Dolly Steamboat constructed at the lake in 1983 and is 18.5 feet wide and 31 feet high. She holds 155 passengers and is powered by twin 225HP John Deere diesel engines.

When: 90-minute nature cruises noon daily. Closed Mondays in the summer. Additional times in fall, winter and spring. Reservations at 480-827-9144.

Where: Canyon Lake. Take U.S. 60 to Apache Junction, turn north on Idaho Road and follow to Arizona 88 or Apache Trail, travel 16 miles northeast on the paved roadway. Just past the second one-lane bridge, turn left.

Why: Nature, astronomy and dinner cruises. Charters available for weddings and other events.

Tickets: Adults $18, Children 5-12 $10.50, 4 and under free. Dinner cruises are two and one-half hours. Adults $51.95 and children 5-12 $33.95. Cash and checks only. Call for times.

Web site: http://www.dollysteamboat.com

More Canyon Lake activities:

Kayaking 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at Canyon Lake Marina, $10 per hour for single kayak, $15 per hour for double, must be 21 to rent a kayak. Other boats also are available for rent. For more information, call 480-288-9233 or e-mail: info@canyonlakemarina.com. There also is a campground near the marina and reservations may be made by calling the marina. In addition, Lakeside Restaurant and Cantina is near the dock.

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